Coronavirus Outbreak (2019-20): A Personal Journal

Disclaimer: I have created this page to share in a timely manner with my close friends, colleagues, students, and family members important information about the coronavirus outbreak that is ravaging the entire world right now. While I am making my best effort to fact-check each piece of information, the reader is solely responsible for the outcome of any of his/her decisions taken based on the data/information/suggestion/advice written on this website.

Posts are written in reverse chronological order.

Post 8: Entire India Under Lockdown

DATE/TIME: MARCH 25, 6:50PM (IST), 2020.

Yesterday, the PM announced that the entire India will be under lockdown for 21 days. It is unprecedented.

Post 7: Celebrities (Famous and Infamous) Infected With New Coronavirus

DATE/TIME: MARCH 23, 2:30PM (IST), 2020.

  1. Sophie Gregoire Trudeau
  2. Lorenzo Sanz (dead)
  3. Paulo Maldini
  4. Tom Hanks
  5. Rita Wilson
  6. Fellaini
  7. Idris Elba
  8. Harvey Weinstein
  9. David Bryan
  10. Prince Charles

Post 6: Lockdown of 75 districts in India and What It Means

DATE/TIME: MARCH 22, 9PM (IST), 2020.

The following districts will be under lockdown from tomorrow.

Andhra Pradesh: Prakasam, Vijaywada and Vizag                          Chandigarh: Chandigarh 
Chhattisgarh: Raipur
Delhi: Central, East Delhi, North Delhi, North West Delhi, North East Delhi, South Delhi and West Delhi
Gujarat: Kutchh, Rajkot, Gandhinagar, Surat, Vadodara, and Ahmedabad
Haryana: Faridabad, Sonepat, Panchkula, Panipat and Gurugram
Himachal Pradesh: Kangra
Jammu & Kashmir: Srinagar and Jammu
Karnataka: Bangalore, Chikkaballapura, Mysore, Kodagu and Kalaburgi
Kerala: Alappuzha, Ernakulam, Idukki, Kannur, Kasargod, Kottayam, Mallapuram, Pathanamthitta, Thiruvananthapuram and Thrissur
Ladakh: Kargil and Leh
Now what is meaning of lockdown of an area?
Government of West Bengal Order below clarifies that. I assume it would be identical or very similar in other states.

POST 5: Indian Railways

DATE/TIME: MARCH 22, 3:30PM (IST), 2020.

In an unprecedented move, all passengers trains (not the freight/goods trains) will remain suspended from running until March 31, 2020.

POST 4: MHRD

DATE/TIME: MARCH 22, 3PM (IST), 2020.

The secretary of Ministry of Human Resource Development, GoI has issued the following guidelines to all autonomous institutes funded by it (like IIT Bhilai where I work). Main takeaway: work-from-home. (Courtesy: Dr. Santosh Biswas)

POST 3: USA

DATE/TIME: MARCH 22, 11:45AM (IST), 2020.

I do not know what I should say at this hour of procession of dead bodies worldwide, I see a silver lining that USA was able to reduce the daily new deaths for three successive days. (source: worldometers.info)

Post 2: Kolkata

DATE/TIME: MARCH 22, 11:15AM (IST), 2020.

Private testing labs in Kolkata are the following (source: NABL website https://nabl-india.org/). There are 74 testing centers.

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Post 1: RAIPUR

Date/time: March 22, 10:45am (IST), 2020.

If I understand correctly, Indian health ministry has now allowed private labs to perform COVID-19 tests as well. See the circular: https://www.mohfw.gov.in/pdf/NotificationofICMguidelinesforCOVID19testinginprivatelaboratoriesiIndia.pdf

Remember the private labs must have NABL accreditation for real-time PCR assay for RNA virus (I do not know exactly what it means.)

Based on The NABL website https://nabl-india.org/ the following private labs may be testing for coronavirus in Raipur:

Also do not forget that AIIMS Raipur is the only government lab in Chhattisgarh that tests coronavirus. http://www.aiimsraipur.edu.in/index.php

Apparently there are no testing centers at Bhilai (private or government).

Webcam hacking is getting more and more widespread

A hacker can actually turn on your webcam remotely to take live footage of you and your home. One more incident.

The warning follows the creation of a website that allows voyeurs to watch live footage from insecure cameras located around the world. The website, which is based in Russia, accesses the cams using the default login credentials, which are freely available online for thousands of devices. 

The dire condition of Indian mobile phone networks

BBC article here.

Here’s what those mobile phone users deal with every day:

  • Can’t connect: Connecting when “roaming” can be a struggle. If your flight has just landed, several hundred devices power on and try to connect to an overloaded network. On a train, users find it difficult to hold a conversation even when passing through areas with moderate cellular coverage. It’s the same on inter-state highways.
  • Network busy: You have a full signal, but can’t call – common in busy areas such as Delhi’s airport, Gurgaon’s Cyber City (an office area near Delhi), and elsewhere in India’s large metros. Many users keep retrying on auto-redial, which adds to the problem.
  • Call drops: When you, or the person you’re calling, are on the move, it’s common for the call to drop. Often, both of you will try re-dialing, and fail to connect. If one of you moved into an overloaded network area, you may not be able to reconnect easily.
  • No internet: Mobile data is patchy in India. 3G isn’t everywhere, but even where you get a strong 3G signal, you might find no data activity. This is a problem for a country with 240 million mobile internet subscribers – that’s 92% of its total internet subscriber base.
  • Poor signal: A weak mobile signal is common in urban India’s high-rise office and residential areas. The upscale condominium complex in Gurgaon where this writer lives has virtually no mobile service.

Iranian hackers routinely attack airlines, airports, says cio.com

If this article is to be believed, the world is already in the state of a full fledged cyber war, or is on the verge of it. You do not need rocket launchers or nuclear weapons to win a war against your enemy country; you can bring a country to its knees by using cyber weapons.  The full report — published by the IT security firm Cylance — on the skills of Iranian hackers to bring down network services in a far away country is here.

The Operation Cleaver report documents how Iran is the first highly motivated Western world adversary poised to execute serious attacks against global infrastructure, not just targeting the United States, but the critical infrastructure of over a dozen different countries,” said Stuart McClure, Cylance’s CEO and President, in a blog post. “They aren’t looking for credit cards or microchip designs, they are fortifying their hold on dozens of networks that if crippled would affect the lives of billions of people.

The Indian connection: The report also mentions that this Iranian hacking operation — codenamed operation cleaver — has compromised the network data associated with the Indian education sector.

Sony hack

Files containing confidential data of thousands of employees — such as salary, dates of birth, employee IDs and social security numbers — have been stolen from Sony servers, before being put on torrent networks. Article.

Several files being traded on torrent networks seen by this author include an global Sony employee list, a Microsoft Excel file that includes the name, location, employee ID, network username, base salary and date of birth for more than 6,800 individuals.