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‘China and WHO failed to act on time to curb Covid’

Utpal Kumar

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Covid
‘China and WHO failed to act on time to curb Covid’

A couple of days after US President D o n a l d Tr u m p had on Thursday said that the World Health Organization (WHO) should be “ashamed” of itself for behaving like a public relations agency for China, the world’s top health body praised China for handling the coronavirus pandemic. It even advised other countries to learn from the Chinese authorities on how they could bring Wuhan, the epicentre of the outbreak, back to normal. The Trump administration has launched a probe into the role of the WHO on coronavirus, and has temporarily suspended the American financial assistance to it. Many countries, including Australia, Germany and Great Britain, have blamed China for the spread of Covid-19, that has killed over 2,40,000 people globally and has infected 3.4 million. Even in India, the total confirmed cases have crossed the 40,000 mark, with death toll over 1,300. Dr Swapneil Parikh, a practising doctor based in Mumbai, which is the worst corona-affected city in India, writes in The Coronavirus: What You Need to Know About the Global Pandemic (Penguin, Rs 299), one of the first books on the subject which he co-authored with Maherra Desai and Dr Rajesh Parikh, about patients in China reporting symptoms as early as 8 December 2019. “As multiple pneumonia cases surfaced, health authorities alerted the Chinese officials, but were silenced.”

One among these was Dr Li Wenliang, a 34-year-old eye specialist who noticed that the hospital he worked at was “quarantining several patients with SARS-like symptoms”. The Chinese government came down heavily on him and other citizens who “deviated from the official narrative”. It was only when the situation went out of control that the Chinese authorities chose to inform to the world on 31 December 2019 — about six weeks after the “first animal-to-human transmission”. As of today, the three coronavirus whistle-blowers in China — Chen Qiushi, Fang Bing and Li Zehua — remain missing more than tho months after exposing the dark secrets of the outbreak from Wuhan. As for Dr Li Wenliang, who tried to issue the first warning about the deadly outbreak, he died of coronavirus! What if the Chinese authorities not silenced the voices of their corona warriors? “Had the Chinese government not tried so heavy-handedly to contain in Wuhan, it just might have stayed in Wuhan,” says Dr Swapneil Parikh in an interview with The Daily Guardian. “Unfortunately for the world and much to the dismay of the Chinese Politburo, both the disease and the information they sought to suppress went viral,” he adds. But what about the WHO? What was this health body doing all this while? The WHO, on 5 January 2020, issued a statement “encouraging global travel and trade to continue with China”. By the time it finally declared a global health emergency on January 30, about 8,000 cases had been confirmed by Chinese authorities, hundreds of people had died, and corona had crossed the Chinese borders to surface in more than a dozen countries. Still, the WHO’s tone remained deferential, if not subservient. “This declaration (of a global health emergency) is not a vote of no confidence in China,” said DirectorGeneral Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus. “On the contrary, the WHO continues to have confidence in China’s capacity to control the outbreak.”

Dr Parikh, who is in the frontline as a volunteer in the ICU of the Infectious Disease Hospital in Mumbai, is careful not to attribute “sinister motives” but he concedes that the WHO has been slow in acting against the virus. “They advised people to travel to China when they clearly should have done otherwise. Instead of being the first, the WHO was the last to label it a pandemic,” he adds. Was the WHO cautious this time in declaring pandemic because of the accusation it had faced in the previous health crisis of pushing the cause of the major pharma companies? The doctor agrees. “That is precisely what I was alluding to (in the book). This was written a month prior to WHO declaring COVIID-19 a pandemic: ‘We can only hope that the unproven allegations against the WHO, of creating a panic, do not influence their decisionmaking process in correctly defining and responding to pandemics.’” The doctor, however, believes the worst is yet to come if the virus isn’t stopped now. “Currently, the tragic fiasco we are witnessing in the wealthiest nation in the world,” he says, reminding how “the Central African Republic has three ventilators and South Sudan has four. Venezuela has 80 ICU beds for a population of 32 million”. Dr Parikh, in his book, not just talks about Covid-19 but also the history of such pandemics, including the forgotten one over a hundred years in 1918-19 in which influenza killed more people in two years than both the World Wars in 10 years. To further emphasise the gravity of the situation, he quotes Sir William Osler: “Humanity has but three great enemies: fever, famine and war; of these by far the greatest, by far the most terrible is fever.” For him, however, bioterrorism is not a new phenomenon. “Viruses are the most political of all creatures.

Machiavellian in their machinations and Maoist in their ability to retreat only to advance again, they can bring down empires faster than human revolutions,” he says as he reminds how Hernán Cortés, with just 900 men, was able to conquer Mexico “because the smallpox virus which one of his slaves carried killed over half the Aztecs”. He adds, quoting his own book, “The West was won using viruses for bioterrorism rather than the whitewashed Hollywood accounts of the bravery of cowboys.” Now that coronavirus has spread to over 180 countries, what’s the way out? “The virus does not respect geographic borders, nor GDPs and military arsenals. As long as any one of us is unsafe, all of us are unsafe… We need to urgently attend to our poorest, especially our migrant workers, and ramp up our testing, tracing and treatment programmes,” advises Dr Parikh, who himself developed symptoms three weeks ago and was quarantined for a couple of weeks. Fortunately, he tested negative. Ask him about it, and he says matter-of-factly, “This what we signed up for years ago!”

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PUNJAB AGRICULTURE MINISTER CALLS ON MANDAVIYA ON DAP CRISIS

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On the intervention of Punjab`s Minister for Agriculture, Farmers` Welfare and Food Processing Randeep Singh Nabha on DAP shortage crisis, Union Minister for Chemicals & Fertilizers Mansukh Mandaviya on Tuesday assured to supply 10 rakes of DAP (Diammonium Phosphate), 5 rakes of NPK (Complex Fertilizer) and 2 of SSP (Single Super Phosphate) within three to four days to Punjab. Considering Punjab`s demand Union Minister also assured for adequate supply of Urea to Punjab in the coming November and December.

Punjab Agriculture Minister, who called upon Mandaviya at latter`s office here, informed the Union Minister that the total requirement of DAP for rabi crops is 5.50 lakh MT, out of which 4.80 lakh MT is required during October & November for timely sowing of wheat crop. DAP is an essential input for ensuring optimum productivity of wheat, which is sown on an area of about 35.00 lakh hectares in Punjab.

“We apprised the Union Minister that the Punjab, known as food bowl of the nation, is being allocated much lesser quantity of DAP in comparison to Uttar Pradesh and Haryana. We have been writing the union government for last six months on this sensitive issue. We also informed the Union Minister that shortage of DAP on the onset of Rabi season can lead farmers` unrest“ said Nabha expressing hope that the Union government would stand by its commitment of supplying DAP.

After the meeting, Nabha revealed that Union Minister has said that the shortage of DAP was due to non-availability of the fertilizers in the international market and the union government would ensure adequate supply of DAP to Punjab.

“During the meeting we also demanded that the Union Government must repeal the farm laws against which the farmers are protesting for last one year. The farmers are feeling insecure as they argue that with these farmer laws the big Corporate would get away their farm lands,” said Nabha.

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BJP MP wants more central forces’ deployment for West Bengal bypolls

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Emphasising the need for free and fair polling in the upcoming by-elections, BJP MP Arjun Singh on Tuesday urged Chief Election Officer of the state to allot more security personnel for bypolls in four constituencies, which is scheduled to be held on October 30.

In the letter, Arjun Singh said, “As you are aware the spate of post-poll violence, which started from the day of counting after the General Election still continues.

The High court also took cognizance of the situation and ordered a CBI probe in the case.” He also mentioned that the “TMC goons” attacked the party candidates – Joy Saha from Khardah and Ashok Mandal from Dinhata – while they were doing door-to-door campaign in their respective constituencies.

Requesting to deploy more security personnel in the constituencies, Singh wrote, “In this context, we repeat our request made earlier for immediate allotment of Central Security cover for our candidates as we have no reliance on the West Bengal Police.”

The MP requested the CEO to deploy 30 companies of CAPF per constituency to ensure free and fair polls on October 30.

Requesting to deploy more security personnel in the constituencies, Singh wrote, “In this context, we repeat our request made earlier for immediate allotment of Central Security cover for our candidates as we have no reliance on the West Bengal Police.”

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SUKHBIR SINGH BADAL NAMES 4 MORE PARTY CANDIDATES FOR 2022 POLLS

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The Shiromani Akali Dal President Sukhbir Singh Badal on Tuesday announced 4 more candidates of the party for coming 2022 Assembly election. SAD Senior Vice President Dr Daljit Singh Cheema disclosed that Baldev Singh Mann will be party candidate from Sunam, Bhai Gobind Singh Longowal from Lehra, Harpal Juneja from Patiala Urban & Hardev Singh Megh (Gobindgarh) from Balluana assembly seat. He said that with this announcement, now the party has so far announced 74 candidates.

Meanwhile, Punjab assembly speaker Rana K P Singh has accepted the resignation of MLA Bholath, Sukhpal Singh Khaira on Tuesday. Due to this Bholath assembly constituency has been declared vacant according to a notification of Punjab assembly. On this Khaira said, “I had resigned as MLA on 3rd June before joining Congress. Thereafter the Speaker asked me to submit resignation in a proper format , which I did today in person. My resignation has been accepted.” It may be noted that Khaira had won from Bholath in 2017 assembly election as AAP candidate and recently joined Congress.

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SWASTH HARYANA APP TO CUT LONG QUEUES AT HOSPITALS

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The Haryana government has launched a string of new applications have been launched by the government recently. Several new applications were brought into existence for the better and fair administration as well as for the benefits of commoners.

In this series, a new app namely Swasth Haryana by Anil Vij, state Health Minister for needy people visiting the government health institutions for the treatment. New app will get rid of long queues as they can get themselves registered on the app before going to hospitals. Vij said: “Through this app, patients can get themselves registered at any Civil Hospital of the State and the app is also available on Google Play Store.”

Further, he said that the government is consistently working to contain the spread of Covid and to augment it further, the Haryana State Health Systems Resource Centre (HSHRC) has developed “Swasth Haryana’’. Mobile app. It is pertinent to mention that it is being considered a milestone as the premier health institute like PGIMER, Chandigarh is providing the facility to the local as well the patients coming from neighbouring states.

Vij added that now the patients can get themselves registered in advance before going to the hospital through this app. while sitting at home and thus the rush of people at the State Hospitals can be managed in a systematic manner. He stated that with this app, the patient can directly go to the specialist doctor and no longer does he need to stand in long queues.

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PUNJAB DY CM SMELLS CONSPIRACY IN SINGHU LYNCHING, PROMISES JUSTICE

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Punjab Deputy Chief Minister Sukhjinder Singh Randhawa on Tuesday said that there appeared to be a deep rooted conspiracy to defame the farmers’ stir. Referring to the recent incident of lynching of a SC labourer from Tarn Taran, and latest disclosures in media, the Deputy Chief Minister, who also heads the Home Department, promised complete justice saying the government will reach to the bottom of the case and identify and expose as who were the conspirators behind the incident.

Randhawa said, in view of the recent disclosures about one of the Nihang leaders having already been in touch with the Union Minister for Agriculture NS Tomar in particular, the lynching incident has now taken an entirely different turn. The same Nihang leader is now defending the main accused for the killing of Lakhbir Singh, he added.

“Lakhbir Singh, the victim belonged to village Cheema Kalan and was very poor. We need to find out as who lured him to Singhu border and who paid for his travel as he could not even afford his meals”, the Deputy Chief Minister observed, while adding that he had instructed the local administration to find out under what circumstances he was taken away from his home in Cheema Kalan village to Singhu border.

Randhawa said, in view of the recent photographic evidence available, the Nihang leader will also need to explain as in what capacity he had met the union agriculture minister NS Tomar and whether he was mandated to do so by the farmers’ organisations spearheading the campaign against three farm laws.

The Deputy Chief Minister said, given the important place the Nihang leader was camping at and staging dharna at Singhu Border, it was mandatory on his part to keep the farmers’ unions informed and updated about his meetings with the union minister. “This has raised genuine doubts and suspicion among the minds of people which will need to be cleared and the Punjab government will do everything to reach to the root of the conspiracy and expose and punish the culprits,” he promised.

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‘Centre’s move to extend BSF jurisdiction will harm Punjab’s economy’

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Standing at the front against the Union Government’s decision to extend BSF jurisdiction in Punjab, Cabinet Minister Rana Gurjeet Singh, on Tuesday said that the border state has been ignored while granting special package of incentives to neighboring states like Himachal Pradesh for capital investment subsidy and now the extension of BSF Jurisdiction from 15 km to 50 km is yet another jolt to Punjab. It has created a panic and a sense of insecurity in investors, he added saying that how the investor shall go to the 25,000 sq. km border belt (out of a total of 50,000) which is under the jurisdiction of the Security Force Rana asked. Even the adjoining industrial units of Home Grown Industries would consider shifting to safer places, Rana said.

Lashing out at the Modi Government he said that while it was giving step-motherly treatment to the Punjab, on the other side, jurisdiction has been cut short by 20 km in 5 north eastern states of Manipur, Mizoram, Tripura, Nagaland and Meghalaya where it has had jurisdiction of 80 km. In Gujarat, it has been curtailed from 80 to 50. There should be a level playground and such imbalance would even hit trade, commerce and industry in the land-locked states, besides creating tiffs between central and state agencies, Rana said.

Agriculture sector especially in the Border area is already under stress and extension of the BSF jurisdiction will further add to their difficulties, said the Cabinet Minister. Urging the union government to make the agriculture sector sustainable there, liberal incentives need to be given, he said. He suggested that 90% subsidies should be given to the farmers of the Border Area under the central schemes for drip irrigation system.

Rana said there was a dire need to reconsider the jurisdiction issue in concurrence with the state and grant special incentives at par with North Eastern States. The first step in this direction would be to constitute a Western Border States Advisory Council having Chief Ministers/Governor of the states as members under the Chairmanship of Union Home Minister on the pattern of North East Council to deliberate the issue of creating of a dedicated Corpus Fund pooled through a mandatory contribution from all the Union Ministries in the Union Budget, he added.

The Cabinet Minister assured that he would request Punjab Chief Minister Charanjit Singh Channi to convene a one day session of the Vidhan Sabha to pass a resolution and to take up the matter with the Union Government to reconsider the BSF jurisdiction extension and lead a delegation of all the stakeholders for a meeting with Prime Minister Modi.

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