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Tuesday,20-October-2020

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PM Narendra Modi says use poll experience for vaccine delivery system

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Prime-Minister-Narendra-Modi

Prime Minister Narendra Modi on Saturday reviewed the Covid-19 pandemic situation in the country and the preparedness of vaccine delivery, distribution, and administration.

The Prime Minister noted the steady decline in the daily Covid cases and growth rate. He further directed that the country should make use of experience gained in successful conduct of elections and disaster management for the vaccine delivery system.

Modi said that in a similar manner the vaccine delivery and administration systems should be put in place.

Three vaccines are in advanced stages of development in India, out of which 2 are in Phase II and one is in Phase-III. Indian scientists and research teams are collaborating and strengthening the research capacities in neighbouring countries – Afghanistan, Bhutan, Bangladesh, Maldives, Mauritius, Nepal and Sri Lanka.

There are further requests from Bangladesh, Myanmar, Qatar and Bhutan for clinical trials in their countries. In an effort to help the global community, Modi further directed that we should not limit our efforts to our immediate neighbourhood but also reach out to the wider world in providing vaccines, medicines and IT platforms for vaccine delivery systems.

National Expert Group on Vaccine Administration for Covid-19 (NEGVAC) in consultation with state governments and all relevant stakeholders have prepared and presented a detailed blueprint of vaccine storage, distribution and administration.

The Expert Group in consultation with the states is working actively on vaccine prioritisation and distribution of vaccines. The Prime Minister further directed that keeping in view the geographical span and diversity of the country, the access to the vaccine should be ensured speedily.

He stressed that every step in the logistics, delivery, and administration should be put in place rigorously. It must include advanced planning of cold storage chains, distribution network, monitoring mechanism, advance assessment, and preparation of ancillary equipment required, such as vails, syringes etc.

Modi said that it should involve the participation of states, UTs, district level functionaries, civil society organisations, volunteers, citizens, and experts from all necessary domains. The entire process should have a strong IT backbone and the system should be designed in such a manner so as to have a lasting value to our healthcare system.

Two pan-India studies on the genome of SARS-CoV-2 (Covid-19 virus) in India conducted by ICMR and Department of Biotechnology (DBT) suggest that the virus is genetically stable and there is no major mutation in the virus.

The Prime Minister concluded by cautioning against complacency and keeping up efforts to contain the pandemic. He insisted on continued social distancing, Covid-appropriate behaviour such as wearing masks, regularly washing hands and sanitation etc especially in the wake of the upcoming festive season.

The meeting was attended by Union Health Minister Harsh Vardhan, Principal Secretary to PM, Member (Health) NITI Aayog, Principal Scientific Advisor, senior scientists, officers of PMO, and other departments of the government of India.

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Amid drop in daily Covid tally, Goa CM Pramod Sawant advocates caution

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Pramod Sawant.

Amid a second consecutive drop in the daily tally of new Covid-19 infections, Chief Minister Pramod Sawant has urged people to not self-medicate in case of a fever and opt for testing themselves for the coronavirus infection.

Speaking to reporters late on Monday night outside the Bharatiya Janata Party state headquarters in Panaji, Sawant also said that social distancing norms and basic precautionary measures like wearing of masks and use of hand sanitiser would continue to be imposed in the coming days.

“Even though Covid cases have come down, social distancing, masks and sanitisers should be used. We need this for a lot many more days ahead,” Sawant told reporters.

The state over the last few weeks had reported a daily tally of between 300 and 500 cases. On Sunday and Monday however, the daily tally of cases dropped to 187 and 159 respectively, with doctors in the state also suggesting that the state may be finally witnessing a drop in the positivity rate.

Sawant also said that while the number of daily Covid-19 cases appeared to be dipping, people should not take the situation for granted.

“It is my earnest request to the people, get themselves tested if they have a fever. Do not self-medicate. It is a new virus. We cannot say when there can be a spike. Precaution should be 100 per cent,” the Chief Minister said.

In all, Goa has reported 40,746 Covid-19 positive cases out of which 3,283 are currently active.

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Kerala local body polls likely to be held in December

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Voting-underway

The postponed local body polls in Kerala in all likelihood are going to be held during the first week of December, according to sources.

The election will be held to elect new representatives to 941 village councils, 152 block Panchayats, 14 district Panchayats, 86 municipalities and six municipal corporations.

This poll is being seen as the curtain raiser of the Assembly polls, which may be held in May 2021.

According to the earlier planned schedule, the newly elected members of the local bodies had to be in office by November 12, but following the sudden spike in the Covid cases, all the political parties agreed to postpone the polls.

According to the present scheme of things, the Kerala State Election Commission has zeroed down on likely dates. Sources say that the poll is likely to be held in two phases in the first week of December and the newly elected office bearers are likely to take charge by December 11.

The voters list, numbering 2.63 crore, is also getting finalised. The number of new voters is around 15 lakh and the poll timing would be from 7 a.m. to 6 p.m.

The current voter list, which is getting finalised, consists of 1,25,40,302 men, 1,36,84,019 women and 180 trans genders. This includes the new voters — 6,78,147 men, 8,01,328 women and 66 trans genders.

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Punjab CM Amarinder Singh moves draft resolution to reject Centre’s farm laws

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Amarinder-Singh

In a move to protect the state’s farmers and agriculture, Punjab Chief Minister Amarinder Singh on Tuesday presented in the Vidhan Sabha a draft resolution rejecting outright the Centre’s “anti-farmer” laws and the proposed electricity amendment Bill, with an appeal to all parties to rise above political interests in the spirit of saving the agrarian state.

The draft resolution seeks annulment of the farm laws and the proposed Electricity Bill, as well as promulgation of “a fresh ordinance making the procurement of food grains on the minimum support price (MSP) a statutory right of the farmers and continue with procurement by the Government of India through the FCI and other such agencies”.

Regretting that several legislators indulged in frivolous activities on Monday to gain political mileage, with some coming in tractors and some spending the night in the Assembly precincts in protest against non-receipt of his government’s Bills, the Chief Minister said he had signed the same at 9.30 p.m., after extensive discussions and consultations with various experts.

Such delays in sharing copies of Bills happen in emergent session, he said, pointing to something similar happening when his government had brought in the Punjab Termination of Water Agreements Act during his last tenure in 2004.

Amarinder Singh said the Bills being presented on Tuesday, the second day of the special assembly session, would form the basis of the state’s legal battle ahead and, hence, needed to be thoroughly vetted before presentation.

The draft resolution expresses the deep regret of the state legislative assembly over the “callous and inconsiderate attitude of the Government of India in attending to the concerns of the farming community on recent allegedly farm legislation enacted by them”.

It reads that the assembly is constrained to unanimously reject the three (farm) legislations and the proposed Electricity (Amendment) Bill, 2020.

Referring to The Farmers’ Produce Trade and Commerce (Promotion and Facilitation) Act, 2020; The Farmers (Empowerment and Protection) Agreement on Price Assurance and Farm Services Act, 2020; and The Essential Commodities (Amendment) Act, 2020, the draft resolution notes that the Union Government had converted the relevant farm ordinances into Acts and notified the same on September 24 and 26 even though the concerns and sentiments of the House were conveyed to the Prime Minister through letter of September 14 by the Chief Minister.

“These three legislations along with the proposed Electricity (Amendment) Bill, 2020 are clearly against the interests of farmers and landless workers, and time-tested agriculture marketing system established not only in Punjab but also in original green revolution areas of Punjab, Haryana, and Western Uttar Pradesh,” it said, adding the Government of India had clearly enacted trade legislations and not farm legislations.

Further, said the draft resolution, these laws are also against the Constitution of India (Entry 14 List-II), which comprises agriculture as a subject of the state.

These legislations are a direct attack, and use of subterfuge to encroach upon the functions and the powers of the states, as enshrined in the country’s Constitution, said the draft resolution, read out by the Speaker.

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