Home >News >India >Mint Lite | Gold prices in India, Thai schools, vanishing cigarettes and other news

The European Union (EU) opened up its borders to 15 non-EU countries on Wednesday, but visitors from the US, Russia, Brazil and India, countries where the novel coronavirus is still spreading fast, will not be allowed to enter. The list will be updated every two weeks, with countries being added or removed depending on how they are able to control the virus’ spread. The contamination rate has stabilized across most of Europe though WHO has warned of a surge in cases following easing of restrictions. For a quick update on the rest of the national and world news, here’s Mint Lite.

Gold prices touch a new high

Gold prices in India hit an all-time high on Wednesday
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Gold prices in India hit an all-time high on Wednesday

Gold prices in India hit an all-time high on Wednesday, tracking a global rally, as surging coronavirus cases in many countries raised the metal’s safe-haven appeal, Reuters reports. Local gold futures hit an all-time high of 48,871 ($646.66) per 10g in early trade, taking their gains to 25% in 2020 so far. It had gained nearly 25% in 2019. However, this dampened retail demand for gold in India, the world’s second largest consumer of the metal. Retail demand has remained low as stores have been shut due to covid-19 restrictions, and buyers wait for prices to turn favourable. Gold imports in May plunged 99% from a year earlier as international air travel was banned and jewellery shops were closed amid a nationwide lockdown to curb the spread of the novel coronavirus. In the overseas market, spot gold firmed near an eight-year peak on Wednesday as a spike in coronavirus cases drove inflows into safe-haven assets.

Thai schools reopen

Thailand’s schools reopened for the first time since mid-March with cardboard ballot boxes used in elections being repurposed as partitions to ensure physical distancing between desks
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Thailand’s schools reopened for the first time since mid-March with cardboard ballot boxes used in elections being repurposed as partitions to ensure physical distancing between desks

Thailand’s schools reopened for the first time since mid-March with cardboard ballot boxes used in elections being repurposed as partitions to ensure physical distancing between desks. Teachers handed out face masks, and a facial recognition scanner automatically checked students’ temperature and sent a message to parents. In India, the home ministry has instructed schools and colleges to stay closed till 31 July, as coronavirus cases rise rapidly. Online classes have been continuing, and schools in Delhi reopened virtually from Wednesday after the summer break. The HRD ministry is yet to come out with a framework for online education for schools. In the US, the American Academy of Pediatrics is pushing for 56 million students to physically return to classrooms, saying the mental and physical benefits of in-person learning outweigh the risks from covid-19. Time away from school often results in social isolation, it said.

Cigarettes may vanish

Global trends in tobacco use
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Global trends in tobacco use

Multinational tobacco company Philip Morris has said cigarettes may disappear from some markets within a decade as smokers switch to alternative products for nicotine. It is promoting a heated-tobacco device instead, but health groups say these expose consumers to other toxins. The long-term health effects are not yet known. Across the world, tobacco use has been falling since 2000 (see chart), but the number of vapers has increased from seven million in 2011 to 41 million in 2018. WHO has said “these products are harmful to health", though research shows they are less harmful than tobacco. In September last year, India banned electronic cigarettes, along with Mexico, Uruguay, Brazil, Singapore and about 15 other countries. The US banned flavoured e-cigarettes as students were using them.

Online betting rises in Japan

Japanese gamblers wary of covid-19 may be staying away from tracks but they’ve gone online
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Japanese gamblers wary of covid-19 may be staying away from tracks but they’ve gone online

Japanese gamblers wary of covid-19 may be staying away from tracks but they’ve gone online. Electronic wagers on local horse races rose 67% in April-May, Japan Racing Association (JRA) said. JRA, which ended its first half of the 2020 season on 28 June, said sales proceeds were $13.8 billion, a 1.5% year-on-year rise. Due to covid-19, horseracing has been held without live spectators since 29 February. Punters have shifted from pachinko, a pinball-style game played in packed halls, to online betting for horse and boat racing, Inside Asian Gaming reports. The SG 30th Grand Championship, a popular Japanese boat race, drew bets worth $136.7 million, well over its $93.3 million target despite having no live audience. While online betting has risen, consumers have reined in spending, causing retail sales to drop 12% in May from a year earlier. Japan has eased restrictions; on Wednesday, Tokyo Disneyland reopened after months (pic).

Czechs host covid-19 party

Residents of Prague in the Czech Republic gave the novel coronavirus a symbolic farewell with a massive street party
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Residents of Prague in the Czech Republic gave the novel coronavirus a symbolic farewell with a massive street party

Go, corona, go" isn’t something only Indians have been chanting. Residents of Prague in the Czech Republic gave the novel coronavirus a “symbolic farewell" with a massive street party. Thousands sat at a 500m long table on Charles Bridge, a landmark on the banks of the Vltava river in Prague, sharing food and drinks they had brought from home, BBC reports. Photos show little physical distancing and live shows by musicians and acrobats. The Czech Republic, a country with a population of about 10 million, imposed strict restrictions on its citizens from mid-March even though case numbers were low. It has recorded fewer than 12,000 infections, and about 350 people have died, and restrictions have now been eased. Last week, the government permitted public gatherings of up to 1,000 people. Swimming pools, museums, zoos and castles are now open without limits on the number of visitors.

Curated by Shalini Umachandran. Have something to share with us? Write to us at businessoflife@livemint.com or tweet to @shalinimb

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