tackling a 2018 outbreak of the Nipah virus, a rare and dangerous disease.

As borders closed last year and migrant workers came home, the state’s disaster management team swung into action. Returning passengers were sent into home quarantine. If a person tested positive, local officials traced their contacts. Kerala’s testing rate has been consistently above India’s average, according to health data.

Experts say much of the credit for the system lies with K.K. Shailaja, a 64-year-old former schoolteacher who until this week was Kerala’s health minister. Her role in fighting the Nipah virus inspired a character in a 2019 movie.

drove India into recession. This year, Mr. Modi has resisted a nationwide lockdown, leaving local governments to take their own steps.

India’s states are also competing against each other for oxygen, medicine and vaccines.

“There has been a tendency to centralize decisions when things seemed under control and to deflect responsibility towards the states when things were not,” said Gilles Verniers, a professor of political science at Ashoka University.

has worsened the country’s outbreak, though they have been hindered by a lack of data. Kerala has used gene sequencing since November to track variants, helping to drive policy decisions, said Dr. Vinod Scaria, a scientist at the CSIR Institute of Genomics and Integrative Biology in New Delhi.

“It’s the only state that has not given up at any point in time,” Dr. Scaria said, adding that “they’re eager to use evidence to drive policies.”

A political shuffle has led some experts to wonder whether Kerala can keep its gains. This past week the Communist Party of India, which controls the state government, excluded Ms. Shailaja from its cabinet. The party said it wanted to give young leaders a chance, but observers wondered whether Ms. Shailaja had grown too popular. She didn’t respond to requests for comment.

“Even the best-performing governments,” Professor Verniers of Ashoka University said, “are not immune from shooting themselves in the foot due to misguided political calculations.”

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How India’s Kerala Has Battled Covid-19

When India’s second coronavirus wave slammed the country last month, leaving many cities without enough doctors, nurses, hospital beds or lifesaving oxygen to cope, Sajeev V.B. got the help he needed.

Local health workers quarantined Mr. Sajeev, a 52-year-old mechanic, at home and connected him with a doctor over the phone. When he grew sicker, they mustered an ambulance that took him to a public hospital with an available bed. Oxygen was plentiful. He left 12 days later and was not billed for his treatment.

“I have no clue how the system works,” Mr. Sajeev said. “All that I did was to inform my local health worker when I tested positive. They took over everything from that point.”

has failed, in many ways, to provide relief for victims of the world’s worst coronavirus outbreak.

online networks, charities and volunteers has emerged in India to fill the gaps left by the stumbling response of the central government and many states. Patients around India have died for lack of oxygen in hospitals where beds filled up quickly.

Deaths are rising. Workers face long hours and tough conditions. The situation could still worsen as the outbreak spreads.

On paper, Kerala’s death rate, at less than 0.4 percent, is one of India’s lowest. But even local officials acknowledge that the government’s data is lacking. Dr. Arun N.M., a physician who monitors the numbers, estimates that Kerala is catching only one in five deaths.

A relatively prosperous state of 35 million, Kerala presents particular challenges. Over 6 percent of its population works abroad, mostly in the Middle East. Extensive travel forces local officials to carefully track people’s whereabouts when a disease breaks out.

tackling a 2018 outbreak of the Nipah virus, a rare and dangerous disease.

As borders closed last year and migrant workers came home, the state’s disaster management team swung into action. Returning passengers were sent into home quarantine. If a person tested positive, local officials traced their contacts. Kerala’s testing rate has been consistently above India’s average, according to health data.

Experts say much of the credit for the system lies with K.K. Shailaja, a 64-year-old former schoolteacher who until this week was Kerala’s health minister. Her role in fighting the Nipah virus inspired a character in a 2019 movie.

drove India into recession. This year, Mr. Modi has resisted a nationwide lockdown, leaving local governments to take their own steps.

India’s states are also competing against each other for oxygen, medicine and vaccines.

“There has been a tendency to centralize decisions when things seemed under control and to deflect responsibility towards the states when things were not,” said Gilles Vernier, a professor of political science at Ashoka University.

has worsened the country’s outbreak, though they have been hindered by a lack of data. Kerala has used gene sequencing since November to track variants, helping to drive policy decisions, said Dr. Vinod Scaria, a scientist at the CSIR Institute of Genomics and Integrative Biology in New Delhi.

“It’s the only state that has not given up at any point in time,” Dr. Scaria said, adding that “they’re eager to use evidence to drive policies.”

A political shuffle has led some experts to wonder whether Kerala can keep its gains. Earlier this week, the Communist Party of India, which controls the state government, excluded Ms. Shailaja from its cabinet. The party said it wanted to give young leaders a chance, but observers wondered whether Ms. Shailaja had grown too popular. She didn’t respond to requests for comment.

“Even the best-performing governments,” Professor Vernier of Ashoka University said, “are not immune from shooting themselves in the foot due to misguided political calculations.”

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India’s Covid Vaccinations Fall as Its Outbreak Reaches New Highs

As India recorded a single-day high in new coronavirus cases on Thursday, its vaccination campaign has been marred by shortages and states are competing against one another to get doses, limiting the government’s hope that the country can soon emerge from a devastating outbreak.

The Indian health ministry recorded about 410,000 cases in 24 hours, a new global high, and 3,980 deaths, the highest daily death toll in any country outside the United States. Experts believe the number of actual infections and deaths is much higher.

A second wave of infections exploded last month, and some Indian states reintroduced partial lockdowns, but daily vaccination numbers have fallen. The government said it had administered nearly two million vaccine doses on Thursday, far lower than the 3.5 million doses a day it reached in March. Over the past week, 1.6 million people on average were vaccinated daily in the country of 1.4 billion.

India’s pace of vaccinations has become a source of global concern as its outbreak devastates the nation and spreads into neighboring countries, and as a variant first identified there begins to be found around the world. The outbreak has prompted India to keep vaccine doses produced by its large drug manufacturing industry at home instead of exporting them, slowing down vaccination campaigns elsewhere.

delay the expansion of vaccine access to younger age groups because of shortages.

India also lacks enough doses to meet the growing demand. Two domestic drug companies — the Serum Institute of India, which is manufacturing the vaccine developed by AstraZeneca, and Bharat Biotech, which is making its own vaccine — are producing fewer than 100 million doses per month.

About 3 percent of India’s population has been fully vaccinated, and 9.2 percent of people have received at least one dose. Experts say that at the current rate the country is unlikely to meet Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s target of inoculating 300 million people by August.

India has recorded 20.6 million coronavirus cases and more than 226,000 deaths, according to a New York Times database.

India’s government has said it will fast-track approvals of foreign-made vaccines, and on Wednesday the Biden administration said it would support waiving intellectual property protections for Covid-19 vaccines to increase supplies for lower-income countries.

approved the departure of family members of U.S. government employees in India and is urging American citizens to take advantage of commercial flights out of the country. It said on Wednesday that it would approve the voluntary departure of nonemergency U.S. government employees.

On Thursday, Sri Lanka became the latest country to bar travelers from India, joining the United States, Britain, Australia and others.

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Chlorinated U.S. Chickens Fuel British Consumers’ Fears

LONDON — In this post-Brexit, mid-pandemic moment in the United Kingdom, with its economy battered by recession and the royal family in mourning and turmoil, it is hard to find a topic that unites this fractious nation. But U.S. chickens — yes, the lowly, clucking farm animal, consumed daily by the millions in all 50 states — have done it.

Everybody hates them.

The odd thing is that U.S. chicken is not sold anywhere in Britain, and if people here get their way, it never will be.

What precisely have U.S. chickens done to so thoroughly appall the British, even though few of the latter have ever sampled the former?

The short answer is that some U.S. chicken carcasses are washed in chlorine, to eliminate potentially harmful pathogens. Americans for years have been devouring these birds without any fuss, but in Britain, U.S. chickens are now attached to the word “chlorinated” the way warning labels are attached to cigarettes — which is to say, always. U.S. chickens have been denounced by editorialists, academics, politicians, farmers and a wide variety of activists. In October, a group of protesters dressed in chicken costumes milled around Parliament.

forward an article that quoted the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, which stated that one in six American suffered from a food-borne illness every year. In the United Kingdom, that figure as tallied by the Food Standards Agency, the article continued, is one in 60.

The chlorine dunk isn’t just kind of gross, in other words. It’s ineffective.

Nonsense, says Tom Super, spokesman for the National Chicken Council, which represents the companies that process about 95 percent of U.S. chicken. He pointed out that the United Kingdom’s Food Standards Agency’s own website offers a caution about comparing food-borne illness numbers between countries.

the site reads. “This makes any comparison and interpretation of differences challenging.”

Mr. Super notes that only 5 percent of chickens are now washed with chlorine because the industry has moved on to a better cleaner. (Peracetic acid, if you’re curious.) But focusing on how chickens are washed misses the safety and care built into the U.S. system, he added, starting with how eggs are hatched and chickens are fed. Lower hygiene standards? A total canard, an excuse for protectionism, he says, and one that glosses over the findings of the European Food Safety Authority, which in 2008 could find no evidence that chlorinated chickens are unsafe.

“The science is on our side; the data is on our side,” said Mr. Super. “Americans eat about 150 million servings of chicken a day, and virtually all are eaten safely. We’d send the same chicken to the U.K. that we now feed our kids and that we send to 100 countries around the world.”

The timing for any U.S.-U.K. trade deal is unknown; the Biden administration has said little on the subject. Katherine Tai, the U.S. trade representative, said at her confirmation hearing that she wanted a pact that “prioritizes the interest of America’s workers and supports a strong recovery for our economy.”

Several trade experts said that negotiations could take years, largely because the deal doesn’t seem to be a high priority in the United States. But a long wait might be just what the British need, said Professor Boyd of St. Andrews. Agriculture here has long had a claim on the national psyche that far outweighs its actual economic significance, he explained. Consumers here are more interested in sustaining an institution — farming — than buying slightly cheaper cutlets. And lecturing the British public about studies and test results won’t change that.

“If we were to address fears about U.S. chicken with evidence-based arguments and expensive publicity campaigns, then something else would arise,” Professor Boyd said. “This is a sociopolitical problem which will be resolved through enlightened partnership to build a trading relationship, not by browbeating people with scientific facts.”

David Henig, director of the U.K. Trade Policy Project, which is part of a think tank in Brussels, said trade between the countries will carry on, using terms and agreements that have been in place for years, he said. When the United States is prepared to tackle the thornier issues, the British will be ready.

“The U.K. side is keen for a deal,” he said. “It’s just not keen about the chickens.”

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Key Chains and Teddy Bears in Riot Gear: Hong Kong Promotes National Security

HONG KONG — Teddy bears clad in black police riot gear, on sale for more than $60 apiece. Messages of gratitude to the authorities, pasted by children onto the walls of their schools. Uniformed police officers goose-stepping in formation, accompanied by a counterterrorism drill complete with a helicopter and hostage simulation.

This is National Security Education Day in Hong Kong, the first since the central Chinese government imposed a wide-ranging security law on the territory last year.

The law, a response to months of fierce and sometimes violent antigovernment protests that began in 2019, has become synonymous with the authorities’ efforts to clamp down on dissent and ensure staunch loyalty. And the panoply of activities on Thursday indicated how they plan to do so: with a mixture of cutesy cajolery and overt shows of force, for a law that an official once said should hang over Hong Kongers like a “sword of Damocles.”

“Any ‘hard resistance’ that undermines national security will be struck down by the law. Any ‘soft resistance’ will be regulated by the law,” Luo Huining, the central government’s top official in Hong Kong, said at a ceremony kicking off the day’s events.

arrest around 100 people, gut the political opposition and remake Hong Kong’s electoral system.

frequently deployed in 2019.

show of goose-stepping. Traditionally, many of the disciplined services in Hong Kong, a British colony until it was returned to Chinese rule in 1997, had marched in the British style. But the Chinese Army is known for the distinctive goose-step, in which the leg does not bend at the knee.

“After enjoying this wonderful performance,” an official website for National Security Education Day promised, viewers would be led inside to view armored vehicles, the explosives disposal team and recruitment information.

riot-gear-clad teddy bear, a pair of zip ties strapped to its chest ($62); key chains engraved with crowd-control phrases like “Disperse or we fire” and “Warning: Tear smoke” ($4 each); and a set of 18 three-inch figurines, clutching rifles and shields and bearing police warning flags about illegal assembly (“festive special offer”: $114).

It seemed unlikely that any sort of protest would break out in such a heavily fortified location. Still, officials seemed eager to forestall even a hint of the so-called soft resistance Mr. Luo had singled out in his speech. As journalists waited to enter the open house, security officers asked some who were wearing yellow or black face masks — colors associated with the pro-democracy movement — to swap them for blue ones the authorities provided.

four pro-democracy activists tried to march through parts of downtown, bearing a poster that said “Without democracy and human rights, there is no national security.” They were followed by dozens of police officers.

In other parts of the city, schoolchildren — including those in kindergarten — were enlisted in the promotion of national security. Education has been a particular focus for the authorities, who have blamed what they call biased curriculums for turning Hong Kong’s youth against the government.

On Thursday morning, many schools hosted ceremonies to raise China’s national flag and sing the national anthem (which the Hong Kong government last year made a crime to disrespect).

At the Wong Cho Bau middle school, which is run by a pro-Beijing teachers’ union, the principal told students during a morning assembly that national security should be incorporated into every part of their curriculum, including geography and biology classes, as well as weekly flag-raising ceremonies.

“These daily accumulations can help us construct our own national concept and identity, so as to achieve prosperity and glory for the country,” said the principal, Hui Chun-lung. “So everybody should study hard. If the youth are strong, then China is strong.”

Afterward, school officials showed off colorful slips of paper that students had filled out and pasted onto a “community mosaic wall.” “Please express your opinion toward the idea of ‘Support national security, guard our home,’” the prompt said.

In response, the students expressed their gratitude to the government and their relief that the pro-democracy protests had subsided. “Those people who protest everywhere are intolerable, destroying public places and hurting our home,” one student wrote.

Other students’ responses were even more effusive.

“I think the idea of supporting national security and guarding our home is extremely without problems! Support! Support! Extremely support!” one student wrote. “Whatever the national security law says, goes! I very much have no opinion!”

Joy Dong contributed research.

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