Goa Covid News

As ‘great migration’ kicks off under Covid shadow, China expects over 2 billion people to travel over next 40 days
The Indian Express | 3 weeks ago | |
The Indian Express
3 weeks ago | |

China on Saturday marked the first day of “chun yun”, the 40-day period of Lunar New Year travel known pre-pandemic as the world’s largest annual migration of people, bracing for a huge increase in travelers and the spread of Covid-19 infections.This Lunar New Year public holiday, which officially runs from Jan. 21, will be the first since 2020 without domestic travel restrictions. Over the last month China has seen the dramatic dismantling of its “zero-Covid” regime following historic protests against a policy that included frequent testing, restricted movement, mass lockdowns and heavy damage to the world’s No.2 economy. Investors are hoping that the reopening will eventually reinvigorate a $17-trillion economy suffering its lowest growth in nearly half a century.But the abrupt changes have exposed many of China’s 1.4 billion population to the virus for the first time, triggering a wave of infections that is overwhelming some hospitals, emptying pharmacy shelves of medicines and causing long lines to form at crematoriums. The Ministry of Transport said on Friday that it expects more than 2 billion passengers to take trips over the next 40 days, an increase of 99.5% year-on-year and reaching 70.3% of trip numbers in 2019.There was mixed reaction online to that news, with some comments hailing the freedom to return to hometowns and celebrate the Lunar New Year with family for the first time in years. Many others, however, said they would not travel this year, with worry of infecting elderly relatives a common theme.“I dare not go back to my hometown, for fear of bringing the poison back,” said one such comment on the Twitter-like Weibo.Also Read |BF.7 and BA.5.2: The Omicron sub-variants driving the China surgeThere are widespread concerns that the great migration of workers in cities to their hometowns will cause a surge in infections in smaller towns and rural areas that are less well-equipped with ICU beds and ventilators to deal with them. Authorities say they are boosting grassroots medical services, opening more rural fever clinics and instituting a “green channel” for high risk patients, especially elderly people with underlying health conditions, to be transferred from villages directly to higher level hospitals.“China’s rural areas are wide, the population is large, and the per capita medical resources are relatively insufficient,” National Health Commission spokesman Mi Feng said on Saturday.“It’s necessary to provide convenient services, accelerate vaccination for the elderly in rural areas and the construction of grassroots lines of defense.”INFECTION PEAK REACHEDSome analysts are now saying the current wave of infections may have already peaked.  Ernan Cui, an analyst at Gavekal Dragonomics in Beijing, cited several online surveys as indicating that rural areas were already more widely exposed to Covid infections than initially thought, with an infection peak already reached in most regions, noting there was “not much difference between urban and rural areas.”On Sunday China will reopen its border with Hong Kong and will also end a requirement for travelers coming from abroad to quarantine. That effectively opens the door for many Chinese to travel abroad for the first time since borders slammed shut nearly three years ago, without fear of having to quarantine on their return.More than a dozen countries are now demanding Covid tests from travellers from China. The World Health Organization said on Wednesday that China’s Covid data underrepresents the number of hospitalizations and deaths from the disease. Chinese officials and state media have defended the handling of the outbreak, playing down the severity of the surge and denouncing foreign travel requirements for its residents.On Saturday in Hong Kong, people who had made appointments had to queue for about 90 minutes at a Centre for PCR tests needed for travel to countries including mainland China.Also Read |What is BF.7, the Omicron sub-variant driving the new surge in China?TREATMENT TO THE FOREFor much of the pandemic, China poured resources into a vast PCR testing program to track and trace Covid-19 cases, but the focus is now shifting to vaccines and treatment. In Shanghai, for example, the city government on Friday announced an end to free PCR tests for residents from Jan. 8.A circular published by four government ministries Saturday signaled a reallocation of financial resources to treatment, outlining a plan for public finances to subsidies 60% of treatment costs until March 31.  Meanwhile, sources told Reuters that China is in talks with Pfizer Inc to secure a license that will allow domestic drugmakers to manufacture and distribute a generic version of the U.S. firm’s Covid antiviral drug Paxlovid in China.Many Chinese have been attempting to buy the drug abroad and have it shipped to China. On the vaccine front, China’s CanSino Biologics Inc announced it has begun trial production for its Covid mRNA booster vaccine, known as CS-2034.  China has relied on nine domestically-developed vaccines approved for use, including inactivated vaccines, but none have been adapted to target the highly-transmissible Omicron variant and its offshoots currently in circulation.The overall vaccination rate in the country is above 90%, but the rate for adults who have had booster shots drops to 57.9%, and to 42.3% for people aged 80 and older, according to government data released last month. China reported three new Covid  deaths in the mainland for Friday, bringing its official virus death toll since the pandemic began to 5,267, one of the lowest in the world.  International health experts believe Beijing’s narrow definition of Covid  deaths does not reflect a true toll, and some predict more than a million deaths this year.

As ‘great migration’ kicks off under Covid shadow, China expects over 2 billion people to travel over next 40 days
  • China's ‘great migration’ kicks off under shadow of Covid
  • The Indian Express

    China on Saturday marked the first day of “chun yun”, the 40-day period of Lunar New Year travel known pre-pandemic as the world’s largest annual migration of people, bracing for a huge increase in travelers and the spread of Covid-19 infections.This Lunar New Year public holiday, which officially runs from Jan. 21, will be the first since 2020 without domestic travel restrictions. Over the last month China has seen the dramatic dismantling of its “zero-Covid” regime following historic protests against a policy that included frequent testing, restricted movement, mass lockdowns and heavy damage to the world’s No.2 economy. Investors are hoping that the reopening will eventually reinvigorate a $17-trillion economy suffering its lowest growth in nearly half a century.But the abrupt changes have exposed many of China’s 1.4 billion population to the virus for the first time, triggering a wave of infections that is overwhelming some hospitals, emptying pharmacy shelves of medicines and causing long lines to form at crematoriums. The Ministry of Transport said on Friday that it expects more than 2 billion passengers to take trips over the next 40 days, an increase of 99.5% year-on-year and reaching 70.3% of trip numbers in 2019.There was mixed reaction online to that news, with some comments hailing the freedom to return to hometowns and celebrate the Lunar New Year with family for the first time in years. Many others, however, said they would not travel this year, with worry of infecting elderly relatives a common theme.“I dare not go back to my hometown, for fear of bringing the poison back,” said one such comment on the Twitter-like Weibo.Also Read |BF.7 and BA.5.2: The Omicron sub-variants driving the China surgeThere are widespread concerns that the great migration of workers in cities to their hometowns will cause a surge in infections in smaller towns and rural areas that are less well-equipped with ICU beds and ventilators to deal with them. Authorities say they are boosting grassroots medical services, opening more rural fever clinics and instituting a “green channel” for high risk patients, especially elderly people with underlying health conditions, to be transferred from villages directly to higher level hospitals.“China’s rural areas are wide, the population is large, and the per capita medical resources are relatively insufficient,” National Health Commission spokesman Mi Feng said on Saturday.“It’s necessary to provide convenient services, accelerate vaccination for the elderly in rural areas and the construction of grassroots lines of defense.”INFECTION PEAK REACHEDSome analysts are now saying the current wave of infections may have already peaked.  Ernan Cui, an analyst at Gavekal Dragonomics in Beijing, cited several online surveys as indicating that rural areas were already more widely exposed to Covid infections than initially thought, with an infection peak already reached in most regions, noting there was “not much difference between urban and rural areas.”On Sunday China will reopen its border with Hong Kong and will also end a requirement for travelers coming from abroad to quarantine. That effectively opens the door for many Chinese to travel abroad for the first time since borders slammed shut nearly three years ago, without fear of having to quarantine on their return.More than a dozen countries are now demanding Covid tests from travellers from China. The World Health Organization said on Wednesday that China’s Covid data underrepresents the number of hospitalizations and deaths from the disease. Chinese officials and state media have defended the handling of the outbreak, playing down the severity of the surge and denouncing foreign travel requirements for its residents.On Saturday in Hong Kong, people who had made appointments had to queue for about 90 minutes at a Centre for PCR tests needed for travel to countries including mainland China.Also Read |What is BF.7, the Omicron sub-variant driving the new surge in China?TREATMENT TO THE FOREFor much of the pandemic, China poured resources into a vast PCR testing program to track and trace Covid-19 cases, but the focus is now shifting to vaccines and treatment. In Shanghai, for example, the city government on Friday announced an end to free PCR tests for residents from Jan. 8.A circular published by four government ministries Saturday signaled a reallocation of financial resources to treatment, outlining a plan for public finances to subsidies 60% of treatment costs until March 31.  Meanwhile, sources told Reuters that China is in talks with Pfizer Inc to secure a license that will allow domestic drugmakers to manufacture and distribute a generic version of the U.S. firm’s Covid antiviral drug Paxlovid in China.Many Chinese have been attempting to buy the drug abroad and have it shipped to China. On the vaccine front, China’s CanSino Biologics Inc announced it has begun trial production for its Covid mRNA booster vaccine, known as CS-2034.  China has relied on nine domestically-developed vaccines approved for use, including inactivated vaccines, but none have been adapted to target the highly-transmissible Omicron variant and its offshoots currently in circulation.The overall vaccination rate in the country is above 90%, but the rate for adults who have had booster shots drops to 57.9%, and to 42.3% for people aged 80 and older, according to government data released last month. China reported three new Covid  deaths in the mainland for Friday, bringing its official virus death toll since the pandemic began to 5,267, one of the lowest in the world.  International health experts believe Beijing’s narrow definition of Covid  deaths does not reflect a true toll, and some predict more than a million deaths this year.

Canada, Australia impose Covid rules on travellers from China
The Indian Express | 4 weeks ago | |
The Indian Express
4 weeks ago | |

Australia and Canada have joined a growing list of countries requiring travellers from China to take a COVID-19 test prior to boarding their flight, as China battles a nationwide outbreak of the coronavirus after abruptly easing restrictions that were in place for much of the pandemic.Australian health authorities said Sunday that from January 5 all air travellers from mainland China, Hong Kong or Macao will need to show a negative COVID-19 test taken within two days of their departure.Canadian authorities announced similar measures that will also come into effect January 5 in a statement dated Saturday — a move experts say isn’t very effective.Kerry Bowman, assistant professor at the University of Toronto’s Temerty Faculty of Medicine, said the requirement is “not based on science at this point.” “This isn’t the early days of the pandemic,” he said. “It’s pretty clear that point-of-entry screening is not very effective at all.Often people can test positive days and weeks later.” Dr. Isaac Bogoch, associate professor at University of Toronto’s Temerty Faculty of Medicine, said it’s not entirely clear what the policy’s goals are, but such measures have not helped.“We know from the past that very focused and targeted travel measures such as this don’t do much to prevent the spread of COVID, either by importing COVID to Canada, or by the threat of variants of concern in Canada,” he said.Australia and Canada join other countries including the US, UK, India, Japan and several European nations in imposing tougher COVID-19 measures on Chinese travellers amid concerns over a lack of data on infections in China and fears of the possibility that new variants may spread.Research has shown how the virus spreads through human mobility, which means that the next variant of the virus may not even emerge from China, and even if it did, it could land in Canada from other indirect routes, Bowman said, adding that a more effective measure would be testing wastewater from airplanes and airports to check for the viral load and mutations.Vancouver International Airport said Saturday it would expand its wastewater testing pilot programme.China, which for most of the pandemic adopted a “zero-COVID” strategy that imposed harsh restrictions aimed at stamping out the virus, abruptly eased those measures in December. Chinese authorities previously said that from January 8, overseas travellers would no longer need to quarantine upon arriving in China, paving the way for Chinese residents to travel.Hong Kong is also preparing for quarantine-free travel to China, with plans to resume operations of more border checkpoints as early as January 8, according to a Facebook post by Hong Kong Chief Secretary Eric Chan.However, a quota will remain in place limiting the number of travellers between the two places.“Depending on the first phase of the situation, we will gradually expand the scale for a complete reopening of the border,” Chan said.In China, eased restrictions meant that residents could celebrate New Year’s in large-scale gatherings that were prohibited for much of the pandemic, even though the country is experiencing a massive outbreak of cases.“There are still some worries, more or less,” said Wu Yanxia, a 51-year-old Beijing resident who works at a logistic company. “I hope that next year everything will be normal, such as domestic travel.” Others hope that 2023 will bring better things after a difficult past year.“We have experienced a very uneven year, particularly unforgettable, with many things out of our imagination,” said Li Feng, a teacher in Beijing, adding that 2022 was a difficult year for both the people and the government.“But I think we have come through and everything will be fine,” Li said. “All of us will be better, and better in both work and life.”

Canada, Australia impose Covid rules on travellers from China
Back on China campuses, Indian students put behind surge worries: We are looking ahead
The Indian Express | 4 weeks ago | |
The Indian Express
4 weeks ago | |

After almost three years of campus life lost to the pandemic, when Ashutosh Kumar finally made it to his medical school in Baise, in southern China, on November 27, there was another looming threat: despite a stringent zero-Covid policy, the country was grappling with a steady rise in cases.Since then, however, much has changed. The uptick in cases is now a full-blown outbreak that followed China’s decision last month to relax much of the pandemic curbs. Yet, says Ashutosh, he is glad to be back.“I took a risk and decided to come back when the Chinese government began issuing visas in August. We couldn’t have wasted any more time back home. After all, you can’t do MBBS through online classes,” says Ashutosh, a final-year student of Youjiang Medical University in Guangxi.In January 2020, as the pandemic shut down campuses, sealed borders and grounded flights, around 1,000 Indians in China, mostly students of medicine, were evacuated back home. Over the next three years, the students attended online classes while waiting for China to ease visa restrictions and allow them back into the country. Earlier this year, in August, when China finally said international students could apply for visas, many of the students packed their bags to head back to their campuses.Ashutosh says that despite anxious calls from his family over the rising Covid cases in China, the situation is not as dire as it seems.“The Zero-Covid policy has been removed and the third round of vaccinations are being given to people. Also, I haven’t heard of too many deaths or cases of severe illnesses around me. In my medical college, too, there are not many patients. Had the situation been severe, China wouldn’t have thought of opening its borders,” says Ashutosh, who came to China on November 27 via Hong Kong.“I had to stay in quarantine for five days in Hong Kong and later for three more days once I reached the university. Now even the quarantine period has been removed; only those with symptoms need to be isolated,” says Ashutosh.From January 8, China is expected to further ease some of its restrictions, including the mandatory quarantine for incoming travellers.Reeba Khan, 23, reached China on October 25. “The situation then was very different – RTPCR tests were being conducted every 48 hours. But now, the quarantine policy has changed and hospitals are taking in only those with severe and co-morbid conditions,” says Reeba, a fifth-year MBBS student at Hubei University of Medicine in Shiyan City.Reeba says she is most excited about how the city has come alive after long. “There are no lockdowns or restrictions. The shops and malls are open and people are out shopping. The only rule that’s in place is of masks,” she says.Anayat Ali, a PhD student at Tongji University in Shanghai, too, says he can’t have enough of the “celebratory Christmas mood”.“We went to a German market recently. It was packed, mostly with local residents. It’s such a relief that people are finally shopping and travelling. In October, when one case was reported in our university, the entire campus shut down; that’s no longer the case,” he says.Andrews Mathew, President of the Foreign Medical Graduates Parents Association, says parents of those studying in China have been watching China’s Covid graph closely and fervently hoping that the situation doesn’t slip.“China has opened its border after three years due to which there is a mild spike in the disease but reports of deaths and hospitalisations are exaggerated,” says Andrews, who lives in Kozhikode in Kerala. His 24-year-old son Jonad Andrews is pursuing his MBBS from Jilin University.“I have waited for very long to complete my MBBS. I was very restless and worried while at home. But now that I am finally back on campus, I am at ease. The situation is a lot different now… Restaurants are open, we can freely go to public places now,” he says.Kanupriya, 24, who is pursuing her Master’s in Business Administration at Beijing Foreign Studies University, is undergoing a mandatory seven-day quarantine. “Everything is now open… Some of my friends even attended a Christmas party. I can’t wait to get out of quarantine. I am graduating in July and I want to make the most of my time on campus,” says the 24-year-old.

Back on China campuses, Indian students put behind surge worries: We are looking ahead
Goa holds mock drill to check Covid preparations
Times of India | 1 month ago | |
Times of India
1 month ago | |

PANAJI: The state government on Tuesday conducted a mock drill to check the preparedness of government medical institutions in the event of a rise in Covid cases. The government said the state is prepared for any eventuality, and there’s no oxygen shortage.The state government decided to check medical preparedness in view of the surge in Covid cases in China. The mock drill was held at Goa Medical College at Bambolim and the district hospitals in Mapusa and Margao. Health secretary Arun Kumar Mishra, who monitored the mock drill at GMC said, “This is simply a mock drill, and we are preparing ourselves”, and that “everything is perfectly done, and we are prepared for any emergency”. Mishra said that the state’s medical facilities are ready to handle any eventuality, and that there is nothing to worry about.During the second Covid wave, a lot of people lost their lives due to oxygen shortage. Mishra said on Tuesday that there is no issue of oxygen shortage, and that the government of India has installed oxygen plants. “We have sufficient oxygen to handle peak hour demand,” he said. “All systems are ready — from wards to ICU — for emergencies,” he said. Last week, chief minister Pramod Sawant said that there will be no Covid-19 restrictions in Goa till January 2. “It is the festive season in Goa. Presently, there are no restrictions and none will be enforced till January 2. We have purposely not imposed any restrictions and I feel there’s no requirement for any if everything else is followed. We will review the cases on January 2 and 3 and then take a call,” Sawant had said after a review meeting to discuss measures to avoid the spread of Covid-19 in the state. There are currently 19 active cases in the state and three new Covid cases were reported on Tuesday.

Goa holds mock drill to check Covid preparations
Nobel Prize-winning novelist Orhan Pamuk on the perils of authoritarianism, writing his pandemic novel through COVID-19 and the book’s unexpected India connection
The Indian Express | 3 months ago | |
The Indian Express
3 months ago | |

The yellow journal that he holds close to the computer screen has an illustration of a sandstone fort, sketched in detail. Below it, in a neat hand in Turkish, Orhan Pamuk has written about his visit to Amber Fort in Jaipur in 2011. He had been speaking of art and influences and how it had once been the vocation he had dreamt of, when Turkey’s foremost cultural ambassador to the world stops midway to rifle through his desk and pick out the diary. For over 15 years, he has maintained illustrated journals, detailing his travels and artistic impressions of places and events. Some of these have just been published as Memories of Distant Mountains, an art book in Turkish and French. The entry on Amber Fort is part of the book, but it also has resonance with his newest novel, Nights of Plague (Penguin Hamish Hamilton, Rs 799), that releases in India this week. It was, the writer says, the impression that guided his imagination of the pink-stone Arkaz Castle on the fictional Ottoman island of Mingheria, a “pearl of the Eastern Mediterranean Sea”, between Istanbul and Alexandria, and the site of action in his novel.It’s 9 am in New York, where Pamuk, 70, Nobel laureate and author of critically acclaimed works such as My Name Is Red (1998), Snow (2002), Istanbul: Memories and the City (2005), The Museum of Innocence (2008) and A Strangeness in my Mind (2014) is speaking from over Zoom, and where he is the Robert Yik-Fong Tam Professor of the Humanities at Columbia University’s School of the Arts. In the renewed bustle of everyday life, it is easy to forget the horrors of COVID-19, but pandemics have been a long-standing interest with him. Even now, he says, holding up a copy of Richard S Ross III’s Contagion in Prussia, 1831: The Cholera Epidemic and the Threat of the Polish Uprising (2015), he has been reading up about the many ways they have altered the political and social scaffolding of nations.“Humanity, more or less, behaves the same in pandemics. First there is denial. Denial makes the numbers go up. This leads to conspiracy theories, nationalism, going inward, blaming the government or other ethnicities. Sometimes, it leads to new governments being formed. Other times, the government is involved but it becomes authoritarian. So, you see, the subject of plague is always related to politics,” he says.Part historical, part murder mystery, it is the slow disintegration of an empire and the origin story of a nation state that lies at the heart of Nights of Plague. Set in 1901, against an Ottoman Empire on the wane, the gossamer charm of Mingheria, home to a mixed community of Greeks and Turks, begins to fray under a fatal outbreak of bubonic plague. Anxious to avoid the economic blockades from European powers, Sultan Abdul Hamid sends the empire’s best-known quarantine specialist, the royal chemist, to the island. When he is found murdered, the Sultan’s niece and former political prisoner, Princess Pakize, and her doctor husband Nuri Bey are dispatched on a dual mission — to contain the damage and to solve the murder of the public-health official.The framework of the thriller or the detective story has been one that Pamuk has dabbled with on a few occasions, including in My Name Is Red, but he has no special affinity for the genre. “I never, for example, enjoyed Agatha Christie. But I am a great admirer of Patricia Highsmith. She had depth, she invented Dostoevskian thrillers. There is also, though I wouldn’t call him a mystery writer, John le Carré, who was very good,” he says.Despite his indifference to the genre, what it allows Pamuk is an insight into the insecurities of a body politic. Over 700 pages, Pamuk traces the panic and the denial, the mounting deaths, the enforcement of stringent quarantine measures, the economic losses, the clash of cultures and the shifting sands of political aspirations. “In the end, my novel is not only about plagues or the formation of nation states out of the ashes of empire, it is also about the creation of national secular myths that hold the people together after the empire falls, after the emperor vanishes,” he says.The plague pandemic had been hovering at the edge of his literary arc for four decades. In his 1983 novel, Silent House, a history professor searches for traces of plague in archives. In The White Castle (1985), descriptions of plague in 17th-century Istanbul linger in the background. In the beginning, he had been interested in the metaphysics of it — “What happens if death arrives before its time. It was a philosophical interest in death and the individuality it brought. (The differences between) East and West, individuality, these subjects always interested me. But I was a young author then and didn’t want to go into that debate,” he says.Pamuk finally began work on Nights of Plague in 2016, slowly teasing out a story from years of research. His plans of focussing on the responses a pandemic provoked — fatalism in some, stoic pragmatism in others — had led him to examine it through the prism of that other binary that has been his life’s work: the dichotomy between the East and the West. “I told myself, Orhan, you have been thinking of writing a plague novel for 40 years. (President Recep Tayyip) Erdogan’s government in Turkey is getting increasingly authoritarian. Why don’t you write an allegorical, historical plague novel on the last decade of the Ottoman Empire as it decayed, disintegrated and fell apart?” he says.Yet, no amount of research could prepare him for the emotional cost of COVID-19, when it arrived in March 2020. A beloved aunt who lived two lanes away from his apartment, was among the first victims of the pandemic in Turkey. “She was 94. She had been prepared to be buried next to her mother and her husband. And then doctors in white coats came and took her body away. It made me afraid. I realised that I’ve been working on this plague novel for over three years and there was something missing that I had learned from life — fear,” he says.As the pandemic raged on, Pamuk, who claims to not have much of a social life, poured his anxieties into writing. He had hoped that the worst would be behind him by the time the book was published, but in March 2021, when it came out in Turkey, Istanbul was under lockdown. “There was a day I particularly remember, when the Turkish government had locked the rest of the city down and allowed people over 65 to take walks outside. So, I went out into a city of 18 million that was empty of all but elderly people, making my way down to Istiklal, the high street in Istanbul, to the biggest book store there. I found a tower made out of copies of my new book on display and, sadly, not a single person to buy them,” he says, with a laugh.When Snow was released soon after 9/11, the novel’s interplay between the forces of fundamentalism and secularism established it as Pamuk’s most emphatic political statement. The writer says Nights of Plague shares the same tenor, set to a larger canvas. The clash between secularism and political Islam in Turkey that he explores in his work, his interpretation of the civilisational differences between the East and the West have often landed him in trouble, but Pamuk has never shied away from articulating his opinion. In contemporary Turkey, governed by an Islamist-nationalist coalition, voices of protest rear up at a cost. “I am, perhaps, partly protected by my fame although I’m also trying to resist as much as I can. But in my heart, I’m not a political person. I don’t spend my time thinking about resisting Erdogan all the time. But there are many brave journalists who end up in jail for their opinions. There is no free speech in Turkey. It is horrible that the government puts anyone who criticises them into jail. I’m angry, partly with the West also, that they are not criticising the Turkish government enough, (that) they are only busy (with the fact) that Turkey holds the immigrants — Muslim, Asian, North African, Afghan — who want to go to Europe. They are happy that Erdogan is giving this service and they do not care about Turkish democracy. I’m critical of that,” he says.As a writer, Pamuk is not unfamiliar with the perils of speaking up. In February 2005, a little over a year before he won the Nobel Prize for Literature, in an interview to a Swiss magazine, he had spoken of the Armenian genocide by the Ottoman government between 1915 and 1917 (during World War I), that goes unacknowledged in his country, and of contemporary clashes between the Turkish government and the Kurds. Pamuk was accused of insulting “Turkishness”, a criminal offence in the country, and put on trial. The charges were later dropped but he has since lived with a constant barrage of death threats and relentless criticism from nationalist hardliners, that have necessitated a life hemmed in by security arrangements and bodyguards. The next year, in October 2006, the Swedish Academy acknowledged his outspokenness in the Nobel citation: Pamuk, “in the quest for the melancholic soul of his native city has discovered new symbols for the clash and interlacing of cultures.”In Turkey, Pamuk continues to be a polarising figure. On its release last year in the country, Nights of Plague drew another charge of fuelling animosity through a purported insult to Mustafa Kemal Atatürk, the founder of modern Turkey. After it was initially dropped, an appeal by the complainant has led to the reopening of the investigation. But, Pamuk’s faith in the power of free speech remains undeterred. “I don’t think humanity’s desire for free speech is fading away. Sure, there may be right-wing governments who are winning elections but what about the fact that (Donald) Trump lost? What about the fact that (Emmanuel) Macron won?Erdogan is going to lose the elections, all the Turkish polls are saying that. Maybe I am an optimist, maybe I’m naive, but I don’t subscribe to the idea that all free speech is dying. Look at Iranian women bravely going out in the streets, dying for their body, for their freedom. I am not pessimistic about the future of humanity at all. The deeper sentiments of people are more important than governments. No government stays forever,” he says.He hasn’t had a chance to speak to fellow writer Salman Rushdie since the attack on the latter in New York in August, but in his defence of Rushdie in an article in The Atlantic last month, Pamuk wrote, “Whenever a writer comes under physical attack, everyone starts talking about responding to words with words, to books with more books. But does this old adage make sense? Those who are pulling the trigger or wielding the knife tend to have read very few books in their life. Had they read more books, or been in the position to write one themselves, would they have turned to this kind of violence? …What we need to do is use our privilege of free speech to acknowledge the role of class and cultural differences in society — the sense of being second- or third-class citizens, of feeling invisible, unrepresented, unimportant, like one counts for nothing — which can drive people toward extremism… If we hope to see the principle of freedom of expression thrive in society, the courage of writers like Salman Rushdie will not suffice; we must also be brave enough to think about the sources of the furious hatred they are subjected to.” It is a novelist’s job, Pamuk says, to be representative of the dichotomy that creates faultlines, without fear or favour. “Lofty ideas aside, if you can speak for both sides, if you can express them through human stories, that’s what matters,” he says.Now that Nights of Plague is out in the world, Pamuk has moved on to his next project — a novel set in 1942, involving a group of card players. In between, a series of lectures on how to write a novel at Collège de France in Paris awaits. He also hopes to find a home for Memories of Distant Mountains in other languages. It’s been a lifetime steeped in stories for him. “My assistant reminded me the other day that I have been writing for 48 years. Yet my desire is the same: To wake up and start the day and write that book. I cannot think of anything more attractive or joyful than writing. I am fascinated by all that it brings — the interviews, the lectures, the travel. There was a time, in my early 30s when I was writing and writing and the phone was not ringing. Now, it doesn’t stop ringing and I love it. I have learnt so much from writing — about both art and craft, and about life. If you give me another 50 years, I would want the same life,” he says.

Nobel Prize-winning novelist Orhan Pamuk on the perils of authoritarianism, writing his pandemic novel through COVID-19 and the book’s unexpected India connection
Goa: As virus cases rise, health department urges people to wear masks in public places
Times of India | 5 months ago | |
Times of India
5 months ago | |

PANAJI: With Goa's daily average of Covid cases still hovering around 100 and above, the health services on Thursday appealed to people to wear masks in crowded places, especially during the festive period. For the past two days, the state has recorded 380 cases, with 180 detected on Thursday, taking the positivity rate to 14%. The active caseload increased to 941 and the mortality count rose to 3,957, with one fatality recorded over the past 24 hours. With 115 recoveries, the recovery rate stood at 98%. State epidemiologist Dr Prashant Suryawanshi said that people cannot be complacent and assume the pandemic has ended as the state has not recorded nil Covid cases. "If you take any public place, it appears that people have forgotten about Covid appropriate behaviour. Even in crowded places, people do not wear masks," he said. He said the state has reported around 100 cases on a daily basis, though on Wednesday, the count rose to 200 cases. "We want people to take precautions when they go to hospitals, pharmacies or crowded places. It is important to wear masks, especially with the ongoing festive season, and when crowding is inevitable," he said. He said that on an encouraging note, hospital admissions as well as fatalities are low. Goa recorded 14 deaths in July, and five this month till date. Not just in Goa, but even in other states, there has been a rise in infections, so much so that the Delhi government has mandated wearing of masks in public spaces, Suryawanshi said. "With cases still being reported, we cannot afford to relax completely," he said. He insisted that even people having mild symptoms should get themselves tested without delay. There has been an uptick in cases, while an outbreak has not been reported. State immunisation officer Dr Rajendra Borkar said that it appears as though the third wave of the pandemic has not ended, and ruled out the threat of a fourth wave. "When cases drop completely and remain stable on that level for a considerable period, then only we can say the wave has ended," he said. In February, health department officials had stated that Goa had crossed the peak of the third wave. The third wave in the state surged faster than the first two, and also reached its peak in the shortest duration, just 21 days.

Goa: As virus cases rise, health department urges people to wear masks in public places
After Centre’s snub, MPT looks to get pvt player on board for mobile harbour crane
Times of India | 6 months ago | |
Times of India
6 months ago | |

Panaji: The Centre has rejected Mormugao Port Authority’s (MPA) proposal for funding under the Sagarmala scheme to purchase a mobile harbour crane and has instead recommended that the port must go through the public-private partnership (PPP) route. MPA will now attempt to get a private player on board through a revenue sharing model for a period of 10 years, but this process could take at least six months, said MPA chairman Venkata Ramana Akkaraju. Akkaraju provided this information to a Goa Chamber of Commerce and Industry delegation that went to discuss the infrastructure gaps at the port. “The chairman said that a tender will be floated at the end of July where a new crane will be mobilised for a period of 10 years on a revenue sharing model, but that the whole process might take up to six months to complete,” said a GCCI office bearer privy to the meeting. “He also informed that a proposal for funding a crane was put forth under the Sagarmala scheme, but it was not approved stating that the port should try sourcing the crane via the PPP model.” The GCCI delegation comprised Chandrakant Gawas, Dhirendra Thakker and Sanket Kaskar. The purpose of the meeting was to urge MPA to develop port infrastructure. Gawas informed the MPA chairman about the lack of regulatory authorities at the port to issue important clearances in the movement of cargo. “According to the export-import procedures, there should be six government partnered agencies which include drug controller, animal quarantine, plant quarantine and truck controller that should be present at the port to issue clearances, but currently, there are none who are authorised to sign the clearances,” said Gawas. Akkaraju said that due to the insignificant cargo movement, it is not feasible for regulatory authorities to be present at the port. Akkaraju said that increasing the cargo volume should be the first priority. GCCI pointed out that even though Goa has a significant number of pharmaceutical industries that source raw material and manufacture medicines and medical test kits, the companies are forced to ship the cargo through JNPT or Chennai port. Gawas informed Akkaraju that the GMR Group is willing to support MPA in any way required so that both the water and air modes of transport can be used for the logistics sector. A GCCI delegation, along with Akkaraju and deputy chairman MPA Guruprasad Rai, met with minister for state for tourism and ports Shripad Naik and also requested him to resolve the long-pending issues.

After Centre’s snub, MPT looks to get pvt player on board for mobile harbour crane
As active Covid-19 cases cross 1-lakh mark after 122 days, here’s what trend shows
The Indian Express | 7 months ago | |
The Indian Express
7 months ago | |

Covid-19 cases have been on the rise again in India, with the country recording over 18,000 cases after a gap of 130 days, taking the cumulative tally to 4,34,52,164, according to data put out by the Union Health Ministry on Thursday. Cases have increased by 78 per cent from the average two weeks ago and deaths, too, have gone up by 119 per cent.Active cases in the country also crossed the one-lakh mark on Thursday after a gap of 122 days. A total of 18,819 new Covid cases were reported in a span of 24 hours while the death toll climbed to 5,25,116 with 39 new fatalities. The active cases, as such, went up to 1,04,555 comprising 0.24 per cent of the total infections, while the recovery rate stood at 98.55 per cent.An increase of 4,953 cases has been recorded in the active Covid-19 caseload in a span of 24 hours. The daily positivity rate was recorded at 4.16 per cent and the weekly positivity rate at 3.72 per cent, according to the ministry.Where are Covid cases rising again?According to the data published by the Health Ministry, there are 43 districts around the country that are recording a weekly positivity rate of 10 per cent or more. Kerala tops this list with 11 districts, followed by Mizoram (6) and Maharashtra (5).Among the districts, Mizoram’s Kolasib tops the list, recording a positivity rate of 64.86 per cent. However, what is to be kept in mind is that the state does not perform too many Covid-19 tests when compared to others. The positivity rate is the proportion of samples tested that return positive.The other states that have been witnessing a noticeable rise include Jammu and Kashmir, Punjab, Himachal Pradesh, Bihar, West Bengal, Gujarat, Rajasthan, Madhya Pradesh, Chhattisgarh, Odisha, Manipur, Mizoram, Goa, Karnataka and Puducherry. While there are 42 districts in India that are recording a positivity rate between 5 and 10 per cent, the 627 others are still below the 5 per cent-mark.According to the trend this month, the country crossed the 4,000-mark on June 3, 7,000-mark on June 9, 8,000-mark on June 11, 12,000-mark on June 16, 13,000-mark on June 18, 17,000-mark on June 24 and 18,000-mark on June 30.India’s Covid-19 tally had crossed the 20-lakh mark on August 7, 2020, 30 lakh on August 23, 40 lakh on September 5 and 50 lakh on September 16. It went past 60 lakh on September 28, 70 lakh on October 11, crossed 80 lakh on October 29, 90 lakh on November 20 and surpassed the one-crore mark on December 19. The country crossed the grim milestone of two crore on May 4 and three crore on June 23 last year. It crossed 4 crore on January 25 this year.What about deaths?The 39 new fatalities recorded on Thursday include 17 from Kerala, 7 from Maharashtra, 4 from Uttar Pradesh, 3 from Punjab, 2 each from Haryana, Karnataka and West Bengal and 1 each from Delhi and Sikkim.Of the total deaths recorded to date, 1,47,922 are from Maharashtra, 69,993 from Kerala, 40,117 from Karnataka, 38,026 from Tamil Nadu, 26,261 from Delhi, 23,538 from Uttar Pradesh and 21,218 from West Bengal. To put it into perspective, at least 1 in 2,602 Indians have died from the novel coronavirus, taking the cumulative toll to 5,25,116.The Health Ministry, however, stressed that more than 70 per cent of the deaths occurred due to comorbidities.What does the trend show?Since the beginning of the pandemic, at least 1 in 31 residents have been infected with Covid-19 in India. An average of 15,315 cases per day were reported in India in the last week with new infections increasing by 78 per cent from the average two weeks ago and deaths by 119 per cent.

As active Covid-19 cases cross 1-lakh mark after 122 days, here’s what trend shows
‘Test even if you think you have the flu’
Times of India | 7 months ago | |
Times of India
7 months ago | |

PANAJI: As Covid cases continue to rise in the state, health officials have said that people must get tested for the disease even if they have flu-like symptoms. State epidemiologist Dr Utkarsh Betodkar said that people have no option but to take precautions. On Wednesday, the state recorded a total of 82 new cases.

‘Test even if you think you have the flu’
  • People urged to get tested even for flu-like symptoms
  • Times of India

    Panaji: Even as Covid-19 cases rise rapidly in the state, health authorities have said that people should get tested even if they have flu or flu-like symptoms. On Tuesday, Goa hit 100 daily cases after nearly four months, after several days of daily cases ranging from 60 to 70. State epidemiologist Dr Utkarsh Betokdar said that people have no alternative but to take precautions. “People should get tested even if they think they have the flu,” Betodkar said. However, health authorities are still not ready to term the present rise a new (or a fourth) wave. “Hospitalisations are still on the lower side, just one or two admissions a week,” he said. “Since the rise, a single fatality has been reported, adding that the patient who died after contracting the infection was a 95-year-old woman. Betodkar said that most patients reported mild symptoms, unlike in earlier phases of the pandemic. Since the rise in cases, the majority of patients have been treated in home isolation. The directorate of health services is still unclear as to how to define the ongoing increase, but one pattern that’s been emerging has been similar to earlier, which is that South Goa is reporting more cases than North Goa. “We haven’t seen any clusters so far, but more infections are being reported from South Goa,” he said. Betodkar said that it may be because of “the higher concentration of population” in certain talukas of South Goa. The first wave originated at Mangor Hill, Vasco, in the first week of June 2020, reaching other parts of the state by the month-en. While Vasco became the hotspot, Salcete also reported a huge number of cases. During the second wave, Margao remained at the top, whereas in North Goa, Calangute, Candolim, Panaji and Porvorim saw the disease spread like wildfire, but the tally of cases in South Goa was higher than that of North Goa. Even during the third wave which began from December 28, 2021, and started dipping by mid-February, South Goa was ahead in terms of numbers.

Cases up, exercise caution, take booster vaccine says Goa CM Pramod Sawant
Times of India | 7 months ago | |
Times of India
7 months ago | |

PANAJI: As Goa is seeing an increase in Covid cases in recent days, citizens should start taking the necessary precautions to avoid the infection, chief minister Pramod Sawant said on Saturday. He, however, did not comment on whether the state government will make wearing of masks mandatory in the coming days. The CM also asked citizens to take their booster dose of the vaccine. "There has been a slight increase in Covid cases. Everyone must take precautions, as suggested by the directorate of health services. On Sunday, we are administering booster doses of the vaccine at the health centres. I am appealing once again that those who have completed nine months since their second dose should come forward to take their booster dose," Sawant said after BJP's Garib Kalyan Sammelan in Taleigao. BJP state president Sadanand Shet Tanavade said that campaigns to increase booster dose coverage will also be held as part of the Garib Kalyan Sammelan. "In Goa, we have completed 100% coverage of both doses, but precautions must be taken. People are responsible and they will wear masks," Tanavade said. BJP is organising Garib Kalyan Sammelan across the state to mark completion of eight years of governance under PM Narendra Modi. "We will be distributing two lakh leaflets to raise awareness about the various schemes introduced by the Centre over the last eight years," Tanavade said.

Cases up, exercise caution, take booster vaccine says Goa CM Pramod Sawant
  • Cases up, exercise caution, says Sawant
  • Times of India

    Panaji: As Goa is seeing an increase in Covid cases in the recent days, citizens should start taking the necessary precautions to avoid the infection, chief minister Pramod Sawant said on Saturday. He, however, did not comment on whether the state government will make wearing of masks mandatory in the coming days. The CM asked citizens to come forward to take their booster dose of the vaccine. “There has been a slight increase in Covid cases. Everyone must take precautions, as suggested by the directorate of health services. On Sunday, we are administering booster doses of the vaccine at the health centres. I am appealing once again that those who have completed nine months since their second dose that they should come forward to take their booster dose,” Sawant said after BJP’s Garib Kalyan Sammelan in Taleigao. BJP state president Sadanand Shet Tanavade said that campaigns to increase booster dose coverage will also be held as part of the Garib Kalyan Sammelan. “As part of this programme, we are also having campaigns to promote booster dose. People with comorbidities are taking precautions. In Goa, we have completed 100% vaccination of both doses, but precautions must be taken. People are responsible and they will wear masks,” Tanavade said. BJP is organising Garib Kalyan Sammelan across the state to mark completion of eight years of governance under PM Narendra Modi. “We will be distributing two lakh leaflets to raise awareness about the various schemes introduced by the Centre over the last eight years,” he said.

GSL chairman Nagpal retires after 3.5-yr stint
Times of India | 9 months ago | |
Times of India
9 months ago | |

Panaji: Goa Shipyard Limited (GSL) chairman Bharat Bhushan Nagpal retired on Saturday after a three and a half year stint at the helm as the chairman and managing director of the government-owned shipyard. GSL’s finance director T N Sudhakar has been given additional charge as the interim chairman and managing director. Nagpal, who joined GSL in 2016 as director for corporate planning and business development took charge as chairman and managing director in December 2018 and has since sustained the shipyard’s growth and expansion. GSL’s order book stands at Rs 14,670 crore, it’s highest ever, and under Nagpal’s watch, GSL has also forayed into new business lines including development of autonomous vessels and the use of artificial intelligence in shipbuilding and maintenance in partnership with the private sector. During Nagpal’s tenure, GSL concluded the contract for five offshore patrol vessel (OPVs) and also commenced construction of the two stealth guided-missile frigates for the Indian Navy. GSL is also building two indigenous pollution control vessels and eight fast patrol vessels for the Indian Coast Guard and a floating dock for the Sri Lankan Navy. During his service, Nagpal laid special emphasis on corporate social responsibility, extending support to local communities and the government and working towards a link up with academia and start-up incubation centres. During the pandemic, he offered to help the state government with isolation and quarantine centres and also contributed Oxygen production plants and ventilator units to the government.

GSL chairman Nagpal retires after 3.5-yr stint
  • Cmde Nagpal retires as Goa Shipyard chairman
  • Navhind Times

    Staff ReporterVascoCommodore Bharat Bhushan Nagpal, NM, Indian Navy (Retd), Chairman & Managing Director, Goa Shipyard Limited has superannuated on Saturday and has relinquished charge as CMD of one of the premier Defence Shipyardsof India.Commodore Nagpal joined Goa Shipyard in 2016 as Director (Corporate Planning and Business Development) following a distinguished career of 32 years as a Naval Architect Officer with the Indian Navy. He took charge as Chairman and Managing Director of Goa Shipyard on December 1, 2018 and has since spearheaded the Yard ensuring sustained growth and expansion.Under his leadership and the commitment of Yard employees, Goa Shipyard continued its track record of ensuring on-time delivery of vessels successfully concluding the 05 Offshore Patrol Vessel order for the Indian Coast Guard despite disruptions posed by the COVID-19 pandemic. The yard signed the contract for two P1135.6 missile frigates for the Indian Navy and commenced production in record-time for the largest and most complex warship building project undertaken by GSL.GSL has also established its position as a competitive shipbuilding and refit brand in domestic and export market. Cmde Nagpal’s tenure saw the yard bag several orders on a competitive basis from the Indian Navy, Indian Coast Guard, the Indian Army, state administration and foreign friendly countries. In recent months alone, GSL has commenced the construction of two indigenous Pollution Control Vessels, signed a contract for 08 Fast Patrol Vessels for the Indian Coast Guard and construction of a floating dock for SriLanka Navy.On his superannuation, Cmde Nagpal expressed his profound gratitude to all employees and workers of Goa Shipyard, the Unions and the Ministry of Defence..for their unwavering support and commitment that has ensured that the Yard continues to reach new heights.

Goa: Six new Covid cases on Friday
Times of India | 9 months ago | |
Times of India
9 months ago | |

Panaji: Goa reported six new Covid cases on Friday with nil hospitalisations and nil deaths. A total of 469 samples were tested with a case positivity rate of 1.28%. Goa’s case positivity rate crossed the one percent mark twice this week, after several weeks. Active cases are at 44, the highest since April 2. Goa’s weekly positivity rate is 0.94% for North Goa and 0.82% for South Goa between April 22 and April 28.

Goa: Six new Covid cases on Friday
  • Goa sees two-fold rise in new COVID cases
  • Navhind Times

    Staff ReporterPanajiThe number of COVID cases doubled in Goa on Wednesday with the detection of 14 fresh cases.On Tuesday, Goa had logged seven fresh cases at a positivity rate of 1.23%.The test positivity rate recorded on Wednesday is 0.97% and the tally of active cases has risen to 39 in the state.Fortunately, no new death linked to the dreaded virus was reported in the last 24 hours.Two patients were declared as recovered in the last 24 hours andthe overall recovery rate in the state continues to be at 98.43%.The confirmed cases of COVID-19 in Goa currently stand at 2,45,409 of which 2,41,538 patients have defeated the deadly disease. Till date, 3,832 patients have died due to COVID-19 in the state.Meanwhile, amid a rise in fresh COVID-19 cases across the country, the public health department on Wednesday issued an advisory asking citizens to continue wearing masks at all public places.In an official communiqué, the department has urged people to continue observing all appropriate COVID behaviour as important preventivemeasures against the virus.It is pertinent to note that on Monday the expert committee of doctors had opined that the emergence of fourth COVID wave cannot be ruled out and hadrecommended wearing of face masks in public places and closed rooms.

  • Sunday sees 6 new Covid cases in Goa
  • Times of India

    Panaji: Goa reported six new cases of Covid infections and nil deaths on Sunday. With this, the total number of positive cases has now gone up to 25. Meanwhile, a total of 711 samples were tested and the case positivity rate currently stands at 0.84%. The state has reported 3,832 Covid deaths, 2.45 lakh cases and over 31,000 hospitalisations since the beginning of the pandemic in 2020. Goa’s recovery rate stands at 98.43 percent.

States Covid positivity rate up, 7 new cases
Times of India | 9 months ago | |
Times of India
9 months ago | |

Panaji: After several weeks Goa’s Covid-19 case positivity rate, that had stayed below 1%, went up to 1.2% on Tuesday. During the day, seven new cases were detected for 567 samples tested. There were no deaths and no hospitalisations. TNN

States Covid positivity rate up, 7 new cases
  • Covid: Goas positivity rate below 1%, but above national average
  • Times of India

    Panaji: Goa’s weekly positivity rate is below 1%, but slightly above the national average. South Goa reported a weekly positivity rate of 0.8% and North Goa 0.7% between April 15 to 21. The national average, meanwhile, stands at around 0.4%. And while the case positivity rate for the country stands at 0.5%, in Goa it is 0.2%. Goa reported two Covid cases on Saturday with 882 samples tested. The count of Covid deaths and hospitalisations continue to be nil. The count of active Covid cases was at 22 and has continued to remain under the 50-mark for around a month now. Goa’s recovery rate stands at 98.4%.

Goa may see fourth COVID wave in June, warns expert
Navhind Times | 9 months ago | |
Navhind Times
9 months ago | |

Special CorrespondentPanajiDr. Shekhar Salkar, a member of the state government’s expert committee on COVID management, on Wednesday said that irrespective of whether fourth wave of the pandemic arrives in Goa or not, senior citizens in the state as well as those with co-morbidities should continue following all COVID-related guidelines including wearing of face masks and maintaining social distancing.“Places like Delhi and Uttar Pradesh are presently witnessing a surge in COVID cases, and as the borders of Goa are open with flights coming to the state from all around the country, especially Delhi, one cannot take chances,” he observed, predicting that Goa could be hit by fourth wave of the pandemic in oraround June.Speaking to ‘The Navhind Times’, Dr. Salkar said the central government withdrew the Disaster Management Act on March 31, 2022 and as such now all states are free to take decisions on COVID norms. “Chief Minister Pramod Sawant may have said that Goa would be mask-free soon, however no such order has been issued till date,” he clarified, pointing out that therefore, the old guidelines are still in force in Goa.“However, irrespective of what the guidelines say, every individual should take precautions as per his or her health conditions,” he appealed to Goans, maintaining that the threat of the pandemic is far from over especially for the senior people and those with co-morbidities.Dr. Salkar said the state government has not yet convened the meeting of the expert committee on COVID management in the wake of rise in the number of COVID cases in Delhi and Uttar Pradesh.“I also feel that the government should not follow Maharashtra in declaring the state a mask-free state,” he reckoned.Replying to a question, Dr. Salkar said that new variants of coronavirus are less lethal, and as a consequence there have been less deaths of the infected people.“The more fast infecting virus it is, the less lethality it has,” he noted, reiterating that even then those who have health problems should not take the pandemic lightly.Meanwhile, Union health secretary Rajesh Bhushan has written to the governments of Delhi, Uttar Pradesh, Haryana, Mizoram and Maharashtra over rising COVID cases.Maharashtra reported 137 COVID cases and three deaths on Wednesday, reporting a double from the 59 cases detected on Monday.Incidentally, Goa recorded five new COVID cases on Wednesday, while no deaths were reported.There are still 23 active cases in the state.

Goa may see fourth COVID wave in June, warns expert
ISL Shield win with Jamshedpur is as good as anything Ive achieved: Owen Coyle
Times of India | 10 months ago | |
Times of India
10 months ago | |

Owen Coyle has achieved quite a lot in his coaching career, notably taking Burnley to the Premier League and back in English football's top flight after 33 years. At Jamshedpur, he not just took the club to its first playoffs, but also helped them win the ISL League Winners’ Shield. The experienced coach tells TOI in this exclusive interview how he scripted the success story in India. Excerpts… Can we say you are the best coach not to win the ISL trophy?I try and coach a team to the best of my abilities. The first target for Jamshedpur was to win the (League Winners’) Shield. All teams that qualify for the playoffs are very good teams. They can beat anyone on their day, but to win the League Shield over 20 games proves you are the best team in the country. We got 43 points, a record. When a coach does well, people say good things, and when things don’t go right, we are rubbish! The truth is we are somewhere in between. This Jamshedpur side looks completely different to the team you took charge last season when you joined from Chennaiyin FC…When I came in at Jamshedpur, with all due respect, I inherited half that team. There were some good players, but they weren’t my players, they weren’t my kind. The foreigners were good, but not for the way I wanted to play, with that intensity. Each transfer window I had to change things and become better. That’s what I did. I brought Boris (Singh), Len (Doungel) because I wanted a faster, quicker team. Brought in Farukh (Chaudhary) back. In my first game in India (for Chennaiyin against Jamshedpur), Farukh caught my eye. I said ‘oh goodness, what a player does Jamshedpur have’, so I got him back last January (from Mumbai City). In the summer, I changed things again with Greg (Stewart), Eli (Sabia), Jordan (Murray), they were important pieces. Alex (Lima) wasn’t fit last year and I knew what he could do. The Indian players were important too, so we brought in Pronay (Halder) for experience in the middle, there was Ritwik (Das), Komal (Thatal) all having their best season and young Dinpuia, who we watched in the I-League, too. A striking feature of this Jamshedpur side is how players who did not find favour with other clubs did well here. How did you turn around their fortunes?We are all a little bit biased in the type of players we like. You like a certain type of players. I know the kind of players that I need to succeed. It's like a jigsaw that we try to fit, and they fit evenly together. That’s what we have done. I looked at other teams to see who we could get, because I don’t have the budget of ATK (Mohun Bagan) and Mumbai to go and buy (Hugo) Boumous, Liston (Colaco), Apuia. What I do have is an eye for very good players. I work with them, give opportunities and very importantly, give them the trust of the coach. If they make mistakes, honest mistakes, I can accept that. In one of the interviews, Ritwik said the coach is demanding. I am, because when you start climbing up the ladder, I won't let them drop. I will push them further up that ladder, and if that means demanding, so be it. The players here have been wonderful. Let me tell you about Anas (Edathodika). He may not have got minutes, but he’s been a very good professional. You look at young Ishan Pandita. Obviously, Sunil (Chhetri) has been unbelievable, but Ishan (Pandita) is the next natural number nine. Liston and Manvir (Singh) are good players, but for me Pandita is more dangerous. He is a more natural striker. We wouldn’t have won this Shield, if it was not for Pandita's two back-to-back goals. That’s four extra points, all important. Stewart has been one of the biggest success stories in this season’s ISL and a leading contender to win the Golden Ball for the best player. How did you manage to convince him to come to India after winning the Scottish Premiership with Rangers?He’s the best. We were missing a number 10, like I had Rafa (Rafael Crivellaro) at Chennaiyin. When I came in at Jamshedpur, I tried to sign Rafa, but he had already extended (his contract) with Chennaiyin. I was always on the lookout for that kind of player because it was essential to how we play. I knew Greg had a number of offers. I spoke to Steven Gerrard (coach at Rangers then), Gary McAllister (former assistant coach at Rangers), a good friend of mine, Ross (Wilson), the director of football at Rangers, and Steve Clarke, the national coach. I knew of his abilities, what I wanted to know is of him as a person. I knew I had to convince him to come to Jamshedpur and play in ISL. I wanted to be well armed for how I went about (convincing Greg to come to Jamshedpur). I didn’t want to phone him and he would respond ‘thanks for the offer, but it's not for me’. We had a brilliant conversation. He is a champion. When you play at Rangers, the mentality is to win all games. I needed players like Greg. He’s been sensational. It’s important to sign very good players, but it’s more important you bring in good people. If you don't, particularly in this bubble, it will be your undoing. So, we had to make sure that the signings we are making are good people. Were they like the Peter Hartleys and other boys that we brought before? What made you replace Nerijus Valskis, a Golden Boot winner, with Daniel Chima during the January transfer window?He was not happy, so we decided to find a solution. I wanted to help Nerka, but I wanted to help the team as well because if the situation dragged on, it does not help anybody. I spoke to his agent Baljit (Rihal) and he said there is interest from Chennaiyin. I agreed to allow him to go and free up that space. I always rated Chima and knew him before he came to India. He was a three-time champion of Molde (in Norway) and played in the top leagues. I saw his games (with SC East Bengal) and he did well. A lot of people just judge strikers from the goals, but that’s not true. Players can contribute to the team without scoring. When they score, of course, it elevates them to a supreme level. I know people said, ‘wow, you let go of the Golden Boot winner’, but Chima certainly added to what we were doing in the second half of the season. Compared to all that you have achieved in your coaching career, where would you rank this ISL Shield triumph?I would say this is as good as anything for a number of reasons. People are saying you won the biggest game in the world to get (Burnley) into the Premier League, a 100m pounds game or whatever it is, but what we have been able to do here is truly remarkable. We are not the super clubs in the league, we are not a big spending club, paying big salaries, but we have done in such a manner that we played to win every game. Look at the records. This is as good as anything else because of how we have done it, the challenges, the bio-bubble. How challenging was it to handle the Covid-19 outbreak within the team’s bio-secure bubble?That was the toughest. When you do the quarantine (while getting inside the bubble), you are mentally ready. Then when you play games and to have an outbreak mid-season, that was a real challenge. Eli was inside his room for 14 days. We were eating off plastic trays, and by the time the food gets to you, the food isn't warm and (then to eat) with plastic forks. This was a challenge. We had to play FC Goa with one training session. We showed that we can dig in and win in different ways. That was a true testimony. I remember telling (assistant coach) Sandy in the dressing room that the win versus FC Goa will be our most important win because to have achieved that stuck in a hotel (in quarantine) without playing a match for 17 days and without training for 11 days, it was a remarkable achievement. That period (indoors) was mentally draining.

ISL Shield win with Jamshedpur is as good as anything Ive achieved: Owen Coyle
Goa: Another blow to tourism, sharp drop in Kazakh charters
Times of India | 11 months ago | |
Times of India
11 months ago | |

PANAJI: The charter season, already unimpressive as they’ve been coming from just two countries, hit another bout of turbulence after flights from Kazakhstan reduced from three flights a week to just one last month, due to internal disturbances in the central Asian country. The season had started on a cautiously optimistic note after charters from Russia and Kazakhstan began arriving, even as none came from the UK, Goa’s second-biggest market in this space. The Indian government permitted charters in December, and even though they started, they were no match for the numbers seen in previous years. “Due to turmoil in Kazakhstan, charters were stopped from January 5, and though operations resumed 15 days later, we now receive a single flight a week instead of three earlier,” said Anupam Kumar, director of Caper India, which handles Kazakhstan tourists. A single charter a week bringing in about 150 travellers will continue till mid-April. The state has also been receiving a single charter once in ten days from Russia, and these operations are likely to continue till mid-May. During the pre-Covid period, for every season for more than a decade, Goa received the highest number of charters from various Russian locations. The state received about 2-2.5 lakh charter tourists a season, half of whom came from Russia, till the pandemic changed it all. With the charter season reaching its end, no charters from new destinations can be expected this season. “We can only expect the next season to be better,” said Nilesh Shah, president, travel and tourism association of Goa (TTAG). Shah, however, said that Goa may see some free independent travellers (FIT) in the following months, now that the government of India has done away with restrictions for international travellers. International travellers arriving from at-risk countries no longer need to quarantine or get tested on arrival. In fact, charters from the UK scheduled for December 2021 were cancelled after India announced stricter restrictions for travellers from at-risk countries, chiefly, 14 days of quarantine.

Goa: Another blow to tourism, sharp drop in Kazakh charters
Goa: Six succumb to Covid, positivity at 8.6%
Times of India | 11 months ago | |
Times of India
11 months ago | |

PANAJI: Goa's Covid case positivity rate stood at 8.6% with 259 new cases registered on Wednesday. With six fatalities, the toll rose to 3,760 while the active caseload reduced to 3,528. Eleven persons were hospitalised and 258 went on home isolation. There were 15 recoveries and 655 discharges over the past 24 hours. Four of the deceased were unvaccinated, one received one dose of the vaccine and the others two doses. A 72-year-old woman from Mapusa who received one dose of the vaccine was brought dead to the North Goa district hospital and a 75-year-old man from Navelim who was double vaccinated passed away within 45 minutes of admission at Goa Medical College. The other deceased, all unvaccinated, comprised a 52-year-old man from Sattari, 59-year-old man from Margao, 76-year-old woman from Ponda and an 84-year-old man from Curtorim.

Goa: Six succumb to Covid, positivity at 8.6%
  • Six succumb to Covid-19, +vity at 8.6%
  • Times of India

    Panaji: Goa’s Covid case positivity rate stood at 8.6% with 259 new cases registered on Wednesday. With six fatalities, the toll rose to 3,760 while the active caseload reduced to 3,528. Eleven persons were hospitalised and 258 went on home isolation. There were 15 recoveries and 655 discharges over the past 24 hours. Four of the deceased were unvaccinated, one received one dose of the vaccine and the others two doses. A 72-year-old woman from Mapusa who received one dose of the vaccine was brought dead to the North Goa district hospital and a 75-year-old man from Navelim who was double vaccinated passed away within 45 minutes of admission at Goa Medical College. The other deceased, all unvaccinated, comprised a 52-year-old man from Sattari, 59-year-old man from Margao, 76-year-old woman from Ponda and an 84-year-old man from Curtorim.

EC allows physical campaigning events
Navhind Times | 11 months ago | |
Navhind Times
11 months ago | |

Ban on roadshows continuesNew Delhi: The Election Commission on Sunday extended the ban on roadshows, ‘pad yatras’, cycle and vehicle rallies but gave fresh relaxations for indoor and outdoor physical campaigning events for the polls citing reduction in COVID-19 cases.The new relaxations will help political parties hold bigger physical campaigning events in the run-up to the polls in the five states of Uttar Pradesh, Uttarakhand, Goa, Punjab and Manipur.The campaigning for phase one of Uttar Pradesh assembly election on February 10 ends on February 8 evening.The commission allowed opening up of physical campaigning events based on inputs received by state chief secretaries, its observers and the Union health ministry.The Union health secretary told the EC on Saturday that the poll-going states are contributing a very small proportion of the total reported COVID cases in the country.In a statement, the EC said restrictions regarding “outdoor meetings, indoor meetings, rallies” will be further relaxed subject to condition that the number of persons attending these events will be limited to maximum of 50% of the capacity of indoor halls and 30% of the open ground capacity or as fixed by district election officer as per requirement of the social distancing norms, and whichever is less.“If the state disaster management authority has set the ceiling limits or percentage of the capacity for number of persons attending indoor hall or open ground and they are stricter, SDMA guidelines will prevail,” the EC said.“Open ground rallies” can be held only in the grounds specifically designated by the district authorities and subject to compliance of all the conditions of SDMA.Allocation of these grounds will be given equitably by district administration through e-Suvidha portal on first come first serve basis, the EC pointed out. Capacities of these grounds will be fixed by the district administration well in advance and notify to all the parties.“There should be multiple entry and exit points so that there is no crowding as people are coming and leaving the venue. All entrances must have adequate hand hygiene and thermal screening provisions,” it said.In the last review on January 31, the commission had allowed political parties and candidates to hold outdoor meetings in designated open spaces with a maximum of 1000 persons (instead of earlier 500 persons) or 50% of the capacity of the ground and for indoor meetings, a maximum of 500 persons (instead of earlier 300 persons) or 50% of the capacity of the hall or the prescribed limit set by the SDMA, whichever number is lesser, from February 1 for all phases.On other campaigning means, the EC said maximum number of persons permissible for door-to-door campaigning fixed at 20 will remain as before. The ban on campaign between 8 p.m. and 8 a.m. will also continue as before, the EC said.Chief Secretaries of poll-going states had apprised the EC that there has been significant improvement in the prevailing COVID situation, a considerable decrease in the number of positive cases of COVID and also decrease in cases of hospitalisation.“Most of them have recommended to the commission to consider for relaxation and allow increased number of persons in the indoor/outdoor campaign meetings,” the statement said.After receiving references from chief secretaries, the commission took inputs and views from its special observers. Many of them said the COVID situation has improved substantially and positivity rate has come down significantly. They have also stated that coverage of vaccination in the state is very satisfactory for the first dose, second dose and precaution dose to frontline workers and poll duty officials.“In this light, they have recommended that the commission may consider revisiting the existing campaign guidelines and permit further relaxation in the campaign norm to ensure greater participation in the ongoing election process. Most of them recommended to increase limit the number of people attending the rallies in open and indoor space to about 50% and not limiting it to a number,” the statement said.On Saturday, the Union health secretary briefed the EC about the ground situation of COVID-19. He informed that COVID cases are fast receding in the country and even in the reported cases maximum cases are reported from non-poll going states.The EC said it will continue to review the situation.

EC allows physical campaigning events
Polls for Ponda, Tiswadi comunidades also deferred due to pandemic concerns
Times of India | 1 year ago | |
Times of India
1 year ago | |

Panaji: After the administrator of comunidades for north zone postponed the elections for the comunidades of Bardez, Bicholim and Pernem talukas, the central zone has followed suit and decided to call off the polls for Tiswadi and Ponda talukas. Administrator for central zone Geeta Nagvenkar said the decision has been taken in view of the surge in Covid cases and the concern among members that having elections in closed spaces is risky. Polls for the various comunidades were to be conducted in a closed room hall with several stakeholders expected to be present. “Conducting free and fair elections in such a situation is not possible and is also in violation of the order of the state government. Therefore, it has been decided to defer the elections of the managing committee - administrative board for 2022-2025 pertaining to the comunidades of Tiswadi and Ponda talukas,” Nagvenkar said. The state is yet to fix the date for the elections. Comunidade members had made several calls and representations expressing concern over the rising Covid cases and the risk of holding the elections in a closed room with a large crowd present. In view of the rising Covid-19 cases, the state government has restricted gatherings to 50 persons or 50% of the seating capacity while indoors. On Sunday, the North Goa collector extended these restrictions on reopening of schools till February 15. Conducting free and fair elections in such a situation is not possible and is also in violation of the order of the state government. Therefore, it has been decided to defer the elections of the managing committee

Polls for Ponda, Tiswadi comunidades also deferred due to pandemic concerns