Thirteen people, including 10 Border Security Force (BSF) jawans, tested positive for coronavirus in Tripura’s Ambassa on Monday, taking the number of cases in the state to 29.

The new Covid-19 cases include two kids, a wife, and 11 BSF jawans, all from 138th battalion of BSF at Ambasa in Dhalai district, about 100 km from Agartala.

Twelve BSF jawans HAD tested positive for Covid-19 in Tripura on Sunday as well.

The total number of coronavirus positive cases in Tripura stands at 29, of which 2 have been discharged, Chief Minister Biplab Kumar Deb said on Monday.

The 12 personnel who had tested positive for the virus on Sunday are being treated at the state’s GB Hospital, Chief Minister Biplab Kumar Deb said in a tweet.

“12 BSF personnel who were found COVID19 positive yesterday, have been shifted to GB hospital for better treatment. All of them were asymptomatic and now under proper medication. Condition of all the patients are now stable and responding to the treatment,” Deb tweeted.

On April 25, Deb had declared the state coronavirus free. However, in the last 72 hours, 25 new cases have been reported in the state.

Sources say that the chief minister is personally monitoring the situation and all those who were in physical contact with the jawans, have been asked to go into quarantine. Contact tracing and sample collection have also been initiated to identify and minimise the spread of the highly contagious virus.

The first two positive cases in Tripura were reported on April 6 after a woman who travelled from Guwahati to the states’s Gomati district tested positive for the coronavirus. She was declared cured and was discharged on April 16.

The second case was reported on April 16 when a Tripura State Rifles jawan tested positive for coronavirus at Damcherra in North Tripura. He was declared cured and was discharged on April 25.

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Multiple world billiards and snooker champion Pankaj Advani is at home in Bengaluru since March 15. He says this is the longest break for him and quickly added the green baize sport is not at all on his mind now. In an exclusive chat with Mail Today, the soft-spoken 34-year-old talks about the battle against Coronavirus and COVID-19.

How has life changed for you?

Life has changed for me in a big way. I have been at home in Bengaluru since March 15, that is over one and a half months now. I would say this is the longest period I have been confined at home. Yes, I have taken a month’s break before, but not like this.

Are you training?

I just do bit of shadow practice. As I have no table at home, I am completely off the sport. I last won a tournament on March 12 and then came home via Ahmedabad. Actually, I am in no mood to compete at all and am at home with my mother, discussing many things.

How would you sum up the situation now?

Well, our survival is at stake. We are fighting a larger battle here, playing not a game but a big match against Coronavirus. We need to maintain physical distancing, not social distancing. Socially, we are still on the phone with people. I would say the more we abide by the rules, the better chance of defeating the virus. We must wear masks, take precautions to have a better chance of defeating this.

Has your priority changed in life?

Normally, I feel as a sportsperson, my priority would have been sport if things were normal. But now I feel we are fighting to save humanity. We are all in this together and there is no difference on the basis of cast, creed, religion, dark or white, rich or poor. If we get infected we risk others and humanity at large. The main thing now is look after yourself and humanity.

What is your take on the life post-COVID-19 and the vaccine?

The way things are going on now, a lot will change. The way we go about doing our jobs or interact or socialise, a lot will change. I think people will not be so indulgent any more. We all have certain wants and desires in life but a lot of things will change. This is the time we can do a lot of thinking and put things in perspective. We have all been so caught up in the rat race till now. Regarding the vaccine, it will be a long process. People will have to be more careful, at least till the year end.

Look at it, the economy is taking a beating and people are starving.

How do you see your sport change?

The other day, I was talking to my mother. I was telling her, even as we play, our hand moves on the table. The opponent’s hand also moves on the table, so it will be risky. Because this is a virus which is novel, it will take long time.

Are you reading reports about the virus?

Perhaps not all reports we read, are true. We all read so much and do not want to go out and take a risk. This is not like any other seasonal virus or illness. This may be natural or a man-made element. Obviously, the place from where it has originated (Wuhan), people need to give an explanation. How come Beijing and Shanghai are not affected by it? So there is a hint that it is not just a natural thing which has happened.

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KOLKATA: Scientists at India’s leading jute research institute in Barrackpore have sounded the alarm bell on pest attack destroying jute crops that could further aggravate the crisis that looms over rural Bengal owing to supply-chain disruption caused by the Covid-19 pandemic. Around 15-20% of the crop is under threat, the scientists estimate.
Nearly 7 lakh farmers in the country and 50 lakh people are directly or indirectly dependent on the golden fibre for their livelihood. A big chunk of them are in Bengal, the largest jute producing state in the country.
“Jute farmers have done a commendable work and sowing of the crop in more than 90% area has been completed. Now in the midst of the Covid-19 crisis, the fickle weather this year is a cause for concern about the crop’s healthy growth. It has been overcast and there have been a lot of showers. And these conditions make the jute crop vulnerable to being infested by pests and diseases,” sad Gouranga Kar, director of Barrackpore-based Central Research Institute for Jute and Allied Fibres (CRIJAF) under the Indian Council of Agricultural Research (ICAR), the apex body for coordinating, guiding and managing research and education in agriculture.
Around 12.5 lakh acre is under jute cultivation in Cooch Behar, North Dinajpur, Malda, Murshidabad, Nadia, North 24 Parganas and Hooghly. The state produces around 75-80 lakh bales of jute annually. Jute gunny bags are essential for movement of commodities.
“At present the jute crop in different parts of the state is 20-50 days old. Due to the heavy rain in some pockets of Bengal and adjoining states, the jute fields have been waterlogged. Farmers need to immediately drain out the water. After a few days, there can be incidence of seedling blight and damping off, necessitating the need for fungicide application,” Kar warned.
Though ICAR-CRIJAF is issuing weekly agro-advisory on priority basis, the scientists aren’t sure they are reaching the farmers. With the lockdown restricting movement and many farmers not quite conversant with digital platforms, there is a worry that lack of guidance could adversely affect a section of the crop, deepening the financial crisis in rural Bengal.
Subrata Satpathy, the principal scientist and head of the crop protection division at the institute, said many farmers were struggling with attacks from Indigo caterpillar, Hairy caterpillar, Grey colour weevils and Yellow mite. “From weakening the plant base to defoliation, the pests can do a lot of damage to the cash crop. Use of pesticides in measured quantity can combat the situation. But urgent action is required,” said Satpathy.

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