Vardhan Cautions against Virus Spread ahead of Festivals, Winter; Ministry Issues Guidelines to Manage Co-infections

Union Health Minister Harsh Vardhan on Tuesday cautioned people to be more careful and take the necessary precautions against coronavirus ahead of the festive season, saying the respiratory virus could show its effect more rapidly during the winters.

He said social distancing, wearing masks and repeatedly washing hands are crucial to prevent spread of the virus. Vardhan said if the necessary precautions are taken by people, then the chain of transmission of the virus will break.

“The next 2-3 months will have festivals and coincide with the winter season. As you are aware, the…respiratory virus could show its effect more rapidly during the winter,” he said. Vardhan, who is also the Science and Technology minister in addition to being the country’s health minister, was addressing the directors of the institutes under the Department of Biotechnology (DBT).

He said if people act carelessly and forget about precautions while celebrating festivals, then

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Will coronavirus surge in the winter? Experts don’t know yet

About 2,400 years ago, the Greek physician Hippocrates made a startling discovery: A respiratory disease known as the “Cough of Pernithus” appeared to come and go with the seasons, causing influenza-like outbreaks in ancient Greece in the wintertime before subsiding for much of the rest of the year.

Hippocrates’ observations became the earliest known reference to the seasonal nature of an infectious disease. Since then, scientists have noted numerous other diseases that peak in certain seasons — measles in the spring and influenza in the winter, for instance. Now, as the coronavirus continues to spread around the world, researchers are eager to learn whether it will follow a seasonal cycle.

So far, there’s no firm evidence that environmental conditions tied to the changing seasons have any influence on the transmissibility of Covid-19. Yet health officials have warned that a second wave could be looming as the Northern Hemisphere inches into

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Light-loving algae grow under ice during the dark Arctic winter

Each winter, Baffin Bay freezes over as polar darkness descends over the top of the world.

Come spring, phytoplankton will bloom in these cold waters between Greenland and Canada, bolstering a bustling ecosystem of beluga whales and narwhals (SN: 4/8/20). But scientists have long assumed that the photosynthetic algae remain largely dormant in winter, blocked off from light by thick sea ice and snow.

New research challenges that assumption, however, finding that phytoplankton under the bay’s ice start growing as early as February, when the sun barely blips above the Arctic’s horizon.

Achim Randelhoff, an oceanographer at Université Laval in Quebec City, and colleagues deployed autonomous submersible floats in Baffin Bay that can measure photosynthetic activity and algae concentrations underwater.

In February, when light was barely detectable

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