PM MODI TO REVIEW COVID SITUATION, STATES START IMPOSING RESTRICTIONS - The Daily Guardian
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PM MODI TO REVIEW COVID SITUATION, STATES START IMPOSING RESTRICTIONS

Delhi bans Christmas, New Year gatherings as Covid cases rise.

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Amid the emergence and spread of the Omicron variant of coronavirus, Prime Minister Narendra Modi is set to hold a meeting on Thursday to review the Covid-19 situation in the country, sources said. Currently, cases of the new Omicron variant are rising in the country, making several states starting to impose restrictions to stop the spread of the virus. Even as the possibility of a third wave in India is being debated by several experts, the Delhi Disaster Management Authority (DDMA) on Wednesday directed district magistrates to ensure no Christmas and New Year gatherings take place in the national capital. The DDMA issued orders to enforce the “No Mask, No Entry” rule at shops and workplaces.

As per the data obtained by the Union Health Ministry on Wednesday, around 213 patients have been detected with the new Omicron variant. Delhi has reported 57 cases so far, whereas Maharashtra has reported 54 cases of Omicron. Delhi reported 125 new Covid-19 cases in the past 24 hours, the biggest single-day spike in the last six months. On 22 June this year, 134 Covid cases were reported in Delhi. As per Delhi’s health bulletin on Wednesday, the positivity rate remained 0.20% for the third consecutive day. The number of active infections has mounted to 624, the highest in nearly five months. On 16 July, there were 657 active cases in Delhi.

As many as nine more Omicron cases were reported in Kerala, taking the total infections of this variant to 24, said state Health Minister Veena George on Wednesday. Of the nine cases, two people are returnees from the United Kingdom, two are returnees from Tanzania, one from Ghana, one from Ireland and three from Nigeria.

The Centre has taken adequate preparations to fight against the evolving situation of the new variant. The Centre is also in touch with the state governments to check the Covid-19 preparations and measures, sources said.

PM Modi has asked officials to review the plans of easing travel restrictions concerning international travel. Health officials are strictly vigilant of the evolving situation and have urged the people to be cautious and follow Covid-19 guidelines. Looking at the evolving cases, the Prime Minister has also extended the scheme of free distribution of grains till March 2022.

“It is too early to say anything for now. However, there is a possibility of a third wave, if people are not cautious. We will get to know it soon,” Dr Shikhar Mishra, a general practitioner from Siliguri told The Daily Guardian.

Looking into the requirement for a booster dose in India, Dr Debayan Mallik, the in-charge of the rural health centre of the JIMS hospital, Kolkata, told this newspaper, “It is too early to say whether India needs a booster dose or not, but it will help the frontline workers at the time of the next outbreak.”

Another microbiologist from Gujarat, Dr Mitesh H. Patel, told this newspaper, “As per the current scenario, there is a possibility of the third wave after one or two months.”

Some states and UTs like Andhra Pradesh, Chandigarh, Ladakh, Tamil Nadu and West Bengal have reported only one case each, while Jammu and Kashmir reported 3 cases of Omicron. Karnataka has reported 19 cases, while Rajasthan has reported 18 cases, Kerala has reported 15 cases, Gujarat has reported 14 cases of the new variant. India reported 6,317 fresh Covid-19 cases and 318 deaths in the last 24 hours, said the Ministry of Health and Family Welfare on Wednesday. The country’s active caseload currently stands at 78,190, the lowest in 575 days. According to the Ministry, 213 cases of Omicron variant of coronavirus have been reported in the country so far. Out of this, Delhi topped the list with 57 confirmed cases followed by Maharashtra (54 cases) and Telangana (24 cases).

The Union Health Ministry had on Tuesday alerted states and Union Territories about Omicron, and said that based on current scientific evidence, Omicron is at least three times more transmissible than the Delta variant.

Dr Vivek Nangia, Principal Director and Head of Pulmonology, Max Hospital, Saket Complex said, “As of now we have got patients who are asymptomatic or mildly symptomatic and no significant symptoms or complications have developed so far. Patients admitted do not even require oxygen or any other IV medication. All the patients admitted here have been asked to get institutional quarantine by the government. These are the travellers who were returning from other countries like the UK and were tested positive at the airport and asked for an institutional quarantine. So far they all got very mild to no symptoms at all.”

“The way things are going we are already seeing a surge in a number of cases. Initially, we saw 20 to 30 cases being reported, now we are seeing cases in hundreds. The number of cases will keep increasing, especially due to the upcoming festive season. Moreover, with people moving around, I am sure we are in trouble,” he added. “It’s high time we all should be cautious and follow all the Covid protocol behaviour; otherwise, we will be in trouble again similar to the beginning of this year,” said Dr Nangia.

Several states have started imposing new restrictions to stop the spread of Omicron.

DELHI: The Delhi Disaster Management Authority (DDMA) ordered the district magistrates (DMs) to identify potential Covid-19 superspreader areas ahead of Christmas and New Year. The DDMA issued orders to enforce “No Mask, No Entry” rule at shops and workplaces. The district magistrates and deputy commissioners of police (DCPs) have also been directed to tighten the enforcement machinery to ensure that people follow social-distancing norms and wear masks. “All district magistrates shall conduct an intensive survey of the entire area falling under their jurisdiction and identify those pockets, colonies, markets and crowded places which have the potential of becoming superspreaders of coronavirus and its Omicron variant,” the DDMA said in the order.

MAHARASHTRA: Maharashtra accounts for 54 Omicron cases. The state too has issued prohibitory orders under Section 144 of the Code of Criminal Procedure (CrPC) from 16-31 December. Only fully vaccinated people are permitted to enter shops or public transport. Commercial premise owners would require permission from their ward officers for a gathering of more than 200 people. Additionally, seating capacity for indoor areas has been restricted to 50%, while it is 25% for outdoor areas.

PUNJAB: The Punjab government has issued a new order under which government employees who fail to provide their Covid-19 vaccination certificate will not be paid their salary. The employees are required to upload the vaccination certificates on the Punjab government’s job portal to get their salaries. Amid rising cases of coronavirus variant Omicron across the country, the Punjab government has resorted to stricter measures to encourage people to get vaccinated.

HARYANA: The Haryana government on Wednesday made the second dose of Covid-19 vaccination mandatory for people to enter malls, restaurants, banks, offices, and other public places starting 1 January. Haryana additional chief secretary (health), Rajeev Arora, in a notification, said that 60% of the state’s population have been administered both doses of Covid-19 vaccine.

KARNATAKA: Karnataka has banned all public gatherings, including ones on Bengaluru’s MG Road and Brigade Road, during New Year’s Eve. “There will not be any public celebration and special events in any part of the state,” Chief Minister Basavaraj Bommai said. Clubs and restaurants are permitted to have patrons till 50% of their capacity, but no DJs or special New Year’s parties are allowed. All staff are required to be fully vaccinated with a negative RT-PCR test.

GUJARAT: The Gujarat government has extended the night curfew from 1 am-5 am till 31 December. Gyms and restaurants can operate at 75% capacity, while cinema halls can have full occupancy.

WEST BENGAL: According to the latest orders issued by the West Bengal government, the ongoing restrictions on movement from 11 pm-5 am will continue till 15 January, except for Christmas and New Year’s Day.

UTTAR PRADESH: The authorities in UP have invoked Section 144 under CrPC till 31 December.

OTHER STATES: Rajasthan and Telangana have so far reported 18 and 24 positive cases of Omicron, respectively. However, no specific curbs have so far been announced regarding the December-end festive week.

WITH AGENCY INPUTS

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‘I had tears in my eyes’: Saqib Saleem reveals Mohinder Amarnath’s reaction to his performance in 83

In an exclusive conversation with NewsX as part of NewsX India A-List, Saqib Saleem revealed Mohinder Amarnath’s reaction to his performance in 83 and much more.

Priyanka Sharma

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Garnering praises for his stellar performance in 83, Actor Saqib Saleem joined NewsX for a candid chat as part of NewsX India A-List. As part of the exclusive conversation, the actor opened up about the response to his latest film 83, Mohinder Amarnath’s reaction to his performance and much more.

Speaking about the release of 83 and the response coming his way, Saqib said, “I have been working for the last 10-12 years but it feels like it is my first film because the love I have gotten for this, I have never gotten in my life for anything. It is just so overwhelming that the kind of messages I have been getting whether it is from the fraternity, whether it is from people on social media, my friends, my relatives and I don’t know how to react. Like I said, I have never gotten a response like this, so I don’t know what to say or what to do. I didn’t know that I was so bad at taking compliments. It is the first time I have realised that I am bad at taking compliments.”

When asked about the best compliment that he has received so far for his performance in the film, Saqib revealed, “If I had to tell you the best compliment I have gotten is from the man himself- Mohinder Amarnath. It was at the premiere of the film and I was very nervous about how he would see it. I had already the seen the film so I knew the film was good but I really wanted his review because I was playing him. When the premiere was on, I was slyly next to his seat, trying to gauge his reaction as to what he is thinking but I was getting very anxious. I was like I can’t do this to myself. I have to let him enjoy the film. I have to just disconnect from the film right now. I went out of the theatre. I had a couple of more black coffees and I got more anxious. When the film got over, I came back in. I went to him and I don’t know why but I had tears in my eyes. I looked at him and all I said was that ‘Sir, I am really sorry if I did something that was wrong’. He looked at me with his trademark smile and said, “Are you mad?”

“He had a red handkerchief that he would always carry himself in the 1983 world cup. He was wearing a red pocket square. He took out that pocket square and put on my jacket and said, “This is yours from now. You have made me 10 years younger.” I couldn’t stop crying. I had never in my life, my acting career had a more honest moment. I felt so connected to my own self at that time. Now, no review matters, no box office matters, nothing matters. The man himself appreciated it and that is the biggest validation I could have asked for, “ he added.

Check out the entire interview on NewsX YouTube:

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ITA Awards 2021 will be held in March this year: Anu Ranjan

In the exclusive conversation with NewsX as part of NewsX India A-List, Anu Ranjan gave us an insight into ITA, her association with ITA and the preparations for this year’s ceremony.

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As the countdown for ITA Awards 2021 begins, Producer Anu Ranjan joined NewsX as part of NewsX India A-List. In the exclusive conversation, Anu Ranjan gave us an insight into ITA, her association with ITA and the preparations for this year’s ceremony, especially amid a Covid scare.

Speaking about her association with ITA 2021 and what has the journey been like, Anu Ranjan said, “This is our 21st year. I started it and I have been there since its inception. It is just that because of what has happened the previous year, we have been running a few months late. Ideally it should have been last year but we had 20th awards last year so 21st would be held in March this year. I just love it. No other words for it.”

Talking about the inception of ITA awards, she shared, “It was an idea told to me by my friends while we were walking on the beach. They were saying that there are no TV awards and that was in 2000. That time, it was just a thought. I used to live in America and I moved to India after I got married. The Emmy’s was something that we had always seen so I said ‘Okay, let me try doing it’. It just so happened that TV started at the same time. All of a sudden, things started happening on television. All the KBCs and K Series etc, all started and ITA was launched the same year. TV from no where; people not recognizing who the TV stars were, became household names exactly that year onwards.”

When asked what has changed in the past 2 years considering the Covid-19 outbreak and the protocols that have been put in place, Anu Ranjan responded, “Last to last year, it was fab. There were 10-15 thousand people. We had it in Indore. It was perfect. Last year, we had to have it a studio. What we did was instead of having a 3 hour live show, we kind of extended it over 2 days. We did one act and let them all go. We had 10 awards with just 30 people and then continued. We did managed to do it. In the edit, we had put everything together. What we did in 3 hours, was spread into 20 hours. It worked pretty well that way too. This year, god willing, we have it in March. If things work out well, which I’m sure they will, then it is going to be another super year. “

On recognising actors who have amazed the audiences in the OTT space in ITA Awards 2021 nominations, she said, “This year, we have got OTT at par with TV. So far, TV was 80% chunk and OTT was 20%. Now, what has happened is that it has become 60-40. TV is still a little heavier. There is a lot happening here and the good thing is that all the artists, more or less, the same. Whether you are doing television, films or web, it is the same people and they are very widely recognised and accepted by all. That has made a very big difference. We started OTT 3 years ago and that time we had 14 show entries. This year, it goes into 100+. Every single network, all 8-10 of the platforms, all actively participating  in the ITA awards.”

Check out the entire interview on NewsX YouTube:

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Films that have a huge spectacle are driving people to the cinema: Vivek Krishnani

In an exclusive interview with NewsX as part of NewsX India A-List, Vivek Krishnani, Krishnani talks to us about the roaring success of Spiderman: No way home.

Priyanka Sharma

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Recognised for excellence in leading production houses on NewsX India A-List, Vivek Krishnani, Managing Director, Sony Pictures India recently joined us for an insightful chat. In the exclusive conversation with NewsX, Vivek Krishnani spoke to us about the success of Spiderman: No way home, films that are driving people to the cinema post pandemic and much more.

Speaking about starting the year 2022 with the roaring success of Spiderman: No Way Home amid uncertainty over its release due to Covid-19 pandemic, Vivek Krishnani said, “We at Sony are really happy with way the year is headed. When we started planning for this back in September last year, the theatres were closed. We were very anxious about what is going to happen with our biggest release of the year. In October, if you see, when Hollywood films paved the way, the exhibition started and then we had Venom, which released in October and it did really well. That gave us the confidence in the fact that people are coming back to cinemas and they are really embracing a film that basically provides good content and good entertainment. We saw that happen when a few local films released as well.”

“I think, at the end of the day, when we went in with Spiderman, what we realised is that the film already had a huge nostalgia value attached to it. It had a huge amount of newness in it, in terms of what the film had to offer and that we saw when the trailer released. It actually broke the Internet. It gave us huge number of views in a span of 24 hours. That really caught the fancy of people globally. Slowly and steadily, we saw the hype building, Finally, the dams broke when we opened the advances on 12th of December. It was something that was never-seen-before experience; for a film to get advance bookings, this kind of love and support from the audiences. We have really been happy with the way that the film has turned out and the love that people have given it at the box office”, he added.

When asked if he has seen a trend of good Hollywood films doing well at the box office, Vivek Krishnani responded, “What is happening is that by all imagination, good content is working. Whether it is Hollywood content or local film content, that is immaterial. We have seen that happen even in the past when regional films have released and they have done extremely well. Sooryavanshi released and it did really well as well. Now that Spiderman has released, it has done exceedingly well too. At the end of the day, it is the victory of content and it is basically where people are understanding now what kind of content will get them to the theatres. That is very important. We have to very careful as filmmakers and content creators to understand what will motivate audiences to come back into theatres. That’s what we are saying. Films that have huge spectacle, large VFX, in terms of good visual range, those are the films that are driving people to the cinema. Plus, Films that have a connect with audiences, something that they haven’t seen before is getting people into cinema.”

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vEMPIRE REPORTS STELLAR 2021 PROFIT LED BY GAINS IN METAVERSE PROPERTY, NFTS SALES

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Decentralised metaverse vEmpire on Monday reported a stellar performance in 2021 with an annualized profit of over $18.5 million, led by gains in metaverse property, sale of NFTs and staking investments.

The year-end report, compiled by vEmpire, discloses its staking strategies carried out across Ethereum, Decentraland, Sandbox, Axie Infinity, and Starlink, leading to unrealized profit surpassing $ 4 million in the final quarter of 2021 alone. As early adopters of the Metaverse the entity’s NFT sales amounted to an additional $500 thousand and supplemented with newly acquired valuable investments, at roughly ninety percent below current market value, concluding its 2021 annualized profit at $18.708 million and a price-earnings ratio of 1.44, 20 times lower than the average company in the S&P 500 today.

For 2022, vEmpire’s objective will remain to spur growth and decentralization of Metaverses. “Our users have contributed to staking tens of millions of dollars worth of Metaverse tokens on our platform, which has enabled us to build a decentralized Metaverse investment portfolio that represents the largest in the industry,” said Dom Ryder, founder of vEmpire. “Overall we are extremely pleased with the performance and the quality assets we have acquired over the past quarter. I am pleased to say we are very much on track for the remainder of our roadmap. We are still incredibly early to the Metaverse,” he added.

vEmpire’s ETH pool allows access for more individuals to the expensive, but profitable, blue-chip NFT protocols like Bored Ape Yacht Club. vEmpire’s ETH staking pool was incepted with 518.7 ETH and its value, as measured by the lowest equivalent asset floor, is now 1,021.5 ETH, almost doubling in value.

Meanwhile, vEmpire’s Metaverse staking options in Metaverses like Decentraland, Sandbox, Starl, and others allow investors to partake in early allocation and investment of valuable plots within Metaverses.

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FOOD: HOT FROM THE PRINTING PRESS

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“Proof of the pudding,” they say, “is in the eating”. And, “Seeing is believing,” tells another adage. But, how do you react when a 3-D printed snack or steak is served to you on a plate? 3-D was once supposed to be the next big thing in cinema. There was a time when one had to wear special disposable glasses to experience the magic of 3-D. The characters seemed to leap out of the screen- the villains targeting you, the poor spectator cowering in the seat. But the technology never caught on. Large 70 mm screens and Dolby surround sound created the illusion of depth and immersion much better.

There have been attempts to revive it with films like ‘Avatar’ but with very little success. It’s only the kids and, adults who refuse to grow up who value 3-D effects in immersive Virtual Reality.

Those addicted to Science Fiction have always been open to the idea of many more dimensions than length, width and height. But, no need to digress into abstract realms of physics and mathematics. Hasn’t our food always been three dimensional? As a matter of fact, the seductive drooling anticipation of flavours triggered by aromas, lingering taste summoned up by memories uncannily in unguarded moments remind us that the fourth dimension –time has much to do with our enjoyment of food. What then explains the exciting buzz about 3-D Printed Foods?

3-D printers made their appearance more than a couple of decades back as an innovative application of pneumatic extrusion technology and were hyped as an invention that would have applications in diverse areas from architectural design to medicine.

The first generation of 3-D printers worked with plastic threads that could be squeezed through a nozzle liquifying them through the application of heat. Subsequent passes of the nozzle added layers over the first layer. The design of the object was fed into the computer and the printer produce cost-effective parts or prototypes. It took quite some time before chefs in the kitchen and technologists in food companies discovered this tool.

Low hanging fruit was plucked first. Companies like Hersheys tried these machines to make sugar sculptures and chocolate mousses. Then the Italian companies joined the race with pasta printers. Spaghetti with different sauces came out of the printer in individual portions closely resembling the traditional stuff. However, the 3-D printer can’t meet the needs of all cuisines. 2013 witnessed the experimentation with in vitro meat farming via a 3-D printer. This was not confined to mock-vegan protein-based meats but composing chicken, beef, pork, etc from derivatives obtained in a sustainable humane manner. The Indian Institute of Food Processing Technology at Thanjavur is one of the few places where the topic is being researched in the Indian context. It has printed customized snacks savoury cookies as per the wishes of schoolchildren in the neighbourhood.

Those working in the labs here have the Indian context in sharp focus. Most Indians like to have their meals piping hot. Preparing an Indian meal involves more than turning meat patties or mother sauces. Vegetables complement cereals and lentils. 3-D food printers have a long way to go before they can dish out ‘combos’ we are used to. The spicing is multi-staged and nuanced. Food is first infused with spice pastes that are stir-fried. Then finished with ‘tempering’. These operations are not easy to replicate in a printer.

The softest plastic threads are much harder and stronger than edible ‘yarn’ obtained from vegetables and lentils. Even if this obstacle is surmounted the problem of fragility of 3-D printed food structured would remain. The challenge of replicating shape, colour, texture and taste in recipes in non-Western cuisines is complex. The optimists keep suggesting by-products for the 3-D food printer. These machines can be used for recycling peels and waste to produce food-grade packaging or easy to chew food for senior citizens who have difficulty in mastication. The greatest obstacle at present is the high cost of 3-D printers for domestic use. Even in the commercial domain, post-printing processing costs aren’t negligible. The slow speed of printing has also retarded the proliferation of this technology. Issues of toxicity and contamination of ingredients as they pass through the ‘assembly line’ of the printer persist and will have to be addressed to allay the fears of consumers.

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Magic of 80s: Raj Babbar & Padmini Kolhapure talk about their latest web series Dil Bekaraar

In this exclusive conversation as part of NewsX India A-List, Raj Babbar and Padmini Kolhapure spoke about their latest web series ‘Dil Bekaraar’ on Hotstar, which is set in the 80s.

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Actors Raj Babbar and Padmini Kolhapure joined NewsX for a candid chat as part of its special series NewsX India A-List. In the exclusive conversation, the duo spoke about their latest web series Dil Bekaraar on Hotstar, which is set in the 80s.

Speaking about what attracted him to the show, Raj Babbar said, “My first priority is my work. I give a lot of time to a lot of things but I thought this is my identity. If I am known as Raj Babbar, it is because of Mumbai and the Hindi Film Industry recognised me as a performer. No matter where I go, people recognise me as an actor and then other adjectives on whatever I am. I realise that I should give priority to the actor side of me, which gave me this recognition and gave me a place in the society. That’s why I feel my first priority is my work.”

He added, “When I heard this story, I remembered a book that I had read sometime in the past. It was a bestseller at that time. It was called, ‘Those Pricey Thakur Girls’ and it stayed in the mind. When I heard this story, I felt very nice, a very interesting subject and I am doing a very beautiful role in it. I found the innocence of 80s, magic of 80s in this. That romance, the comedy, all of this is beautifully captured in this. The USP of the 80s that people used to think is evil is the corruption and the corrupt is the evil. These fiery girls, my 5 daughters, they are brilliant and also very fiery and ambitious. It is this very interesting thing, which attracted me. When I heard the narration and got to know that Padmini ji and Poonam ji are doing this, I said okay. I got this confidence that we will be in majority. Meher and Akshay are beautiful actors. They are very energetic people and it was fun working with them.”

When the same question was posed to Padmini Kolhapure, she responded, “The first attraction was Mr Habib Faisal. I have seen his work and he is a brilliant director. After working with him, I realised truly how meticulous he is. This script and this story demanded a lot of nuances to recreate the 80s era, which he has done brilliantly. He has lived that era and knows a lot about it. We have been there and done that so it wasn’t very difficult for Raj, Poonam or me to do this. More challenging probably for the youngsters because they don’t know what the 80s era was. I am sure that they would have had to work on every little thing. Second thing was the production house, so it was Smriti Shinde and Sobo films and then the OTT platform, which was Disney + Hotstar, so what better could I have asked for. You have Raj Babbar, Poonam Dhillon, Akshay, Seher, Aditya. This entire ensemble cast and to top it all, my role. It being a web series, it runs into a couple of episodes so it was not like I am playing a primary character in it but I am playing a very important role. It is a very colourful role, which I was quite amused while performing. Every time I would finish my role, I would just look back and laugh. I’d say to myself, what am I doing? It is really beautiful when you are an actor and performing such challenging roles. You realise what an actor you can be and what can come out. With a good director and co-actors, you can just create magic.”

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