Tag Archives: covid-19

Congress MPs Flag ‘Clear-cut Failure’ of State Govt, Demand CBI, ED Probe


File photo of Punjab Chief Minister Amarinder Singh.

After meeting Governor V P Singh Badnore, Congress leader Bajwa said they had demanded probe by the Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI) and the Enforcement Directorate (ED) into the alleged illegal liquor trade in the state.

  • PTI
  • Last Updated: August 4, 2020, 12:06 AM IST

Two Congress parliamentarians targeted their party-led government in Punjab on Monday over the spurious liquor tragedy, which has claimed over 100 lives, and petitioned the governor for probe by the CBI and the ED into the “illegal” trade in alcohol. Rajya Sabha members Partap Singh Bajwa and Shamsher Singh Dullo alleged “clear-cut failure” on the part of the state administration and claimed the tragedy could have been averted, had Chief Minister Amarinder Singh acted in time on their complaints about illegal liquor businesses.

After meeting Governor V P Singh Badnore, Congress leader Bajwa said they had demanded probe by the Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI) and the Enforcement Directorate (ED) into the alleged illegal liquor trade in the state. The MPs said the tragedy was “bound to happen” in the “absence” of timely action by the Congress government.

The death toll in the spurious liquor tragedy, which has been unfolding in Tarn Taran. Gurdaspur and Amritsar since Wednesday evening, rose to 105 on Monday. “Had CM acted in time, the hooch tragedy would not have taken place…. We have been highlighting this issue since 2017,” Dullo said, adding that it was the responsibility of the state government to act tough against liquor smugglers.

He alleged that there has been rampant inter-state smuggling of illicit liquor during the coronavirus-induced lockdown. The two leaders said they would meet Congress president Sonia Gandhi and, thereafter, take up the issue with the prime minister and the Union home minister.

“We will also raise the issue of deaths of people in Parliament,” said Bajwa. He said the chief minister or the police chief or the chief secretary should have visited the areas where people died after consuming spurious liquor.

In a letter handed over to the governor, the MPs said for many months, loss to the public exchequer due to smuggling of liquor by licensed distilleries, functioning of illegal distilleries and production of spurious liquor in Punjab has been in news. “We have raised this issue as it shows a clear-cut failure of the administrative machinery in the state…. There has been blatant smuggling of liquor from Punjab to other states especially during the COVID lockdown period,” they said in the letter.

“The liquor mafia have escaped the clutches of law with impunity and are well connected to those in power. This nexus has allowed their actions to go unchecked and unregulated,” they alleged. “Spurious liquor was being manufactured and sold all over the state…. Smuggling, functioning of illegal distilleries, production and circulation of spurious liquor cannot be done without the active connivance of officers of Excise and Taxation Department as well as Police Department.  All our efforts to get these criminals reined in were ignored,” they claimed.

They alleged that the chief minister and his team chose to “disregard” these issues when highlighted by them. They said the chief minister claimed to have acted against the liquor mafia over the last few months. “However, had the police and excise officials acted effectively, the manufacture and circulation of illegal liquor would have stopped and all the real culprits would be imprisoned,” the letter stated.

“Therefore, we request your good self to send a recommendation to the Government of India to let the Central Bureau of Investigation as well as the Enforcement Directorate investigate the production and distribution of illegal liquor in Punjab,” the Congress leaders urged the governor.


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Ali Fazal, Richa Chadha’s Marriage Pushed to 2021


Ali Fazal and Richa Chadha

Since the coronavirus vaccine is still not available, Richa Chadha and Ali Fazal have delayed their marriage to an unspecified date in 2021.

  • News18.com
  • Last Updated: August 4, 2020, 8:27 AM IST

Bollywood fans are eagerly waiting to get the news about the most-awaited celebrity weddings. A few of these include Ranbir Kapoor-Alia Bhatt, Varun Dhawan-Natasha Dalal and Ali Fazal-Richa Chadha. While it was confirmed earlier that Ali and Richa were to get married in April 2020, the due date was later delayed due to the coronavirus spread. As it stands now, the couple’s marriage has been further pushed to 2021.

Ali had proposed Richa in a romantic way during their Maldives getaway earlier this year. All plans were in place and arrangements made for couple’s marriage festivities in Mumbai, Lucknow and New Delhi, by this year’s end. However, a news report has confirmed their wedding is postponed to an unspecified date in 2021 as there is still no availability of a Covid-19 vaccine.

Richa said in the matter, “So, it is only pragmatic to push the wedding to the coming year in the interest of everyone who would wish to attend.”

Also Watch

Amitabh Bachchan Tests Negative For COVID-19, Discharged From Nanavati Hospital | CNN News18

Ali and Richa became friends while shooting together in 2012 for Fukrey. They came close and started dating in 2015. However, the relationship was under the wraps till 2017 when the lovebirds decided to make it public. Now, they are finally set to take the big leap.

Richa was last seen on the big screen in Panga with Kangana Ranaut and Neena Gupta. The sports-drama movie was directed by Ashwiny Iyer Tiwari. On the other hand, Ali’s Mirzapur 2 is highly anticipated and will soon announce a date of release on Amazon Prime Video.



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Ali Fazal, Richa Chadha’s Marriage Pushed to 2021 => Amitabh Bachchan Tests Negative For COVID-19, Discharged From Nanavati Hospital | CNN News18
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Three Streams of Thought Guide NDA Allies Amid Opposition’s No-Poll Chorus in Bihar


Uncertainty looms large over Bihar assembly elections with a section of major political parties seeking deferment of the October-November polls as the Covid-19 pandemic is expected to assume a more virulent form and endanger lives.

The Lok Janshakti Party (LJP), an ally of the ruling National Democratic Alliance (NDA) in Bihar, has written to the Election Commission saying that conducting polls in October-November will be like pushing people towards death as the pandemic is likely to me more serious by that time.

The LJP had responded to the opinion sought by the Election Commission on holding the polls. The Rashtriya Janata Dal (RJD) and other allies of the Grand Alliance have already raised suspicion before the Election Commission over holding elections in October-November given the exponential spread of the coronavirus infection in the state in the last one month.

In fact, there are three streams of thought guiding different political parties over holding Bihar elections.

The ruling Janata Dal (United) wants the elections to be conducted at all costs as per schedule as its continuance in power and survival will largely depend on holding the polls on time. Any delay will mean imposition of President’s Rule in Bihar after November and thereby the administrative power will shift to the Governor and eventually to the Union home ministry i.e. Amit Shah, who will call the shots even in routine administrative matters.

In that case, the elections will be delayed by a couple of more months and give a chance to the BJP to have its own way in Bihar in all administrative and policy matters even without consulting Nitish Kumar, if it wants to ignore him or if any such situation arises later.

It will mean a lot as the Union home ministry will indirectly decide transfers and postings of administrative officials, including district election officers i.e. district magistrates, returning officers i.e. sub-divisional officers, block development officers and circle officers. If caste-based purging or scrutiny is done in such an exercise, it affects the poll outcomes to a great extent, say experienced political leaders.

The BJP is non-committal on holding polls, saying that the call has to be taken by the Election Commission whether to conduct polls on time or defer it for couple of months in the wake of the coronavirus pandemic.

On its part, the BJP leadership says they are fully-geared up to face the polls and are confident of winning the elections hands down. They had already begun the exercise of holding virtual rallies with grassroots party workers, including the ‘Sapta Rishis’ (Booth level seven-member committees) to panchayat, block district and state level functionaries addressed by different levels of leadership.

The LJP is completely opposed to holding polls, saying it will endanger people’s lives as poll campaigns, despite all alertness, will be a cumbersome process, and social distancing norms, wearing of masks and other standard operating protocols cannot be guaranteed to be adhered to by the grassroots level party workers.

“Who will be responsible if the number of positive cases rises exponentially and deaths occur in substantial numbers in the run-up to the polls. Therefore, we want polls to be deferred and the entire focus should be on curbing the rise of positive cases in the state,” said senior LJP leader and former Bihar minister Pashupati Kumar Paras.

The opposition Grand Alliance, comprising the RJD, Congress, Rashtriya Lok Samata Party (RLSP), Hindustani Awam Morcha (HAM) and Vikassheel Insaan Party (VIP), have questioned the election process to be adopted saying it has chances of becoming ‘super spreader’ of the infection.

In a letter shot off to the Election Commission, they stopped short of asking for postponement of the elections but raised suspicion over conduct of the poll exercise when coronavirus is spreading fast in the state. They also expressed apprehensions over the ability to conduct of free and fair polls as it would be difficult to ensure full participation of people in the democratic process.

“Above all, what is important is to ensure that the entire poll exercise does not become a super-spreader event ultimately,” said RLSP leader Upendra Kushwaha.

In fact, the opposition’s strategy in pleading postponement of polls is to deflect the blame of deaths due to coronavirus during electioneering and to put the entire onus of culpability on the ruling alliance’s lust for power when people are dying.

While other political parties may have apprehensions about their poll prospects, the LJP, headed by Chirag Paswan, is on an aggressive mode on postponement of polls due to the reluctance of Nitish Kumar to consider the LJP for the 12 MLC seats from the Governor’s nomination quota, and a respectable number of seats in the upcoming elections. The LJP has staked its claim on at least two Governor quota seats, and 94 out of 243 assembly seats in the state.

Chirag, of late, has been firing salvos against Bihar chief minister Nitish Kumar from migrants issue to collapse of the newly constructed Sattarghat Bridge over river Gandak to failure of prohibition policy in the state to holding of elections amid pandemic.

The founding president of the LJP and union minister Ram Vilas Paswan had also highlighted the fact that despite 15 years of ‘good governance’ by Nitish Kumar, Bihar remained at the bottom on all development indices.

During the lockdown, when there was a massive influx of migrants and students from other parts of the country, the LJP supremo had expressed disappointment over the state government’s alleged lack of initiative while heaping praises on Yogi Adityanath.

The relationship had further soured when it was speculated in the political circles that the JD(U) was reluctant to give away a respectable number of assembly seats to the LJP, commensurate with the standing of the party which had bagged six Lok Sabha seats in the 2019 Lok Sabha elections.

The ruling JD(U) is watching the developments closely to see if the outbursts of the father-son duo is their own political aspirations for a larger share of seats or if they are acting on behalf of the BJP to put pressure on Nitish Kumar and defer the polls.

As the no-poll chorus grows louder, Nitish Kumar has postponed the virtual rally on August 7, when he was expected to sound the poll bugle, in view of the coronavirus pandemic and floods. Senior leaders of the party had been busy for the past few weeks holding orientation workshops for grassroots workers.

Only the Election Commission knows the fate of elections as it will depend largely upon the expected enormity of the coronavirus pandemic in next two months vis-à-vis the health infrastructure of Bihar. It will also be guided by the report of the three-member central team headed by Luv Agarwal that recently visited the state.

All political parties are preparing to the best of their capabilities to face the polls in October-November. The din over Sushant Singh Rajput death case and the demand for a CBI probe is also part of the election strategy aimed at garnering Rajput votes and invoking Bihari pride.

Sushant’s cousin Niraj Singh Babloo and sister-in-law Nutan Singh are BJP legislators in Bihar. RJD leader Tejashwi Yadav held a press conference with another actor-politician from Bihar, Shekhar Suman, seeking a CBI probe.

Disclaimer:The author is a senior journalist. Views expressed are personal


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Ensured LPG Supply to Customers amid Covid-19, Floods in Assam, Says BPCL


Representational Image (Reuters)

LPG cylinders are being sent to the flood-affected people by using boats, while delivery men have been maintaining social distancing norms to curb the spread of the coronavirus disease, he said.

  • PTI
  • Last Updated: August 1, 2020, 11:26 PM IST

Notwithstanding the twin challenges of COVID-19 crisis and devastating floods in Assam, government-owned Bharat Petroleum Corporation Ltd (BPCL) has ensured supplies of LPG cylinders to its customers in the state, an official said on Saturday.

LPG cylinders are being sent to the flood-affected people by using boats, while delivery men have been maintaining social distancing norms to curb the spread of the coronavirus disease, he said.

“Our delivery boys continue to work hard. They are using boats to reach around 12,000 customers in Kalgachia areaand 2,000 in Tengagaon in Barpeta district, 13,000 in Lakhipur locality of Goalpara, about 8,500 in Dhansirikash and Kharupetia of Darrang, and 3,000 customers in Borguli area of Nagaon district,” the official said.

They are ensuring home delivery of LPG cylinders, while adhering to all precautionary norms to contain the spread of the disease, according to a company statement. BPCL has also delivered free refills to 6.27 lakh beneficiaries of the Pradhan Mantri Ujjwala Yojana (PMUY), despite challenges of the coronavirus pandemic and problems of floods.

The company has tied up with 50 village level entrepreneurs to deliver refills to remote places, it said.

LPG cylinders are supplied from Numaligarh Refinery Bottling plant which has been running throughout the lockdown, the statement said. “The plant at NRL follows all standard operating procedures and it was operational during the entire period of total lockdown to ensure that there was no scarcity of cooking gas,” it said.

BPCL had recently launched WhatsApp booking and payments to make it convenient for the customers to order refills, it said.


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Does your child have COVID-19? See now what the symptoms are!

Although there are notable exceptions, most evidence suggests that infection with the new type of coronavirus is less dangerous for children than for adults and infants. In other words, while COVID-19 tends to be less severe in older children, this protection does not extend to babies, who may be as vulnerable to this disease as adults.

Knowing the symptoms of COVID-19 in children, regardless of their age, can help parents identify warning signals and seek optimal care and early treatment.

This article shows the symptoms that can be caused by SARS-CoV-2 virus infection in children so that it can be detected as soon as possible. Also, some potential complications are presented, but also when the visit to the doctor is necessary.

CoVID-19 symptomatology in children

Health experts are investigating how SARS-CoV-2 virus infection affects children. So far it has been established that the risk of severe illness is lower in children than in adults, but this should not be a reason to let your guard down.

In addition, current evidence suggests most children with COVID-19, regardless of age, will have mild symptoms similar to those of a cold. However, there may be cases in which the little ones may be asymptomatic or may develop manifestations that will indicate admission to intensive care units.

Although most adults report fever in the case of COVID-19 infection, this manifestation is less common among children. In addition to fever, children may experience coughing, breathing difficulties, rhinorrhea and sore throat. However, these symptoms are also rarer in children than in adults. In addition, there may also be loss of taste and smell, as well as digestive symptoms, such as vomiting, diarrhoea or nausea.

Children with COVID-19 may also develop muscle or head pain, as well as behavioural changes. Thus, it can be observed that the little ones will cry more often and will have an altered mood. Anxiety can be present, especially if the child understands that COVID-19 infection can be dangerous.

Regarding the symptomatology of COVID-19 in babies, it is also characterized by the manifestations of an infection of the upper respiratory tract. Thus, coughing, fever, sore throat, rhinorrhea and sneezing may also be present in this case. Also, muscle aches can cause frequent crying and sleep disturbances. In addition, pain and fever can cause digestive problems such as nausea, vomiting, diarrhoea and stomach pain.

The mood and the usual behaviors can be changed. Loss of olfactory sense cannot be expressed by the little ones verbally but can be manifested by changing eating habits. Mild pneumonia can be revealed by dry cough, tachycardia and dyspnoea. Babies who develop more serious symptoms usually do so within a week of mild symptoms.

Severe manifestations are cyanosis, tachycardia, oxygen saturation less than 92%, severe organic insufficiency. The severity of these symptoms can progress rapidly, so careful monitoring is essential.

Potential complications

Children with comorbidities, e.g. lung disease, heart disease or immunodepression, are more likely to develop serious complications associated with infection with the new type of coronavirus. Despite these complications, specialists suggest that the risk of death due to COVID-19 in children is very low.

Among the potential complications that can occur in children are organ failure, severe dyspnea and the need for artificial ventilation, sepsis, heart failure and coagulation disorders. Skin rashes, stomach pain, hematemesis and diarrhoea may also be present. Emergency medical assistance is necessary when children are confused and have a fever, sore throat, dyspnoea, cyanosis, lipotimia and feeling of pressure or chest pain.

When is a doctor’s visit indicated?

Most children will not develop symptoms or they will be mild to moderate. Thus, most of the time, children will not end up being admitted or tested for COVID-19.

However, parents should notify their doctor if their children show symptoms characteristic of SARS-CoV-2 virus infection. Also, the doctor should be informed when the child seems very ill, when he develops rashes, when the symptoms improve and then worsen again, etc. It is important that the doctor is notified by phone, as physical contact raises the risks. Any symptom associated with COVID-19 infection should be a sign of alarm and must come with even stricter social isolation.

Children should be urgently consulted when they have breathing problems, indicating respiratory distress. Some examples of such symptoms are represented by dyspnoea, cyanosis and tachypnea. Confusion, lethargy and feeling of pressure or pain in the upper chest are other symptoms that should be sent to the doctor.

In the case of babies, parents need to be much more careful, as they cannot express the difficulties they encounter. Thus, any signs of respiratory distress or alteration of organ functions, e.g. arrhythmias and anuria, should be observed. Skin rashes, changes in consciousness, excessive sleepiness, confusion, lethargic behavior and inability to eat are other manifestations that should point to seeking medical help.

Treatment

At the moment there are no known drugs to cure people with COVID-19, and current treatments are aimed more at relieving symptoms. Research is in full swing to obtain curative treatment, but it is estimated that a fairly long period of time is still needed. However, most children will heal and have a good evolution, especially if certain indications are followed.

For example, children should be encouraged to rest and should consume plenty of fluids to prevent dehydration. They should also be checked constantly and the doctor should be informed of their condition. Depending on the evolution, doctors may prescribe medicines that reduce fever or pain or relieve unpleasant symptoms.

Although most children have a favorable evolution, it should be known that there may be serious cases. Thus, doctors may indicate the administration of oxygen, intravenous fluids or steroid-based drugs. In very rare cases, children may require fans to breathe properly.

Conclusions

Most children who develop COVID-19 will make light forms. However, COVID-19 is a potentially dangerous condition for babies, although most will recover without serious complications. Thus, this period can be even more difficult for parents and can cause anxiety and worry.

Surveillance of young children is very important, and any symptoms characteristic of SARS-CoV-2 virus infection should point to the discussion with the doctor. It can properly assess the situation and provide the best advice.

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Moderna COVID-19 vaccine could be ready for use by end of year: US | World News


Moderna Inc`s vaccine against COVID-19 could be ready for widespread use by the end of this year, US and company officials said on Monday, after the drugmaker announced the start of a 30,000-subject trial to demonstrate it is safe and effective, the final hurdle prior to regulatory approval.

The trial is the first such late-stage study under the Trump administration`s program to speed development of measures against the novel coronavirus, adding to hope that an effective vaccine will help end the pandemic. Moderna shares were up 7.5%. Moderna, which has never brought a vaccine to market, has received nearly $1 billion from the US government, which is helping bankroll several vaccine candidates under its Operation Warp Speed program.

More than 150 coronavirus vaccine candidates are in various stages of development, with some two dozen prospects already conducting human testing. Pfizer Inc and Johnson & Johnson are launching advanced stage clinical trials this month for their COVID-19 vaccine candidates. British drugmaker AstraZeneca Plc said it will begin large-scale US trials this summer of its vaccine under development with Oxford University researchers.

“Having a safe and effective vaccine distributed by the end of 2020 is a stretch goal, but it`s the right goal for the American people,” National Institutes of Health (NIH) Director Francis Collins said in a release announcing the start of Moderna`s large Phase III trial.

Manufacturers are ramping up production while testing is underway in order to respond as soon as possible to the virus, which is still spreading rapidly around the world. COVID-19 has killed nearly 650,000 people worldwide and battered economies. Moderna could have tens of millions of doses ready when and if the vaccine is deemed safe and effective, Collins told reporters on a call.

The company remains on track to deliver about 500 million doses a year, and possibly up to 1 billion doses a year, beginning 2021, Moderna Chief Executive Stephane Bancel said on the call. The large late-stage trial is designed to evaluate the safety of Moderna`s mRNA-1273 vaccine and determine if it can prevent symptomatic COVID-19 after two doses.

Anthony Fauci, the top US infectious disease official, said a readout from the trial could come by November or even earlier. Fauci said he was “not particularly concerned” about the vaccine`s safety after seeing data from earlier, smaller trials. Trial volunteers will receive two injections about 28 days apart of either 100 micrograms of mRNA-1273 or a placebo.

Results of a small early-stage study published earlier this month showed volunteers who got two doses of Moderna`s vaccine had levels of virus-killing antibodies that exceeded the average seen in people who had recovered from COVID-19. Moderna`s vaccine candidate uses synthetic messenger RNA (mRNA) to mimic the surface of the coronavirus and teach the immune system to recognize and neutralize it. The technology allows for quicker development and manufacturing than traditional vaccines.

The COVID-19 Prevention Network, a US government-funded program formed by the NIH, said it plans to roll out a large-scale clinical trial of a COVID-19 vaccine candidate with at least 30,000 participants each month through fall.





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Social Distancing Travel | 11 Healing Hideaways in India for Your Tired Soul

Social Distancing Travel | 11 Healing Hideaways in India for Your Tired Soul

Beachside solitude in Ganpatipule, lost-in-time architectures in Melkote, birdwatching along the marshes of Mangalajodi—seek out these secluded places of beauty for a post-lockdown getaway.

A short trip from Murguma village in West Bengal would lead you to the enchanting world of chhau, a masked tribal dance form. Photo by: My Image / Moment / Getty Images

The wait to break free—bob along rivers and wade through wildflowers—is going to be long. But when the time comes, well be ready to rejuvenate. A pandemic demands staggering human resolve. If getting by from one day to another has frayed your nerves, bunched up your heart into dirty, matted knots, here are secluded places of beauty within India you can head to, when all of this is over.

In the North

Chitkul, Himachal Pradesh

The highest and the last settlement of Himachal’s Baspa valley is also one of its most serene. Perched on the right bank of the Baspa river in the Kinnaur district, life in Chitkul simmers slow and sweet, away from prying tourists who generally stop 20 kilometres short in popular Sangla. The village, as green as a sky full of parrots, opens up the view to majestic Himalayan peaks. Flowering fields of buckwheat, a staple of the region, grin pink in the harvest season. An assortment of olden temples and a monastery shine light on the village’s amalgamation of faith; residents practise Hinduism, Buddhism and sometimes, a mix of both. The village offers an ideal base for several scenic treks and the meditative company of pine forests and starry skies. 250 kilometres/8 hours from Shimla by bus, Chitkul also offers Zostel accommodation.

Nathukhan, Uttarakhand

A relatively new pin on the map, Nathukhan is a comely village in Uttarakhand, not far from the holiday classics of Nainital and Mukteshwar. Dressed in velveteen pleats of oak, birch, deodar and kafal trees, it boasts almost-180 degree views of the Himalayas, including the Trishul, Nanda Devi, Nilkantha, and Panchachuli peaks. Relish nippy temperature and hissing hot shikar-bhaat (rice with chicken/goat curry) here, with heady side-helpings of DIY nature walks and bhang chutney. Infrastructure is scant and vistas abundant in this village, a 65 kilometre/2.5 hour-drive from Kathgodam railway station. Woodnotes Foreststays, with its mud-walled rooms and pahadi kitchen, offers a taste of local life.

***

In the West

The Bhimbetka rock shelters in Madhya Pradesh are a reminder of human perseverance. Photo by: ImagesofIndia / Shutterstock

Social Distancing Travel | 11 Soulful Spots in India to Forget Your Trouble 4

Marvel at sand dunes untainted by overtourism in Rajsthan’s Khuri. Photo by: Robmeador.com / Shutterstock

Khuri, Rajasthan

That star-gazing in the Thar Desert is a cure for taut nerves shouldn’t come as a surprise, but the sweet seclusion of Khuri village, a 50 kilometre/l-hour-drive from Jaisalmer’s tourist scramble, catches one unawares. Spend your afternoons scaling sand dunes, or chasing splatters of pomegranate-pink sun. Come nightfall you can revel in the grandeur of skies punched with silver holes, and even the Milky Way, if you’re carrying a telescope. A stay at the clay-walled Badal House, run by local man Badal Singh Ji, offers both rustic hospitality and intimate desert excursions.

Ganpatipule, Maharashtra

A 30 kilometre/1 hour-drive from Ratnagiri railway station will take you to the sleepy Konkan town of Ganpatipule. The town’s name is derived from the Hindu deity who is said to have taken abode here, and is worshiped at the 400-year-old Ganpatipule Temple centred on his Vermillion, monolithic idol. White sand lines its beach, along with cobalt waters and groves of coconut trees. While a rocky terrain makes swimming at the Ganpatipule beach difficult, water sports such as paragliding, jet-skiing, snorkelling, and banana boat rides temper its tranquillity. The Jaigad fort and lighthouse offer rambling views of the Arabian Sea, and the Thibaw Palace, an insight into the region’s links to India’s colonial history. Drive along the coast to the Aare-Ware beach, ideal for quiet swims or walks of the solitary kind. Marinate in the afterglow of salty sunsets with a side of fish curry, kokam rice and ambapoli (mango pancakes). The MTDC Beach Resort at Ganpatipule offers reasonable accommodation.

***

In Central India

Bhimbetka, Madhya Pradesh

A UNESCO World Heritage Site covering 10 kilometres of the Ratapani Wildlife Sanctuary, the Bhimbetka rock shelters offer a portal to our collective past. Bhimbetka boasts 760 rock shelters and caves cut into seven hills, with prehistoric rock paintings adorning the walls of 500 caves. The rock art is said to offer insights into life in the Upper Paleolithic, Mesolithic, Chalcolithic, Early historic and Medieval eras and has been compared to in those in Kakadu National Park in Australia. Although only 12 of the painted shelters are accessible to the public, inside them persists the seed of human imagination— the Boar Rock showcases the outline of a boar, “Nataraj” is the painting of a man dancing with a trident-like staff, and the Zoo Rock depicts bison, deer, and elephants. Bhimbetka does not have any accommodation; MP Tourism recommends Banyan Tree Farms in Bhopal, 50 kilometres/1.5 hours by bus.

***

In the East

Mangalajodi, Odisha

Social Distancing Travel | 11 Soulful Spots in India to Forget Your Trouble 6

Mangalajodi’s bird-dotted marshes are one of Odisha’s hidden delights. Photo by: Wirestock Images / Shutterstock

If marshlands flanked by typha grasslands and migratory birds suggest a calming visual for you, the Mangalajodi wetlands, located north of Odisha’s Chilika lagoon, will manifest that dream. A birder’s delight for the wealth of wildlife that inhabits its languid waters, it is also a fulfilling experience of nature for those without binoculars. Not that you will have much use of binoculars here; gliding through slender stretches of water on wooden boats made cosy with thatched canopies, you will be at arm’s length of purple moorhens, ruddy shelducks, bar-tailed godwits, and other wetland beauties. Expect deep silence, ruffled only by bird calls or the sound of oars splicing open still waters. Mangalajodi village lies 70 kilometre/1.5 hour southwest of Bhubaneswar, off NH-5. Mangalajodi Ecotourism, a community-managed wildlife conservation venture, offers elementary lodging and boating packages.

Murguma, West Bengal

Swaddled between the ancient Ajodhya Hills and a tributary of the river Kangsabati, Murguma village in West Bengal knows nature’s soliloquy by heart. To listen in, drive 46 kilometres/1.5 hours west of Purulia station until you’re ringed by red hillocks, lotus-streaked ponds, and groves of sal, bamboo, and flaming bastard teaks. Soak in the panorama at the Murguma dam, or visit the nearby tribal settlement of Charida, where generations of mask artists create flamboyant Chhau masks, used in the eponymous dance form. The wild expanses of Peacock Hill, Bamni Falls, Khairabera, Turga Falls and the Ajodhya Hill and Reserve Forest Area are some adjacent attractions. A stay at Murguma’s Palash Bitan Jungle Huts offers basic facilities and a deluxe brush with nature.

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In the Northeast

Yuksom, Sikkim

Social Distancing Travel | 11 Soulful Spots in India to Forget Your Trouble 3

Visit a forest cradling a sacred coronation throne in Yuksom, Sikkim. Photo by: Nigel Killeen / Moment / Getty Images

Divorced from the din at 5,840 feet, Yuksom in West Sikkim is revered as ‘the meeting point of three lamas’. The name should perhaps be an indicator of the town’s proximity to monasteries such as the Dubdi, Tashi Tenka, and Tashiding. Having served as the first capital of Sikkim, where the foremost chogyal (ruler) of the kingdom was consecrated, Yuksom’s culture is best experienced in symmetry with its natural beauty; you will eavesdrop on the rustle of indigenous trees while visiting the Coronation Throne of Norbugang. And it is the peaceful waters of the Kathok Lake that form the backdrop of the seat of the three lamas. Vistas cannot possibly disappoint at the ‘Gateway to Mt. Kangchendzongha’, as pleasing hikes leading to the Goecha La trail or the Kangchendzongha basecamp testify. Expect farm-to-table dining at Yuksom’s ample homestays, run by the local Limboo tribe. Bagdogra airport is a 160 kilometre/5 hour-drive away from Yuksom, but cabs are best availed from Siliguri Junction, half an hour from the airport.

Mawphlang, Meghalaya

Drive 26 kilometres/40 minutes southwest of Shillong to reach a junction of Scotland-ish greens, and a village whose name translates to “grassy stone.” The name is a nod to the many monoliths in the culturally distinct East Khasi region. Mawphlang is also the gateway to the Mawphlang Sacred Grove, one of the biggest sacred forests in Meghalaya. The forest, stitched together by an intertwined network of flora and medicinal herbs, has but one rule. Nothing can be taken out of the enclosure, believed to be home to the local deity— not even a dead log. Tune into the harmony of nature and ancient faith, and learn about indigenous culture at the Khasi Heritage Village, a model village located opposite the grove. The historic David Scott Trail stretches from Mawphlang to Ladmawphlang village, a system of woods, rocks, waterfalls, bridges, and the beautiful Umiam river. A stay at the family- run Maple Pine Farm allows ample access to the attractions.

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In the South

Social Distancing Travel | 11 Soulful Spots in India to Forget Your Trouble 1

Melkote in Karnataka is a treasure trove of architecture (right), lost in time; Easily accessible from the Maharashtrian town of Ganpatipule, the Aare-Ware beach (left) promises deep blue solitude. Photos by: Pritesh Bhosle / Shutterstock (woods), Nila Newsom / Shutterstock (carvings)

Melkote, Karnataka

Sunsets have a mystical quality in monument-riddled Melkote, but they do nothing to accelerate time. If you’ve ever wanted a ticket back to lost kingdoms, glimpses of Hoysala-era architecture in this hilltop town offer a fix. Trust the slowness in the air as you fritter away days that begin with plates of special puliyogare (tamarind rice) and end amid the stunning stucco sculptures of Cheluvanarayana Swamy temple. The dramatic ruins of Raya Gopura and a smattering of stone pavilions and maths accentuate the sense of time-warp. Small- scale dharamshalas and lodges are common in the town easily reached by bus or cab from both Bengaluru and Mysore.

Valiyaparamba, Kerala

Valiyaparamba is a fishing island in Kasaragod district. Separated from mainland by the Tejaswini river, the secluded isle—about 62 kilometres/1.5 hour by road from Kunnur International Airport—houses the Valiyaparamba Backwaters, third-largest in Kerala. Made accessible by a bridge, an alternative way to reach the island is to take a ferry from Kottappuram or Edayilakkad. Once there, hop aboard a traditional kettuvallam (houseboat) to glide through placid waters, swirling in native flora and fauna. To the west of the island, the Valiyaparamba beach is serene. Fish using rustic tools, sample seafood, and soak in the cool breeze of coconut lagoons. 30 kilometres/one hour-drive away, the Bekal Fort affords heart-stopping views of the Arabian Sea. The Tyndis Mangrove Trails, 10 kilometres from the island, offer a plethora of hiking, boating and birdwatching activities. Kerala Tourism recommendations for stays include Kavvayi Beach House and Avisa Island Homestay, among others.

The article features inputs from Sambit Dattachaudhuri. 

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News Alert | Uttarakhand and Himachal Pradesh Reopen to Tourists

News Alert | Uttarakhand and Himachal Pradesh Reopen to Tourists

Both Uttarakhand and Himachal Pradesh have lifted their travel restrictions, but each with a set of guidelines for all travellers. Here’s what you need to know.

Uttarakhand has announced that it is lifting the travel restrictions it had in place due to COVID-19. Photo By: Amit kg/Shutterstock

On July 2, the hilly state of Uttarakhand announced the lifting of all travel restrictions, both to domestic and international tourists. The state, which had been under lockdown from March 22 had begun to slowly lift lockdown restrictions on June 8. After Uttarakhand, another tourist hotspot state—Himachal Pradesh—decided to lift travel restrictions on July 3, after a period of three and a half months. With both states offering postcard views along with picturesque hotels and homestays, tourists can start thinking about a trip to the mountains. 

However, with these lifting of travel restrictions come a set of safety guidelines for each state.

For Uttarakhand:

Only those hotels and homestays which do not fall in a containment area, will be allowed to open for business. 

Those entering Uttarakhand from any other part of the country will have to upload their COVID-19 test results on the official state government website: https://smartcity dehradun.uk.gov.in.

At all border checkposts, district authorities will verify travellers’ medical reports. 

Hotels have to make it mandatory for their guests to have undergone RT-PCR tests from ICMR authorised labs, which will need to reflect that they have tested negative for COVID-19. Additionally, these reports cannot be earlier than 72 hours from the guests’ time of arrival.

Those travelling from overseas countries will have to register themselves on the aforementioned web portal and undergo home and institutional quarantine for a period of seven days. 

Inter-district travellers will not need to undergo mandatory quarantine, but they will have to register themselves on the web portal. 

There is no time limit for how long visitors and tourists can stay in the state once they have followed through with all the protocol. However, hotels and homestays have been asked not to take in bookings that are for less than a period of a week. 

For Himachal Pradesh:

Those travelling inter-state will have to register for an e-pass in the COVID e-pass software (covid19epass.hp.gov.in) for monitoring purposes. Those who are travelling by road, will also have to register their vehicle details. 

Principal Secretary (Revenue) Onkar Sharma has also said that those coming into Himachal Pradesh from other states will have to “strictly adhere” to the guidelines that are issued by the health and revenue departments of the state. 

The state government has also said that those tourists who have made pre-bookings of at least five days and have tested negative for COVID-19 by an ICMR accredited laboratory (not earlier than 72 hours at the time of entry), will not require mandatory quarantine in the state. 

To read and subscribe to our magazine, head to Magzter or our new National Geographic Traveller India app here. 

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How To Tell If We're Beating COVID-19

How To Tell If We’re Beating COVID-19

This video made possible with support of Brilliant – the first 200 subscribers to go to get 20% off a Premium subscription to Brilliant.
Go to to explore the graph from the video yourself!

RESOURCES
Grant’s 3Blue1Brown Video: Exponential Growth and Epidemics:

Aatish’s Exponential/Logistic Curve-Fitting Site:

Data Source:
Our World in Data Page on Coronavirus:

How many tests for COVID-19 are being performed around the world?

Understanding logarithmic scales:

What we can learn from the countries winning the coronavirus fight:
(Great explainer on log scales and growth curves explained in the context of COVID-19 in different countries)

This video is a collaboration with Aatish Bhatia about how to see the COVID-19 tipping point – we present a better way to graph COVID-19 coronavirus cases using a logarithmic scale in “phase space” – plotting the growth rate against the cumulative cases, rather than either of these against time.

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In a pandemic, men could be more concerned with erectile dysfunction

In these times, some pleasures may be low. The signs are subtle but pay attention. In the United Kingdom, for example, one of the most popular health care services, that of Superdrug Online Doctor, reports from February to June an increase of 13% in consultations to try to remedy erectile dysfunction. In fact, if there is anything that is up, according to Google, it is the search for information about the very same problem on the internet. Well, well, what about the male heads?

Erection is a vascular phenomenon. Either by a local stimulus or by an image in the mind, certain muscles around arteries located in the penis – phew! –Relax. As a result, these vessels are dilated, facilitating the arrival of more and more blood. The liquid will fill the numerous hollow spaces of two cylinders, the cavernous bodies, which resemble sponges. They are so drenched that they end up pressing the veins that would be the exit passage. Result: the blood that entered doesn’t come out anytime soon. I mean, when everything is firm – firm and strong.

The volume of blood momentarily trapped can be three to ten times greater than what normally circulates through the resting organ. To the point of everything becoming rigid. “Erectile dysfunction is precisely a persistent difficulty in achieving or maintaining this rigidity for long enough”, defines best sexologist in Delhi.

If the penis rises more or rises less, the total responsibility is for a ligament, the brace, which loosens over time, so that nothing rises more. “Not to mention that some ligaments can be longer in nature. Others, shorter, forming a closed angle, close to the body, which makes it more difficult than it helps to find a position in the relationship, contrary to what many think”, says the sexologist doctor in Delhi. Even if it is more forward or even lower than properly upwards, this is not erectile dysfunction, as long as there is such rigidity.

But staying on the same side at times is not a case of drama – every man has to deal with this frustration sporadically. Jeez, difficult lesson to enter … “The problem is that one episode usually leads to another”, observes the sex doctor in Delhi. “If the penis is not rigid, the next sexual intercourse will already be loaded with anxiety. Hence, the body will release adrenaline and a vicious cycle will appear, a bad erection making the next worse,” notes sexologist in Delhi.

What is good for decreasing the risk of Covid-19 is good for the penis

It is estimated that 30 to 56% of Indians over 40 years of age have some degree of erectile dysfunction. “The prevalence increases by 10% every decade of life. But only one-third of men with the problem seek medical help”, informs sex specialist in Delhi.

The difficulty, when making the diagnosis, is to understand to what extent the causes are organic or emotional. “Usually things go together,” notes the top sexologist in Delhi. “And a good part of the organic causes, in turn, has to do with the unbalanced lifestyle. It is not enough to ask for a medicine without solving the rest. For a hypertensive patient, an earring that more compensates him for taking the medication that his cardiologist prescribed for him to control the pressure than to swallow a famous pill to have erections “, exemplifies.

Obesity, which is another important risk factor for Covid-19,  has an aggravating factor: “fat cells activate a substance called aromatase”, explains the sexologist in Delhi. “And it transforms part of testosterone – the male hormone that plays a key role in the physiological mechanisms of sex – into the female hormone.” In this case, the metamorphosis can be a bucket of cold water.

Alcohol has something curious about it. Studies prove that, for many men, a few sips even help. “If they cause relaxation, they will make it easier at first,” says the sex specialist doctor in Delhi. The problem is that passing a little of the measurement can have the opposite effect. “Not to mention that the excess of alcoholic drink also damages the internal walls of the vessels.” Cigarette, then, is not even mentioned.

Bed is not just place to have sex

Especially because, to have good sex, it needs to be a great place to sleep. Night after night. “The quality of sleep gains more and more relevance in this area”, says sexologist in Delhi. It makes sense: since they are born, men have erections in the deepest stages of sleep. “There are at least three or four in the morning,” says the best sexologist in Delhi.

These marginal erections, as they are called, keep the penile gears ready for action. Exercise your muscles. They improve your circulation, oxygenate your tissues. “But insomnia and even apnea, which is common in men with obesity, hinder the occurrence of these erections, accelerating the evolution of erectile dysfunction.”

The ideal is to keep an eye on the first signs – among them is the absence of erections when waking up, when there is no excuse that nervousness hindered the phenomenon. And then it moves the lifestyle strongly.

“Regular physical activity needs to be included in the recipe”, adds top sexologist in Delhi. Exercise relieves most of the factors behind the problem: it combats extra pounds, reduces stress, makes it easier to fall asleep and lose weight. Not to mention it improves circulation. The whole health wins. If men are even more concerned with that, great.