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Up in the air

Yoga instructors Rabih el-Medawar, 29, and Alona Aleksandrova, 24, practise acroyoga on the roof of their apartment building in Beirut even as protests and violence against the growing economic hardship in the country stretched into a second night in Lebanon. In Paris, free-runner Simon performs on a rooftop during a strict lockdown in France aimed at curbing the spread of covid-19.

Photo: Mint
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Photo: Mint

Home ministry allows stranded workers to travel

Over A month after millions of migrant workers were stranded without work or wages due to the nationwide lockdown, the home ministry has said that daily wagers, pilgrims, tourists and students who do not show coronavirus symptoms will be allowed to travel home. It issued guidelines for travel and asked all states to designate nodal authorities and develop protocols for the movement of people. Close to five million workers will have to be brought home, according to data from state governments.

Punjab extends lockdown by two weeks

Punjab chief minister Amarinder Singh on Wednesday said the curfew imposed in the state to contain the spread of covid-19 will be extended till 17 May. From Thursday, a four-hour daily curfew relaxation will be allowed in areas that are not designated as red or containment zones. During this period, certain shops and industries will be allowed to function on a rotational basis, but strict social distancing norms must be followed at all times, he said. The state government would review the covid-19 situation after two weeks and would ease more restrictions if there is an improvement, he said.

UK breaks record for coal-free power generation

For 19 days and two hours, UK has been running on clean energy, the longest stretch it has gone without coal-fired power generation since the Industrial Revolution. UK’s energy system has not used coal-fired plants for more than 438 hours, according to National Grid data, the longest uninterrupted period since 1882. The lockdown has caused electricity demand to fall to record lows because schools, shops, factories and restaurants are closed. The lower overall demand for electricity means low-carbon energy sources are able to make up a greater proportion of the energy system than usual.

Meditation Apps draw more users

Google searches for the term “meditation" have been rising globally through March and April as people look for ways to relieve stress while dealing with the uncertainty of a pandemic and loss of social contact. Meditation apps have been catching on for years, and the pandemic is giving them a boost. Global user spending on the top 10 most earning meditation apps rose 24 times in five years.

Serum Institute chief executive officer Adar Poonawalla.
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Serum Institute chief executive officer Adar Poonawalla. (Mint)

Serum Institute to make potential coronavirus vaccine

Pune-based serum Institute of India, the world’s largest vaccine maker by number of doses produced and sold globally, has said it plans this year to produce up to 60 million doses of a potential vaccine against the new coronavirus that is under clinical trial in the UK. It is mass-producing the vaccine candidate developed by Oxford University, which started testing on humans last week. While the Oxford vaccine, ChAdOx1 nCoV-19, is yet to be proven to work against covid-19, Serum has decided to start manufacturing as it had shown success in animal trials and had progressed to tests on humans.

Oscars suspend theatre showing rule due to pandemic

Movies that skip the big screen will be allowed to contend for Oscars this year, the Academy has said in a rule change forced by the pandemic. Traditionally, the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences requires at least a seven-day run in Los Angeles theatres for movies to be eligible for the prize. Cinema theatres in Los Angeles have been closed since mid-March, with no date set for them to reopen. “For the 93rd Awards year only, films that had a previously planned theatrical release but are initially made available on a commercial streaming... platform may qualify," the Academy said.

Can't hold Olympics unless pandemic contained, says Abe

It will be impossible to host the Tokyo Olympic Games next year unless the coronavirus pandemic is contained, Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe said on Wednesday. The International Olympic Committee and the Japanese government postponed the Games last month until July 2021 because of the impact of the outbreak. Abe was replying to a query from an opposition lawmaker. Tokyo confirmed 112 new infections on Tuesday; numbers for Wednesday were not yet available. The national tally stands at 13,895 infections, including 413 deaths, according to national broadcaster NHK.

Belgians asked to eat more fries to counter potato glut

The Belgian potato industry has asked citizens to eat fries at least twice a week as more than 750,000 tonnes of potatoes—enough to fill 30,000 trucks—are at risk of being thrown away. The coronavirus crisis has led to a surplus of potatoes because demand for frites, a national dish of twice-fried potatoes often eaten in bars, has slumped during the lockdown. There’s been a fall in demand in the frozen potato sector, which accounts for around 75% of Belgium’s potato processing. Production of fresh potatoes and snack products are doing well as more people are cooking and snacking at home.

A movie night tribute to Irrfan Khan

Movie nights at home are a great way to wind down in lockdown, and we’d suggest a marathon to pay tribute to versatile actor Irrfan Khan who died on Wednesday, aged 54, after a prolonged battle with cancer. If you’re not sure where to start, we’d say The Namesake and The Lunchbox, and work your way down the list that includes Life Of Pi, Slumdog Millionaire, or even Chanakya, that’s been revived on DD.

Curated by Shalini Umachandran. Have something to share with us?

Write to us at ot tweet to @shalinimb

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