The Delta Plus variant of Covid-19 is now a ‘variant of concern’, the Health Ministry said on Tuesday. The Delta Plus variant is found in nine countries, including India, which has reported 22 cases, the Central government said on Tuesday.
“In India, 16 of the 22 cases of Delta Plus variant have been found in Ratnagiri and Jalgaon (Maharashtra) and some cases in Kerala and Madhya Pradesh,” Union Health Secretary Rajesh Bhushan said today.
Bhushan, while addressing a press briefing in New Delhi said that the Delta variant of the Covid-19 virus is presently found in 80 countries, including India, while Delta Plus is “found in 9 nations—US, UK, Portugal, Switzerland, Japan, Poland, Nepal, China and Russia; 22 cases found in India.”
At least 21 samples of genome sequenced in Maharashtra are of the Delta Plus variant, but its proportion is less than one per cent of total Covid-19 positive samples sequenced from the state since May.
Experts have said that the variant has to be watched to know if it is spreading among people. Health Minister Rajesh Tope said of the 21 cases, nine were found in Ratnagiri, seven in Jalgaon, two in Mumbai and one each in Palghar, Sindhudurg and Thane.
“We have taken detailed information of all these index cases, their travel history, whether they got vaccinated, whether they have been reinfected and their high and low-risk contacts. The contacts will be traced and tested; the 21 cases which have been detected to be Delta plus variants are mostly limited to western Maharashtra,” Tope said.
He said that the authorities are trying to collect data and details linked to those found infected with the mutant version of the Delta variant, which was first detected in India, but soon became the dominant variant in several places across the world. The government will analyse information like their travel history, their vaccination status, whether they have been re-infected and if they got infected despite vaccination, to know more about the Delta Plus mutant.
Experts, however, have warned that Delta Plus can become the main reason behind the third wave of the
pandemic, if anti-Covid rules are ignored. Under an MoU with Maharashtra, the Council of Scientific and Industrial Research’s (CSIR) Institute of Genomics and Integrative Biology (IGIB) has sequenced nearly 7,500 Covid samples from all 36 districts. Experts in Maharashtra have already warned that the new Delta plus variant might be the reason behind the third wave of Covid-19 and could take the active caseload up to eight lakh and 10% of them could be kids.
The Union Health Ministry has alerted and advised Maharashtra, Kerala and Madhya Pradesh regarding the Delta Plus variant of Covid-19 being found in some districts in these states.
The Union Health Secretary has communicated to these three states that this variant has been found in genome sequenced samples from Ratnagiri and Jalgaon districts of Maharashtra; Palakkad and Pathanamthitta districts of Kerala; and Bhopal and Shivpuri dof Madhya Pradesh. The Union Health Ministry has advised Maharashtra, Kerala and Madhya Pradesh that the public health response measures, while broadly remaining the same as have been implemented by them earlier, have to become more focused and effective.
Asked how Union Government achieved highest-single day vaccination, the Health Secretary said: “What happened yesterday was not sudden, but a result of coordinated planning. Between June 1-21, average daily vaccination was 34,62,841. So a jump to 88 lakh when vaccines and capacity are available is possible. A historic milestone was achieved on 21st June 2021—88.09 lakh doses administered in a single day. 92.20 per cent doses were administered at Government Covid Vaccination Centres (CVCs) and 7.80 percent in private CVCs. Total vaccine doses administered till now is 29.16 crore. Today, as of now, 38 lakh doses have been administered so far. Continuous decrease in cases since India reported a peak on 7th May. Almost 90 percent decline in cases since the highest reported peak in daily new cases,” Bhushan said.
As many as 42,640 fresh Covid-19 infections were reported in the last 24 hours, the lowest daily spike after 91 days, the Union Health Ministry said on Tuesday. The second wave of Covid-19 seems to be abating as the country has been witnessing a continuous decline in fresh coronavirus cases for the past few weeks.
WITH AGENCY INPUTS
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BILL AND MELINDA GATES ARE OFFICIALLY DIVORCED
WASHINGTON: The divorce between Microsoft co-founder Bill Gates and Melinda French Gates has been finalised. As per CNN report, filing with the King County Superior Court in Washington made the move official. Melinda French Gates filed the petition for divorce in King County, Washington.
Bill and Melinda announced in May that they would be ending their marriage after 27 years, saying, “we no longer believe we can grow together as a couple in this next phase of our lives.”
However, the duo said they will continue to work together at Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation. Meanwhile, the foundation said last month that the organisation was planning a two-year trial period to see if the pair could continue working together effectively.
“If after two years either decide they cannot continue to work together as co-chairs, French Gates will resign her position as co-chair and trustee,” CEO Mark Suzman said. In the weeks following the initial announcement of the divorce, Bill faced allegations of questionable workplace conduct in the early years at Microsoft.
BLINKEN ANNOUNCES US REFUGEE ADMISSIONS PROGRAMME FOR AFGHAN NATIONALS
US Secretary of State Antony Blinken announced a US refugee admissions programme Priority 2 designation for Afghan nationals on Monday. The US is weeks away from completing military withdrawal from Afghanistan.
Blinken, during a press briefing, said, “The State Department is announcing a new resettlement program for Afghans who assisted the United States, but who do not qualify for special immigrant visas. We’ve created a Priority-2 or P-2 designation, granting access to the US refugee admissions program for many of these Afghans and their family members.”
He said that even as the US forces withdraw from Afghanistan, the US will remain deeply engaged with the country.
“We’ll continue to work toward an Afghanistan, where all Afghans can live in safety and security, and we will continue our support for Afghan institutions, and for the gains that the Afghan people have made over the past 20 years,” said Blinken.
“We will keep engaging intensely in diplomacy to advance negotiations between the Afghan government, the Taliban, with the goal of a political solution, which we believe is the only path to lasting peace. And we’ll keep working closely with countries in the region, which all have a stake in a stable, peaceful, democratic Afghanistan,” he stated.
Blinken said that Afghans who work with the United States or the International Security Assistance Force at some point since 2001 are facing acute fears of persecution or retribution that will likely grow as coalition forces leave the country.
He further added that “We have a special report the responsibility to these individuals. They stood with us. We will stand with them. Over the past 13 years, the State Department has issued more than 73,000 Special Immigrant Visas to eligible Afghans who have helped the United States, and also to their families. We’ll continue to welcome Afghan immigrants and refugees as our neighbours in gratitude for helping us, despite the danger. We won’t forget it.”
AFGHAN PRESIDENT GHANI’S TIME HAS RUN OUT: TALIBAN
KABUL: Taliban said that Afghanistan President Ashraf Ghani’s “time has run out” on Monday. Taliban spokesman Zabiullah Mujahid, while reacting to Ghani’s remark that the ongoing war is an external intrigue imposed on the people of Afghanistan, accused the President of lying and spreading false information.
A tweet by Mujahid said that his (Ghani’s) time is over and the announcement of warfare will not survive him. “Speech by @ashrafghani is nonsense, an attempt to control his fears & dire situation. Nation has decided to pursue & bring national traitors to justice. Declarations of war, accusations & lies cannot prolong Ghani’s life, his time has run out, God willing,” said Mujahid.
INDIA WANTS PEACEFUL RELATIONS, ONUS IS ON PAKISTAN: TIRUMURTI
WASHINGTON: India’s Permanent Representative to United Nations, T.S. Tirumurti said that India desires to have peaceful and normal relations with Pakistan but in an atmosphere free from terror.
The Indian Ambassador to the UN informed that issues between the two countries should be resolved in an atmosphere free from terror, hostility, and violence and the onus is on Pakistan to create such an environment. “Pakistan should take credible and verifiable action not to allow any territory under their control to be used for cross border terrorism against India,” said Tirumurti. He also informed that India wants to keep a spotlight on counter-terrorism.
US-China seek alignment of Afghan interests: Ned Price
US State Department spokesperson Ned Price has said that China’s interest in Afghanistan could be ‘an alignment of interest’ when it comes to what the US and China seek in Afghanistan.
The People’s Republic of China (PRC) interest in Afghanistan could be “an alignment of interest” when it comes to what the US and China seek in Afghanistan, said US State Department spokesperson Ned Price on Monday. “There’s an alignment of interest in at least some areas when it comes to what we seek, what China seeks and what the broader international community seeks in Afghanistan,” Price told ANI on being asked what is US’ assessment of meeting between Chinese Foreign Minister Wang Yi and Taliban delegation led by its Chief Negotiator Abdul Ghani Baradar.
Experts say thay although the US might once have fiercely resisted Chinese attempts to increase their influence inside Afghanistan, now Washington’s priority appears to keep away a civil war. Spokesperson Price also affirmed that is in no one’s interest to see Afghanistan descend into an all-out civil war. “It is in everyone’s interest to see a solution to the conflict that is just as durable as Afghan-led, and Afghan Owned,” he concluded.
AMID COVID PANDEMIC, PMGKY REDUCES WORRIES OF THE POOR: PM MODI
Gandhinagar: Annotsav Day was celebrated on Tuesday on the occasion of the completion of five years of the Rupani government, as part of which a state-level program was organized in Dahod district in which Prime Minister Narendra Modi had a virtual dialogue with the beneficiaries of the grain welfare scheme. He asked whether the beneficiaries of Dahod and Rajkot have any problem in taking up the scheme or not. Modi said in a dialogue with the beneficiaries that the poor would get free foodgrains till Diwali. Modi praised the performance of the Gujarat government.
Prime Minister’s Poor Welfare Food Scheme is being praised all over the world. More than Rs 2 crore is being spent by the government under this scheme. The aim is that not a single person in India goes to bed hungry. Under this scheme, ration cardholders are being given double the amount of foodgrains than before. The plan is to run till Diwali.
Prime Minister Narendra Modi on Tuesday addressed the beneficiaries of Pradhan Mantri Garib Kalyan Anna Yojana and said this scheme has reduced the worries of the poor and increased their confidence. Three and a half crore beneficiaries in Gujarat are getting the benefit of free foodgrains. “I commend the Gujarat government for this. Preference is given to workers from other parts of the country. Workers have benefited from this scheme. Gujarat is the first to offer the benefit of One Nation One Ration Card,” said the Prime Minister.
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