The Philippines on Sunday urged China to recall more than 200 Chinese boats it said had been spotted at a reef in the South China Sea, saying the presence of the vessels violated its maritime rights as it claims ownership of the area.
In an unusual announcement published by the Presidential Communications Operations Office (PCOO) on its Facebook page, the National Task Force on the West Philippine Sea said ships have “massed” at the Julian Felipe Reef, the official Philippine name for Whitsun Reef, Manila Times reported. Julian Felipe Reef is a large boomerang-shaped shallow coral reef 175 nautical miles west of Bataraza, Palawan, and northeast of Pagkakaisa banks and reefs or the Union Reefs. The reef is claimed by China and the Philippines both.
Authorities said the Philippines coast guard had reported that about 220 vessels, believed to be manned by Chinese maritime militia personnel, were seen moored at the Whitsun Reef, which Manila calls the Julian Felipe Reef, on 7 March.
“We call on the Chinese to stop this incursion and immediately recall these boats violating our maritime rights and encroaching into our sovereign territory,” Defence Minister Delfin Lorenzana said.
The Philippine military had conducted air and maritime patrols in the South China Sea to further validate the report, spokesman Marine Major General Edgard Arevalo said, but did not say when.
The military had submitted its findings to other government agencies, and they would be used as basis for taking “appropriate actions not limited to filing diplomatic protests”, he said in a statement, without elaborating.
“Despite clear weather at the time, the Chinese vessels massed at the reef showed no actual fishing activities and had their full white lights turned on during night time,” the task force said in a statement issued Saturday night.
It said it considered the presence of vessels as a “concern” because of the possibility of overfishing and destruction of the marine environment in the area. The task force also raised “risks to the safety of navigation”.
Last month, the Philippines threatened to order its navy to shoot back at any possible Chinese aggression after China passed a coast guard law allowing it to shoot at vessels in territories claimed by the communist nation. China claims sovereignty over almost the entire South China Sea and has overlapping territorial claims with Brunei, Malaysia, the Philippines, Vietnam and Taiwan.
China has been increasing its maritime activities in both the South China Sea and the East China Sea over the past few months, partly in response to Beijing’s concerns over the increasing US military presence in the region because of escalating Sino-US tensions.
Beijing’s rising assertiveness against counter claimants in the East and South Sea has resulted in unprecedented agreement across the Indo-Pacific.
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YOGI ADITYANATH TESTS POSITIVE FOR COVID-19
LUCKNOW: Uttar Pradesh Chief Minister Yogi Adityanath has tested positive for Covid-19 on Wednesday.“I got tested for Covid-19 after showing some symptoms. The report is positive and I am in self-isolation and following all medical instructions. I am doing my work virtually. All the functions of the state government are running normally. Whoever came in my contact, please get their Covid test done,” Adityanath tweeted in Hindi.
The Uttar Pradesh Chief Minister on Tuesday went into self-isolation after coming into contact with some officials who tested positive for Covid-19. Uttar Pradesh reported 18,021 new Covid-19 cases and 85 deaths on Tuesday. ANI
AS DELHI SEES 17K CASES, HEALTH MINISTER SAYS ENOUGH HOSPITAL BEDS FOR PATIENTS
As Delhi registered more than 17,000 fresh Covid-19 cases—another record high in the national capital—and almost double the 9,925 cases in Mumbai, Health Minister Satyendar Jain on Wednesday said that there are enough hospital beds available for coronavirus patients.
Speaking to the media, Jain said, “Currently we have 13,000 beds and there is no shortage of ventilators. Patients from Delhi and other states are being admitted.” Elaborating on the arrangements that have been made, the Health Minister said the Central government has provided 1,100 beds and talks are going on to add more hospital beds.
He said that 286 out of 5,525 Covid Care Centres are occupied in Delhi. To set up more centres, banquets halls and hotels will be included soon, he added. The Health Minister said that there is no slowdown in Covid cases, the numbers of coronavirus cases are rapidly increasing and appealed to people to stay home. “The numbers of hospital beds (for availability) is being revised twice a day on the Delhi Corona App,” he said adding that people should visit hospitals only after going through the app.
NO COMPARISON BETWEEN MARKAZ AND KUMBH: UTTARAKHAND CM
Uttarakhand Chief Minister Tirath Singh Rawat on Tuesday said that there is no comparison between Nizamuddin Markaz in Delhi and Kumbh in Haridwar as the former was held in a closed space while the latter is being held in a vast open area.
Briefing the mediapersons, Rawat said, “There is no comparison between Markaz and Kumbh. Markaz was in a closed hall. All the people slept in a single hall with close contacts. They shared blankets. On the contrary, there are 16 ghats in Kumbh. Not just Haridwar, Kumbh is spread from Rishikesh to Nilkanth. Devotees take bath in different ghats at different times.”
“The Akhadas also reach the ghats at different time slots. The peshwai of the Akhadas visit in a time-bound manner. Markaz was in a closed building but Kumbh is in a vast open area. Most importantly, Kumbh is at the bank of the River Ganga. Maa Ganga’s blessings are there in the flow. So, there should be no corona,” added the CM.
Nizamuddin Markaz in Delhi is the headquarters of Tablighi Jamaat, a society of Sunni Islamic missionary movement. It caught national attention in March last year after the havoc Covid-19 infections caused among the people gathered in the building.
GUJARAT STARTS NATION’S FIRST DRIVE-THROUGH RT-PCR TESTS
Drive-through RT-PCR tests have been started at the GMDC ground in Ahmedabad for the first time in the country from Wednesday, under a joint venture between the municipal corporation and Neuberg Supratech Laboratory. Sample collection was started in the morning to reduce the line of people wanting to get tested.
Those who come in car for the test first scan the QR code provided by the laboratory in their mobile phone. After mobile phone scanning and registering of all information, the car goes to a collection center inside. The suspect’s sample is taken by a person wearing a PPE kit without getting out of the car. From 8 a.m., about 50 vehicles arrived for the test. People returned with samples in just 5 minutes. About 10 collection centres have been set up by Neuberg Supratech Laboratory. In addition, walking test centers have also been set up, where people can get tested.
According to the director, Neuberg Supratech Laboratory, Dr Sandeep Shah, there were lines of people in the laboratory, so Dr Rajiv Gupta has arranged for drive-through RT-PCR tests to reduce the lines, for which an entire collection center has been set up with Sufalam software along with Neuberg Supratech Laboratory.
TMC says EC acting on BJP’s instructions
Lists alleged instances of EC inaction against Modi-Shah.
Raising questions over the functioning of the Election Commission during the ongoing West Bengal polls, a delegation of the ruling Trinamool Congress (TMC) on Wednesday met Chief Election Commissioner Sunil Arora and submitted a memorandum, listing several instances of “inaction” against BJP’s “violators” and “over action” against Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee.
The delegation was led by TMC Rajya Sabha MP Derek O’Brien, who especially flew to Delhi to register the party’s grievances before the poll panel. Kalyan Banerjee, Dr Santanu Sen and Pratima Mandal were also part of the visiting TMC delegation.
“Amit Shah and Narendra Modi are seeking votes in the name of caste and religion. The Election Commission has not taken any action against the duo. We have now come here to formally file complaint and ask for action against them,” said Banerjee while briefing reporters outside the EC headquarters.
The memorandum submitted by the TMC leaders to the EC was divided into three parts, in which “illegality by EC” was highlighted in an orderly manner. The first part was inaction of the EC, wherein references to various “divisive speeches” made by PM Modi and Home Minister Shah were mentioned and the TMC emphasised how action was not taken against them despite their speeches being fit cases of poll code violations.
The second part spoke of “mild action” taken against mid-level BJP leaders, who flouted EC norms and that too after much hue and cry by the TMC.
The third part spoke of strong action by the EC against Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee, who, according to the TMC, only appealed to female voters to lodge protests against those who hinder them from casting votes.
“It is apparent that the EC is acting in a partisan manner, absolutely in favour of the BJP or on its instructions, that is pre announced by the BJP,” said the memorandum. Since the onset of elections in West Bengal, the TMC has been accusing the BJP of misusing central agencies such as ED, CBI, EC and paramilitary forces.
RAJASTHAN ORDERS 6 PM TO 6 AM CURFEW STARTING FRIDAY
JAIPUR: The Rajasthan government on Wednesday night announced a 12-hour daily curfew—from 6 pm to 6 am—starting Friday, across all cities, as part of a series of measures to combat a worrying spike in Covid cases. The curfew will be in effect till the end of the month.
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