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India tests record 6 crore Covid samples as active cases cross 10-lakh mark

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With a spike of 97,894 fresh cases and 1,132 deaths in the last 24 hours, the total number of active Covid-19 cases in India crossed the 10-lakh mark on Thursday. The total case tally in the country now stands at 51,18,254 including 10,09,976 active cases, 40,25,080 recoveries and 83,198 deaths.

Meanwhile, the Indian Council of Medical Research (ICMR), the apex body at the forefront of formulating the Covid-19 testing strategy in India, announced that total testing of Covid samples in the country has crossed six- crore mark. With average testing of more than 10 lakh per day in the last 20 days, India has tested 6,05,65,728 samples across the country. According to ICMR, the country conducted the last two crore sample testing in only 20 days.

“This has been enabled by rapidly increasing testing infrastructure and capacity across the country, the total number of diagnostic labs has reached 1,751. Of which dedicated government laboratories are 1059 and private laboratories number stands at 692,” ICMR said in a release.

ICMR has regularly been assessing the situation and responding by revising the testing strategy. “In its latest advisory on Covid-19 testing strategy ‘Testing on Demand’ for individuals has been allowed. The State/ UT governments have been allowed to simplify the modalities to facilitate testing on-demand,” ICMR said.

The national Covid-19 recovery rate stands at 78.64 percent. These high levels of recovery have resulted in a 100 percent increase in the number of recovered cases in the past 30 days.

Union Health Minister Dr Harsh Vardhan on Thursday said he is hopeful that by the early next year, the vaccine will be available in India and added that Prime Minister Narendra Modi has handled Covid-19 meticulously. “History will remember Prime Minister Narendra Modi for meticulously monitoring the entire situation himself. India is making efforts just like other countries. Under Prime Minister’s guidance, an expert group is looking at it and we have advanced planning in place. We are hopeful that by the start of next year, the vaccine will be available in India,” he said in the Rajya Sabha.

Responding to Congress MP Anand Sharma’s query in the Rajya Sabha, Vardhan said that six scientific agencies gave scientific data on the basis of which it was stated between 14 lakh and 29 lakh cases were prevented by the lockdown.

Maharashtra remains the worst affected state having witnessed 11,45,840 coronavirus cases so far, including 8,12,354 recoveries, 3,01,752 active cases, and 31,351 deaths. 24,619 more Covid-19 cases and 398 deaths were reported in the state in the last 24 hours.

Delhi reported 4,432 new cases in the last 24 hours taking the total number of coronavirus cases in the national capital to 2,34,701. The death toll due to the virus stands at 4,877 after 38 deaths in the last 24 hours. As many as 3,587 Covid-19 patients have recovered, taking the number of such patients to 1,98,103. There are 31,721 active cases in the national capital.

Haryana registered 2,694 news Covid-19 cases in the last 24 hours taking its tally to 1,01,316. Mean- while Uttar Pradesh recorded 6476 fresh cases and 86 deaths in the last 24 hours. With 6,476 recoveries, total cases in the state is now at 3,30,265, including 4,690 active cases, 2,58,573 recoveries and 4,690 deaths.

Andhra Pradesh reported 8,702 new Covid-19 cases and 72 deaths in the last 24 hours. Total cases in the state rose to 6,01,462, including 5,08,088 recovered and 5,177 de- ceased. Active cases stand at 88,197. Karnataka reported 9,366 new Covid-19 cases, 7,268 discharges and 93 deaths in the last 24 hours, taking the total number of cases to 4,94,356 including 1,03,631 active cases, 3,83,077 discharges, and 7,629 deaths, As many as 4,531 new COVID-19 cases and 10 deaths were reported in Kerala in the last 24 hours. The number of active cases now at 34,314.

A total of 1,192 new Covid-19 cases reported in Uttarakhand in the last 24 hours. The total number of cases in the state is now 37,139 including 24,810 recoveries, 11,714 active cases, and 460 deaths. Punjab reported 2,896 new Covid cases and 57 deaths in the last 24 hours, pushing the total number of cases to 90,032 including 65,818 recoveries, 21,568 active cases, and 2,646 deaths.

As many as 1,467 new Covid-19 cases reported in Jammu and Kashmir in the last 24 hours — 785 from Jam- mu division and 682 from Kashmir division. The total number of cases now at 59,711 including 20,239 active cases, 38,521 recoveries, and 951 deaths. Manipur reported 110 new Covid-19 cases, taking the total to 8,430, including 1,840 active cases. A total of 51 deaths were reported in the state.

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US AND JAPAN DEEPEN TIES WITH TAIWAN, DRAGON FINDS ITSELF IN TIGHT SPOT

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The US and Japan have been deepening their engagement with Taiwan to help guard it against a growing threat from China. The move has out Beijing in tight spot.

J. Michael Cole, writing in The National Interest said that the regime in Beijing, which continues its effort to isolate Taiwan internationally, is now in the difficult position of having to express its discontent over coronavirus response while avoiding overreaction that could create the rationale for even closer relations between Taiwan and other countries. Taiwan has had a fairly positive past month in terms of its engagement with, and support by, regional partners.

Beijing’s setbacks began back in April, with the joint statement between US President Joe Biden and his Japanese counterpart, Prime Minister Yoshihide Suga, which “underscore[d] the importance of peace and stability across the Taiwan Strait and encourage the peaceful resolution of cross-Strait issues.”

Such direct reference to Taiwan by a Japanese prime minister had not been heard for more than half a century, reported The National Interest. This was followed the next month by a similar statement, this one by President Biden and South Korean President Moon Jae-in, which again “emphasise[d] the importance of preserving peace and stability in the Taiwan Strait”.

The unprecedented reference to Taiwan by a South Korean leader also signalled those countries within the region were becoming increasingly alarmed with China’s destabilising behaviour—particularly the high number of intrusions by aircraft from the People’s Liberation Army Air Force and Navy into Taiwan’s southern Air Defense Identification Zone (ADIZ), wrote Cole.

Four days before the Biden-Suga joint statement, a total of twenty-five PLA aircraft–14 J-16 multi-role fighters, four J-10 multi-role fighters, four H-6K bombers, 2 Y-8 anti-submarine planes, and one KJ-500 airborne early warning and control plane–entered Taiwan’s ADIZ, a new high since the PLA began intensifying its military activity in the region in 2020, reported The National Interest.

But now, China is in a tight spot as Taiwan is receiving more attention from allies. One strategic mistake Beijing may have committed earlier this year was its refusal to reduce its military activity around the Taiwan Strait during the transition period in Washington, wrote Cole.

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WHO chief asks China to cooperate with probe into Covid-19 origins

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Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus.

World Health Organization (WHO) chief Tedros Ghebreyesus has called on China to cooperate with the ongoing investigation into the origins of the Covid-19 amid renewed call to further probe the virus.

Dr Tedros made these remarks after taking part in the Group of Seven (G7) summit by video conference on Saturday, The Wall Street Journal (WSJ) reported.

The WHO Director-General hoped there would be better cooperation and transparency when the next phase of the probe into the virus’s origin is underway. “As you know we will need cooperation from the Chinese side,” he said. “We need transparency to understand or know or find the origin of this virus…after the report was released there were difficulties in the data sharing, especially in the raw data.”

He further said that the preparations for the probe’s next steps were underway and that the issue of the origin of the virus was discussed by G7 leaders on Saturday, WSJ reported.

Earlier this week, the US and the UK had extended support to a “timely, transparent and evidence-based independent process” for the next phase of the WHO-convened study of Covid-19 origins. “We will also support a timely, transparent and evidence-based independent process for the next phase of the WHO-convened COVID-19 origins study, including in China, and for investigating outbreaks of unknown origin in the future,” a joint statement said after US President Joe Biden met British Prime Minister Boris Johnson on Thursday.

This comes amid growing calls for a timely, transparent, and evidence-based independent process for the next phase of the WHO-convened origin study.

Recently, the calls to investigate further the origins of the virus have intensified. President Biden has also ordered a fresh US intelligence inquiry into the origins of the pandemic.

The origin of novel coronavirus that caused havoc around the world has remained a mystery even after 1.5 years the first case of infection was reported in the Chinese city of Wuhan.

Now, scientists and world leaders are calling for further investigations to figure out whether the virus originated naturally or leaked from the Wuhan Institute of Virology.

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G7 NATIONS CALL OUT CHINA OVER XINJIANG, HONG KONG AND TAIWAN

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In a veiled criticism of the Dragon, Group of Seven (G&) leaders called on China to respect human rights in its Xinjiang region, allow Hong Kong a high degree of autonomy, and refrain from any unilateral action that could destabilise the East and South China Seas, Reuters reported quoted a draft version of the G7 summit communique.

“We will promote our values, including by calling on China to respect human rights and fundamental freedoms, especially in relation to Xinjiang and those rights, freedoms and high degree of autonomy for Hong Kong enshrined in the Sino-British Joint Declaration,” the G7 said in a communique that was almost finalised.

Before the G7 criticism emerged, China cautioned G7 leaders that the days when “small” groups of countries decided the fate of the world were long gone.

The G7 also said they underscored “the importance of peace and stability across the Taiwan Strait, and encourage the peaceful resolution of cross-Strait issues”.

“We remain seriously concerned about the situation in the East and South China Seas and strongly oppose any unilateral attempts to change the status quo and increase tensions.”

“We also call for a timely, transparent, expert-led, and science-based WHO-convened Phase 2 Covid-19 origins study including, as recommended by the experts’ report, in China,” the communique, which is almost finalised, said.

“The days when global decisions were dictated by a small group of countries are long gone,” a spokesman for the Chinese embassy in London said.

“We always believe that countries, big or small, strong or weak, poor or rich, are equals, and that world affairs should be handled through consultation by all countries.”

Beijing has repeatedly hit back against what it perceives as attempts by Western powers to contain China, and says many major powers are still gripped by an outdated imperial mindset after years of humiliating China.

UN experts and rights groups estimate over a million people, mainly Uyghurs and other Muslim minorities, have been detained in recent years in a vast system of camps in Xinjiang.

China denies all accusations of forced labour or abuse. It initially denied the camps existed, but has since said they are vocational centres and are designed to combat extremism. In late 2019, China said all people in the camps had “graduated”.

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Won’t comment before studying matter: Ram Janmbhoomi Trust on corruption charges

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Ram Janmbhoomi Teerth Kshetra Trust General Secretary Champat Rai on Sunday said he will not make any comment without studying the matter. This came hours after SP leader Tej Narayan Pandey made corruption allegations against the trust.

“They keep making allegations on us. It has been like this for the last 100 years. They blamed us also for the death of Mahatma Gandhi. I will not say anything in the matter without a study,” Rai said. Rai was speaking after participating on the first day of a two-day meeting between trustees and engineers, chaired by Ram Temple construction committee chairman Nripendra Misra. The next meeting is scheduled to be held at 10:30 am on Monday in the Circuit House here.

Earlier in the day, Pandey accused the Trust of committing corruption in a land deal and sought a CBI probe into the matter.

“The Trust purchased a piece of land, which had been bought in Rs 2 crores just 10 minutes before, in Rs 18.5 crores on March 18,” he alleged. He also said that Trust member Anil Mishra and Mayor of Ayodhya Rishikesh Upadhyay are witnesses in both the sale agreements.

Taking to Twitter, Aam Aadmi Party (AAP) leader Sanjay Singh, attaching several documents, said: “Ravi Mohan Tiwari and Sultan Ansari bought land worth Rs 2 crores at 7:10 pm. At 7:15 pm, Champat Rai of Ram Janmabhoomi Trust bought this land from them for Rs 18.5 crore.”

SP leader Tej Narayan Pandey accused Shri Ram Janmbhoomi Teerth Kshetra Trust of committing corruption in a land deal and sought a CBI probe into the matter. Holding a press conference on Sunday, Pandey said that “The piece of land was earlier purchased for Rs 2 crore by Ravi Mohan Tiwari and Sultan Ansari. 10 minutes later, the Trust bought the land for Rs 18.5 crore on 18 March.”

The SP leader also claimed that Rs 17 crore was sent to the bank account of Ravi Mohan Tiwari and Sultan Ansari through RTGS mode of payment and demanded a probe into the RTGS money transfer.

With ANI inputs

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MILKHA SINGH’S WIFE NIRMAL KAUR SUCCUMBS TO COVID

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Track legend Milkha Singh’s wife Nirmal Kaur passed away at the age of 85 after battling with Covid-19 on Sunday. She had tested Covid positive in May. “We are deeply saddened to inform you that Nirmal Milkha Singh passed away after a valiant battle against Covid-19 at 4 pm today,” read a family statement. Nirmal was a former Director of Sports for Women in the Punjab Government and was also a former captain of the Indian women’s national volleyball team.

Punjab Sports Minister Rana Gurmit Singh Sodhi condoled the demise of Nirmal Milkha Singh. In a condolence message, the Sports Minister said, “I am deeply saddened to learn about the death of Nirmal Milkha Singh, which is extremely shocking and unfortunate.”

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KEJRIWAL PLANS BIG GUJARAT PUSH, SAYS STATE YEARNING FOR CHANGE

Abhijit Bhatt

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The political atmosphere in Gujarat began heating up on 11 June when it was announced that a meeting of the leaders of Leuva and Kadwa Patidar would be held at Khodaldham in Kagwad, the centre of faith of Leuva Patidars. They criticised the government’s performance in Covid-19 pandemic and praised the work done by the Aam Aadmi Party in Delhi and other states during the meeting that was held on 12 June.

Amid these developments, Delhi Chief Minister Arvind Kejriwal is coming on a one-day visit to Gujarat on the morning of 14 June. He also tweeted in Gujarati, on Sunday, that he is coming to Gujarat tomorrow. His visit is likely to bring many twists and turns in Gujarat politics.It seems the AAP has become active in Gujarat.

While the Congress has selected some leaders including the state president, BJP in-charge Bhupendra Yadav is scheduled to be on a three-day visit to Gujarat and meet MLAs on 15 June.

A day before the tour, Arvind Kejriwal tweeted in Gujarati, “Gujarat will change now. I am coming to Gujarat tomorrow. I will meet all the brothers and sisters of Gujarat”.

According to sources, Kejriwal will arrive at Ahmedabad airport at 10.30 am and will go directly to Shahibaug Circuit House. He will meet party workers. A press conference will be held at Vallabh Sadan at 11.30 am. Former journalist Isudan Gadhvi and 10 others are likely to join the AAP. The party will inaugurate its new state office at Navrangpura in the afternoon. Kejriwal’s visit is a sign of AAP’s readiness for the Gujarat Legislative Assembly. More people will get connected to make the AAP organisation stronger. He will also visit Surat. In addition to AAP corporators, he will hold meetings with local leaders and workers and also guide the upcoming Assembly elections.

On the other hand, Yadav’s visit to Gujarat is signalling a major political upheaval in the coming days. According to sources, he had a meeting with the experienced leaders and asked them about the performance of Chief Minister Vijay Rupani, working style of Deputy Chief Minister Nitin Patel, and state leadership of BJP state president C. R. Patil. Yadav had asked about the current situation in Gujarat and what can happen next. He may have asked about the AAP for the first time. Kejriwal’s visit can impact the local body elections.

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