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Boon for delivery apps as city eateries shut on virus fears : The Standard

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A majority of Nairobi’s popular eateries have shut their doors amid reduced customer traffic caused by the partial lockdown brought about by the coronavirus pandemic.

Java House, which operates over 80 outlets across East Africa, on Tuesday temporarily closed 14 of its coffee shops in Kenya.
Amid a growing possibility of a full-blown lockdown in major urban centres, restaurants that rely heavily on foot traffic are set to be the hardest hit, with most of them not having pre-planned options for online deliveries.
Most of the restaurants, including Java, have been strictly serving takeaway orders following newly issued State measures to contain the spread of the virus, but have now been forced to shut their doors due to reduced customer numbers.
This has seen the establishments send their employees “on leave”, with anxiety growing over the future of their jobs as the number of new infections in the country continues to rise.
Twelve of the closed Java House coffee shops are situated in Nairobi.
The restaurant chain had announced it had partnered with Uber Eats, Jumia Food, and Glovo to deliver orders.

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The remaining outlets countrywide have also had to adjust their daily operating schedules but with strict orders of no “eating in.” “Call and pick up your order in-store or order online on Glovo, Jumia Food and Uber Eats,” said Java House in a notice to customers. E-commerce platforms are turning out to be the biggest beneficiaries of the stay-at-home order. 
Jumia Kenya Chief Executive Sam Chappatte said they had recorded a rise in demand of basic groceries as Kenyans, now more than ever, find it appropriate to shop from home.
Chappatte said there was a spike in orders for basic foodstuffs.

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China virus epicentre eases travel restrictions after lockdown : The Standard

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A woman wearing protective gear as she boards a train stopping at Wuhan, which has opened stations again to incoming passengers. [AFP / Hector RETAMAL]

The Chinese city of 11 million people that was Ground Zero for what became the global coronavirus pandemic partly reopened on Saturday after more than two months of almost total isolation.

Wuhan was placed under lockdown in January with residents forbidden to leave, roadblocks ring-fencing the city’s outskirts and drastic restrictions on daily life.
But the major transport and industrial hub has now signalled the end of its long isolation, with state media showing the first officially sanctioned passenger train arriving back into the city just after midnight.
People are now allowed to enter but not leave, and many trains had been fully booked days in advance.

SEE ALSO :China virus cases spike, 17 new infections reported

AFP saw crowds of passengers arriving at Wuhan station on Saturday, most wheeling suitcases alongside them.
Some had managed to slip back into the city a day earlier on rail services that were stopping in the city — but nominally banned passengers from disembarking — as enforcement of the travel ban began to ease.
One woman who arrived on Friday said she and her daughter had been away from her husband for nearly 10 weeks.

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“As the train neared Wuhan, my child and I were both very excited,” the 36-year-old told AFP on Saturday.
“It felt like the train was moving faster than before, and my daughter said the driver must know we really want to go home.

SEE ALSO :China confirms virus spreading between humans

“She rushed toward her father, and watching them from behind I couldn’t help but cry,” she added.
Staff at Wuhan station were all clad in full protective gear with reception desks lined up ready to process returnees who had been overseas.
China is now battling to control a wave of imported cases as infections soar abroad.
As passengers lined up to exit the station Saturday — some wearing two face masks, gloves, face screens or full protective suits — a worker in a hazmat suit shouted for anyone returning from overseas to come forward.
All arrivals in Wuhan have to show a green code on a mobile app to prove that they are healthy.

SEE ALSO :Factbox: What we know about the new coronavirus spreading in China and beyond

Elsewhere in China long lines of travellers queued up at train stations to board high-speed services back to Wuhan.
Passengers in Shanghai had their temperatures checked by staff in goggles and masks after boarding their Saturday morning service.
Restrictions on residents heading out of Wuhan will not be lifted until April 8, when the airport will also reopen for domestic flights.
Wuhan is the last area of Hubei province to see overland travel restrictions lifted, although some highways leading into the city had already reopened this week.
Gao Xuesong, a worker in Wuhan’s auto industry, arrived in the city Friday night.

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SEE ALSO :Travelers to be screened for ‘Chinese’ coronavirus- Government

“It almost feels like returning to an alien land, because I haven’t been back for more than two months,” he told AFP.
Zero cases, not zero risk
The new coronavirus was detected in December and has been linked to a market in the city that sold wild animals for human consumption.
Wuhan has paid a heavy price for the outbreak, with more than 50,000 people infected and more COVID-19 deaths than any other city in China.
There were three more deaths in the city on Saturday, health officials reported.
Wuhan initially struggled to contain the outbreak and AFP reporters saw long queues of sick patients at one overwhelmed city hospital in January.
But numbers have fallen dramatically in recent weeks. Official figures show there have been fewer than 20 new cases across the province in the past fortnight.
Most of Wuhan’s subway network restarted on Saturday, while some shopping centres will open their doors next week.
Banks reopened earlier this week and bus services resumed but residents have been warned against unnecessary travel and those over 65 have been told to avoid public transport.
A study this week found the lockdown in Wuhan succeeded in stopping the fast-spreading virus in its tracks and gave health care facilities crucial breathing room — but warned against opening up the city too soon.
More than 2,500 people are still hospitalised with the disease in Wuhan, including nearly 900 “severe” cases.
Liu Dongru, of the Hubei Health Commission, said Friday that although parts of Wuhan had been reclassified as “low-risk” areas, work to control the virus needed to continue.
“Zero reported cases does not equal zero risk,” he said.


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What you need to know about the coronavirus right now : The Standard

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Here’s what you need to know about the coronavirus right now:

US overtakes China
There are now over half a million coronavirus cases reported across 202 countries and territories globally and the United States has overtaken China as the country with the most infections.
Of the 531,000 cases reported, over 60,000 were added in the past day, and 2,532 new deaths in 59 countries brought the total death toll to over 24,000, according to a Reuters tally at 0200 GMT on Friday.

SEE ALSO :China virus cases spike, 17 new infections reported

It has been the single most deadly day for the disease since the outbreak began, with Italy and Spain reporting over 700 deaths each. The United States, the United Kingdom, Iran and France reported over 100 fatalities each.
The United States contributed roughly one-third of newly reported cases, as testing in the country expanded, with over 17,000 cases in the past 24 hours, and 281 deaths, the highest single-day case load of any country since the outbreak began.
China, which announced plans to close its borders to foreign citizens from Saturday, reported 5 deaths and 55 cases, and said that all but two of the new cases were from outside the country.

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Cases in South and Central America surpassed 10,000 as of Thursday, with major outbreaks in Brazil, Chile and Ecuador, which are each reporting over a thousand cases.
Countries which experienced outbreaks in February or earlier are reporting higher recovery rates.

SEE ALSO :China confirms virus spreading between humans

Record US jobless claims
The number of Americans filing claims for unemployment benefits surged to a record 3.28 million last week, in the clearest evidence yet of the coronavirus’ devastating impact on the economy.
Strict measures to contain the coronavirus pandemic have brought the country to a sudden halt, unleashing a wave of layoffs that likely ended the longest employment boom in US history.
When is a bull not a bull?
When it comes in the middle of a bear.

SEE ALSO :Factbox: What we know about the new coronavirus spreading in China and beyond

The Dow Jones Industrial Average’s surge of over 20% from its coronavirus-induced recent low this week, by one definition used on Wall Street, suggests a new bull market. The surge came on hopes a $2 trillion stimulus measure would flood the country with cash in a bid to counter the economic impact of the intensifying pandemic.
But that definition should be treated with a large piece of caution. The very definition of bull market is debatable, and given the market’s volatility on news about the pandemic, some said that calling the move upwards a “bull market” was tantamount to missing the forest for the trees.
Coronavirus can get you out of jail or land you in it
While countries like Afghanistan and Canada are releasing inmates to prevent the spread of the virus in the tight confinement of prison facilities, other places are increasing punishments for flouting the rules.
Anyone claiming to have coronavirus who deliberately coughs at emergency workers’ faces being jailed for two years, Britain’s Director of Public Prosecutions said on Thursday, after recent reports of such incidents. Those responsible could face charges of common assault.

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SEE ALSO :Travelers to be screened for ‘Chinese’ coronavirus- Government

In Singapore, famous for its strict rules, anyone caught intentionally sitting less than a meter away from another person in a public place or on a fixed seat singled out not to be occupied under new, more stringent social distancing rules, can be fined up to S$10,000 ($6,990), jailed up to six months, or both.
How far is a normal bike ride?
As more countries adopt stringent lockdown policies to try to stem the spread of the virus, a debate is bubbling over what limits there should be on regular exercise.
In France, citizens have been told not to venture further than 1 km from their homes. In Israel, the guidance suggests 100 metres should be the maximum. In Britain, people are allowed to visit parks near where they live, as long as they maintain a distance of at least two meters from others.
In Belgium, a nation of cyclists, some want a limit of up to 70 km so they can get in a proper bike ride. The interior minister says that is far too much.
Soap, not guns
A deeply conservative tribal region of Pakistan is spreading an animated, Pashto-language video to warn its population about the coronavirus – and taking a shot at its gun culture in the process.
In the video protagonist Pabo “Badmash”, or Pabo the Thug, is setting out to defeat the virus. Villagers offer him a wooden bat, a pistol, a sword and even a rocket launcher.
But Pabo astounds them by refusing, saying he will defeat the enemy with his “bare hands”. He then proceeds to wash his hands with soap – and even checks to ensure he has lathered them for 20 seconds, as recommended.


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Several firms are exempted from the dusk to dawn curfew

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Supermarkets, retail outlets, chemists, mobile operators, media firms, petrol stations and banks will remain open during the dusk to dawn lockdown that begun yesterday.

In a Gazette Notice No 30, dated 26th March 2020, professionals exempted from the shutdown include: medical personnel, operators in the aviation industry, utility providers, security personnel, postal and courier workers, port operators, and emergency response units.

On day one of the lock-down, ugly scenes of security personnel engaging in harassment of travellers, journalists and shops, was witnessed around the country.

Authorities have already shut down bars, open-air markets and all learning institutions as well as cancelled sporting activities such as the world famous Lewa Marathon.

Experts warn that impact of this partial shutdown could make things worse for the economy. Kenya’s first response in containing the virus has been to cancel large gatherings, — a measure already taking a toll on the hospitality industry, entertainment firms, and the sporting industry.

Our country isn’t a 24-hour economy, most business close by 9pm apart from the “nightlife”.

The curfew will affect the evening foot traffic which is always a retailer’s happy hour, and in turn affect revenues for retail as well as companies. Banks like NCBA have already moved their closing hours from 4PM to 3PM. Long term will mean less revenue generation than would have been on a normal occasion.

Felix Ochieng, a dealer at Faida Investment Bank.

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Professor Gerrishon Ikiara, an economist at University of Nairobi agrees that the curfew will negatively impact businesses.

The lockdown has the effect of cutting production and consumption, severely impacting on GDP. The level of shutdowns in economies worldwide is unprecedented and has not been seen for the last 300 years since 1820, We are in a fix between allowing free movement and curbing the spread of Covid-19.

Professor Gerrishon Ikiara in an interview with the Kenyan WallStreet

He said the partial shutdown should be managed effectively to reduce its effects on the economy while protecting the lives of Kenyans.

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