Even as India reported 37,593 new Covid-19 cases in the last 24 hours, Kerala alone on Wednesday reported over 30,000 Covid-19 cases, after a gap of three months, while the test positivity rate (TPR) rose to 19 per cent. The last time Kerala recorded over 30,000 cases in a day was 20 May when it reported 30,491 fresh infections.
Kerala reported 31,445 new Covid-19 cases on Wednesday and the toll mounted to 19,972 with 215 new deaths. With this, the number of Covid cases in the state reported a spike of nearly 30 per cent over the past 24 hours. On Wednesday, seven of the 14 districts— Ernakulam, Thrissur, Kozhikode, Malappuram, Palakkad, Kollam, and Kottayam—reported upwards of 2,000 cases each. While Ernakulam reported the highest number of fresh infections (more than 4000 cases), Thrissur, Kozhikode, and Malappuram reported more than 3,000 cases each. Kerala had reported 24,296 Covid-19 cases on Tuesday.
Kerala celebrated Onam on 21 August. After the Onam festivities, medical experts had predicted that the positivity rate would go beyond 20 per cent and that the number of infections would rise further. In the last 24 hours, 1,65,273 samples were tested and the TPR was found to be 19.03 per cent. So far, 3,06,19,046 samples have been tested. As many as 20,271 people have been cured of the infection since Tuesday, taking the total recoveries to 36,92,628 and the number of active cases to 1,70,292.
Earlier on 16 August, Union Health Minister Mansukh Mandaviya visited Kerala and discussed the public health response to Covid-19 in the state with Chief Minister Pinarayi Vijayan and Health Minister Veena George. A six-member team deputed by the Centre to look into the high number of infections in Kerala had earlier reported lapses in home isolation protocols, contact-tracing measures and a low number of RT-PCR tests.
Union Minister of State V. Muraleedharan on Wednesday slammed Chief Minister Vijayan over the deteriorating Covid-19 situation in the state and alleged that the state government had failed to protect the lives of people. Attacking the Kerala government over the situation in the state, Muraleedharan said Vijayan’s illogical strategy and motivated media propaganda is costing the nation dearly. In a tweet today, Muraleedharan wrote,
“Alarming #COVID19 situation in Kerala, @vijayanpinarayi has clearly failed to protect people’s lives. Kerala alone recorded 24,296 cases and 173 deaths yesterday @vijayanpinarayi’s illogical strategy and motivated media propaganda costing dearly to the nation. #VijayanfailsKerala”.
Facing flak over the rise in Covid-19 cases in the state, state Health Minister Veena George said an intensive screening programme has been launched to detect as soon as possible all those infected with coronavirus and to reduce further spread of the pandemic. In a Facebook post, she said testing will be maximised in low vaccination districts and people should voluntarily get tested.
She said that sample collection will be done directly in the cluster areas and through camps and steps have also been taken to provide the test results without delay. Kerala has adopted the scientific method of test per million by case per million and therefore, as the number of cases increased, so did the number of inspections, she added. All those who are suffering from fever, cold, and sore throat or are susceptible to these diseases and those who have been in contact with Covid positive persons should be screened for the virus, the minister said. She further said that people with respiratory problems and serious illnesses should be examined to make sure they are not infected by Covid-19, even if they have only minor symptoms, as such people can be severely affected if they are infected with the coronavirus. If anyone who has attended a public ceremony or event, like a wedding or funeral, tests Covid positive, everyone who was there at such events should get tested, she said.
As per the Union Health Ministry on Wednesday, 648 new fatalities pushed the cumulative toll to 4,35,758. The total caseload in the country climbed to 3,25,12,366, including 3,22,327 active cases. Active cases now account for less than 1 per cent of the total cases and is currently at 0.99 per cent. Cumulative recoveries rose to 3,17,54,281 after 34,169 fresh recoveries in the last 24 hours. With this, the recovery rate has gone up to 97.67 per cent. A total of 51,11,84,547 samples were tested up to August 24, of which, 17,92,755 samples were tested yesterday, as per the Indian Council of Medical Research (ICMR). The week positivity rate currently stands at 1.92 per cent, less than 3 per cent for the last 61 days whereas the daily positivity rate at 2.10 per cent, less than 3 per cent for the last 30 days.
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PRESIDENT ADDRESSES SPECIAL SESSION OF HIMACHAL ASSEMBLY ON THE ANNIVERSARY OF ITS STATEHOOD
All Indians are proud of the development story written by the people of Himachal Pradesh in the past 50 years, said the President of India, Shri Ram Nath Kovind, while addressing the special session of Himachal Pradesh Legislative Assembly in Shimla on Friday. This special session was being organised on the occasion of golden jubilee of statehood of Himachal Pradesh.
The President said that all the previous governments of Himachal Pradesh have played an important role throughout the journey of its development. He appreciated contributions made by former Chief Ministers— Late Dr. Y.S. Parmar, Late Shri Thakur Ram Lal, Shri Shanta Kumar, Shri Prem Kumar Dhumal and Late Shri Virbhadra Singh. He said that the initiative taken by the Himachal Pradesh government to take the development journey of the state to the people is highly commendable.
Himachal Pradesh has set new dimensions of development in various fields. He noted according to a report by NITI Aayog, that Himachal Pradesh ranks second in the country in the “Sustainable Development Goals – India Index 2020-21”. He said that Himachal Pradesh is the leading state in the country on many parameters. He appreciated the government of Himachal Pradesh for these achievements.
Pointing to the fact that water of rivers of Himachal Pradesh is clean and soil is full of nutrients, the President urged the farmers of the state to adopt natural farming more and more and keep their land free from chemical fertilizers.
The President said that eco-friendly agriculture, horticulture, tourism, education, employment, etc., have immense potential for sustainable development in Himachal Pradesh. Therefore, we should make continuous efforts for development while preserving its natural beauty and heritages, he added.
PUNJAB YET TO PROPOSE PENSION FOR HIV AIDS PATIENTS
HIV AIDS patients of Punjab have been suffering not only the disease but also bearing the sting of financial deprivation for the last many years. All neighboring states of Punjab have a pension plan for these patients, even the Capital of Punjab Chandigarh also has a pension plan. Nevertheless, Punjab State AIDS Control Society is yet in the process of thinking to create a proposal for a pension scheme and send that to State Government. Punjab has a maximum patient load of HIV-AIDS patients when compared to the neighboring states. These patients require treatment, nutrition, travel expenses, Medicine expenses but whom shall they look upto. As the government despite knowing all the ground reality sitting silent and yet thinking to propose a plan for such patients.
For an HIV patient, it takes time for him/her to reach the stage of AIDS. There are more than 40000 patients in state who are suffering from HIV, some of them had already reached the stage of AIDS. Some are residing in the border area of Punjab and a maximum of them are getting treatment from PGIMER. It’s a tedious task for an HIV Patient to travel first to the PGIMER, then seek medicine every month.
Pragya Thakur (Name Changed) of Amritsar told The Daily Guardian, “It’s like adding insult to injury for me, I hardly could manage nutritious food for myself as after popping these medicines one need nutritious food to survive and then traveling this long for medicine and treatment, I have no option but to strive hard for myself and my kids who also turned out to be HIV positive”.
“Maybe it is not my mistake but once someone turns HIV Positive, people in society would not let him or her life with dignity. I was thrown out of my job after my boss get to know that I am HIV positive. Even my family too had cornered me. I became HIV positive in 2020 after infected blood was infused in me by a govt hospital in Bathinda. Government is other states provides pension to HIV patients but here in Punjab no one cares,” says Sudhanshu Mishra from Bathinda
Talking about this grim situation, Project Director of Punjab State AIDS Control Society IAS Amit Kumar exhorted, “ We know life is not easy for them. We are going to propose a Pension scheme to the Government comprising many other benefits that we could provide to these patients. Also, we are trying to collaborate with the POSHAN scheme so that we may contribute nutritious food to them. Moreover, We are also in process of providing free travel to these patients. We are hopeful that state government shall soon pass this proposal.”
BJP CHANGES ITS STRATEGY AGAINST MAMATA IN BHABANIPUR, TO RUN CAMPAIGN ‘SECRETLY’
There are only a few days left for the Bhabanipur by-election in the state of West Bengal. The propaganda storm of all the camps is at its peak. Complaints and counter-allegations are also coming to the fore in the atmosphere of propaganda. This time the BJP changed its campaign strategy. Their new strategy with Bhabanipur is that the campaign will be run secretly. The BJP leadership will reach different parts of Bhabanipur without informing anyone. Recently, Priyanka Tibrewal, the BJP candidate in the Bhabanipur by-election, has been accused of violating the Covid-19 rules. But her counter-claim is that some unknown people are reaching out during her campaign, and that’s why the crowds are getting bigger. So, this time the state BJP decided to change the campaign strategy for Bhabanipur.
BJP candidate Priyanka Tibrewal alleged that a group of 15 to 20 people were behind her campaign team wherever she went. Priyanka claims that although these unidentified persons are claimed to be police, there are doubts as to whether they are police at all. The BJP leader estimates that they are not police at all. They are the ones who are motivating the crowd in campaign, she said. And seeing the crowd, there admin puts the allegations of breaking the Covid-19 rules. The BJP demanded that if those people were policemen, they should come in police uniforms.
SCRAP FARM LAWS, TALK TO FARMERS TO FIND WAY FORWARD, PUNJAB CM AMARINDER SINGH TELLS CENTRE
As the nation marked one year of the Farm Laws, Punjab Chief Minister Captain Amarinder Singh on Friday demanded immediate scrapping of the legislations by the Centre, calling for detailed discussions with the farmers to find a way forward.
Pointing out that many farmers had died in these protests, the Chief Minister said it was high time the Central Government realised its blunder and withdrew the legislations in the interest of the farmers and the nation.
The Chief Minister, wearing a #nofarmers_nofood bade, was inaugurating the 3rd state level virtual Kisan Mela organised by Punjab Agricultural University, Ludhiana. The 2-day mela is centered on the theme : ‘KARIE PARALI DI SAMBHAL, DHARTI MAA HOVE KHUSHHAL’, in line with the state government’s focus on eliminating stubble burning.
“Till date, the Indian Constitution has been amended as many as 127 times, so why can it not be amended once again to scrap the Farm Laws and resolve the imbroglio resulting from them,” asked the Chief Minister. “What is the problem in doing it a 128th time,” he demanded to know from the BJP-led government at the Centre.
What was happening with the farmers today was extremely sad, given the immense contribution made by them to India’s development and progress, said Captain Amarinder, calling for immediate revocation of the laws, which he said were detrimental to the interest not just of the agricultural community but the entire country.
Recalling that he had been asked by the Centre to stop Punjab’s farmers from going to Delhi last November, the Chief Minister said he had refused point blank to do so, as protest is the democratic right of farmers. “Why should they not protest? How can I stop them,” he asked, making it clear that he continues to stand with the farmers in their fight against these legislations, with his government continuing to give compensation and jobs to the families of the deceased farmers.
Noting the contribution of Punjab and its farmers to the country’s growth, the Chief Minister said the state, with only 1.53 % of total geographical area of India, produces about 18% of the country’s wheat, 11% paddy, 4.4% cotton and 10% milk. For the past many decades, Punjab has been contributing about 35-40% of wheat and 25-30% of rice to the central pool, he said, expressing pride in the achievements of the state’s farmers.
No passport to government employees in J&K till they get vigilance clearance
The administration in Jammu and Kashmir Union Territory on Thursday made the latest vigilance clearance mandatory for obtaining a passport by a government employee.
“The passport to the citizens including Government employees is issued on the basis of verification carried out by the Criminal Investigation Department (CID). The current system does not contain any mechanism that would help deny the passport to such employees who are either under suspension or facing departmental inquiry or prosecution on account of serious charges,” reads a government circular, a copy of which lies with the ITV Network.
Hitherto, a Government employee was only required to inform his employer for applying for a passport. “Also, the guidelines for obtaining passport have been reviewed by the Ministry of Personnel, Public Grievances and Pensions, Department of Personnel & Training, GoI in consultation with the Central Vigilance Commission and Ministry of External Affairs (MEA) and vide Office Memorandum No. F. No. 11012/7/2017- Estt.A-111 dated February, 2020, elaborate instructions have been issued for obtaining fresh vigilance clearance while considering grant of passport to Government employees,” it reads.
The government said Anti Corruption Bureau, J&K has also brought into its notice that the present mechanism for issuance of passport to Government employees without obtaining requisite vigilance clearance results in the issuance of passport to those employees against whom vigilance cases are pending. “Thus, there is an urgent necessity to instruct all the departments to issue the NOC for issuance of passport on the basis of vigilance clearance only.”
Accordingly, the government has impressed upon all the Administrative Departments/Heads of Departments to mandatorily obtain the latest vigilance clearance in respect of an employee applying for obtaining passport in terms of Office Memorandum dated February, 2020 issued by DoPT, GOI, strictly.
MAMATA WILL BE THE FACE IN 2024, NOT RAHUL: TMC
In Trinamool’s internal meeting in Kolkata on Thursday, MP Bandyopadhyay said that it is West Bengal CM Mamata Banerjee, and not Rahul Gandhi, who is the face of the Opposition against PM Modi.
Narendra Modi and Amit Shah had long dreamt of clinching the seat of power in West Bengal. However, the people of the state relied on the ‘daughter of Bengal’ again. As Mamata Banerjee assumed power for the third consecutive time in a row, her eyes are settled on the main epicenter of power in New Delhi. Meanwhile, Mamata is moving from pillar to post in order to look for like-minded people who could join hands with her ahead of 2024 Lok Sabha Elections. As TMC is looking to form a grand alliance, to tackle the BJP juggernaut, the party wants to portray Mamata Banerjee as the main face against Prime Minister Narendra Modi in the 2024 elections.
The Trinamool has already started bringing the like-minded opposition parties under one umbrella to win the capital. That list includes parties like Congress, NCP, SP, Shiv Sena, UP, DMK. However, the Trinamool wants to establish itself as the main face of the BJP opposition. This is clear from a report published in the Trinamool mouthpiece ‘Jago Bangla’ on Friday.
The title of the report suggested: “Rahul Gandhi could not defeat Modi, Mamata is an alternative face.” According to political analysts, the Trinamool wants to portray Mamata as the main face against Modi, even if there is an alliance with the Congress.
In the TMC’s internal meeting in North Kolkata on Thursday, senior MP Sudip Bandyopadhyay said that it is West Bengal Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee, and not Rahul Gandhi, who is the face of opposition against Narendra Modi.
“We are not talking about an alliance without the Congress. I have observed Rahul Gandhi for a long time and he has not developed himself as an alternative to Modi. The entire country wants Mamata so we will keep Mamata’s face and will campaign,” Bandyopadhyay was quoted saying by News 18.
Meanwhile, Adhir Chowdhury, the president of the West Bengal Congress, has strongly opposed this message. In this way, Mamata Banerjee is indirectly strengthening the hand of BJP.
Adhir Chowdhury’s response to the report was: “On the one hand, they are saying that all the opposition parties should be one. Again, without taking the views of the opposition parties, insulting them, without discussing with them, Mamata is writing in her party’s mouthpiece that she wants to be the Prime Minister of India. It is extremely unfortunate. I think the BJP’s hand is indirectly getting stronger by making these things happen. Because, BJP wants to see discord brewing within the opposition. The Chief Minister of Bengal herself is facilitating this. The BJP will benefit in the end. ”
However, in a bid to clear the air, Kunal Ghosh said, “There is no question of disrespecting the Congress or disrespecting Rahul Gandhi, nor is there any alternative to excluding the Congress. That being said, people are not accepting Rahul Gandhi as an alternative face to Narendra Modi. He is not ready yet.”
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