Indian police crackdown on illegal liquor suppliers after 86 die

Punjab Police (DIG) Hardial Singh Mann (L) along with Police officers speaks to media persons at Tarn Taran, some 25 km from Amritsar on August 1, 2020. At least 40 people have died in three Punjab's districts including Amritsar, Batala and Tarn Taran, after reportedly drinking spurious liquor over two days, local media reported on July 31. (AFP)
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Updated 02 August 2020

Indian police crackdown on illegal liquor suppliers after 86 die

  • Punjab police have so far arrested at least 25 people
  • Deaths from illegally-produced alcohol, known locally as “hooch” or “country liquor,” are a regular occurrence in India

NEW DELHI: Indian police raided rural hamlets and made arrests to break up a bootlegging cartel on Sunday, after 86 people died from consuming illegally-produced alcohol this week in the northwestern state of Punjab, officials said.
“We have conducted raids at more than 30 places today and we have detained six more persons,” Dhruman H. Nimbale, a senior police officer in Punjab’s Tarn Taran district, told Reuters.
Nimbale said the first death occurred on Wednesday but police were only alerted on Friday, and then launched an investigation to determine whether the fatalities were linked.
Punjab police have so far arrested at least 25 people and conducted more than 100 raids across three districts, seizing hundreds of liters of liquor from villages and road-side eateries, the state’s police chief Dinkar Gupta said on Saturday.
A government official said some of the seized liquid was denatured spirit, which is typically used in the paint and hardware industry.
Deaths from illegally-produced alcohol, known locally as “hooch” or “country liquor,” are a regular occurrence in India, where many cannot afford branded spirits.
Recent coronavirus-related lockdowns have also made it difficult for consumers to enjoy a regular tipple. On Friday, 10 men died in a southern Indian states after consuming sanitizer derived from alcohol, as local liquor shops were closed, police said.


UK scientists to test extent of airborne COVID-19 transmission

Updated 26 September 2020

UK scientists to test extent of airborne COVID-19 transmission

  • COVID-19 is known to be present in droplets produced from the mouth and nose from people coughing, sneezing, talking or just breathing
  • Findings could affect governments’ safety measures based on climate, air quality

LONDON: A team of UK scientists is set to discover how long COVID-19 can survive in airborne particles.
In an experiment slated to commence on Monday, researchers at the University of Bristol will test whether the virus is at its most virulent in respiratory droplets, or whether it remains active over significant periods in tiny aerosol particles.
COVID-19 is known to be present in droplets produced from the mouth and nose from people coughing, sneezing, talking or just breathing.
But these remain airborne, and therefore active, for a much shorter period of time than aerosol particles before dropping to the floor.
This is the reasoning behind multiple governments’ enforcing social-distancing measures of 2 meters, among other things. 
But were the virus able to survive in much smaller aerosol particles, it is possible that it could travel greater distances — carried by air currents and ventilation systems — and infect more people, rendering social-distancing measures less effective. 
The theory has gained traction as examples from across the world of groups of people being infected despite observing social-distancing measures, or doing so in poorly ventilated spaces.
Prof. Jonathan Reid, who is leading the Bristol team, told The Guardian newspaper: “We know that when bacteria or viruses become airborne in respiratory droplets they very quickly dry down and can lose viability, so that’s an important step to understand when assessing the role of airborne transmission in COVID-19.”
Allen Haddrell, a scientist at the University of Bristol, said: “We can effectively mimic a cold, wet British winter — or even a hot, dry summer in Saudi Arabia — to look at how these dramatic differences in environmental conditions affect how long the virus remains infectious while suspended in air.”
Results will possibly ready by the end of the week for external scrutiny by the broader scientific community.
Despite excitement surrounding the experiment, some scientists have urged caution, especially regarding the scope of practical applications that could result from it.
“I think the science is fine, and will show the principal that you can modify the environment to reduce the survivability of the virus,” said Dr. Julian Tang, a consultant virologist at Leicester Royal Infirmary.
“But the applicability might be tricky, depending on the environmental factors they identify. You’re not going to sit in a theater or cinema if the temperature is 35 degrees and the humidity is 80 percent.”