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March 2020
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News Headlines
COVID-19 lockdown: 450 buses pressed into service by Ghaziabad admin to transport migrants        Mah: Corona cases cross 180-mark, 28 more test +ive        Covid-19: Punishment by police in Kannur for violating lockdown turns into row        Funeral of COVID-19 victim held as per WHO protocol        COVID-19: Kerala reports first death, positive cases rise to 165 in Kerala, 1,34,370 people under surveillance        Spain coronavirus outbreak ''close to peaking'': official        Virus infections top 600,000 globally with long fight ahead        COVID-19: Forced break a ''welcome rest'' for India players, says coach Shastri        Dane Piedt quits South Africa career to play for US        RBI asks lending firms to allow 3-month moratorium on EMI payments        COVID-19:15 lakh air travellers entered India in 2 months, ''gap'' in actual monitoring: Cabinet Secy        Coronavirus cases in India climb to 834, death toll reaches 19        COVID-19: Kerala CM expresses concern over blocking roads in Karnataka border        COVID-19: Positive cases rise to 164 in Kerala, 1,10,299 people under surveillance, says CM        US confirmed coronavirus cases cross 100,000: Tracker        Xi offers help to Trump to combat COVID-19; says infectious diseases recognise no border or race        UK PM Johnson tests positive for coronavirus, has mild symptoms        Sachin Tendulkar donates Rs 50 lakh to fight COVID-19        Djokovic donates ventilators to Serbia, praises ties with China        COVID-19: Total cases 649; Rate of increase ''relatively stable'', says govt        
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International News
Hong Kong border towns welcome virus controls, despite trade hit
 
Hong Kong: Traders in Hong Kong's border towns are lamenting plunging business during the coronavirus outbreak but some residents say they are enjoying the absence of crowds of Chinese mainlanders.

The influx of migrants, tourists and traders has long been a controversial topic as the financial hub increasingly chafes under Beijing's authoritarian rule and the ever-rising cost of living.

The polarisation is especially stark in towns along the city's border with mainland China.

They have become huge draws for "parallel traders" who buy up tax-free goods for re-sale in China, a booming trade but one that worsens over-crowding and spiralling commercial rents.

However, the coronavirus outbreak has closed all but two of the city's land borders with the mainland.

And on Saturday officials rolled out plans attempting to ensure -- with spot checks and daily phone calls -- that all arrivals from the mainland undergo 14 days of compulsory quarantine.

Parked next to one of the shuttered checkpoints earlier this week, a minibus driver said he had waited for three hours without picking up a single passenger.

The man, who gave his surname Lai, said he had been driving for four decades and never seen business so slow, not even during the 2002-03 SARS virus outbreak that killed 299 Hong Kongers.

"The situation is worse than what we had during SARS," the 70-year-old told AFP.

Four empty minibuses were ahead of him in the queue.

Usually Lai could earn around HK 1,300 ( 170) a day shuttling between the towns of Sheung Shui and Yuen Long -- another border district in northwest Hong Kong.

"I did not wear a mask in 2003 but now I wear one when I am driving," he said. "We transport people from all kinds of places after all." The crowds began dwindling during the Lunar New Year when the spread of the novel coronavirus through central China started being widely reported.

Then the border crossings began closing.

Sheung Shui, the first town passengers come to after passing through the now-shut Lo Wu checkpoint, was a frequent battleground between protesters and police during last year's months of pro-democracy rallies.

Sparked by a demand for greater democratic freedoms, many of the demonstrations had an anti-mainland feel and embraced local grievances about issues such as parallel traders.

A pharmacist who gave his surname as Shing said business was down 30 percent over the Lunar New Year, reaching 50 percent once the borders started closing.

Last year's protests also slammed trade.

But he said he understood the need to curb mainland arrivals.

"Maybe the government should have done it earlier," he said. "Because the sooner it contains the epidemic, the sooner our business can revive." Some Sheung Shui locals said they welcomed the uncharacteristic quiet.

Candy Kwan, a mother of three, said her three grown-up children have been unable to find any surgical masks in recent weeks, a commodity snapped up across the city, including by parallel traders.

She supported a complete closure of Hong Kong's border.

"What can matter more than human lives?" she asked. "I am feeling more comfortable on streets and less worried about infections after the checkpoint was closed."

Another Sheung Shui resident, a 70-year-old surnamed Chan, said she was angry with the government's partial closure of the border.

"It reacted like a toothpaste being squeezed," Chan said. "If it closed the border earlier, we might not have had to compete with mainland shoppers for masks.


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Virus infections top 600,000 globally with long fight ahead
US confirmed coronavirus cases cross 100,000: Tracker
Xi offers help to Trump to combat COVID-19; says infectious diseases recognise no border or race
UK PM Johnson tests positive for coronavirus, has mild symptoms
Germany ramps up coronavirus tests to 500,000 a week
Coronavirus crisis: Xi praises WHO''s role after Trump accuses health agency of siding with Beijing
Virus briefings are the new campaign rallies for Trump
Pak suspends domestic flights as coronavirus cases rise to 990
US checked 370,000 for coronavirus, accelerates testing
Spain death toll tops 2,000 after 462 deaths in 24 hours: govt
UN experts voice alarm as rights lawyers disappear in China
World ramps up restrictions as virus cases top 300,000
Coronavirus: Pak PM rules out complete lockdown, says it will create chaos
Iran's coronavirus death toll climbs to 1,556
Coronavirus risks taking heavy toll on migrants in Europe
Imports of medical supplies plummet as demand in US soars
Coronavirus: Indian-American doctors seek total lockdown and self-quarantine of US
Italy overtakes China with most virus deaths, California goes on lockdown
US and Mexico plan to close border to 'non-essential travel'
ENTERTAINMENT NEWS
My whole life has been a miracle: Rajinikanth
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'Game of Thrones' star Indira Varma tests positive for coronavirus
Coronavirus: Release of Ranveer Singh-starrer '83' put on hold
'Joker' earns Joaquin Phoenix his maiden Oscar
KERALA NEWS
Covid-19: Punishment by police in Kannur for violating lockdown turns into row
 Kannur: The public punishment given by the District Police Chief(DPC) Yahtish Chandra-led squad on S
Funeral of COVID-19 victim held as per WHO protocol
COVID-19: Kerala CM expresses concern over blocking roads in Karnataka border
COVID-19: Positive cases rise to 164 in Kerala, 1,10,299 people under surveillance, says CM
NATIONAL NEWS
COVID-19 lockdown: 450 buses pressed into service by Ghaziabad admin to transport migrants
 Ghaziabad (UP): The Ghaziabad administration has pressed 450 buses into service to transport migrant
Mah: Corona cases cross 180-mark, 28 more test +ive
COVID-19:15 lakh air travellers entered India in 2 months, ''gap'' in actual monitoring: Cabinet Secy
Coronavirus cases in India climb to 834, death toll reaches 19
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