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Wednesday,12-May-2021

National News

Punjab doing more tests per million than national average: Amarinder Singh

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Taking exception to the Centre’s criticism of his government’s management of the Covid-19 surge, Punjab Chief Minister Amarinder Singh on Wednesday said not only was the state consistently doing more tests per million than the national average, but the situation would perhaps have been better had the opening up of vaccination for 45-plus group not been delayed.

Had the Central government acceded the state’s request to allow vaccination of all 50 plus category population earlier, instead of delaying the decision to include 45 plus age population by almost two months, he said.

Reacting to the Centre’s allegation that the state was not doing enough testing and isolating affected people, Amarinder Singh noted that his government had put severe restrictions on social gatherings and closed all educational institutions, with night curfews imposed from 9 p.m. to 5 a.m. in severely affected 11 districts.

He observed the state had been repeatedly requesting the Centre in writing, as well as in meetings attended by the Chief Secretary, that the current strategy of immunisation needs review.

Vaccination in a campaign that covers all age groups in selected areas will lead to better outcomes than the periodic cycles of vaccination targeting a small section of the population at each cycle, he stressed, underlining the need for such approach in any area where weekly testing shows a doubling of positivity rate.

He reiterated his demand for permission for occupation-based immunisation for school and college students and teachers, judges, bus drivers and conductors, etc, everywhere.

Amarinder Singh also took note of the delay in receiving reports of genome sequencing. Of the 874 samples sent, only 588 reports had been received so far, of which 411 samples were found positive for B.1.1.7 (the UK variant) and two samples positive for N440K).

The implication of presence of the UK variant needs to be looked into and appropriate advice is required to be shared with the state, he urged the Centre.

Citing the factual position on the testing front, Amarinder Singh said during the first peak, which happened in September 2020, the positivity rate was around 10 per cent and the state was testing 30,000 Covid samples per day. Now, when the positivity is over seven per cent, the state is testing around 40,000 samples per day.

The state is consistently testing around 90 per cent RT-PCR and about 10 per cent rapid antigen tests, and its per million testing figure is 196,667 while the national average is 182,296, he said.

The state had very limited capacity of testing by RT-PCR when the pandemic started. It was about 40 samples per day and within a very short span of time, the state ramped up its own RT-PCR testing capacity to more than 25,000 tests per day, he added.

National News

WHO has not associated ‘Indian Variant’ with B.1.617: Health Ministry

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Ministry of Health and Family Welfare clarified on Wednesday that WHO has not associated the term “Indian Variant” with B.1.617, now classified as “Variant of Concern”.

Several media reports have covered the news of World Health Organisation (WHO) classifying B.1.617 as variant of global concern. Some of these reports have termed the B.1.617 variant of the coronavirus as an “Indian Variant”.

“These media reports are without any basis, and unfounded. This is to clarify that WHO has not associated the term “Indian Variant” with the B.1.617 variant of the coronavirus in its 32 page document. In fact, the word “Indian” has not been used in its report on the matter,” it said

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National News

Samajwadi MP Azam Khan critical but stable

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Azam-Khan

Senior Samajwadi MP Mohd Azam Khan’s condition is now stable though the next 72 hours are crucial for him.

According to Rakesh Kapoor, director Medanta hospital, “The oxygen requirement of the veteran leader has come down but the severity of the ailment continues. He is in the ICU and is being treated by a team of doctors.”

Azam Khan, who was lodged in Sitapur jail, had tested positive for Covid earlier this month. He was admitted to the hospital on Sunday after he complained of breathlessness.

His son Abdullah Azam is also Covid positive and is being treated at the same hospital. However, the director said that his condition is stable and he is recovering.

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Govt’s mega push for positivity is like burying one’s head in the sand: Rahul Gandhi

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Former Congress President Rahul Gandhi on Wednesday slammed the government over its mega push for positivity to fend off criticism nationally and internationally as “burying one’s head in the sand” and a betrayal of citizens.

In a tweet in Hindi, Gandhi said, “The false assurance of ‘positive thinking’ is a joke on those families and health workers who have lost their loved ones and are suffering a crisis of oxygen, hospitals and medicines. Burying one’s head in the sand is not positive – it is a betrayal of our citizens.”

He also attached a news report in Hindi with the tweet.

On the same day, poll strategist Prashant Kishor also slammed the government, describing as “disgusting attempts to push “propaganda” in the name of spreading positivity.

“In the face of a grieving nation and tragedies unfolding all around us, the continued attempt to push falsehood and propaganda in the name of spreading positivity is disgusting! For being positive we don’t have to become blind propagandist of the government,” Kishor said in a tweet.

The remarks came amid reports of a new strategy of the government, the ruling BJP and its ideological mentor Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh (RSS) to fight massive national and international criticism of the Narendra Modi government’s handling of the Covid second wave.

On Wednesday, India recorded 4,205 deaths, the highest so far in a day with 3.48 lakh cases of Covid-19.

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