SOUTH AFRICAN, BRAZILIAN VARIANTS OF COVID-19 ENTER INDIA: GOVT - The Daily Guardian
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SOUTH AFRICAN, BRAZILIAN VARIANTS OF COVID-19 ENTER INDIA: GOVT

Over 87 lakh vaccine doses administered so far, says the Union Health Ministry, as India records 9,121 fresh Covid-19 infections; active cases stand at 1,37,866.

Aishwarya Jain

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India has detected both the South African and Brazilian coronavirus variants and people returning from those countries may be tested more aggressively, health officials said on Tuesday.

The Indian Council of Medical Research (ICMR) has found a total of 192 Covid-19 cases of the new variants of mutated SARS-CoV-2 in the last two months, including four from the variant emerging in South Africa and one from the Brazilian variant, said the officials, adding that the strains can infect a person’s lungs more easily than the UK mutation.

ICMR Director General, Prof Balram Bhargava, however, noted that no mortality has been reported so far in cases of the UK variant as well as those infected by the variants from South Africa and Brazil. The ICMR chief also informed that India currently has 187 patients who have been infected with the UK variant.

The Indian government is now considering mandating RT-PCR (reverse transcription polymerase chain reaction) tests for all people coming from Brazil and South Africa, as is being done for those flying in from the United Kingdom.

“There are no direct flights from South Africa or Brazil, so the health ministry and the civil aviation ministry are in touch on the steps to be taken on the matter,” Health Secretary Rajesh Bhushan told at a news conference.

Dr Bhargava informed that the SA variant, better known as B.1.351, has already spread to 44 countries. The four people who tested positive for the variant in India had come from Angola (1), Tanzania (1) and South Africa (2). Meanwhile, the Brazilian variant or P.1 lineage has been reported from 15 countries. India registered its first case in February 2021, Dr Bhargava said.

“ICMR-NIV is attempting to isolate and culture the South African variant of SARS-CoV-2, while the Brazilian variant of SAS-CoV-2 has been isolated and cultured at ICMR-NIV-Pune,” said Dr Bhargava.

 “All confirmed cases are quarantined and treated. Their contacts have been isolated and tested. Neutralisation potential with the UK variant of the virus is there with the vaccine that we have,” Dr Balram Bhargava said.

The ICMR chief added that experiments are underway to assess the vaccines’ efficacy against the South African and Brazilian variants as they are different from the UK variant.

Meanwhile, over 87 lakh Covid-19 vaccine doses have been administered in India so far, the Union Health Ministry has informed.

India’s COVID-19 cases rose by 9,121 in the past 24 hours, taking the total to 10.93 million, second only to the tally of the United States. Deaths rose by 81 to 155,813. Active cases in India stand at 1,37,866, while a total of 10,633,025 people have recuperated from Covid-19 so far.

The five most affected states by total cases are Maharashtra, Kerala, Karnataka, Andhra Pradesh and Tamil Nadu.

Maharashtra’s daily count remained above 3,000 for the seventh straight day, as it registered 3,663 new cases, 461 of them in Mumbai, after reporting 4,092 infections on Sunday, the highest single-day tally in more than a month. The state government has termed the situation “alarming” and warned of “harsh decisions”. A meeting has been convened by Chief Minister Uddhav Thackeray in Mumbai to take stock of the situation.

Kerala reported 4,937 new Covid-19 cases, 5,439 recoveries and 18 deaths in the last 24 hours. The total number of active cases in the state is 60,761.

Karnataka logged 438 fresh Covid-19 and six fatalities, taking the total caseload to just above 9.46 lakh and the toll to 12,273. As many as 344 people were discharged after being cured of the virus, as cumulative recoveries rose to 9.27 lakh, leaving 5,860 active cases.

Andhra Pradesh reported 60 fresh cases of Covid-19, 140 recoveries and no deaths in 24 hours. The active caseload in the state reduced by 80 to stand at 615. After 1.35 crore sample tests, the total positive cases increased to 8,88,959. Total recoveries went up to 8,81,181 while the overall toll remained at 7,163.

Tamil Nadu registered an addition of 451 coronavirus cases in the last 24 hours, taking the total number of infections to 8,46,026. After 470 patients were discharged, the number of active Covid cases stood at 4,206. There were seven deaths registered and 50,800 samples tested.

Delhi recorded 94 fresh Covid-19 cases in the last 24 hours, the lowest in over nine months, while the positivity rate slipped to 0.17 percent in the city. One fatality was also registered, taking the death toll due to the viral disease to 10,894 in the national capital.

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Getting late, Priyanka Gandhi runs to reach venue of rally in Assam’s Tezpur

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Tezpur (Assam) [India], March 3 (ANI): Congress general secretary Priyanka Gandhi Vadra on Tuesday was seen running towards the stage as she was getting late for a public rally in Assam’s Tezpur. However, she managed to make it on time.
In a video released by Priyanka Gandhi’s office, she was seen sprinting down a dusty path and was surrounded by her bodyguards, who tried to catch up with her as they ran towards the stage.
People on both sides of the fenced pathway clapped for her as she continued the dash to the raised pavilion.
Earlier today, the Congress general secretary, who is on a two-day visit to the poll-bound state spent some time with tea estate workers at Sadhuru tea garden in Biswanath district.
Dressed in a saree and balancing a basket on her back, the 49-year-old was seen plucking tea leaves.
Assam assembly elections will be held in three phases. In the first phase, 47 seats in 12 districts will go to the polls on March 27. In the second phase, 39 constituencies in 13 districts will go to the polls on April 1 while 40 assembly constituencies in 12 districts will go to polls on April 6. Counting of votes will take place on May 2. (ANI)

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Delhi: Three held for dealing in forged, fake cheques

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New Delhi [India], March 2 (ANI): The crime branch of Delhi Police busted a gang of fraudsters and arrested three persons for allegedly dealing in forged and fake cheques. The accused allegedly attempted to transfer Rs 68.70 lakh from the bank account of a hospital.
According to police, the director of a leading hospital of northeast Delhi lodged a complaint stating that he received an SMS from his bank that a cheque of Rs 68.70 lakh has been presented for clearance. He was shocked to learn it as he had not issued any such cheque and immediately stopped the payment. He further came to know that culprits have used a fake and forged cheque bearing his forged signatures and this cheque was never issued to the complainant.
On investigation, it was learnt that the forged cheque was presented on July 6, 2019, by an NGO at Indraprastha Sehkari Bank Ltd, Paschim Vihar, Delhi.
According to Police, a notice was given to accused Arvind Kumar to produce the original cheque which was returned to him by the bank but he neither joined the investigation and nor produced the original questioned cheque.
“Arvind Kumar was arrested on February 28 and sent to two days police remand. He disclosed that he is the president of the NGO. In May 2019, one Lokender Rao met him through Kulbhushan, a resident of Paschim Puri, New Delhi. Rao told that he had a cheque worth Rs 68.70 lakh, which he wanted to encash,” read the police statement.
“If the said cheque is realised in the account of his NGO Life Style Foundation, a huge amount of money would come which they can share in between them. After some days, Rao handed over a blank cheque of a hospital of PNB Bank, for encashing the same,” it added.
Kumar, the accused was arrested with the help of technical details. Thereafter, the team of Delhi Police searched all the possible hideouts of other accused at various places in the national capital and arrested Rao and Kulbhushan. The accused revealed before the police that they were previously involved in a similar type of offence. (ANI)

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Centre writes to Manipur after it issues notice to talk show under new digital media laws

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New Delhi [India], March 2 (ANI): Union Information and Broadcasting Secretary Amit Khare on Tuesday wrote to the Manipur government saying that powers to administer notices have not been delegated to state governments, police commissioners or District Magistrates under the new media laws.
“The rules relating to news publishers and publishers of Online Curated Content (OTT) Platforms, including the Code of Ethics, the 3-Tier Grievances Redressal Mechanism, are to be administered by the Ministry of Information and Broadcasting, Government of India. These powers have not been delegated to the state governments or District Magistrate, or Police Commissioner,” read Khare’s letter to the Manipur Chief Secretary.
The letter was sent after the Imphal West district magistrate on Monday served a notice to Manipuri talk show ‘Khanasi Neinasi’ under the new media laws notified by the Centre on February 25.
The DM had served the notice to the Publisher/Intermediary of the talk show Khanasi Neinasi, directing the publisher to furnish to the DM all the relevant documents for ensuring compliance to the provisions of the Information Technology Rules, 2021.
The notice also said, “failing which, steps as deemed fit would be initiated without further notice.” (ANI)

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Telangana: Congress’ Hanumantha Rao urges PM Modi not to privatise public sector companies

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Hyderabad (Telangana) [India], March 2 (ANI): Asserting that Visakhapatnam Steel Plant is the right of the people of Andhra Pradesh, senior Congress leader V Hanumantha Rao on Tuesday wrote a letter to Prime Minister Narendra Modi urging him not to privatise public sector companies.
“Back in the time, people have fought for the Visakhapatnam Steel Plant and nearly 53 people have sacrificed their lives in the fight. But now, the central government is saying that the steel plant is running in losses and there is no raw material (iron ore) to run the steel plant and that is why they are selling the steel plant to private companies,” Rao said.
Comparing the Centre with the Britishers, he said that even they had not sold any organisation to private sector. He alleged that the Central government is in the clutches of corporate companies.
The Congress leader suggested that instead of selling the steel plant to a private company, the government should bring the iron ore from the Kadapa region of Andhra Pradesh to run the steel plant.
He referred to the ongoing farmers’ protests claiming that the BJP government is working hand in glove with the corporate companies and it reflects from their wish to privatise the agricultural sector.
He further mentioned that the government is privatising Life Insurance Corporation of India (LIC), airlines and many others public entreprises.
Several protests were held in Andhra Pradesh and Telangana against the move of the Centre to privatise the Visakhapatnam Steel Plant. (ANI

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BJP slams Congress over alliance with Left, ISF in Bengal

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New Delhi [India], March 2 (ANI): The Bharatiya Janta Party (BJP) on Tuesday hit out at Congress over its alliance with the Left front and Indian Secular Front (ISF) in West Bengal, alleging that its only ideology is corruption and nepotism.
Addressing a press conference, BJP national spokesperson Sambit Patra said, “Despite dissidents within the party, the Congress joined hands with the ISF and the Left front in West Bengal. At the same time, Congress is fighting against the Left in Kerala. They are working to strike an alliance with Badruddin Ajmal’s AIDUF in Assam and has joined hands with Shiv Sena in Maharashtra. This shows Congress has no ideology. Its only ideology is corruption and nepotism, and make the state a ATM machine to loot wealth.”
He added that all these attempts by Congress being made to fulfil the ambitions the Gandhi family relevant instead of nation building.
Continuing his attck against Congress, Patra went on to say that Congress will “castigate” anyone who wants democracy in the party, wants its president to be elected, speaks in favour of politics of development or stands with Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s rightful agenda.
“Congress is just about fours leaders of Gandhi Family. Congressis only agenda is hate Modi. It has grown to such an extent that Congress workers are protesting on the streets against their own leaders who are praising good work done by our Prime Minister,” he said.
This comes a day after veteran Congress leader Anand Sharma tweeted, “Congress’ alliance with parties like ISF and other such forces militates against the core ideology of the party and Gandhian and Nehruvian secularism, which forms the soul of the party. These issues need to be approved by the CWC.”
The meeting between ISF, Congress and Left parties, which was held today was attended by ISF chairman Naushad Siddiqui along with Pradeep Bhattacharya, Abdul Mannan, Biman Bose and Mohd Salim.
West Bengal Assembly elections will be held in eight phases starting from March 27 with the final round of voting taking place on April 29. Counting of votes will take place on May 2. (ANI)

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Karnataka minister Ramesh Jarkiholi booked for sexually assaulting woman

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Bengaluru (Karnataka) [India], March 2 (ANI): A case has been registered against Karnataka Irrigation Minister Ramesh Jarkiholi on Tuesday for allegedly sexually assaulting a woman.
Addressing reporters, the complainant Dinesh Kallahalli, who is a social activist, said, “I have lodged a complaint with police, demanding a probe into a sex scandal involving Ramesh Jarkiholi.”
“The victim woman was offered a job in Karnataka Power Transmission Corporation Limited (KPTCL). Upon reaching the pre-decided location, the woman was sexually assaulted and now is being threatened by the Minister and his people,” he said.
In response to these accusations, Jarkiholi denied the allegations, saying that he will resign from politics if these allegations are proven true.
Speaking to reporters, the minister said, “I don’t even know the woman and the complainant. I’m going to meet my high command to convey a clarification about the alleged video. I was in Mysuru and I went to Chamundeshwari Temple. I don’t even know what that video is about because I never spoke to that woman. I will resign from my MLA post and politics if these allegations are proven against me.”
“It is a serious allegation against me. I have spoken to the Chief Minister and I will also seek action against the culprits. A thorough investigation must be done in this issue,” he added
“We have taken the complaint filed by Dinesh Kallahalli against Ramesh Jarakiholi. We will investigate accordingly,” informed Bengaluru Central District Commissioner of Police (DCP) Anucheth.
Further details are awaited. (ANI)

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