(Image: Eamonn McCormack/PA Wire)

The biggest lockdown in the world

Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi has imposed a 21-day lockdown in an attempt to slow the coronavirus spread.

“There will be a total ban on venturing out of your homes,” Modi told the country, which represents nearly a fifth of the world’s population, in a televised address

Crowds quickly swamped stores in cities across the country, stripping shelves bare before the lockdown took affect. The BBC reports it is not clear how people will now buy food and other essentials. India has a relatively low number of reported cases so far — just over 600 among its 1.3 billion people — but the combination of extremely high population density and a weak public health system makes a serious outbreak a real risk.

Further, the lockdown will be catastrophic for the millions of Indians who work in the informal sector and rely on a subsistence daily wage.

“The kind of devastation that is going to be faced by the bottom 50% of the workers in the informal sector is unimaginable,” professor Jayati Ghosh, an economist at the Jawaharlal Nehru University in New Delhi, told The New York Times.

But anyone desperate enough to leave their homes and seek work could face even worse consequences, with Telangana Chief Minister K. Chandrasekhar Rao warning that he may issue “shoot at site”orders if people failed to take the lockdown seriously.

Corona is Italian for crown

Prince Charles has joined the odd collection of celebrities whose shared diagnosis of COVID-19 will make a fun pub quiz question in 10 years (assuming pubs, quizzes, the concept of fun, or the human race survive that long).

Charles has been avoiding handshakes during the crisis using the “namaste” gesture, which is sort of sweet if you don’t think about it for more than a second.

Things get interesting when you realise what his last public engagement was: a charity dinner on March 12 at Mansion House for victims of Australian’s horrifying bushfire season, hobnobbing with, among others Australian High Commissioner to the United Kingdom George Brandis and middling observation maker Adam Hills.

While the palace “can’t rule out” that he caught it there, the corollary — whether he already had it and passed it on to any of the people with whom he shared a mike that night — also seems worth bringing up?

Legends taken

To a man who’s unquestionably earned the title of king: legendary Cameroonian saxophonist Manu Dibango has died of COVID-19 at the age of 86.

His collaborators over the years including US jazz legend Herbie Hancock and Nigeria’s Afrobeat pioneer Fela Kuti. He is perhaps best known outside his home country for his lawsuit against Michael Jackson for similarities between his 1972 classic “Soul Makossa” and Jackson’s “Wanna Be Starting Something”. See if you can pick the similiarities.

And the great American playwright Terrence McNally has died of complications from the coronavirus at 81. He counted Tony Award winners like “Love! Valour! Compassion!” and “Master Class” and musicals such as “Ragtime” and “Kiss of the Spider Woman” among his considerable body of work, and was pioneering in his work dealing with homophobia and AIDS.

By the numbers

While it’s bad everywhere, New South Wales is continuing to have the most calamitous time with the coronavirus. Following the disastrous decision to allow infected Ruby Princess cruise passengers to disembark untested, it is once again reporting by far the most new cases of any state.

New cases by state and territory