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Tuesday,30-November-2021

National News

Congress slams Centre for allowing ‘sale’ of Covid vaccine by pvt hospitals

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Prithviraj-Chavan

Senior Congress leader Prithviraj Chavan on Tuesday questioned the Centre’s move to allow private hospital charge people Rs.250/ for the Covid-19 vaccine dosage, the Phase-2 of which was launched nationwide on March 1.

A person aged above 45 with co-morbidities or over 60-years old can get inoculated at a designated private centre for Rs.250 per dose in the second phase.

Taking umbrage at this, Chavan said that in the Phase-1, the Centre had procured 1.65 crore doses of the vaccine at a cost of Rs.210/dose.

“As per the Feb. 1 Budget speech of Union Finance Minister Nirmala Sitharaman, Rs. 35,000-crore has been allocated for the vaccination drive. In this amount, at the cost of Rs.210/dose, more than 1.50 billion doses can be procured,” Chavan said.

These 1.60 billion doses can help inoculate 75 crore of the Indians, covering almost the entire adult population of the country, and hence if budgetary provisions are made, then why the charges (Rs.250) are being levied (in private hospitals), Chavan asked.

He pointed out that in countries like USA, UK or Canada, citizens are getting free vaccines either by budgetary provisions or through insurance companies.

“I demand that all beneficiaries of Pradhan Mantri Jan Aarogya Yojana (Aayushman Bharat) must be given free Covid-19 vaccines,” Chavan said.

Taking a jibe at the government, the former union minister and state Chief Minister said that “despite lofty budgetary announcements and India being the largest supplies of the Covid-19 vaccine, the Modi Government is digging into the common man’s pocket” with the vaccine charges.

In a related development, the Federation of Hotels & Restaurants Association of India (FHRAI) has urged the Centre and Maharashtra government to declare the hospitality sector workers as ‘frontline warriors’ for priority vaccination, said its Vice-President G. S. Kohli.

Meanwhile, Maharashtra witnessed huge crowds for the Phase-2 Vaccination drive at all designated hospitals/centres in the state with senior citizens turning up in large numbers to get inoculated.

National News

Admiral R. Hari Kumar takes over as Indian Navy chief

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Admiral R. Hari Kumar, a Gunnery specialist and an advocate of integrated theatre commands, took over as Chief of the Naval Staff. He succeeds Admiral Karambir Singh, who retires upon superannuation, after an illustrious career, spanning over forty one years, in the Indian Navy.

Admiral Kumar is an alumnus of the prestigious National Defence Academy, Khadakwasla.

“It is a matter of great honour for me to take charge as the Chief of Naval Staff. Indian Navy’s focus is on our national maritime interests and challenges,” Admiral Kumar said as he received the Guard of Honour at the South Block in the national capital.

He was commissioned into the Indian Navy on January 1, 1983. In his career spanning over 38 years, he has commanded Coast Guard Ship C-01, IN Ships Nishank, Kora, Ranvir and the Aircraft Carrier INS Viraat.

A Gunnery specialist, he has held several key appointments, including Fleet Operations Officer and Fleet Gunnery Officer of Western Fleet, Executive Officer of INS Vipul, Gunnery Officer of INS Ranjit, commissioning GO of INS Kuthar and commissioning crew of INS Ranvir.

His shore appointments include Command Gunnery Officer at HQWNC, Naval Advisor to Government of Seychelles, UN Mission in Somalia (UNOSOM II) at Mogadishu and Training Commander, INS Dronacharya.

As a Flag Officer, he has served as Commandant of the Naval War College at Goa, Flag Officer Sea Training, Flag Officer Commanding Western Fleet, Chief of Staff, Western Naval Command, Controller Personnel Services and Chief of Personnel at Naval Headquarters.

He has also served as the Chief of Integrated Defence Staff to the Chairman Chiefs Of Staff Committee at the critical junction during the creation of the institution of Chief of Defence Staff (CDS) and Department of Military Affairs (DMA).

He was the Flag Officer Commanding-in-Chief, WNC at Mumbai, prior to taking over as the Chief of the Naval Staff on November 30, 2021.

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Maharashtra

Omicron concerns: Mumbai, Pune, Nashik postpone schools’ reopening

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Amid concerns of the Covid-19 variant Omicron, the reopening of schools from Class 1 to 7 has been postponed by 10-15 days in Mumbai, Pune and Nashik, officials said here on Tuesday.

The BrihanMumbai Municipal Corporation Commissioner I.S. Chahal and Pune Municipal Corporation Mayor Murlidhar have said that schools in the two cities — both among the worst-hit in the Covid-19 two waves in 2020 and 2021 — will now reopen from December 15.

Similarly, the Nashik Municipal Corporation, which was also among the badly-hit cities in the past two years of the pandemic, has also postponed the schools reopening plan to December 10.

However, all schools in the rest of Maharashtra are likely to reopen from December 1, for Class 1 to 5 in the rural areas and 1-7 in the urban areas with full Covid protocols, as announced earlier by School Education Minister Prof. Varsha E. Gaikwad.

Taking precautions, the BMC is currently tracking all passengers who have arrived in the city from the 12 Omicron-hit nations since November 10 to detect if any of them are infected by the new strain.

The state government has also sought information on all passengers landing at the three international airports in the state in Mumbai, Pune and Nagpur, besides those arriving from other states, by flights originating from the 12 nations.

The BMC has already announced that a 14-day institutional quarantine regime will be compulsory for all such passengers and home isolation will not be permitted under any circumstances.

The state, major cities and district health authorities are gearing up to face the challenge of Omicron by readying hospitals, beds, ICUs, liquid medical oxygen stocks, medicines, doctors, para-medical and non-medical staff, and other health infrastructure to cater to a possible patient rush in the coming weeks, even as Covid-19 vaccination drive has gained momentum.

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National News

No case of Omicron variant detected in India so far: Mandaviya

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No case of Omicron variant has been detected in the country so far, Union Health Minister Mansukh Mandaviya told the Rajya Sabha on Tuesday.

He was responding to a question during the Question Hour.

The Covid situation in the country, he said, is under control but measures are being taking to pervent it from spreading further. A total of 124 crore vaccination doses have been administered to the eligible population till date.

Earlier in the morning, the Union Health Secretary chaired a review meeting with the states and UTs on the emergence of the new Covid variant. The states were advised to ramp up
testing for early identification of positive cases and its management.

Also, the Centre has directed to extend the ‘Har Ghar Dastak’ campaign till December 31 with focus on 100 per cent first dose and completing backlog of second dose vaccinations.

The states were also asked to focus on timely testing for early identification and ensuring adequate health infrastructure.

On Monday, the World Health Organisation said that the overall global risk related to the new Omicron has been assessed as “very high”.

Omicron, labelled as ‘variant of concern’ is a highly divergent variant with a high number of mutations, including 26-32 in the spike, some of which are concerning and may be associated with immune escape potential and higher transmissibility. However, there are still considerable uncertainties, the global health body said.

“Given mutations that may confer immune escape potential and possibly transmissibility advantage, the likelihood of potential further spread of Omicron at the global level is high”, it said.

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