With more than 31,000 cases, Mumbai accounts for more than a fifth of India’s coronavirus infections and nearly a quarter of deaths. The BBC’s Yogita Limaye finds out why India’s financial capital is so badly affected. Mumbai has long been described as a city always on the run. It sounds like a cliché, but as someone who has lived here most of my life, I can confirm it’s true. Even during the 2008 attack, on a day when there were active gunmen in south Mumbai, in other parts of the city, trains were running, millions went to work, and restaurants and offices remained open. But Covid-19 has turned the city into a ghost town as a stringent lockdown remains in place with no easing of restrictions. It has also left its medical infrastructure on the brink of collapse.
During the 20 years that Alejandro Carrillo has worked in the United States, he has always sent money home. Earnings from his time with construction crews in Florida were enough to provide food and an education to each of his seven children and to build his wife a house in which to raise them. It was also enough to later help his 33-year-old son, José Carrillo, purchase a small, green car to start a taxi business. Funds sent back to Central America from migrants who work in economically developed countries are a lifeline to families like the Carrillos. Remittances represent a steady cash flow which keeps receivers out of poverty and provides a safety net in times of crisis.
The charity which runs the national domestic abuse helpline has had a 10-fold increase in visits to its website in the past two weeks. Refuge said numbers have “spiked again significantly” since it started recording rises during lockdown. The charity said the lockdown itself does not cause domestic abuse but “can aggravate pre-existing behaviours in an abusive partner”. Police figures suggest a wide regional variation in calls about abuse. Fears that social conditions created by the coronavirus lockdown could result in a spike in domestic abuse led the government to boost funding for services by £76m
A BBC team tracking coronavirus misinformation has found links to assaults, arsons and deaths. And experts say the potential for indirect harm caused by rumours, conspiracy theories and bad health information could be much bigger. “We thought the government was using it to distract us,” says Brian Lee Hitchens, “or it was to do with 5G. So we didn’t follow the rules or seek help sooner.” Brian, 46, is talking by phone from his hospital bed in Florida. His wife is critically ill – sedated, on a ventilator in an adjacent ward.
India has announced plans to further ease a strict national lockdown even as the country reported a record daily rise in new coronavirus cases. From 8 June, restaurants, hotels, shopping centres and places of worship will be allowed to re-open in many areas in the first stage of a three-phase plan. Weeks later, probably in July, schools and colleges will resume teaching. But areas with high numbers of Covid-19 cases will remain under tight lockdown.
South Africa leads this continent in many ways. Right now, it is poised to lead Africa into the next, most dangerous phase of the pandemic, as the country braces itself for a dramatic rise in infections that will almost certainly overwhelm its relatively well-resourced healthcare system. Here are eight things it can teach the rest of Africa.