COVID-19 pandemic

Study: Pregnant Women Faced More Depression & Anxiety During COVID-19 Pandemic

Colchester [England], February 1 (ANI): Constantly being locked in for weeks, without seeing one’s friends and family, with the fear of catching a deadly virus, naturally has a negative impact on anyone’s mind, and especially, pregnant women. A new study by the University of Essex has revealed that the COVID-19 pandemic caused a spike in depression and anxiety in expectant mums.

The study was published in ‘BMC Pregnancy and Childbirth’. The research found that social support protected against anxiety symptoms associated with the pandemic but highlighted changes to maternity services forced by lockdown and other restrictions likely hit mental health.

It was speculated in the paper, that the removal of appointments and other changes to face-to-face contact may have affected well-being.

The senior author, Dr Silvia Rigato, said it was vital to “protect maternal wellbeing during pregnancy and beyond” and “to ensure that all children, and their new families, are given the best possible start in life”.

The study found there was a spike in reported depression rates of 30 per cent from pre-pandemic levels, from 17 per cent to 47 per cent – with anxiety rates also jumping up 37 per cent in expecting mothers to 60 per cent.

The peer-reviewed study of 150 women took place during the height of the Coronavirus crisis between April 2020 and January 2021 – before the vaccination programme rolled out – and was led by Dr Maria Laura Filippetti and Dr Rigato, researchers at the Essex Babylab in the University of Essex.

The paper showed that prenatal trauma, such as the one experienced during the COVID-19 pandemic, can significantly amplify vulnerability to mental health problems.

It also emerged from the study that pregnant women with higher depressive symptoms reported feeling less attached to their unborn babies.

Dr Rigato said: “While this result is in line with previous observations that women’s mood during pregnancy influences the early relationship with her child, it reinforces the need for authorities to support women throughout their pregnancy and the postnatal period in order to protect their health and their infants’ development.”

Importantly, the research also revealed the positive effect that social support plays in protecting expecting mothers’ mental health.

The authors found women who considered the impact of COVID-19 to be more negative showed higher levels of anxiety.

Crucially though, help from partners, family and friends, and the NHS acted as a protective factor and was associated with fewer negative symptoms.

Dr Filippetti said more must be done to help women during this vulnerable time in their lives.

She said: “The high rates of depression and anxiety during the pandemic highlighted by our study suggest that expectant women are facing a mental health crisis that can significantly interfere and impair mother-infant bonding during pregnancy, and can potentially impact on childbirth outcome, as well as later infant and child development.”

The researchers hoped that the research would be used to help understand how the pandemic affected children’s development, mum’s mental health post-partum and how dads coped through pregnancy and beyond.

Study Finds During The Covid-19 Pandemic, How Stress Affected Parents’ Discipline

A study has found that during the COVID-19 pandemic, parents were most likely to use aggressive discipline on their children when their daily stress levels were at the highest.

The research has been published in the ‘Journal of Family Violence’. Results of the study, which measured stress levels three times a day for two weeks, showed that for each higher level of stress (rated from 1-10), parents had 1.3 times greater odds of using corporal punishment, such as shaking or spanking a child, or psychological aggression, such as trying to make the child feel ashamed.

“It wasn’t overall levels of stress that mattered most,” said Bridget Freisthler, lead author of the study and professor of social work at The Ohio State University.

“It appears that general levels of stress are less important to how parents discipline their children than the stress they are feeling in the moment,” Freisthler added.

These aggressive disciplinary actions were most likely to occur in the afternoon or evening.

“As the stress built up during the day, they may be more likely to lash out and use aggressive discipline that isn’t good for kids,” she said.

Freisthler conducted the study with Jennifer Price Wolf, associate professor of social work at San Jose State University, and Caileigh Chadwick and Katherine Renick in Ohio State’s College of Social Work.

The researchers wanted to learn how the upheaval in family lives caused by the pandemic affected the use of discipline.

“Many parents during the COVID-19 lockdown were facing unprecedented challenges and likely in ‘survival mode,’ having to work from home, do child care, help kids with schoolwork, and do all the other things to keep the household running,” Freisthler said.

“This study is one of few that have asked parents to report their stress levels and use of discipline in nearly real-time, which gave a more accurate view of what is happening than most previous studies, which asked parents to recall events later,” Freisthler said.

The study involved 323 parents of children aged 2 to 12 in central Ohio, including Columbus, who were recruited online and through word-of-mouth.

At the beginning of the study, each parent completed a background survey, which included questions about their overall stress levels and parenting discipline practices.

Researchers then asked parents to complete a short survey on their smartphones three times a day for two weeks during COVID-19 stay-at-home orders in Ohio, from April 13 to May 27, 2020.

They were asked at 10 a.m., 3 p.m. and 9 p.m. on each of the 14 days to rate their current stress level and to report whether they used various forms of discipline on one of their children in the previous hours.

“Aggressive discipline was reported more often at the 3 and 9 p.m. surveys than the 10 a.m. surveys,” she said.

“Later in the day, stress has built up for parents and it may be harder for them to control their responses to their children’s misbehaviour,” she added.

Freisthler said, “Not surprisingly, parents who reported using aggressive discipline before the study started didn’t change their parenting practices. Results showed that parents who reported using aggressive discipline at least a few times a week in the baseline survey had about three-fold greater odds of reporting using aggressive discipline during the brief surveys.”

“One unexpected finding was that married parents had greater odds of using aggressive discipline than single parents,” Freisthler added.

“One possible explanation is that single parents may have had more experience balancing child care demands with work. Or married couples may have had a conflict about balancing child care demands, which could have spilt over into parenting behaviours,” she explained.

Freisthler said that the participants in this study tended to be better educated than the average population, which may have affected the results.

“We found these results in a population with arguably more financial resources than most during COVID-19,” she said.

“Parents who lack economic and social resources may be at even greater risk for using harsh parenting during this stressful time,” she concluded.

Study: Pandemic Solitude Was Positive Experience For Many

According to a new research, time spent alone during the coronavirus pandemic led to positive effects on well-being across all ages.

The findings of the study were published in the journal ‘Frontiers in Psychology’. The study of more than 2000 teenagers and adults found that most people experienced benefits from solitude during the early days of the global COVID-19 pandemic.

All age groups experienced positive as well as negative effects of being alone. However, the researchers found that descriptions of solitude included more positive effects than negative. On average, well-being scores when participants were alone were 5 out of 7 across all ages, including adolescents aged 13-16.

Some study participants talked about worsening mood or wellbeing, but most described their experiences of solitude in terms of feeling, competent and feeling autonomous. 43 per cent of all respondents mentioned that solitude involved activities and experiences of competence – time spent on skills-building and activities, and that was consistent across all ages. Meanwhile, autonomy – self-connection and reliance on self – was a major feature particularly for adults, who mentioned it twice as often as teenage participants.

Working-age adults recorded the most negative experiences with more participants mentioning disrupted well-being (35.6 per cent vs 29.4 per cent in adolescents and 23.7 per cent in older adults) and negative mood (44 per cent vs 27.8 per cent in adolescents and 24.5 per cent in older adults).

Experiences of alienation, or the cost of not interacting with friends, were twice as frequent among adolescents (around one in seven, or 14.8 per cent) as when compared to adults (7 per cent) with older adults mentioning it most infrequently (2.3 per cent).

Dr Netta Weinstein, Associate Professor of Psychology at the University of Reading and lead author of the paper said, “Our paper shows that aspects of solitude, a positive way of describing being alone, is recognised across all ages as providing benefits for our well-being.”

“The conventional wisdom is that adolescents, on the whole, found that the pandemic was a negative experience, but we see in our study how components of solitude can be positive. Over those first few months of the pandemic here in the UK, we see that working adults were actually the most likely to mention aspects of worsening well-being and mood, but even those are not as commonly mentioned as more positive experiences of solitude,” Dr Weinstein explained.

“We conducted the research in the summer of 2020 which coincided with the end of the first national lockdown in the UK. We know that many people reconnected with hobbies and interests or increasingly appreciating nature on walks and bike rides during that time, and those elements of what we describe as ‘self-determined motivation’, where we choose to spend time alone for ourselves are seemingly a critical aspect of positive wellbeing,” Dr Weinstein added.

“Seeing working-age adults experience disrupted well-being and negative mood may in fact be related to the pandemic reducing our ability to find peaceful solitude. As we all adjusted to a ‘new normal’, many working adults found that usual moments of being alone, whether on their commute or during a work break were disrupted. Even for the most ardent of extroverts, these small windows of peace shows the important role of time alone for our mental health,” Dr Weinstein continued.

“It also suggests that certain experiences of solitude are learned or valued increasingly with age, having an effect to reduce the impact of negative elements of loneliness and generally boosting well-being. Equally, it suggests that casual inferences about loneliness based on age and stage miss the reality of our nuanced lived experiences,” Dr Weinstein explained.

The results come from a series of in-depth interviews where participants from the UK answered open questions about their experiences of solitude.

The team of researchers coded the answers to find shared experiences and measured quantitative data about two aspects of wellbeing associated with solitude, self-determined motivation (the choice to spend time alone) and peaceful mood.

Inflation in Pakistan will continue to rise for next 6 months

Islamabad [Pakistan] : The inflation will remain high in Pakistan for the next six months and the rupee is likely to continue on a depreciatory path despite a support package from Saudi Arabia, local media reported citing the Economist Intelligence Unit (EIU).
The EIU’s assessment comes after data released by the Pakistan Bureau of Statistics (PBS) showed that the Consumer Price Index — a key marker of inflation — surged 9.2 per cent year-on-year in October, reported Geo News. “Strengthening inflationary headwinds are being driven largely by rapid import growth, exacerbated by a surge in global commodity prices, as the economy recovers from the disruption caused by the COVID-19 pandemic,” EIU said.
“We continue to expect that upward pressure on consumer prices will persist during the first half of 2022, as the global economic recovery is likely to keep commodity prices elevated and the rupee will continue on a depreciatory path despite short-term relief in the form of a financial assistance package from Saudi Arabia due to Pakistan’s persistently wide trade deficit and strong inflationary pressures,” the EIU added.
The EIU used its assessment to predict that the State Bank of Pakistan will raise rates again at its next monetary policy meeting on November 26, according to Geo News.
“We maintain our forecast of an elevated inflation rate of 9.2 per cent in 2021, eliciting further policy tightening from the SBP,” it said.
Inflation in Pakistan is on the rise and it has triggered countrywide protests by the opposition and people.

Delhi govt extends free ration scheme for next six months

New Delhi [India] : Stating that inflation in the country is ‘at its peak’, many people are unable to manage even two meals a day and many lost their jobs due to the COVID-19 pandemic, Chief Minister Arvind Kejriwal on Saturday announced that the Delhi government has extended its free ration scheme for the next six months.
“Inflation is at its peak. The common man is struggling to manage even two square meals a day. Many have lost their jobs due to COVID-19. Prime Minister, please extend the scheme of supplying free ration to the poor by six months. The Delhi government is extending its free ration scheme for the next six months,” he said in a tweet in Hindi. The Delhi Chief Minister also wrote a letter to Prime Minister Narendra Modi on Saturday urging the Centre to extend the free ration scheme for the next six months.
Kejriwal’s remarks came a day after Food Secretary Sudhanshu Pandey had said the Centre had no proposal to extend the Pradhan Mantri Garib Kalyan Anna Yojana (PMGKAY).
“Since the economy is in revival mode, as of now there is no proposal to extend Pradhan Mantri Garib Kalyan Yojana,” he said while addressing a presser in Delhi.
Earlier, Uttar Pradesh Chief Minister Yogi Adityanath had announced that the Pradhan Mantri Garib Kalyan Anna Yojana (PM-GKAY) will be extended till Holi.
PM-GKAY is a food security welfare scheme that was envisaged by the Prime Minister to provide assistance and help mitigate the economic impact of COVID-19.
Under PMGKAY, 5 Kg per person additional food grain is given to all beneficiaries covered under National Food Security Act.

Local train services resume in WB

Kolkata (West Bengal) [India] : Amid the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic, the local train services across West Bengal resumed with 50 per cent seating capacity on Sunday.
Meanwhile, West Bengal reported 990 new COVID-19 cases and nine deaths in the last 24 hours. Earlier this week, the Central government asked the West Bengal government to take note of the rising cases of COVID-19 in Kolkata and take measures to contain the spread of the virus following Durga Puja celebrations.

Study Finds How Young Adults Cope With Missing Out During Covid-19 Pandemic

A new study of college students’ experiences with loss during the COVID-19 pandemic has shown that although few directly experienced a close death, everyone lost something that left an impact on their lives. The findings of the study were published in the journal ‘Death Studies’.

Researchers collected the stories as part of class assignments where students reflected on their earliest and most significant losses regarding COVID-19.

Although grieving deaths were mentioned by several participants, most talked about what are often referred to as “shadow losses,” said Raven Weaver, assistant professor in Washington State University’s Department of Human Development.

The term ‘shadow loss,’ coined by thanatologist Cole Imperi, reflects losses in life, not of life. Those types of losses include losing social experiences, like going to football games or parties, not seeing family or friends in person or bigger events like having a wedding cancelled. Students tended to minimise those losses, however.

“The idea of self-disenfranchisement was very common. They would say things like ‘It was a loss, but not a death, so it shouldn’t be a big deal.’ There’s a sense that we shouldn’t grieve smaller losses. But we need to acknowledge that talking about smaller losses is a healthy response and can benefit our mental health,” Weaver said.

She hopes the findings in this paper, and subsequent research will help inform officials and health care providers in institutions like schools and mental health systems to better help young adults adjust to the next normal.

The article was written by Weaver and co-authors E G Srinivasan, Autumn Decker, and Cory Bolkan. The researchers collected stories for the qualitative study from their classes. Weaver and Bolkan teach the WSU class HD 360: Death and Dying on the Pullman and Vancouver campuses respectively; Srinivasan teaches a similar course at the University of Wisconsin, LaCrosse.

“We wanted the students to emphasise what they’re feeling and how they’re coping. We as a society don’t often talk about this, but there is progress in normalising conversations around death, loss and grief,” Weaver said.

The Death and Dying course normally has a project similar to the one in this study, but the research assignment was designed to capture the nuances related to COVID-19.

“Death and loss are pervasive in our lives and more salient in ways it wasn’t before the pandemic started. We’re starting to normalise deaths in conversations now,” Weaver said.

One of the biggest challenges for students in the study was the inability to communicate with loved ones in “normal” ways.

“It was difficult reading students’ experiences of not being able to say goodbye in person, of visiting a nursing home and talking through a window or only talking via technology. But talking about these experiences helps people. That’s what we’re working toward,” Weaver said.

PM Modi to discuss global economic situation, COVID-19, climate change with G20 leaders today

New Delhi [India] : Foreign Secretary Harsh Vardhan Shringla on Friday said that Prime Minister Narendra Modi will discuss global economic situation, COVID-19 pandemic, sustainable development and climate change with G20 leaders on Saturday.
Speaking at the press briefing on Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s visit to Rome, the Foreign Secretary said, “The PM will join other G20 leaders in discussions on global economic and health recovery from the pandemic, sustainable development and climate change among other issues.” Shringla said that PM Modi during his visit to Rome met with the President of European Council Charles Michel and President of European Commission Ursula von der Leyen.
“After his arrival (in Rome), PM Modi met with the President of European Council Charles Michel and President of European Commission Ursula von der Leyen,” he said.
He highlighted that India and European Union discussed issues like climate change, COVID-19 pandemic and contemporary global and regional developments during a joint meeting on the sidelines of the 16th G20 Summit.

“There was discussion on climate change issues and also on some areas of regional and global interests. The situation in Afghanistan and the Indo-Pacific were discussed in both meetings,” Shringla said.
He added that PM Modi also met his Italian counterpart Mario Draghi at Palazzo Chigi in Rome.
“On the meeting (of PM Modi) with Presidents of the European Commission and European Council as well as the meeting that has just been held with Italian PM Mario Draghi, the main issues of discussion were related to G20 Summit,” he added.
PM Narendra Modi arrived in Italy on Friday to participate in the two-day Summit. He is likely to hold several bilateral meetings on the sidelines of the G20 Summit.

PM lauded the country’s capability to battle the COVID-19 pandemic

Prime Minister Narendra Modi on Thursday lauded the country’s capability to battle the COVID-19 pandemic and recalled India’s journey from being an importer to an exporter of masks and kits.

Rishikesh (Uttarakhand) [India], October 7 : In his address at an event here, the Prime Minister said, “The facilities that India has prepared in such a short time to fight against COVID-19 shows the capability of our country. A network of about 3,000 testing labs from just one testing lab has been created. It is a journey from being an importer to exporter of masks and kits.” “We have facilities of new ventilators even in remote areas of the country. We have rapid and large-scale manufacturing of made in India COVID-19 vaccines. We are carrying out the world’s largest and fastest vaccination campaign. What India has done is a symbol of our determination, our service, our solidarity,” said PM Modi.

On this day the Prime Minister also completed 20 years in public service.
He said, “On this day, 20 years ago, I got a new responsibility to serve the public. My journey of serving the people, living among the people was going on for many decades ago, but 20 years ago today, I got a new responsibility to serve as the Chief Minister of Gujarat.”
The Prime Minister also extended his greetings on the occasion of Navaratri.
The Prime Minister said, “The holy festival of Navratri is also starting from today. Maa Shailputri is worshipped on the first day today. Mother Shailputri is the daughter of Himalaya. And, on this day, I am here to bow down to this soil and saluting this land of Himalayas…what can be a greater blessing in life than this.”
Prime Minister Narendra Modi dedicated to the nation 35 Pressure Swing Adsorption (PSA) oxygen plants established under the PM CARES Fund, said the Prime Minister’s Office (PMO) on Wednesday. The ceremony had begun at 11 am at AIIMS Rishikesh, the PMO’s statement said. 

South Korea: Flights to Saipan, Guam and Hawaii have been resumed

The sky roads, which had been closed due to the COVID-19 pandemic, have been opened. As the COVID-19 vaccination rate increases worldwide, international flights are being resumed mainly in ‘Travel Bubble’ countries.

Seoul [South Korea], October 5 : According to the Korea Disease Control and Prevention Agency on the 4th, Korea’s 1st-shot vaccination rate was 77.3% and the vaccination completion rate was 52.5% as of 0 o’clock on the 3rd. It means that 1 out of 2 people can travel to a Travel Bubble country. As a result, airlines are increasing their international routes and travel agencies are also rapidly releasing tour packages. The most well-known Travel Bubble route is Incheon-Saipan. Demand for tour packages to Saipan increased during the Chuseok holiday in all three airlines, Asiana Airlines, Jeju Air, and T’way Airlines. According to the Marianas Visitors Authority, the number of Korean tourists who reserved a trip to Saipan (as of the end of last month) exceeded 4,000. The boarding rate for Incheon-Saipan flights operated by Asiana Airlines was 85% on the 18th of last month.
More than 95% of them were tourists who bought tour package. From July to August, the demand for Travel Bubble was less than 10 per flight on average. “It is the largest since Korea and Saipan signed the ‘Travel Bubble’ agreement,” an official from Asiana Airlines said. “We are expecting that more than 1,000 people will reserve the tour package by the end of the year.”
The travel demand for Jeju Air to Saipan also reached 1,200 people after Chuseok holiday. Jeju Air is operating the Incheon-Saipan route once a week. The reservation rate for the Incheon-Saipan route operated by T’way Airlines also reportedly exceeded 80% this month and 90% next month.
Form the next month, passengers can visit more countries. Asiana Airlines will resume the Incheon-Guam route twice a week as early as next month. It has already received permission for the operation of the route from the Ministry of Land, Infrastructure and Transport last month, and it only remains final approval from the quarantine authorities. Previously, Asiana Airlines withdrew its Incheon-Guam route due to worsening profitability with the emergence of low-cost carriers (LCC). If the Incheon-Guam will be resumed as scheduled, it will be the first operation in 18 years.
Since August, Korean Air has been operating the Incheon-Guam route irregularly once a week. It will operate the Incheon-Hanoi route next year, and is also planning to resume the Incheon-Hawaii route. Most LCCs are also going to resume international flights to Guam and Southeast Asia.
As sky roads have opened, travel agencies are also preparing tour packages. Lotte Tour Development released an overseas tour package for the first time in a year and a half. Tourists, who booked the tour package, enjoyed traveling to Switzerland, minimizing indoor activities and mostly touring outdoor attractions. Modoo tour also sent about 60 people who applied a tour package to Guam during the last Chuseok holiday. It’s been about a year and a half.
According to the travel industry, Hana Tour began its normal working system from the 1st of this month. Its employees on unpaid leave returned to the work and employees who were working from home were also back to the office. As Hana Tour was hit directly by COVID-19 pandemic and its sales also decreased by more than 90% in a year, about 1,700 executives and employees were on paid or unpaid leave since April last year, excluding essential personnel.
“If the ‘With Corona’ is implemented, it will be a lifesaver of travel industry, which is suffering from the COVID-19,” an official from a travel company said. “For the time being, it is expected than demand for travel to Guam, Saipan, and Europe will be more than Southeast Asia and the U.S.”

India one of most open countries, famous for its vibrancy, diversity: PM Modi

India is one of the most open countries and is famous for its vibrancy and diversity, Prime Minister Narendra Modi said on Friday and called upon global investors to invest in the country.

New Delhi [India], October 1 : In a message to the India Pavilion at Expo 2020 Dubai, the Prime Minister said that the Expo is also a testimony to the resilience of mankind against the COVID-19 pandemic. “I would also like to convey hearty congratulations to Sheikh Mohammed bin Rashid Al Maktoum, Prime Minister and Vice President of UAE and the Ruler of Dubai. Let me also express my best wishes to my brother Sheikh Mohamed bin Zayed Al Nahyan, Crown Prince of Abu Dhabi. He has been instrumental in the progress we have achieved in our strategic partnership. I look forward to continuing our work for the progress and prosperity of both our countries,” the Prime Minister said.
He said that the main theme of Expo 2020 is ‘Connecting Minds, Creating the Future’ and said the spirit of this theme is also seen in India’s efforts as we move ahead to create a New India.
“This is a historic Expo. It is the first one to be held in the Middle East, Africa and South Asia region. India is participating with one of the largest pavilions in the Expo. I am sure the Expo will go a long way in further building our deep and historical relations with UAE, and with Dubai,” he said.
The Prime Minister said that India is a land of opportunities and offers growth in scale, ambition and results.

“Today’s India is one of the most open countries in the world. Open to learning, open to perspectives open to innovation open to investment. That is why I invite you to come and invest in our nation,” he said.
“Today India is a land of opportunities. Be it in the field of arts or commerce, industry or academia There is an opportunity to discover, opportunity to partner, opportunity to progress. Come to India and explore these opportunities. India also offers you maximum growth. Growth in scale, growth in ambition, growth in results. Come to India and be a part of our growth story,” he added.
The Prime Minister said India is a powerhouse of talent and the country is making many advances in the world of technology, research and innovation
“India is famous for its vibrancy and diversity. We have different cultures, languages, cuisines, forms of art, music and dance. This diversity is reflected in our pavilion. Our economic growth is powered by a combination of legacy industries and start-ups.
“India’s pavilion will showcase the best of India across these multiple areas. It will also showcase investment opportunities in multiple sectors like health, textiles, infrastructure, services and more,” he said.
The Prime Minister said the government has undertaken several reforms to boost economic growth over the last seven years.
“We will keep doing more to continue this trend,” he said.
Union Commerce and Industry Minister Piyush Goyal inaugurated the Indian Pavilion at Dubai Expo 2020 on Friday.
Coinciding with India’s celebrations of Amrit Mahotsav, 75 years of Independence, Dubai Expo 2020 is a significant platform for India to showcase its vibrant culture and tremendous growth opportunities for the next six months.
Among the 192 participating countries, India has the biggest pavilion in the expo. Fifteen states and nine central ministries from India are participating in this six-month-long expo, which will end on March 31, 2022.
The India Pavilion features an innovative kinetic facade made up of 600 individual colourful blocks. It is developed as a mosaic of rotating panels that will depict different themes as they rotate on their axis.
It represents the theme of ‘India on the move’ and is a unique amalgam of the rich heritage and technological advances of the nation.A large number of Indian conglomerates and global companies are also participating. India’s participation in Expo 2020 Dubai primarily focuses on presenting unlimited opportunities for the global community to participate in the country’s growth story, and benefit from it.
In keeping with the themes of the Expo, visitors will get a glimpse of Indian innovations and successes in the fields of Space Technology, Robotics, Electric Mobility, Edu-tech, e-Commerce, Energy, Cybersecurity, Healthcare, Cryptocurrency and Blockchain.
Eleven key themes are being represented at the India Pavilion – Climate and Biodiversity, Space, Urban and Rural Development, Tolerance and Inclusivity, Golden Jubilee, Knowledge and Learning, Travel and Connectivity, Global Goals, Health and Wellness, Food Agriculture and Livelihoods and Water.

COVID-19: Vaccinated passengers from India, other nations can travel to US from November

Amid the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic, the United States has allowed fully vaccinated flyers from several countries, including India, to enter America from early November.

Washington [US], September 21 : The US announced that strict protocols will be in place from early November to curb the spread of COVID-19 from international passengers. According to a senior government official, once the protocol is in place, passengers from several countries, including the UK, India and Brazil and Europe would be allowed to enter the US with proof of vaccination.
“Today, President Biden announced that beginning in early November, the US will be putting in place strict protocols to prevent the spread of COVID-19 from passengers flying internationally into the US by requiring that adult foreign nationals travelling here be fully vaccinated,” the senior official said in a statement.
“But we’re very proud of the fact that we’ve been able to develop a protocol that would permit travel by individuals and families and business people from the EU and UK, as well as from Brazil and India and other countries, to the United States with proof of vaccination,” he said.
“Critically for our European partners and the UK, this policy means that we’ll no longer be implementing current 212(f) travel policies for individual countries as of early November. We’ll be moving to a consistent requirement for all international air travelers coming to the US,” he added.
According to CNN, the US travel ban was first imposed in the earliest days of the COVID-19 pandemic when then-President Donald Trump limited travel from China in January 2020.

Tourism : Visa Services

The tourism industry welcomed the Central government’s move of considering to resume issuing tourist visas as the COVID-19 cases have declined. “The tourism industry faced a loss of 7 lakh crore in the last two years due to the COVID-19 pandemic, ” Ease My trip co-founder Prashant Pitti told ANI while welcoming the Centre’s move.

New Delhi [India], September 17 : “There are so many people, travel agents and guides whose livelihoods depend on international tourism and our tourism economy has almost dipped. This will be a relief for all if the government is considering it,” said Prashant.
“We hope our industry will rise again as we have a huge number of people who connect to us on a daily basis and ask about foreign trips and are eagerly waiting to know when will the restrictions lift up,” Prashant added.
“This is the remarkable thinking of government and we are waiting that when it will be turned into reality soon, “stated Prashant.
Earlier on Wednesday, the Ministry of Home Affairs (MHA) official confirmed that the Central government is considering to resume issuing tourist visas very soon In a bid to boost the economy as daily COVID-19 cases in the country have come down.

COVID-19 pandemic had psychosocial impact on healthcare workers: ICMR study

A study by the Indian Council of Medical Research (ICMR) has revealed that increase in the work volume and intensity, manifestations of stigma and additional responsibilities of healthcare workers (HCWs), who had to adapt to new protocols and adjust to the ‘new normality’ amid the COVID-19 pandemic, had a psychosocial impact on them.

New Delhi [India], September 17 : According to the study published in the Indian Journal of Medical Research, the pandemic has brought out different expressions of the stigma that HCWs face with experiences of verbal and physical abuse reported to a large extent on social and print media platforms. “Manifestations of stigma have been reported in India with doctors, and nurses being forced to vacate from their premises and reports of physical violence on HCWs in many parts of the nation. This reported stress, anxiety, depression and sleep-related issues among HCWs,” the study stated.
The study findings point to the challenges at the organisational level which is reflected in the major changes in the working culture of HCWs who were ill-prepared for this change. The longer working hours with erratic timings resulted in sleep deprivation as well as unhealthy eating patterns.
“Staying away from their respective families and the families affected because of the long separation and the protocol measures of being involved in COVID-19 care duties. The fear of infecting their families was far higher than the fear of being infected themselves,” the study result stated.
The study was conducted on 967 participants across 10 sites – Bhubaneswar (Odisha), Mumbai (Maharashtra), Ahmedabad (Gujarat), Noida (Uttar Pradesh), South Delhi, Pathanamthitta (Kerala), Kasaragod (Kerala), Chennai (Tamil Nadu), Jabalpur (Madhya Pradesh), Kamrup (Assam) and East Khasi Hills (Meghalaya).
Out of these, 54 per cent of respondents were females and 46 per cent were males. The respondents were primarily in the age group between 20 and 40 years.

Mumbai welcomes ‘Bappa’ home

Amidst the restrictions imposed by the Maharashtra government on public celebrations of Ganesh Chaturthi in view of the ongoing Covid-19 pandemic, people in Mumbai were seen making last-minute preparations as they visited markets to take home Lord Ganesha idol and decorative materials for the festival.

Mumbai (Maharashtra) [India], September 9 : While expressing disappointment for not being able to celebrate Ganeshotsav with full fervour in the wake of the pandemic, the people were also relieved to be able to at least celebrate the festival at home, unlike last year. “Last year we could not celebrate Ganeshotsav. This year, though with restrictions, we are going to celebrate the festival and welcome Bappa (Lord Ganesha) at home,” said Shweta who was shopping in the Lalbaug market of Mumbai.
“Bappa is called ‘Vighnaharta’ (one who takes away all the problems). This festival is very important for us as worshipping Bappa takes away one’s sorrows and brings happiness,” she added.
Lalit, another person visiting the market, said that the celebrations will not be the same as earlier because of Covid-19 but following the guidelines is also necessary in view of the possible third wave.
“This year, we are going to pray Bappa to eliminate Covid-19 from the world,” he stated.
The Maharashtra government on Thursday issued fresh orders that the devotees will not be allowed to visit Ganpati Pandals physically and arrangements should be made for digital darshan through Webcast or any other mode.
Mumbai Mayor Kishori Pednekar also appealed to people to follow the Covid-19 guidelines amidst the celebrations and told them to follow ‘Majha Ghar, Majha Bappa’ (My Home, My Bappa) and celebrate the festival at their homes only.
Meanwhile, the Lalbaugcha Raja Ganeshotsav Mandal will be celebrating Ganeshotsav in a traditional way adhering to all Covid-19 related guidelines and restrictions.
Last year, Lalbaughcha Raja Ganeshotsav Mandal, for the first time in history, refrained from holding the festivities in the wake of the pandemic.
This year Ganeshotsav of Lalbaugcha will be organised by the Mandal from September 10 to 19 September.
The Maharashtra government had earlier issued guidelines to restrict the height of the Ganesha idols to upto four feet and urged people to carry out the festivities by following Covid protocols and avoid crowding.
The government had also directed Ganeshotsav Mandals to seek prior permission from the local administration.
Ganesh Chaturthi, a 10-day festival that starts on the fourth day of the Hindu lunisolar calendar month Bhadrapada, will start on September 10 this year.

Core sector output in July grows at 9.4 pc

New Delhi [India], Aug 31 : The output of eight core infrastructure sectors rose by 9.4 per cent in July due to a low base effect, government data released on Tuesday showed.
In the year-ago period, it had dipped by 7.6 per cent due to the impact of Covid-19 pandemic. In June this year, the growth was 9.3 per cent. The output of these sectors altogether make up 40 per cent of the Index of Industrial production (IIP).
“The production of coal, natural gas, refinery products, fertilisers, steel, cement and electricity industries increased in July 2021 over the corresponding period of last year,” said a statement released by the Ministry of Commerce and Industry.
However, crude oil production with a weightage of 8.98 per cent declined by 3.2 per cent in July over the same period of last year. Its cumulative index declined by 3.4 per cent during April to July 2021-22 over the corresponding period of previous year.
But coal production in July went up by 18.7 per cent, natural gas by 18.9 per cent, petroleum refinery products by 6.7 per cent, fertilisers by 0.5 per cent, steel by 9.3 per cent, cement by 21.8 per cent and electricity by 9 per cent

SC to resume physical hearings from September 1

Amid the COVID-19 pandemic, the Supreme Court had been hearing matters since March last year through video conferencing, however, it will resume its physical hearings with the opening of a hybrid option from September 1 and asked the lawyers to select between virtual and physical hearings, according to a Supreme Court’s notification.

New Delhi [India], August 29 : The physical hearings are to be conducted in adherence with the Standard Operating Procedures while conducting the physical hearing, further stated the notification. “With a view to gradually facilitate the resumption of the physical hearing, the final hearing/regular matters listed on non-miscellaneous days may be heard in the physical mode (with hybrid option), as may be decided by the Bench, considering the number of parties in a matter as well as the limited capacity of the Courtrooms,” said the notification.
All other matters, including those listed on miscellaneous days, shall continue to be heard through video/teleconferencing mode. At the discretion of the Bench, there may be a break(s) during the hearings in Courtroom in physical mode, for a period of about 15 minutes, so that Courtroom may be sanitized, during which it is necessary that the entire Courtroom be vacated, said the notification.
The Chief Justice of India (CJI) has passed a number of directions with regard to starting physical hearings in a restricted manner clubbing with strictly adhering to the Standard Operating Procedures (SOPs) with respect to Covid-19 protocols, further stated the notification.
The CJI passed the order after he was being requested and received many letters from the Bar Associations, lawyers, and on recommendations of the Judges Committee to start physical hearings in a restricted manner, as per the notification.
“Unless otherwise directed by the Bench, final hearing/regular matters where the number of advocates for the parties is more than the average working capacity of the Courtrooms, as per Covid-19 norms, i.e. 20 matters (approx.), per Courtroom at any given time, shall invariably be listed for hearing through video/teleconferencing mode,” the notification said.
However, in case the Bench directed the hearing of such matters to be held through the physical mode, the appearance of the parties, whether by physical presence or through video/teleconferencing, will be facilitated as per the directions of the Bench, it said.
In a matter listed for physical hearing (with hybrid option), one AOR [or his nominee], one Arguing Counsel, and one Junior Counsel per party will be allowed entry; one registered Clerk per party, as may be chosen by the AOR, shall be allowed entry to carry paper books/journals, etc. of the Counsels up to the Court-rooms, the SC’s Circular said.
In any such matter as may be listed for physical hearing (with hybrid option), all the Counsel appearing for one party can appear either through physical mode or through video/teleconferencing. Advocate(s)-on-Record (AORs) are required to register themselves on the Supreme Court portal, and submit their preferences for appearing before the Court either through physical mode or through video/teleconferencing mode within 24 hours/1:00 PM next day, as the case may be, after the publication of the weekly list of final hearing/ regular matters, it said.
Once hearing through physical mode is opted by the AOR/petitioner-in-person, hearing through video/teleconferencing mode to the party concerned will not be facilitated, it said.
The Entry of the counsel/parties into the HSZ (High-Security Zones) to appear for physical hearing will be through daily “Special hearing passes” which will be issued by the Registry, on the basis of authorization by the concerned AOR on the portal, the apex court’s circular said. (

Delhi schools to reopen in a phased manner from September 1

New Delhi [India], August 27 : The Delhi Disaster Management Authority (DDMA) on Friday has decided to reopen schools in a phased manner in the national capital from September 1 for classes 9 to 12, amid the COVID-19 pandemic.
Physical classes for students of class 6 to class 8 will also begin from September 8. The decision was taken aat a meeting of the DDMA held today to discuss the matter and take a final call on reopening of educational institutes after the second wave of COVID-19 created a havoc.
The meeting was attended by Delhi Chief Minister Arvind Kejriwal, Delhi Health Minsiter Satyendar Jain, NITI Aayog member (health) Dr VK Paul, All India Institute Of Medical Science (AIIMS) Director Dr Randeep Guleria, Indian Council of Medical Research (ICMR) Professor Balram Bhargava, Lieutenant Governor Anil Baijal, and other senior officials.
After the first wave of COVID-19 hit the country in March last year, schools had reopened for classes 9 to 11 in Delhi on February 5, 2021, but they were again shut on April 9 after COVID-19 cases rose in the second wave of the pandemic.
Delhi on Thursday reported 45 new COVID-19 cases, 21 recoveries and zero deaths. As per the media bulletin, there are 413 active cases. The positivity rate in the metro was reported to be 0.06 per cent.

Home chef service trend grooming in Japan

Tokyo [Japan] : Restaurants in Japan are facing difficulties due to the COVID-19 pandemic. Emerging as a solution to this, the idea of “In Home Chef” is becoming popular.

Under this idea, professional chefs cook at home and people enjoy restaurant-quality meals. But unlike food delivery services, customers can discuss their requirements with the chef when he visits them. “Cooking is sometimes smooth and sometimes not, because situation depends on the available tools in family kitchen and ingredients. Also, when there are limitations of materials it is a challenge to create the menu,” said an In Home Chef.

Working parents are also finding In Home Chef service very helpful.
It is easy to order using online subscription service in which the chef prepares meals for three to four nights for a fee of about 70 dollars per visit, not including food costs.

“The food that chef prepares for us at home is very helpful and it is delicious so all the family feel happy. And during the time when the chef is cooking I can go to hair salon or play with my kids making toys or spend other time with my family,” said a customer who opted the In Home Chef service.
After preparing the meal chef explains each dish.

This way it is possible to accommodate each household’s various requirements, such as making special prepared meal for people receiving nursing care with special dietary restriction.

“Before, I used to work in the hotel or restaurant so customers came because they knew me or wanted to taste my cooking, but now it is challenging as I have to prepare different menus for each family according to their taste. So, the situation is different also the kitchen is different,” said another In Home Chef.
Due to coronavirus situation in the country, restaurants in some areas in Japan are asked to shorten their business hours, so more chefs are accepting the idea of taking their professional skill to customer’s home.
In this way they can keep their business going on and make more people familiar with their delicious food.

Kolkata to host 130th edition of Durand Cup from September 5 to October 3

New Delhi [India], August 12 : The Durand Cup, the world’s third oldest and Asia’s oldest football tournament, is poised to make a comeback after a year’s hiatus due to the Covid-19 pandemic. Kolkata will host the four-week-long tournament, scheduled between September 5 and October 3, with matches being played at various venues in and around Kolkata.
Sixteen participating teams from across the country, including four teams from the Services, are set to bring out the competitive and true sportsman spirit to win the coveted trophies. With the dynamic support of All India Football Federation (AIFF), IFA (West Bengal) and the Government of West Bengal, the 130th Edition of Durand Cup is set to become a landmark event. The tournament was shifted from Delhi to Kolkata in 2019. The prestigious tournament was first held in 1888, at Dagshai (Himachal Pradesh) and is named after Mortimer Durand, who was then the Foreign Secretary in charge of India. The tournament was a conscious way to initially maintain health and fitness amongst the British troops but was later opened to civilians and currently is one of the leading sports events in the world. Mohun Bagan and East Bengal are the most successful teams in the history of the Durand Cup winning it sixteen times each.
The winning team is presented with three trophies ie the President’s Cup (first presented by Dr Rajendra Prasad), the Durand Cup (the original challenge prize – a rolling trophy) and the Shimla Trophy (first presented by citizens of Shimla in 1903 and since 1965, a rolling trophy).

Tokyo Olympics has shown it is possible to keep COVID-19 pandemic at bay, says IOC adviser

Tokyo [Japan], August 7 : Brian McCloskey, chair of the Independent Expert Panel for the Olympics, stated that Tokyo 2020 has proven that it is possible to “keep the pandemic at bay”.
Basic anti-COVID-19 measures and a good testing scheme made a “safe and secure” Games possible, said Brian. “We have shown it is possible to keep the pandemic at bay. And that is a very important lesson from Tokyo to the rest of the world,” McCloskey, a leading health adviser to the sporting event, said on Saturday during a press briefing as per Kyodo News. The organising committee of the games has said over 600,000 tests have been carried out, with the cumulative total of those COVID-19 cases standing at 404 after another 22 people were added on Saturday.
As for the daily count, released on Saturday, no athletes tested positive for the second straight day. Of the 22, 13 are contractors, four are games-related officials, two are members of the media, two are employees of the organizing committee and one is a volunteer.
The total number of coronavirus cases in Japan has topped 1 million while the 17-day Olympics is nearing its close on Sunday.
“What is important is the core message from the (World Health Organization) and other agencies that the way you manage this pandemic is through basic public health measures and a good testing regime,” McCloskey said.
“We’ve proved that works,” he said, adding that collected data will be provided to the rest of the world to cope with the pandemic.
IOC President Thomas Bach on Friday also stated that the Olympic Community has been the best-tested community anywhere in the world during the last few weeks.

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