Creating news releases: easy and free publicity for your business

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Summary: If you’re not sending out news releases every month,
you’re missing out on free publicity for your business.

Total words: 700

Category: Small Business

Creating news releases: easy and free publicity for your business

Copyright (c) 2002 by Angela Booth

What’s news? You are! If you’re not creating monthly news
releases for your business, you’re missing out on giving your
business an instant boost.

As a tech journalist, I received dozens of news releases every
day. Most of them went into the recycling bin, or were used as
scrap paper.

However, the releases I did use received a fantastic boost of
free publicity and instant credibility for the businesses which
sent them.

Years ago, when I managed a dog training and boarding business,
we spent huge dollars every week buying display advertising in a
Sunday paper. It bit a massive chunk out of our cash flow, and I
knew there had to be a better way. At the time, I wrote romance
novels, and didn’t think of myself as a copywriter. However, I
figured that if I could get some free publicity for us, maybe we
could save on advertising.

I sent dozens of news releases to newspapers, radio stations, and
TV shows, and we got a wonderful response.

Lots of interviews and television appearances. Great coverage. I
managed to position our business as experts in dog behavioral
problems, so whenever anything dog-related made news, journalists
would call us as the experts on dog behavior. One of our trainers
would then give newspaper and TV interviews, dispensing advice
while promoting our business. Once the publicity ball got
rolling, the only paid advertising we needed to do was in the
Yellow Pages.

That taught me that if you’re willing to put thought, creativity,
and time into promoting your business, not only can you save on
advertising, but you can also build an image for your business.

=> The major element of your release

Here’s a list of the elements of a news story. The story you’re
presenting must contain at least one of these elements:

=> Rules for news releases

IDENTIFICATION: Display the words “News Release” prominently.
DATE THE RELEASE. LETTERHEAD: Use your own business letterhead.
(Create it in your word processor.) TIMING OF THE RELEASE:
Underneath the letterhead, type in caps, underlined: FOR
journalists and producers to make notes. FINISH OFF THE COPY:
type **ENDS** or ### at the end of the copy. CONTACT
INFORMATION: vital. You can end the release with it, or begin the
release with it, your preference. You need to include the name of
the contact person: you, or your client, or both of you, and the
phone numbers you can reliably be reached at.

=> The structure of a news release: the inverted pyramid

After you’ve done a lot of news releases, you’ll get in the habit
of writing in inverted-pyramid style automatically. “Inverted
pyramid” writing is used in newspapers.

You can remember what IV style is if you imagine it. Imagine a
pyramid. Stand it on its apex. You now have the broad base
uppermost. This signifies that the base of the story, or the root
of the story, comes first.

Therefore, news releases have this structure: a headline, and the
first paragraph giving the most important information. The first
graph tells the entire story.

Then each succeeding paragraph gives more information in order
of descending importance. You can chop off any of the later
paragraphs and still have the story make sense.

I like using a headline in a news release, but it’s optional.
Unlike the headline in an ad, your headline shouldn’t be cute or
gimmicky, it should summarize the story in five or six words. For
example: ‘Nursery Gives Away Free Trees’; ‘New Store Opens’;
‘Delaney Sponsors Local Swimmers’.

The first paragraph is your story in a nutshell: who, what, how,
when, where and why. It’s easy to write. Just state your case.
Tell who you are, what you’re doing, how you’re doing it, where
you’re doing it, and why.

For news release examples, visit .
( lets you send out free news releases.)

When you get into the swing of whizzing out monthly news
releases, they take less than an hour write. After all, they’re
just a page of straightforward information. However, that hour
can have a powerful impact on your business.

Make some news today!

***Resource box: if using, please include***

Author and copywriter Angela Booth crafts words for your
business. Words to sellScience Articles, educate or persuade. Contact her today
for a free quote:

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Celeb News and Gossip


Girl, do I enjoy bigwig news! I do not know why I am so celebrity struck, but it is endlessly been that way. I have constantly been intrigued with celebrities and their lives. When I was a little girl I sent fan letters to my preferred celebrities, the Pink Panther actor Peter Sellers was one and Jerry Lewis was another. I liked to hum along to my 45 rpm music to hits from the Beatles, hoping that John, Paul, George and Ringo would suddenly stop by my small home in Bethesda, MD, see me, and be so shocked they would stop and come knock on my door. While staying in L.A. as an adult, I soon came to discover that singers were just human beings, and sometimes not particularly nice ones. Star gossip spread like uncontrollable fire in Los Angeles. Everyone knew someone, that knew someone, who SWORE that a story about a star was true. The most famous tall tale, and one that did not die down for years, was about Richard Gere. A friend of my cousin present in the ER that day and he claimed that… The latest bit of star rumours that, unfortunately, turned out to be true, was a few months ago when I got a message from my relative in Orange County mentioning Michael J. is dead. My initial guess was Michael Jordan, but when I looked to the web I saw that the globe was ablaze with the rumors that Michael Jackson had been driven to the hospital, unconscious. When I contacted my relative and said that MJ was not dead, he said, Believe me. My spouse works in Pediatrics at Cedars Sinai and she knows someone who works in the facility …You know the rest!

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celebrity news blogs, ladies fashion, fashion tips

Ken Shimura, famed Japanese comedian, dead at 70 after contracting coronavirus

Ken Shimura, famed Japanese comedian, dead at 70 after contracting coronavirus

Shimura suffered pneumonia-like symptoms and passed away on Sunday night, his agency, Izawa Office, told CNN.
He reported symptoms, including fatigue, on March 17 and was hospitalized on March 20 with severe pneumonia before testing positive for coronavirus on March 23.
Shimura is likely to be deeply mourned in Japan. He has been described as “Japan’s Robin Williams,” with the country’s television networks heavily covering his death.
What are organizers up against now the 2020 Olympics have been moved to next year?
Shimura began his comedy career in 1974 after joining the comedy group Drifters. He was known across Japan for his Charlie Chaplin-like “Mustache Dance.”
In his memoir, Shimura said he was inspired by American comedian Jerry Lewis.
Japan’s health ministry recorded 173 new cases of coronavirus on Sunday, with 68 in Tokyo.
This is the biggest single-day spike for the capital and comes a week after the 2020 Olympics scheduled to be held in the city were postponed until next year.

Published at Mon, 30 Mar 2020 08:44:41 +0000

Affiliates need to read their Newspaper.

Millions of people check the news everyday– in the morning paper, online, and on the nightly news. But far too often affiliates do not find out what has occurred in affiliate marketing that day; this is important because affiliate marketing changes daily. There are many resources for affiliate marketers to learn about the day’s happenings. The best way to learn about the changes in affiliate marketing is by visiting forums often.
Forums provide a great resource by allowing new affiliates to learn from the experts. New affiliates hear and learn about the different opinions and techniques that are used in the industry. In turn, this information helps educate the affiliates and helps them decide whether they agree or disagree on the particular subject or technique. By visiting forums often you can learn timesaving tips as well as common mistakes that you can avoid.
Here are some of the most popular forums that are most useful for affiliates
Who it’s for: affiliate program managers and affiliate marketers.
With over 14,000 members this is a vast pool of knowledge that you can draw from.
Who it’s for: webmasters and marketing managers.
For all of your questions about anything having to do with Web design, this is the place to go. There are a lot of quality discussions that are segmented as well as moderated.
·Search Engine Watch Forums.
Who it’s for: webmasters and affiliate marketers.
Here you can find discussions and questions that deal with all aspects of search engines. Some of the topics include: Questions on specific search engines and directories, specific discussions on search engine optimization and web marketing, general search issues, and current issues.
Who it’s for: webmasters, affiliate program managers, and affiliate marketers.
This site is a great location to find articles on various topics and learn about what is news worthy in the industry.
There are also forums strictly for affiliate managers. Here, managers can learn about those issues that are strictly pertinent for them, such as keeping an affiliate program in-house or outsourcing. You can visit to learn more about some of the options that are available to managers. These forums provide a great resource to learn about the technical details of running a program.
Forums teach valuable information about affiliate marketing that will make help make affiliate sites more successful. By visiting and posting often in these forums many people become experts on certain topics. Networking opportunities will also arise. Many of these forums help industry leaders form business relationships. Forums are an amazing resource; do not overlook them because they are vital to ones success. Since affiliate marketing changes everydayComputer Technology Articles, one should visit them as often as you watch or read the daily news.

America’s terrible, growing coronavirus death toll makes Trump accept reality

America’s terrible, growing coronavirus death toll makes Trump accept reality

Trump’s extension of social distancing guidelines until April 30 is a highly significant move that means American life will remain shut down for at least a month, and probably longer.
Despite cascading humanitarian and political impacts of that decision, the devastating toll of the virus left Trump little choice — even though some conservative backers have been urging him to ease lockdowns.
A President, who a month ago was predicting a miracle that would just make the virus go away, was presented with cataclysmic figures that 2.2 million Americans could die if he indulged his itch to start reopening the economy in the coming week.
“Nothing would be worse than declaring victory before the victory is won,” Trump, who last week repeatedly suggested that win was near, said Sunday, extending restrictions due to expire on Monday for another month at least.
Trump’s decision to listen to his advisers will relieve public health officials and emergency physicians countrywide and shows that he is, in extremis, willing to listen to science — in a way that would be a given for most presidents but has not been so for a commander-in-chief who has so often blurred truth.
Fact check: Trump falsely denies saying two things he said last week
The President appeared at a Sunday evening news briefing in which he rattled off multiple false statements, called corporate CEOs to the mic to praise his leadership and falsely and personally attacked journalists who asked him tough questions.
He also bizarrely appeared to accuse health workers of stealing surgical masks amid huge shortages brought on by terrible conditions in hospitals and accused states of “hoarding” ventilators. Trump also boasted about his own TV ratings.
His antics appeared especially questionable given the sobering apparent reality that tens of thousands of Americans will die in the coming weeks as the pandemic takes a terrible hold.
At a desperate moment in America’s modern history, Trump appears to continue to be focused intently on his own political image, claiming personal credit and remaining highly sensitive to any form of criticism.
Trump’s reversal appeared to be the latest occasion when his officials have brought flattery and the power of argument to bear to change his mind on leadership decisions that were apparently based on hunches and limited reasoning.
On Saturday for instance, he floated the idea of quarantining New York — without consulting local officials, only for his subordinates to convince him the idea was not possible.

Trump concedes death toll could be 100,000 or more

Trump predicted the death rate in the US — which doubled from Thursday to Sunday — could peak within two weeks but the nation could get “to the bottom of the hill” by June 1.
Even that figure seems characteristically optimistic. “We should be so lucky,” Rhode Island emergency physician Megan Ranney told CNN, pointing out that only even if social distancing were adopted nationwide now, two weeks was probably not sufficient for all of the most critical cases to emerge.
He had been desperate to start some county-by-county opening of the economy in the days to come. But the President’s decision — potentially a turning point in the nation’s fight against the pandemic — appears to have followed concerted lobbying by two top public health officials, Dr. Anthony Fauci and Dr. Deborah Birx.
LISTEN: The Coronavirus: Fact vs. Fiction Podcast
Trump predicted his decision would save hundreds of thousands of lives, in an apparent moving of the political goalposts to account for the fast worsening US pandemic.
“2.2 million people would have died if we didn’t do what we are doing,” the President said.
“If we can hold that number down … to 100,000, it’s a horrible number, maybe even less … we all, all together have done a very good job,” Trump said.
The new April 30 date marks yet another reversal of position on the pandemic by the President, who last week made clear he did not pick the Easter date, April 12, based on data but because it was a “beautiful timeline.” Shrugging off his row back, Trump claimed Sunday that Easter had only been an “aspirational date.”
Almost no one, who closely followed the science, modeling and data — including governors, health experts and commentators thought Trump’s original timeline was smart.
Fauci explained Sunday that the US death toll, based on modeling, could reach 100,000 deaths or more, a comment first made on CNN.
US could see millions of coronavirus cases and 100,000 or more deaths, Fauci says
“I think it’s entirely conceivable that if we do not mitigate to the extent we are trying to do is that you could reach that number,” Fauci said at the White House news conference.
He described Trump’s decision as a wise and prudent one.
Earlier on Sunday, Trump’s rationale for a county-by-county reopening of the economy was undercut by comments from his top official.
“I’m not against releasing the restrictions. I’m actually for it in an appropriate place. But I don’t recommend it unless we have the tools in place in real time,” Fauci said.
Birx also undermined the rationale for Trump’s plan to put in place new recommendations for social distancing after options were presented to him during the weekend.
“We all are deeply concerned and why we’ve been raising the alert in all metro areas and in all states,” Birx said Sunday on NBC’s “Meet the Press.”
“No state, no metro area will be spared,” Birx said. “At this moment, we are asking every single governor and every single mayor to prepare like New York is preparing now.”

Pelosi claims Trump ‘fiddles’ while people die

The darkening mood over the pandemic did not convince Trump to moderate his extreme political rhetoric.
On Sunday, two journalists, Yamiche Alcindor of the PBS NewsHour and CNN’s Jeremy Diamond, read the President’s own controversial comments back to him — which he denied in real-time on television.
“We’re getting the word out. We’re getting the accurate word out,” Trump told reporters.
In another example of the President being corrected, he said last week on Fox News that he just didn’t believe calls for 30,000 new ventilators, apparently referring to warnings of a shortage of the life saving equipment from New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo. Fauci effectively corrected Trump on Sunday.
“I tend to believe Governor Cuomo,” Fauci told CNN.
“One way or the other, he needs the ventilators that he needs. And, hopefully, we will get him the ventilators that he needs.”
Civil liberties in the time of coronavirus
The generational challenge of the coronavirus pandemic would have tested any administration. And any President would have racked up failures under such intense pressure.
But Trump’s incessantly confusing positions, claims of huge personal success and willingness to politicize are raising scrutiny of his own administration’s performance.
His litany of false statements and misleading statistics — for instance his claim the US had tested far more people than South Korea — even though on a per capita basis the US figure is far lower, also focus criticism on his handling of the situation.
The President again celebrating what he says is the low mortality rate in the US comes across as in poor taste when the death toll in the United States is soaring.
Trump is not the only senior political leader willing to inject explosive political language into the debate.
House Speaker Nancy Pelosi on Sunday highlighted Trump’s initial handling of the epidemic in her own interview with CNN, which contained exceedingly strong language.
“The President, his denial at the beginning, was deadly. His delaying of getting equipment to where it — it continues, his delay in getting equipment to where it’s needed is deadly,” Pelosi told Jake Tapper on CNN’s “State of the Union.”
“As the President fiddles, people are dying and we have to, we just have to take every precaution,” Pelosi said.

Published at Mon, 30 Mar 2020 08:48:34 +0000

A police officer is wearing a coronavirus helmet to warn people to stay inside during India’s lockdown

A police officer is wearing a coronavirus helmet to warn people to stay inside during India’s lockdown

Rajesh Babu, a police inspector in the southern city of Chennai, wears a specially constructed coronavirus helmet while stopping vehicles and pedestrians at checkpoints.
The helmet is covered in red spikes with bulbs on the end, just like the microscopic image of the coronavirus, which causes the disease Covid-19.
Police inspector Rajesh Babu in a coronavirus-themed helmet, talking to commuters in Chennai, India, on March 28.
Local artist B. Gowtham, founder of the Chennai-based organization Art Kingdom, came up with the helmet after noticing a lack of public awareness around the pandemic and preventative measures.
“People are not hygienic enough,” Gowtham said. “We have government orders not to come out — but still, we’re seeing people roaming here and there without proper safety equipment, without masks.”
Gowtham thought people weren’t taking the illness seriously because it seemed invisible. So he decided to create something whereby they could actually see the virus coming toward them.
Then, he said, “people will be frightened.”

Gowtham went to his nearest police station. “They’ve been working continuously, so I wanted to reduce their workload and make people more aware,” he said. After getting their support, he got to work.
Every store was shut, so he improvised, using newspapers and tissue paper to create the helmet and its spikes — then gave it to police inspector Babu, who loved the idea.
Wearing the helmet, Babu stops people in cars or motorcycles, especially when he sees them not wearing face masks. He tells them about the necessity of social distancing and protective personal equipment, and urges them not to go outside for nonessential reasons.
Artist B. Gowtham created the coronavirus helmet, which was then used by police inspector Rajesh Babu in Chennai, India.
Dressed as the coronavirus, he would say: “If you come out, I will come in.”
The helmet has been well received, Gowtham said, with a number of commuters thanking Babu for the information and agreeing to stay home.
India has recorded 1,024 cases of the coronavirus and 27 deaths, according to data from Johns Hopkins University.
Prime Minister Narendra Modi announced the lockdown last Tuesday, and it went into effect midnight that day. The short notice could be one reason why people were caught off guard, Gowtham said.
The lockdown will last for at least 21 days, and applies to all of India’s 36 states and union territories — home to more than 1.3 billion people.
All shops, factories, offices, markets, religious spaces and construction sites are closed, with some interstate transportation suspended. Only essential services including health, grocery or firefighting services, among others, remain in operation.
In a monthly radio address to the nation on Sunday, Modi apologized for the lockdown and the difficulties it imposed on citizens, but reiterated that it was “the only option.”
“I understand your troubles but there was no other way to wage a war against corona for a country like India with a population of 1.3 billion,” he said. “It is a battle of life and death and we have to win it. Therefore, such strong measures were absolutely necessary.”

Published at Mon, 30 Mar 2020 07:31:47 +0000

A cruise ship headed to Florida has reported more sick people on board after 4 die and 2 test positive for Covid-19

A cruise ship headed to Florida has reported more sick people on board after 4 die and 2 test positive for Covid-19

Holland America’s Zaandam began transiting the Panama Canal late Sunday night after being docked off the coast of Panama for several days. The boat and its occupants have been in limbo for weeks awaiting permission to disembark after several South American ports denied the ship’s entry.
Four people have died aboard the ship, the cruise line announced Friday. At least two people tested positive for coronavirus on the ship on Thursday, according to Holland America.
Zaandam and another Holland America ship, the Rotterdam, are traversing the canal “under extraordinary conditions and for humanitarian reasons,” a statement from the Panama Canal said Sunday.
Passengers not experiencing symptoms were transferred from the Zaandam to the Rotterdam Saturday, Holland America said in a statement.

The ship could arrive in Florida Wednesday

Holland America previously announced its intention to travel to Fort Lauderdale, but officials at Port Everglades said Sunday that passengers were not cleared to disembark at that port.
The Zaandam cruise ship was given permission to travel the Panama Canal Sunday.
It will take about three days for the ships to reach South Florida once they start transiting the canal, the statement from Port Everglades said.
Holland America must submit a plan prior to arrival that addresses a long list of Unified Command requirements for entry into Port Everglades before being allowed to port, according to the statement.
The ship departed Buenos Aires on March 7 and no one has been off the ship since March 14 in Punta Arenas, Chile.
The Zaandam had booked transit through the Canal for April 1, 2020 since April 2018, according to the canal statement.

Passengers and crew suffering flu-like illness

A total of 189 people — 73 guests and 116 crew members — on board the Zaandam are suffering from flu-like symptoms as of late Sunday night, according to a statement from Holland America.
Some on board the ship say the situation is dire and passengers have been confined to their state rooms for weeks.
Maximilian Jo’s parents, Jae, 76, and Julitta, 75, are both on board the Zaandam.
Jo told CNN in an email Sunday that his father was suffering from a fever for hours before being brought Tylenol by the crew. He has been communicating with his parents by email, he said.
Holland America's Zaandam cruise ship has 189 sick people on board.
The couple, from Long Island, New York, departed on the ship March 7 days before the cruise line announced they would suspend global operations, Jo said.
They had considered not going on the cruise but when they reached out to Holland America they were told a refund would not be given for their scheduled trip, according to Jo.
Another passenger on the ship, Clifford Kolber, told CNN Friday he and his wife have been in isolation on the Zaandam since last Sunday. Both have pre-existing conditions.
He hopes that they will be able to dock and disembark before thing get worse.
“We just want the ports in the country to help us because don’t want more people to die,” Kolber said.

Published at Mon, 30 Mar 2020 07:42:50 +0000

ISIS members riot and break out of Syrian prison

ISIS members riot and break out of Syrian prison

The Ghweran prison, located in the northeastern city of Hasakah, is run by the Kurdish Syrian Democratic Forces (SDF), a key US partner in the fight against ISIS.
ISIS prisoners took over the first floor floor of the prison, tore down some of the internal walls, and destroyed the doors, Mustafa Bali, head of the SDF press office, said in a tweet Sunday.
“Some of them managed to escape and the search for them is ongoing,” he added.
Inside, prisoners staged a riot that authorities struggled to control. “The situation is tense inside the prison currently ” Bali said. “The anti-terrorist forces are dealing with the situation to restore control of the ground floor in the prison and restore calm to the prison in general.”
A US military official confirmed to CNN Sunday that there was an ongoing situation at the prison. CNN reporters on the ground could hear loud chanting from prisoners inside.
The identities of the ISIS members who escaped, and how many of them did, is not yet clear.
The US-led military coalition fighting ISIS is providing aerial surveillance assistance in an attempt to find them, the coalition said in a statement.
“The SDF is quelling the insurrection. The Hasakah facility holds low-level ISIS members. The Coalition does not staff any detention facilities or camps in Syria,” said the statement.
The SDF is responsible for all ISIS prisons in northern Syria. These camps and prisons hold some 11,000 to 12,000 ISIS fighters captured on the battlefield, as well as those displaced by the fight against ISIS.

Published at Mon, 30 Mar 2020 07:47:58 +0000

Health, Beauty and Anti-Aging News

1. Hormone Replacement Therapy may trigger higher cancer risk.

A recent follow-up study to the affects of hormone replacement therapy suggests new risks for other cancers, particularly lung tumors, for women who had taken HRT for a period of 5 years or more. These risks had not been seen in the original HRT study and were completely unanticipated as stated by the author of the follow-up analysis.

2. Want beautiful skin – food secrets for beautiful skin New Findings

A recent study has finding to combat dry skin by adjusting diet. Lower estrogen levels, which occur with early menopause symptoms, reduce your body’s production of collagen. Collagen is the substance that’s key to having strong, supple, beautiful skin. How to have beautiful skin? Eating more omega-3 fatty acids is now a recommended course of action. These fats strengthen skin cell walls, keeping the moisture where you need it. Omega-3 fatty acids come from fish like tuna or salmon. The study further reports Omega-3 fatty acid supplements may be helpful.

3. Cigarette smoke, whether direct or secondhand, is major cause of aging and wrinkled skin.

A recent study shows whether you smoke, or spend time with a smoker, cigarette smoke may be the most damaging to the aging process and firm elastic skin. Cigarette smoking, or close proximity to it, significantly increases skin wrinkles and dryness. The research has found there are two major reasons for accelerating aging and wrinkled skin. First is the actual act of smoking and the ingredients in tobacco that damage the body’s ability to fight free radicals. Secondly, cigarette smoke depletes your body of vitamin C, which is a key ingredient for keeping the skin plump and moist. The latest studies show that exposure to cigarette smoke is actually as damaging to skin as the exposure to the sun’s ultraviolet rays. If there is significant exposure to cigarette smoke and ultraviolet rays, it will greatly accelerate the aging process.

4. Stress hormones drop by 50% drinking black tea.

A study done by the University College in London England demonstrated that participants who drank several daily cups of black tea had their levels of the stress hormone, cortisol, drop by 47% within one hour.

5. Women’s health care study says applying moisturizer quickly is best.

Moisturize, moisturize, moisturize. A recent study from a noted skin care institute confirms dry skin needs moisture. Applying moisturizer lotion within 3 minutes of getting out of the bath or shower is most effective. Contrary to popular belief, moisturizer lotion does not add moisture to the skin; it traps existing water in the skin, which prevents the water from evaporating. To trap water in the skin from a bath or shower, moisturizer must be applied within 3 minutes of bathing. Consistently using moisturizer lotion will decrease dryness and itching.

Social distancing is a privilege of the middle class. For India’s slum dwellers, it will be impossible

Social distancing is a privilege of the middle class. For India’s slum dwellers, it will be impossible

His situation is desperate. The tiny home has no running water or toilet, his family is low on food — and when he doesn’t go to work, he doesn’t get paid.
Mahender is trying to comply with Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s 21-day nationwide lockdown, intended to help stop coronavirus spreading further among the country’s 1.3 billion people. India has recorded 1,024 cases and 27 deaths.
“Social distancing is not just for the sick, but for each and every person, including you and even your family,” Modi said in a nationwide address last week.
That might work for India’s middle and upper classes, who can hunker down in their condos and houses, preen their terrace gardens, eat from their well-stocked pantries and even work from home, using modern technology.
But the chaos unfolding across India in recent days has spelled out that for the 74 million people — one sixth of the population — who live cheek by jowl in the country’s slums, social distancing is going to be physically and economically impossible.
Indian migrant workers wait to board buses to return to their home villages as a nationwide lockdown continues on March 28, 2020, on the outskirts of New Delhi, India.
“The lanes are so narrow that when we cross each other, we cannot do it without our shoulders rubbing against the other person,” said Mahender. “We all go outdoors to a common toilet and there are 20 families that live just near my small house.
“We practically all live together. If one of us falls sick, we all will.”
At least one person in a Mumbai slum has already tested positive for the novel coronavirus. As panic grows among India’s most vulnerable, thousands of migrant workers are trying to flee the slums for their rural homes, by bus and even by foot, sparking fears they will import the virus to the countryside.
In a radio address Sunday, acknowledging the chaos the lockdown had brought India’s poor, Modi asked the nation for forgiveness. But he also urged listeners to understand there was no other option.

1 toilet for 1,440 people

Water is one of the biggest reasons India’s poor need to leave home every day.
Sia, a slum dweller and migrant construction worker in Gurugram, near New Delhi, wakes up at 5 a.m. and defies Modi’s call to stay indoors. The reason? She needs to walk 100 meters (328 feet) to a water tank that serves her slum of 70 migrant construction workers.
She is not the only one. Most women from the construction site slum wash together there every morning and collect water for the day. With no showers or bathrooms in their homes, this communal tap is their only water source.
The government’s Clean India Mission, launched in 2014 to improve infrastructure and eliminate open defecation, claims that 100% of Indian households now have access to toilets.
But Puneet Srivastava, manager of policy at NGO WaterAid India, said the focus of the Clean India Mission has largely been on building household toilets, and a considerable number of slum-like regions have not been included.
In Dharavi in Mumbai, for example, there is only one toilet per 1,440 residents, according to a recent CFS study — and 78% of community toilets in Mumbai’s slums lack a water supply, according to 2019 Greater Mumbai Municipal Corporation survey.
On Sunday, Ministry of Housing and Urban Affairs Secretary Durga Shanker Mishra said: “There is 100% toilet coverage in India, whether people have access to personal toilets in slums or not doesn’t matter. They can use communal toilets.”
Indian migrant workers stuck in the national capital try to board buses to return to their home villages.
Sania Ashraf, an epidemiologist who works on water, sanitation, hygiene and respiratory illness, said the Clean India Mission had increased private toilets as well as community or pay-per-use public toilet coverage — but during a pandemic, having access to a shared toilet means little if it is not clean.
Furthermore, poor ventilation can trap contaminated aerosols and “facilitate transmission of the virus,” said Ashraf.
That is especially worrying in light of evidence that patients shed the virus through feces, raising the possibility of transmission in communal toilets and places where there is still open defecation.

Workers at risk

The next reason slum-dwellers cannot isolate is simple: they need to work.
Daily wage migrant workers generally live hand-to-mouth, earning between 138-449 Indian rupees ($1.84-$5.97) per day, according to the International Labour Organization.
“They belong to the unorganized sector, they don’t get paid the day they don’t go to work,” says economist Arun Kumar. “It’s not just the past few days since the lockdown started, but the momentum towards it has been building up for the past 20 days.
“Supply chains have shut down. Employment is lost. They have no money to purchase essentials. And unlike the rich, they cannot afford to stock up. They buy on a daily basis but now the shelves are empty.”
Sonia Manikraj, a 21-year-old teacher who lives in the Dharavi slum, said: “I have to step out to buy food and since grocery shops here are open only from 11 a.m. to 3 p.m. and the roads are quite narrow, there is always a crowd.”
Consequently, workers are faced with an agonizing dilemma: go out to work and risk infection, or stay home and face extreme hunger.
Slum dwellers, mostly without face masks, say hunger will kill them not coronavirus as they cannot go out to work during the nationwide lockdown.
Some workers have no choice. Cleaners, for example, are considered to provide an essential service, and are therefore exempted from the lockdown.
“They are required to go to work every day,” said Milind Ranade, the founder of Kachra Vahatuk Shramik Sangh, a Mumbai-based organization focused on labor issues. “Some even collect hospital waste and then come back and live in these crowded chawls (slums).”
They are not given any protective gear, such as masks or gloves, said Ranade, and there has not been an awareness campaign to educate them of the dangers of coronavirus transmission.
“What will happen when they fall sick?” Ranade added.
The government’s $22.5 billion economic stimulus package includes medical insurance cover of 5 million rupees ($66,451) per person for front-line workers such as nurses, doctors, paramedics and cleaners in government hospitals.
“It may cover the sanitation worker but what about all the others who live around him in the slum and who are equally at risk of contracting the disease from him?” said Raju Kagada, a union leader of sanitation workers in Mumbai.
Kumar said more vigorous coronavirus testing would help. As of March 29, India had conducted 34,931 tests, according to the Indian Council of Medical Research — or 19 tests per million people. Kumar said testing at a private hospital or lab in India costs 4,500 rupees ($60), while free tests in government hospitals are very limited.
Mahender is a cleaner for a residential community in Mumbai, earning 5,000 rupees ($66) a month, which he uses to support his wife, three children and his 78-year-old father. If he needs medical care, it will not be covered by the stimulus package provisions.
“My phone has been ringing nonstop and the residents of the building where I clean have been calling me back to work,” he said. “But I have to go into the building, outside each person’s house and collect their trash.
“I have not been given a mask or gloves, not even a soap to wash my hands before my meals. I know if I don’t go today, they will hire someone else?”

Migrants who want to go home

Over the weekend, tens of thousands of India’s 45 million economic migrant workers began long, arduous journeys back to their rural villages. With India’s rail network temporarily shut, many had no choice but to try walking hundreds of miles home.
There was little reason to stay. Most had lost their jobs in the cities due to the lockdown, and the slums have the potential to feed the spread of the virus.
Researchers from the Center For Sustainability said last week that while the reproductive ratio (R naught) for Covid-19 — the disease caused by the coronavirus — globally is between two and three, in India’s slums it could be 20% higher due to the dense living conditions.
As the slum exodus began, on Saturday the state governments of Uttar Pradesh, Bihar and Haryana arranged for hundreds of buses to ferry migrants home, causing chaotic scenes as thousands descended upon stations trying to claw their way onto buses.
Migrant workers and their family members walk along a highway in a desperate bid to return to their village.
On Sunday, however, Modi urged all states to seal their borders to stop the virus being imported into rural areas. Officials are now scrambling to find millions of migrant workers who had already returned to small towns and villages across the country, in order to quarantine them for 14 days.
Sia, who lives on the construction site in Gurugram, wasn’t able to catch a bus. Her options of escaping the slum during the coronavirus outbreak are looking bleak.
“Since our work has stopped, I haven’t been paid for 20 days. I get paid $5 a day, the little money I earn helps my family survive,” she said.
“As everything is shutting down, I believe we have no option but to live in this poverty and filth in the city.”

Published at Mon, 30 Mar 2020 06:36:26 +0000