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INDIA SETS ANOTHER COVID-19 RECORD AS PM MODI MEETS CMS

Country registers 126,789 fresh coronavirus cases in 24 hours as PM Narendra Modi tells CMs to focus on micro-containment zones, vaccination.

Aishvarya Jain

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With India registering 1,26,789 fresh Covid cases in 24 hours, setting another one-day record in battling the second wave of infections, Prime Minister Narendra Modi on Thursday interacted with the Chief Ministers of states and Union Territories via video conference to take stock of the Covid-19 situation.

The Chief Ministers gave feedback about the Covid situation in their states. The total deaths shot up to 1,66,862 with 685 deaths in the last 24 hours. The total number of cases since the first recorded infection in India in January last year now stands at over 1.29 crore.

PM Modi said, “Instead of calling it a night curfew, we should call it ‘Corona curfew’. I want to appeal to all CMs to go for pro-active testing so that we can track asymptomatic patients.” He added, “April 11 is Jyotiba Phuleji’s birth anniversary and April 14 is Baba Saheb’s birth anniversary, in the meantime, let us all celebrate ‘Tika Utsav’.” Notably, PM Modi was administered the second dose of Covid-19 vaccine at AIIMS.

“Our emphasis should be on micro-containment zone, we have to keep the maximum focus on it,” the PM said at the meeting of Chief Ministers.

“The world has also accepted the night curfew. Curfew makes people remember that they are living in the age of corona. It is good that we promote night curfew as ‘Corona curfew’. This will not affect work too much,” the PM said.

Setting a target of 70 per cent RT-PCR tests for the states, the PM said this is the only way to identify and fight the virus. “Proactive testing is very important… Now more cases are asymptomatic. People feel that they have some mild pulmonary disease and then they infect the whole family,” he said, adding, “Testing and tracing is the most important thing right now and we have to bring the positivity rate below 5 per cent.”

The Prime Minister said that at least 30 contacts of a positive case must be traced, tested and quarantined, preferably within the first 72 hours. Similarly, boundaries of containment zone should be clear. The Prime Minister said that there should not be any relaxation in our efforts due to “Covid fatigue”. He also asked for adherence to the Health Ministry SoPs in containment zones. He also emphasized the need for comprehensive data on deaths with detailed analysis. He asked states to join webinars organized by AIIMs, Delhi, every Tuesday and Friday.

The Union Home Minister outlined efforts undertaken by the government in the battle against Covid. He also gave an overview of the progress in the vaccination drive in the country. The Union Health Secretary gave a presentation on the Covid situation in the country, focusing on states that are experiencing high caseload at present, and emphasized the need to increase testing in these states. He also shared details of vaccine production and supply in the country.

Meanwhile, Mumbai’s tally of daily Covid-19 cases went below the 10,000 mark in the last 24 hours. The city, which has been witnessing a spike in the number of Covid-19 cases, added 8,938 new infections in the last 24 hours. With this, the total caseload in Mumbai reached 4,91,698. The city also saw 4,503 people recover from the disease and 25 related fatalities. The total recoveries and death toll stood at 3,92,514 and 11,881.

Maharashtra, meanwhile, added 56,286 new cases to its tally and the total number of cases has now reached 3,229,547. Maharashtra is among 10 states which have shown a steep rise in the daily Covid-19 cases, the Union health ministry said. These states account for 84.21 per cent of the 1,26,789 new infections recorded by India.

The national capital saw the surge of 7,437 cases in its daily new Covid-19 infection tally, the highest daily count this year. Currently, Delhi has the fifth highest tally of Covid19 cases. The positivity rate has now shot up to 8.10 per cent. As many as 24 fatalities were reported in the last 24 hours. The death toll in the city has reached 11,157. Uttar Pradesh reported a record-breaking surge of 8,490 fresh coronavirus cases in last 24 hours. Lucknow recorded an all-time high of 2369 Covid-19 infections, Prayagraj recorded 1040, Varanasi 794, Kanpur 368 and Gorakhpur 259 cases respectively.

Uttarakhand reported 787 new Covid-19 positive cases, pushing the tally to 1,05,498. Three more coronavirus patients succumbed in the last 24 hours, pushing the death toll to 1,744.

There was another highest single-day spike in Jammu and Kashmir. As many as 835 new positive cases were reported in the last 24 hours, 280 from the Jammu division and 555 from the Kashmir division.

WITH INPUTS FROM AGENCIES

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MUMBAI COUPLE FALSELY CONVICTED IN QATAR DRUG CASE RETURNS HOME

Preeti Sompura

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MUMBAI

Mumbai-based couple Oniba and Sharique Qureshi, who was sentenced to 10 years in jail in a drug case in Qatar in 2019, returned to the city on Thursday with their minor daughter.

An NCB official said that the couple landed at the Mumbai airport at 2.30 am. The couple had been cleared of all charges after it came to light that a relative planted narcotics in their bag without their knowledge.

The couple was arrested at Hamad International Airport in July 2019 after Qatari authorities recovered 4.1 kg of hashish in their bag. It later came to light that Sharique’s aunt, Tabassum Qureshi, had used them to transport the drugs. The trip had been sponsored by her, the official said.

At that time, while Sharique was employed with a Japanese company, Oniba had just learnt that she was pregnant. She delivered a girl, Aayat, in jail last February. The couple’s family members approached the Indian Government, asking it to intervene in the matter.

Following this, the anti-drugs probe agency got in touch with Qatar authorities and the family challenged the lower court order convicting the couple. Eventually, the couple was cleared of all charges.

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Ceremonies and marriages to be held during the day in Haryana

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CHANDIGARH

In wake of a spurt in the Covid pandemic, the state government has come up with a certain set of guidelines and new directions. The government had already imposed the night curfew on 12 April 2021 and in continuation to it, it has been decided night ceremonies, Navratra programmes and marriages will take place during the day. Chief Minister Manohar Lal directed all the Deputy Commissioners that night-time ceremonies and Navratra programmes should be shifted to the day. The government has also issued directions around gathering at public places. According to new norms to control the fatal Covid-19, from now on not more than 200 people can gather in outdoor functions and not more than 50 in indoor functions. Similarly, not more than 20 people will be able to attend funerals.

“We also have to keep in mind as to what is unavoidable and what can be avoided. This time the Covid-19 spread has started from educational institutions so there is a need to be more vigilant, especially there. We also need to reduce crowding in public gatherings etc.,” said the Chief Minister. Due to the increasing number of Covid cases in the country and the state, we have to take strict precautions, he added.

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BOMBAY HIGH COURT CENSURES KRK FOR COMMENTING ON BHAGNANI’S BUSINESSES

Preeti Sompura

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MUMBAI

The Bombay High Court has censured Kamaal Rashid Khan alias KRK for his controversial and defamatory tweets against producer Vashu Bhagnani, his family, business, profession and projects

KRK has been stopped by the High Court from putting out any further tweets against Bhagnani and all his business interests till the pendency of the Rs 1 crore defamation suit filed by the veteran producer for ‘defamatory’, ‘slanderous’, and ‘distasteful’ statements as well as ‘patently false allegations on KRK’s Twitter and YouTube accounts.

As per the court order, an injunction has been issued, pending the final disposal of the suit, that prohibits “the defendant from publishing, circulating or repeating the allegations and tweets and/or making, publishing, circulating and/or communicating to the public any defamatory/slanderous comments and/or statements against the plaintiff and/or his family and/or his business, profession and/or his projects.”

“Social media is a very powerful tool which on many occasions is misused to defame reputed persons. Courts have time and again deprecated such misuse. This is yet another occasion where the Bombay High Court has passed an order restraining KRK from making slanderous and defamatory remarks against Vashu Bhagnani, his family members, his business, and his projects. This is the third court order against Khan in succession,” said Ameet Naik, Founder and Managing Partner of Naik Naik & Company. After hearing the matter at length, the court observed that the tweets are not criticism given by a film critic which is contrary to the defence of KRK and are serious defamatory and slanderous remarks.

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CAPT AMARINDER LAUNCHES KEY MSME REFORMS

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Chandigarh: Chief Minister Captain Amarinder Singh launched a fresh wave of reforms to further reduce the regulatory burden on MSMEs through rationalisation, digitalisation and decriminalisation of the regulatory landscape, thus enabling entrepreneurs to focus on expanding their operations in a predictable business environment during this Covid-19 pandemic. The reforms on removing imprisonment terms, building flexibility and reducing oversight in the labour rules, and pursuing a data-driven assessment of service delivery delays are all centred around making entrepreneurship easier in Punjab, said the Chief Minister.

Terming it the beginning of the state’s transformation journey, he said with these reforms, commitments had been set for future changes including rationalising trade license with shops and establishments act and removing imprisonment terms from 100 low-risk provisions in non-labour related rules. Besides, the Chief Minister announced that the number of labour registers will be reduced, requiring an entrepreneur to maintain from 60 to less than 14, and flexibility enhanced in hiring women employees. Discretionary powers of inspectors are being removed with regard to deductions related to the absence or leave which will be deduced from labour registers going forward. These changes will be incorporated in the new State Rules.

Further, to ensure timely delivery of key licenses and permits, as prescribed under the Transparency Act 2018, Government has begun a monthly data-driven assessment mechanism under the Chief Secretary to make sure not a single license or permit is delayed beyond the stipulated period. Going forward, it is also proposed to reduce the number of Pre-commissioning licenses & NOCs to start a business by at least 20% and the possibility of doing this entirely online being explored. Also, changes will be made in Land Use for starting new business and mechanisms will be developed for timely and hassle-free water, electricity and sewage connections. “These reforms are the start of a journey, and we hope to make Punjab a lighthouse State for MSME growth support,” he said, adding, “We have listened to entrepreneurs on the ground and we will continue to reduce the compliance burden to start, operate, and grow a business.”

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Punjab CM sets 2 lakh a day vaccine target for April

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CHANDIGARH

Even as he noted with satisfaction that the Covid numbers in the state appeared to have plateaued, Punjab Chief Minister Captain Amarinder Singh on Thursday ordered strict enforcement of Covid appropriate protocols to prevent any super spread events, along with an increase in daily vaccination doses to 2 lakh per day, and a special control room to be set up for effective in-person monitoring of home isolation cases.

Citing figures on mortality and positivity, the Chief Minister said that the restrictions currently in place are showing results, and the same needed to be implemented strictly, particularly in Mohali and other big cities showing high rates of transmission and cases.

He pointed out that the state’s positivity rate stands at 8.1%, even though positivity in the age group of less than 40 years had come down from 54% (September 2020) to 50% (March 2021). The curbs, coupled with strong efforts by all concerned, helped reduce the percentage of mortality in the age group below 60 years from 50% (September 2020) to 40% (March 2021), and should be strictly adhered to, he added. However, he reiterated his demand that the Centre should allow vaccination for under 45 in areas with more cases since the UK variant is infecting younger people more. He directed Chief Secretary Vini Mahajan to pursue the matter with the Central government while Dr KK Talwar stressed that patients of kidney and liver disease, who are under 45 years, should at least be allowed to be vaccinated.

The Chief Minister was chairing a virtual meeting with several ministers, senior administrative and police officials as well as medical/health experts to review the Covid and vaccine situation in the state.

Making it clear that there is no scope for complacency, he said the special control room with a dedicated team could utilise ANMs, ASHA workers, interns from medical colleges to move beyond just telephonic to more in-person monitoring. GMCHs should provide students to RRTs at District Level immediately, he further directed the Health Department.

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RAJNATH SINGH CONGRATULATES IAF ON ITS RESPONSE TO CHINA IN EASTERN LADAKH

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NEW DELHI

While addressing the biannual IAF Commanders’ Conference (AFCC-21) at Air Headquarters, Union Defence Minister Rajnath Singh congratulated Indian Air Force for its befitting response to the “sudden developments in Eastern Ladakh” and appreciated its focus on “reorienting for the future” on Thursday. He also advised the Commanders to draw up long-term plans and strategies for capability enhancement to counter future threats.

He expressed happiness that the conference coincides with the birth anniversary of the Marshal of the Air Force Arjan Singh, DFC. Speaking about the ongoing Covid-19 pandemic, Rajnath appreciated the role played by the IAF in assisting other government agencies in their task, as per an official statement from the defence ministry.

Referring to changing international geopolitics, he observed that the perceptible shift of focus from Trans-Atlantic to Trans-Pacific has become more obvious in the recent past. “Changing dimensions of war would now include advanced technologies, asymmetric capabilities and info-dominance, and IAF’s future preparations must include these aspects.”

The Defence Minister emphasised the need to promote ‘atmanirbharta’ in defence infrastructure, adding that the IAF’s order for LCA would result in a substantial boost to the domestic defence industry and will be a game-changer from the indigenisation perspective. With ANI inputs

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