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COVID: How to mitigate your risk during summer travel

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As 2022 began, with pandemic fatigue spreading and the majority of Canadians having received at least two doses of the vaccine, many were hoping this summer could finally return to normal.

Most public health restrictions were lifted across Canada in the spring and early summer, including measures such as mask requirements in indoor public spaces and vaccination requirements for flights within the country.

However, in June and July, new Omicron subvariants triggered a new wave of COVID-19 cases. So is it actually safe to travel now?

Experts say there’s no point postponing travel indefinitely in the hope that COVID-19 will be eradicated.

“COVID is not going away anytime soon,” said Dr. Angela Cheung, a senior scientist at Toronto’s University Health Network, told CTVNews.ca in a phone interview.

But she stressed that learning to live with COVID-19 doesn’t mean abandoning containment efforts and allowing it to spread rampant — it means making COVID safety a regular part of your schedule, even if you’re planning a trip.

FACE MASKS

The most important thing travelers can do to quickly and easily reduce their risks is to dress up indoors and wherever they find it necessary to travel, experts say.

Cheung likened it to bringing an umbrella when it rained.

“Do you need a mandate to tell you to carry an umbrella?” Cheung said.

“If you’re willing to get wet, it’s okay not to carry an umbrella. Of course, if you’re willing to get sick from COVID, don’t mask yourself.

dr Kieran Quinn, a clinical scientist at Toronto’s Sinai Health System and an assistant professor at the University of Toronto, told CTVNews.ca in a phone interview, “A mask is better than no mask, but there are certain types of masks, such as the N95 and KN95, which offer better protection.” He recommended securing some of these before a trip, if possible.

“People should wear masks indoors where there are many other people or places where there may be high-risk individuals who are immunocompromised or elderly,” he said. “We continue to strongly encourage people to wear masks. And I hope that people will continue to do this because it has been shown to protect themselves and others from infection.

Cheung reiterated that she would personally wear an N95 on a plane, but said her top advice is to “wear a mask that you would wear” and that you are comfortable in.

If you want to wear a higher-quality mask to be safer in confined spaces like an airplane, and don’t typically wear N95s on a day-to-day basis, Cheung recommended practicing wearing a mask for at least as long as you would on the airplane to see if it’s too uncomfortable and you touch it all the time, or if you can handle it.

KEEP UP TO DATE ABOUT VACCINES

Vaccines reduce the risk of serious diseases and offer some protection against transmission, even against these more easily transmitted variants, and anyone planning to travel should get vaccinated, experts say.

Infectious disease expert Dr. Brian Conway told CTVNews.ca in a phone interview last week that anyone who is eligible for a fourth shot should try to get one before embarking on a big trip.

“If you haven’t had three needles, don’t travel,” he said.

According to Quinn, a fourth dose may not be necessary immediately, but “certainly the three doses have proven very effective in reducing transmission and serious illness. And our third-dose rates in Ontario and Canada still have room for improvement.”

PRIORITIZE SAFE EVENTS AND LOCATIONS

At this stage of the pandemic, conflicting advice from governments and experts means many Canadians are clarifying what safety means to them.

“Safety is a personal choice, right? And it comes down to people’s perception of risk, and everyone has different risk thresholds, kind of like investing or crossing the street,” Quinn said.

With that in mind, the experts offer these considerations if you want to minimize your risk while traveling.


Before confirming a trip:

Staying closer to home rather than jetting around the world could be a safer concept, experts say. A car trip where you know who will be in close contact with you in the vehicle can be safer than other types of travel.

“Certainly I would be more comfortable in the confines of my car with my family than in a public airport with a whole bunch of other people, especially if those people aren’t masked,” Quinn said.

If you’re traveling internationally, you could do some research on different countries’ vaccination rates beforehand, Conway suggested, adding that it’s as much a protective measure for other countries as it is for travelers, who shouldn’t risk spreading COVID-19 to a country bring those who have been denied access to vaccines.


During the travel:

Trying to find more things to do outside instead of inside might help, experts say.

“Of course, it’s safer to go on a nature hike where it’s not very crowded than to go to a hockey game or a concert,” Cheung said. “So what you do on your vacation can also determine your risk.”

She added that with these new COVID variants, the outdoors isn’t always a safe place.

“People can also get it outdoors, especially with fairly close contact outdoors,” she said.

“Personally, I would say I would opt for outings like hiking and outdoor activities, and minimize indoor public spaces as much as possible for the protection and safety of my own family,” Qunn said.

While crowded indoor spaces pose the major hazard, outdoor events where people sit shoulder to shoulder for many hours can still be dangerous, experts say.

“When you travel, avoid the areas that you already know pose a risk for transmission of COVID,” Conway said. “Crowded interiors over a long period of time. So as often as possible, it’s summer, when you go to a foreign country, eat on the terrace.

“If I were to travel, I wouldn’t go to an indoor stadium event […] with 30,000 of your closest friends all yelling at each other. “

Whenever it’s possible to know the ventilation levels of a building or event, this information can help you decide whether or not a visit is a good idea.

“In Asia, there are cinemas that post how good the ventilation is,” Cheung said. “We really should be doing this everywhere, indoors, malls and shops and restaurants and things like that.”

“If you have good airflow and clearance and you have HEPA filters and other things, then your risk is less.”

For example, a crowded outdoor festival might actually be riskier than walking through a large, well-ventilated museum that doesn’t get very crowded.

If you are traveling with immunocompromised or elderly people or are traveling to visit someone at high risk, take this into account when assessing the acceptable level of risk.

DO YOU HAVE BACKUP PLANS

If you contract COVID-19 while on holiday, it may mean you need to extend your trip in one place to isolate yourself, and that’s something to consider when planning a trip.

Cheung added that if you don’t take the time to rest, you could not only endanger others, but also aggravate your own illness, and it could cost you a lot of money to be hospitalized in another country if you don’t. have no insurance coverage.

If travel has the potential to expose you to other situations where you could catch COVID-19, consider having shelter and recovering if the worst-case scenario occurs.

KNOW WHEN TO STAY HOME

The bottom line is: don’t travel if you’re sick, experts say.

“While you may have booked this holiday and the last thing you want to do is cancel or reschedule it, if you have symptoms suggestive of COVID you must stay home and refrain from going out in public as it puts others at risk” said Quinn.

“If you have any symptoms, you should not travel,” Conway said. “I think if you’re sick, you stay home.”

He added that rapid test results should not be used as a justification for traveling if you are ill, for example if a rapid test is negative but you have a new, persistent cough. Rapid tests are less sensitive than PCR tests and are more likely to give a false negative result than PCR at the onset of an acute illness.

After two difficult years of pandemic isolation and restrictions, Cheung said it makes sense that people want to travel.

“I totally understand that people need vacations,” she said. “And so it balances the positive side of vacation and travel against the risks that come with it.”



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Travel

Beyond the hype, a dirty side of Da Lat

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Most of this is true, but that’s not the only local reality where things get pretty ugly, too. Unless this reality is recognized and seriously addressed, Da Lat will lose its charm and become a shadow of itself.

Here’s an unflattering picture of the other side.

When walking or running on a sidewalk around Xuan Huong Lake in Da Lat in the early morning, at a certain point you can no longer stay on the sidewalk. One is forced to walk or run into the street as there can be up to ten street kitchens completely blocking sidewalk access. Going out on a street at night can be a bit dangerous as there are quite a number of drunk drivers on the road at night, some driving at speeds well in excess of 120km/h.

These street vendors sell food and drink in plastic bowls and cups. Plastic waste is scattered about a hundred meters in front of and behind their stands. Food and drink thrown away or spilled on sidewalks and streets is a common sight.

Because food safety isn’t monitored regularly, or because people might be very drunk, it’s also not uncommon to see vomit on sidewalks. Open stool and urination is a regular occurrence in the early hours of the morning.

There are many signs along the lake advising that making fires is forbidden, but the street vendors completely ignore them. Many tourists from warmer parts of Vietnam easily come to Da Lat in shorts and T-shirts, despite the colder weather. Street vendors want these visitors to stay warm so they stay longer and buy more food and drink. Sidewalks are often blackened with ash from these staying-warm fires.

When I was photographing these fires, a street vendor threatened to stab me with scissors several times. Some vendors started throwing rocks. A man tried to grab my walking stick and the cell phone I use to take pictures. I reported these incidents to the police but they took no action.

These charcoal fires release many deadly toxins such as PM2.5, carbon monoxide and benzene. When street vendors run out of charcoal, some start burning plastic waste. Burning plastic waste releases dioxins and other highly toxic substances. A piece of dioxin the size of a grain of rice is enough to poison a million people.

To keep their customers happy, some street vendors sell beer and other alcoholic beverages. Some install large speakers so their customers can sing and make lots of noise when they get totally drunk. Not infrequently, the karaoke singing continues until 4 a.m. and can be heard up to two miles away. Although the law prohibits singing karaoke after 10:30 p.m., this law is not enforced around Xuan Huong Lake. Once I heard karaoke singing in three different places around the lake, all blaring at the same time.

Almost everything I have described so far represents laws that are constantly being broken. But why don’t street vendors and their customers obey the law when it’s clearly stated on signs in the area?

The answer is simple.

Laws are not enforced. I have more than 12,000 pictures on my files of breaking the law in this city that gets dirty and ugly quite often, but I didn’t see a fine being issued when I called the police to intervene — not once.

A policeman explained it to me in a somewhat pompous way. If the police consistently enforce laws, it would infuriate many people, and with many angry people out and about, the country’s stability would be undermined and civil unrest could ensue.

The same officer went on to explain that if the police strictly enforce the law, things could get out of hand very quickly. People could become violent, and if the police hit back to defend themselves, controversy would ensue.

Police Policing

With a huge police force and militia, Vietnam has everything it needs to counter the violence and maintain political stability. So what’s the problem?

For many years, the police in Division 8 themselves have blatantly flouted the laws about dumping trash, throwing cigarette butts on the ground, and burning garbage. They even ran a fire pit on police property.

How can the police enforce laws when they themselves break them all the time?

On October 31, I informed a senior police officer in Da Lat that I have over 12,000 pictures of people breaking laws – laws related to setting fires on sidewalks, burning trash, dumping trash, dumping of waste and fishing in the filthy waters of Da Lat Xuan Huong Lake and its stinking lagoons, singing karaoke until 4 a.m., binge drinking, drunk driving, high speed motorcycle racing and so on.

I was surprised when he explained that I should not photograph people breaking the law unless their lawlessness directly impacted my safety and well-being.

Surely it is every citizen’s duty to record violations of the law and report them to law enforcement?

Even when someone threatened me with violence, he advised me not to take photos and to report the person to the police unless I had stab wounds or other injuries.

I was stunned.

I think the government needs to be much more serious about enforcing its most basic safety and environmental laws. If it doesn’t, it won’t be able to tackle far bigger things like the impact of global warming, carbon neutrality and sustainable development.

Photos by Paul A. Olivier of public waste in Da Lat:

*Paul A. Olivier is an American expat living and working in Da Lat.



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How two Hyderabadi 3D artists are popularizing city’s flyovers, roads, buildings at global level

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Kodak Moment: How two 3D artists from Hyderabadi are popularizing overpasses, roads and city buildings on a global scale

Hyderabad: For most of us, photography means clicking photos of a beautiful sunset, landscape or people. But Laxman Pithani and Nikhil Chakravarthy from Hyderabad are crazy about new buildings, roads, highways, flyovers and other infrastructure projects in the city.

“When you’re driving on a newly constructed freeway, with not many vehicles and hardly anyone to stop you or ask you anything, you have a kind of absolute freedom. We both enjoy it,” says Nikhil.

Laxman and Nikhil jointly run a Twitter and YouTube page, Traveling with Laxman, where they post videos and photos of newly constructed or inaugurated flyovers, roads and buildings. They have released drone footage of the Uppal SkyWalk project, the renovated Yadagirigutta Temple, Gandipet Park, the Biodiversity Flyover and more.

Laxman (left) and Nikhil (right) at the recently inaugurated Shilpa layout transition

Her most recent work was the transition of the Shilpa layout. When the city witnessed their first Formula E racing event, they were there to capture the track on which the race took place. On their Twitter Page Travel with Laxman, they have around 2,806 followers and on their youtube Page they have around 57,000 subscribers.

Transition of the Shilpa layout

It’s not about the end product. But Laxman and Nikhil began pursuing infrastructure projects in the city from the start. “If there are upcoming projects, we consult the person concerned and get detailed information about it. We shoot it from start to finish,” says Laxman.

In this way, it helps the audience to keep up to date with the progress of these projects.

T hub

When Laxman met Nikhil

Laxman is originally from Hyderabad but Nikhil is from Tenali in Andhra Pradesh. He moved to Hyderabad in 2002. Both met in 2007 in an animation institute `Arena; where they served as 3D training faculty. Here they taught the students how to use animation techniques in films and character forms. They later moved on to teach interior design at the same institute. In 2015 they both joined Custom Furnish, a company specializing in interior design, where they worked as 3D artists. In 2019, Nikhil left and Laxman continued for another year and a half before retiring in 2021.

Durgam Cheruvu Bridge

Ever since they met, they have discovered their shared passion for travel. Your definition of travel sounds very unique and interesting. “We both love to explore unknown roads. I can drive straight for 10 hours without thinking about the destination. We used to always discover new roads, overpasses, buildings, etc. on such trips, which fascinated us a lot. Each specific destination where nobody bothered us gave us a different kind of freedom,” explains Nikhil.

Until December 2021, Laxman and Nikhil were doing this as a part-time job. But in December 2021 both resigned and started doing so full-time.

Her work is now also being recognized by the Telangana government, which is asking for her help in getting photos of some of the infrastructure projects in the city.

Command and Control Center, Banjara Hills

Development in Hyderabad

Both Laxman and Nikhil say the pace of development in Hyderabad has been very fast compared to other cities. “I was born here, so I’m really excited to see the city developing at this pace,” says Laxman. Nikhil adds: “Something happens every week that it just can’t keep up with this speed. For example, the other day when the Shilpa layout flyover was inaugurated, on the same day Skyroot Aerospace’s private rocket was launched from Sriharikota.”

transfer of biodiversity

In addition to updating townspeople on the development, Travel with Laxman now allows many expatriate Hyderabadis to regain their lost connection with the city. “We have people calling from places like the United States and telling us they’re excited about how their city is doing,” says Laxman.

Renovated Yadadrigutta Temple

The duo are happy to be able to fill this gap faced by Hyderabadis living elsewhere.



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Wedding of the week: Lovebirds elope on a Balinese beach following three months of top secret planning

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Jamie Hart, 36, and Daniel Sutton, 44

Western Australian senior graphic designer Jamie and welder Daniel always knew their wedding should be small and intimate, but they also wanted an element of surprise.

The couple, who met online in March 2021, had planned a trip to Indonesia and made the spur of the moment decision to elope because why not? They were too excited to wait a year to tie the knot, so they turned their engagement party into a secret wedding celebration.

After legally signing the papers at The Old Tower House in Perth a week earlier, Jamie and Daniel said ‘yes, I do’ in Bali, with Daniel honorably taking Jamie’s maiden name, Hart.

Jamie Hart and Daniel Sutton get married on the beach in Bali.
camera iconJamie Hart and Daniel Sutton get married on the beach in Bali. Recognition: Srivijaya Stories

When and where

The big day took place on October 22, 2022 on the white sandy beaches of the Nusa Dua Beach Hotel & Spa.

Jamie and Daniel's big day in Nusa Dua, Bali.
camera iconJamie and Daniel’s big day in Nusa Dua, Bali. Recognition: Srivijaya Stories

a dress

Jamie’s dress of choice, Morilee, was by New York bridal designer Madeline Gardner.

Jamie's dress was a stunning Madeline Gardner piece.
camera iconJamie’s dress was a stunning Madeline Gardner piece. Recognition: Srivijaya Stories

honeymoon

There was no need to travel to their honeymoon destination as the newlyweds were already there! They celebrated in Nusa Dua, Ubud, Seminyak and Canggu.

Jamie and Daniel started their honeymoon in Bali.
camera iconJamie and Daniel started their honeymoon in Bali. Recognition: Srivijaya Stories

If you would like to be featured, send your wedding details and high resolution photos to [email protected]

Add details about when, where, dress information, honeymoon and anything that made your big day special!

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