Virus eases chokehold: Capacity crowds are now expected for the India-England Test series starting this week after a long run where new Covid infections have plateaued at an unexpected low – a small fraction of the very large numbers that have been anticipated following the end of lockdown. The number of daily hospitalisations has been falling for several days, and remains low, as does the number of deaths. People have begun to gather in large numbers, without any pandemic wave following these meetings. It’s beginning to look like normal cricketing days, and a bright summer ahead.
Stokes leaves gaping hole: For reasons that are far from the best, India will not have to face possibly the most dangerous player in the England team. Ben Stokes is skipping the series for reasons described as mental well-being. Stokes “will take an indefinite break from all cricket with immediate effect”, the ECB announced. He also needs to treat an injured finger. Few can turn a game around as sweepingly as Stokes once he gets going. Both sides will miss a great cricketer through the series.
Priti Patel’s tip for Indian media: British Home Secretary Priti Patel has suggested there will be much for Indian media based in London to report on rapidly growing ties between India and the UK. In a message to the summer party of the Indian Journalists Association (IJA) held in London on Friday last week, Priti Patel said: “Our Prime Ministers have a clear vision as set out in the ‘2030 roadmap’ that marks the beginning of a new era in the UK-India relationship, increasing cooperation on healthcare, climate, trade, education, science and technology, and defence.” Members of the IJA, she said, “will be at the forefront of reporting on historic and ground-breaking achievements between the UK and Indian Government”.
India’s valuable vaccine role underscored: The High Commissioner of India to the UK, Gaitri Issar Kumar, sent out a clear signal last week on just how much an Indian company can do on vaccines – within the UK. She visited the company Wockhardt Limited, an Indian pharmaceutical company in north Wales with state-of-the-art vaccine fill-finish facilities. The plant produces the AstraZeneca vaccine for the UK government. The company is also a significant employer. Some in Britain needed to be reminded that India is not just producing and exporting, but that Indian companies are manufacturing and supplying from within Britain.
Oximeter reveals true colours: The oximeter has been a daily companion to most through the Covid spell. Many have been checking oxygen levels through these devices almost daily. But a new study in the UK suggests that it may give a falsely high reading for darker-skinned people. The National Health Service in England has now warned Indians and other dark-skinned people not to feel falsely reassured by high readings but to seek medical help if symptoms appear serious.