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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ICDMA FOUNDER TO INTRODUCE AI PLATFORM FOR IDENTIFYING AND MITIGATING DIGITAL RISKS

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ICDMA is a provider of IT services such as Cyber Forensics, IT Audit, IT Risk Evaluation, and Digital Security. In recent years, it has become a tried-and-true standard for businesses looking to defend their brands, enterprises, and reputations from crippling cyber attacks. They develop and deploy information security platforms and services, both standard and personalised, to protect, evaluate, and respond to cyber threats such as security breaches that occur in your systems and networks. The services they provide include Application and Web Development, Graphic Design, Security Audits, Cyber Security Services, Vulnerability Assessments, Fraud Risk Management, and IT Consultancy.

In addition, the firm achieved awards for being the best Cyber Forensics firm preventing businesses from external threats. A cybersecurity analyst is responsible for the security of an organisation, business, or government agency from cyber threats. Their primary role is to analyse any possible threat that might occur through or to your system and come up with plausible and practical solutions to protect you.

Being a cyber security expert and analyst, Dheeraj Kumar has years of experience and stays up-to-date with the current crimes and security trends. He believes that like many other professions, this is a never-ending learning field. They monitor your networks and then analyse them to find common threat patterns or trends. Further, they design software that suits the needs of the problem at hand and ensures that these measures are maintained properly. If, in any case, they encounter a new problem, they utilise their years of experience and knowledge to produce a unique solution.

Witnessing the increased cyber threats, Cybersecurity analyst Dheeraj advises people to use the Internet wisely and productively. Dheeraj is currently working on an Al-driven platform for identifying and mitigating digital risks and counteracting brand impersonation attacks with the company’s patented technologies at its core. Dheeraj’s experience in threat hunting and cyber intelligence has been fused into an ecosystem of highly sophisticated software and hardware solutions designed to monitor, identify, and prevent cyberattacks.

A cybersecurity analyst is responsible for the security of an organisation, business or government agency from cyber threats. Their primary role is to analyse any possible threat that might occur through or to your system and come up with plausible solutions.

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EXPO 2020 A GLOBAL PLATFORM TO HIGHLIGHT ACHIEVEMENTS OF SPACE SECTOR: EMM PROJECT MANAGER

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The six-month Expo 2020 Dubai is a crucial window for the participating countries to present their accomplishments across different sectors, and the space sector is one of them. The event will shed light on the development of this sector around the world, emphasising its importance for humans in particular and the planet in general.

Expo 2020 has devoted a full week to space, from 17 to 23 October, during which a dialogue session will be held with Emirati astronauts along with entertainment, art and science activities. Also, information related to space sciences will be disseminated among other related space activities. In an interview with the Emirates News Agency (WAM), Omran Sharaf, Project Manager of Emirates Mars Mission (EMM), said, “This year, the UAE has achieved milestone accomplishments in the space sector by its arrival to Mars, and before that, it had played a key role in stimulating this sector besides the science and technology sectors.”

On the role of Expo 2020 Dubai as a prominent global platform to highlight the country’s achievements in the national space sector, Al Sharaf pointed out that Expo is not only a global event to showcase the cultures of other countries, but rather a platform for presenting scientific, technical and cultural achievements around the world.

He added that one of the reasons for the quick establishment of the space sector in the country “is because this sector depends on international cooperation, and the UAE did not consider its space programme as a race with other countries, but viewed it as an opportunity to cooperate with different nations, which contributed to activating the role of the sector and speeding its development, thus placing the UAE at the forefront of countries in this sector.”

Regarding the most nationally prominent projects in the space sector during the current period, Sharaf said, “The space sector is going through a very important and sensitive stage today, as the UAE has previously invested through the ‘Hope Probe’ project and other related projects to attract knowledge to the country from abroad and build on the capabilities of Emirati youth through knowledge transfer programmes.”

“Today, after His Highness Sheikh Mohammed bin Rashid Al Maktoum, Vice President, Prime Minister and Ruler of Dubai; and His Highness Sheikh Mohamed bin Zayed Al Nahyan, Crown Prince of Abu Dhabi and Deputy Supreme Commander of the UAE Armed Forces, announced the upcoming mission, which is a new space programme to explore planet Venus and seven other [asteroids] in the solar system, the focus will be on transferring knowledge from the UAE space sector to the private sector to create a stimulating environment and support the science and technology sector in the country, and at the same time serve the UAE’s economy is facing various challenges, including water resources and food resources, among others,” he added.

When asked regarding the sector’s participation in the Space Week at Expo 2020, Sharaf said that the Mohammed bin Rashid Space Centre and the various specialised authorities have a great role in Expo. As for Space Week, there are various participations, including lectures, seminars, or receiving various delegations to discuss cooperation in the space sector.

“This is a great opportunity for countries to work together, and we, as the Emirati space sector, have decided to take advantage of this opportunity at Expo to build and strengthen these relations, and it will be the beginning of greater cooperation and ambitious projects across the world and the region.”

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IIT KANPUR STUDY EXPLAINS THE SUCCESS OF COVID-19 CONTROL MODEL OF UTTAR PRADESH

The information has been collated and reviewed by the Social and Political Research Foundation, a policy think tank based in New Delhi, aimed at making public policy research holistic, accessible, and evidence-based.

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The second wave of the Covid-19 pandemic disrupted the health system across India. Most states struggled to prevent the surge in cases and ensure adequate supply as the virus created a situation of upheaval. However, a recent study led by Padma Shri Awardee Prof. Manindra Agrawal of IIT-Kanpur elaborates that with careful planning, multiple strategies and close monitoring Uttar Pradesh’s Covid-19 response model turned out to be more effective in comparison with many other states.

TABLE 1: NTPR DURING THE SECOND WAVE

Source: IIT Kanpur studyGraph 1: Source: Prowess monthly employment database

The data points out that the daily case count was brought down to just 1,497 on 31 May after the peak of 38,000 was recorded on 24 April. It can be noted that the reduction in numbers happened quite fast in the state as compared with many other ones, for example, Maharashtra and Kerala, which supports the study’s arguments.

Beginning with the foremost concern of reducing the spread, the UP model followed the Test, Trace, Treat, Tackle (TTTT) approach. Under the strategy, the TTTT teams were instated in rural UP to conduct door to door testing, enabling early detection and ensuring isolation and treatment. These TTTT teams covered around 97,941 villages. Niti Aayog and WHO also lauded the efforts of the state in conducting a mammoth house-to-house testing and tracing drive, supported by micro-planning and concurrent follow-ups. As highlighted by the IIT-Kanpur study, other measures of the state involved capacity building through intensive training on all major aspects of Covid-19, provision of infrastructures like ICU beds, ventilators, and creation of safety nets and incentives via state and central funding schemes (PMJJBY, PMSBY, AKBY, etc.).

While preventing the surge in cases was one aspect of the model, the government also managed the high demand crisis of oxygen resounding throughout the nation then. To tackle the surge in demand the government set up an oxygen monitoring system to track oxygen tankers and rolled out a stringent oxygen audit which saved around 30 MT of oxygen per day. Also, the state’s strategy to airlift empty tankers with the help of IAF lessened the turnaround time saving 10 hours. Apart from ensuring these, the model also addressed the concerns regarding the livelihood of the people. With the commitment to save the lives and livelihoods of people, the UP government did not resort to strict lockdowns and opted for partial curfews to break the Covid-19 chain. And, adapting to the situation of the pandemic, the government supplied policies for ease of mobility (separate buses and trains for migrant workers), employability (DBT 1000 to migrants) and sustenance (cash transfers to marginalised sections). The study also states that such measures helped in keeping the unemployment rate below the national average as depicted in the graph below.

Formulated on the four essential pillars of protection of livelihood, optimisation of economy, facilitation of healthcare services and restriction of virus spread, it has been pointed through the study that the UP Covid-19 model has created a benchmark. The study then draws a comparison among the states based on the Normalised Test Positivity Rate (NTPR) which is the ratio of Test Positivity Ratio and percentage of active cases. It shows that the strategy of the UP model was to aggressively change the pandemic which helped in the control.

Furthermore, the study also found that the timing of the containment measures was near-optimal, which in any other situation could have caused a peak of more than 70,000 daily cases as shown in the graph below.

Nonetheless, the second wave has dealt a heavy blow to not just India’s but globally existing health infrastructure, unveiling a systemic failure that led many to conclude that no model or strategy is perfect. This points towards a large scope of improvement for all state administrations and governing bodies.

The information has been collated and reviewed by the Social and Political Research Foundation, a policy think tank based in New Delhi, aimed at making public policy research holistic, accessible, and evidence-based.

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58 abstracts pertain to research in Covid-19 at PGIMER

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Out of 576 abstracts received for showcase, 58 abstracts pertain to research in COVID 19. Only research conducted in the last three years in Post Graduate Institute of Medical Education and Research has been included for the showcase for the 8TH Annual Research Day at the institute.

“With 576 abstracts received, the highest so far, there has been an overwhelming response for the 8th Annual Research Day of PGIMER which is being celebrated on 22nd October. Another first this year is the compilation of H index from all the departments, which measures both the productivity and citation impact of the publications. Basically, through this, the intent is to monitor our strengths as well as our areas of improvement in the domain of research in the institute,” stated Prof. A.K.Gupta, Dean (Research) & Medical Superintendent, PGIMER while briefing at the curtain-raiser organised for the upcoming Annual Research Day here at PGIMER today.

“With the two more categories added this year from NIPS and NINE in the earlier categories of medical, and surgical and para clinical, 47 awards will be given to the best entries including all categories,” shared Gupta.

Detailing about the mandate of the Annual Research Day, the dean (Research) further shared, “The end objective of any research is to bring in more and more innovation and translate them into excellent clinical services for the masses. With the remarkable research contributions by the participants, we are hopeful of further upskilling our clinical services, thereby, helping our patients.”

Another senior faculty present included Prof. Vishali Gupta, Deptt. of Ophthalmology, Prof. K. Gaba, Sub-Dean (Research) & Head, Deptt. of Oral Health Sciences, Dr Arnav Pal, Faculty In-charge, MERC and Prof. Ramandeep Singh, Deptt. of Ophthalmology.

Citing personalised medicine as the future, Prof. Vishali Gupta from Deptt. of Ophthalmology, PGIMER called the event a landmark opportunity for collaboration and cross-fertilisation of ideas and knowledge among the luminaries within the institute.

While giving her perspective on Annual Research Day Prof. K. Gaba, Sub-Dean (Research) & Head, Deptt. of Oral Health Sciences shared, “The Research Day connotes the need for teamwork, mentorship and synergy among various departments and institutes.

Dr Arnab Pal, Faculty In-charge, MERC, who has been closely involved in putting together the Annual Research Day stated, “Out of 576 abstracts received for showcase, 58 abstracts pertain to research in COVID 19. Only research conducted in the last three years in PGIMER has been included for the showcase.”

“Annual Research Day instils a sense of competition among the young fellow doctors and makes them more aspirational by raising the bar for them’, said Prof. Ramandeep from Deptt. of Ophthalmology.

Briefing further, Prof. A.K.Gupta, Dean (Research) & Medical Superintendent, PGIMER informed, “The Annual Research Day will have the august presence of two eminent medical scientists of the country, Prof. Y.K. Chawla, former Director and Prof. Digambar Behera, former Dean (Research) of PGIMER as Chief Guest and Guest of Honour respectively.”

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PM Modi showers praise on Haryana CM Khattar

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JHAJJAR: Prime Minister Narendra Modi remotely inaugurated the newly constructed Infosys Foundation Vishram Sadan in the National Cancer Institute campus located in the Badsha area of Jhajjar district.

Prime Minister Narendra Modi dedicated Vishram Sadan at Badsa NIC, Jhajjar to the nation, through video conferencing.

Haryana Chief Minister, Manohar Lal, Health Minister Anil Vij, BJP State President Omprakash Dhankhar, and MP from Rohtak Lok Sabha constituency, Dr Arvind Sharma were present in the inauguration ceremony at Badsa NCI campus.

Union Health Minister Mansukh Mandaviya and Infosys Foundation Chairperson Sudha Murthy joined the video conference. During the event, Prime Minister Narendra Modi showered praise on Haryana Chief Minister Manohar Lal Khattar.

“Haryana has got the most honest Chief Minister in the last five decades. I have been with Manoharlalji for a long time but after becoming the Chief Minister, his talent has shone even more,” Prime Minister Modi said.

“The Central government on several counts has learnt from the methods of the Haryana government. I congratulate Manoharlalji for his successful efforts,” added the Prime Minister.

AIIMS director Dr Randeep Guleria was also present at the opening ceremony.

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PUNJAB CM URGES POLICE TO ENSURE EFFECTIVE, TRANSPARENT POLICING ACROSS THE STATE

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Punjab Chief Minister Charanjit Singh Channi on Thursday asked the Police force to ensure effective, efficient and transparent policing across the state to instil confidence of the general public in the law and order machinery.

Prioritising the challenges being faced by the state, Channi asked the entire police force right from top brass to the bottom to work in unison to eradicate corruption, break the drug supply chain, illicit liquor trade and curb the sand mafia with heavy hand. The Chief Minister categorically said that the police should develop a system to identify the drug peddlers/smugglers who were supplying drugs to our youth so as to fell prey to this menace.

Chairing the first meeting after assuming the charge as Chief Minister here at CMO this evening, Channi asked the officers to discharge their duties with utmost dedication; honesty and professional commitment so that the people should feel the difference and a message to this effect must go down the line.

Showing grave concern over the adulteration of food products like milk, cheese and other dairy products, the Chief Minister asked the police department to launch a vigorous campaign in tandem with the health department to crack down on such unscrupulous elements, who were playing havoc with the health of the people. He also asked the ACS Home to rope in the vigilance teams to trap these adulterators indulging in such inhuman practices.

The Chief Minister further said that all the officers who have been recently posted on new assignments strictly on their merit and track record should now perform their duties diligently to effectively deliver the goods in terms of reposing the trust of common man in the policing. Channi categorically said that none of any person without any fault should be implicated in false cases or harassed unnecessarily by keeping them under illegal custody.

The Chief Minister also asked the SSPs to issue detailed directions to all the DSPs and SHOs to ensure that the petty shopkeepers especially the vendors should not be fleeced by taking money from them in lieu of allowing them to put stalls for selling crackers and other items during the coming Diwali. He also asked the police to firmly deal with those anti-social elements indulging in the malpractices of betting/gambling and be given the exemplary punishment as deterrents for others without showing any laxity. He however said the patrolling especially at night during the festival season should be intensified to avoid any untoward incident.

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