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States have onus to engage pvt hospitals for Covid treatment: Centre




The Central government has taken a series of actions to prevent, control and mitigate the impact of Covid-19, the Parliament was told on Tuesday.

In a written reply in the Rajya Sabha, Minister of State for Health and Family Welfare), Ashwini Kumar Choubey, said that India followed a “whole of Government” and “whole of society” approach. The Prime Minister, a high-level Group of Ministers (GoM), Cabinet Secretary, Committee of Secretaries and senior officers in the Health Ministry continue to monitor the public health response to Covid-19 in the country.

“The public health actions were taken in a pre-emptive, pro-active, graded manner based on the evolving scenario. A number of travel advisories were issued restricting inflow of international travellers, till such time, commercial flights were suspended on March 23, 2020,” Choubey said.

Till then, a total of 15,24,266 passengers on 14,154 flights had been screened at these airports. Screening was also done at 12 major and 65 minor ports and land border crossings. In the initial part of the pandemic, India evacuated a large number of stranded passengers from then Covid-affected countries like China, Italy, Iran, Japan, Malaysia and again in the un-lockdown phase, a total of 12,43,176 passengers have been brought back.

Noting that health is a state subject, Choubey said that the responsibility of engaging private hospitals for treating Covid cases is that of the state government.

The Union Health Secretary has written to all states and UTs to engage private hospitals through mutually agreeable arrangements. Rates under PM-JAY and CGHS packages have been advised.

The minister also said that the Integrated Disease Surveillance Programme (IDSP) is conducting contact tracing through community surveillance. “In the earlier part of the pandemic, this was done for travel related cases and subsequently for cases being reported from community as a part of containment strategy,” he said, adding that as on September 10, a total of about 40 lakh persons have been kept under surveillance.

There are 1,697 laboratories conducting Covid-19 testing and India is testing about one million samples a day. A total of 5.4 crore samples have been tested so far, as on September 10.

As on September 10, a total of 15,290 Covid treatment facilities with 13,14,171 dedicated isolation beds without O2 support have been created. Also, a total of 2,31,269 oxygen supported isolation beds and 62,694 ICU beds (including 32,241 ventilator beds). Guidelines on clinical management of Covid-19 have been issued and are being updated regularly.

States are being supported in terms of supply of logistics. So far 1.39 crore PPE Kits, 3.42 crore N-95 masks, 10.84 crore tablets of Hydroxychloroquine and 29,779 ventilators and 1,02,400 oxygen cylinders have been supplied to states, UTs, and Central government hospitals so far.

More than 30 vaccine candidates have been supported which are in different stages of development, 3 candidates are in advanced stage of Phase I,II,III trials and more than four are in advanced pre-clinical development stage.

A National Expert Group on Vaccine Administration for Covid-19 has been constituted on August 7, under the NITI Aayog and 13 clinical trials of repurposed drugs have been undertaken to build a portfolio of therapeutic options for Covid-19 patients.

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Punjabi singer Moosewala joins Congress




Famous Punjabi singer Sidhu Moosewala, who was booked on charges of promoting violence and gun culture in a song, on Friday joined the Congress ahead of the Assembly polls in Punjab.

He joined the party in the presence of Chief Minister Charanjit Singh Channi and State Congress president Navjot Singh Sidhu.

During the induction ceremony, Sidhu described Moosewala as a youth icon.

“Sidhu Moosewala is joining our family. I welcome him in the Congress fold,” Sidhu told the media.

Describing Moosewala as a “big artiste”, Channi said with his sheer hard work, he has won the hearts of millions of people.

Moosewala, whose real name is Shubhdeep Singh Sidhu, is known for his hit Punjabi tracks like ‘Legend’, ‘Devil’, ‘Just listen’, ‘Jatt da Muqabala’ and ‘Hathyar’, among many others.

His name also featured in the Billboard Canadian Albums in 2018.

“I am not entering politics for status or to earn praise. I want to become a part of the system to transform it. I am joining the Congress to raise the voice of the people. I am joining the Congress as the party has leaders who have come from common families,” Moosewala said.

He said he is still living in the same house in his village. His father is an ex-serviceman and his mother is a sarpanch. “Residents of my area have expectations from me,” he added.

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‘MLA not a govt servant’, Kerala HC cancels appointment of late leader’s son




Kerala Chief Minister Pinarayi Vijayan. (File Photo: IANS)

In a stinging blow to Kerala Chief Minister Pinarayi Vijayan, who had given a government job to the son of late CPI-M MLA K.K. Ramachandran Nair, the Kerala High Court on Friday ruled that a ‘legislator is not a government servant’ and cancelled the appointment.

Nair, a first time legislator after being elected from the Chenganoor Assembly constituency in the 2016 Assembly polls, passed away in 2018 following health issues.

Vijayan, in a surprise decision, decided to appoint Nair’s son R.Prasanth as an assistant engineer in the Public Works Department, which led to a huge criticism from several quarters.

However, a petitioner from Palakkad, Ashok Kumar filed a plea in this regard at the High Court and on Friday a division bench chaired by the Chief Justice S. Manikumar ruled that an ‘MLA is not a government servant as they have an elected term of only five years, and hence a government job under the dying in harness mode is not applicable and cancelled the appointment.

Incidentally, this judgement comes at a time when a petition is before the Lokayukta after Vijayan sanctioned a substantial sum of money from the Chief Minister’s Distress Relief Fund to clear off the debts of Nair.

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SP’s ‘Vijay Rath Yatra’ in Jhansi, Akhilesh to address public rallies at 9 places




 Former Uttar Pradesh Chief Minister and SP chief Akhilesh Yadav is taking out a ‘Vijay Rath Yatra’ in Jhansi on Friday, with the focus on Bundelkhand and will also hold public rallies at nine places.

As per information, the yatra will traverse through Laxmi Garden, Elite Square, Jail Square, Court Square, Kunj Vatika Marriage Hall, Mandi Tiraha, University Gate, Medical College Gate, Medical Bypass Tiraha, where he will be welcomed by the party workers.

After this, he will address public gatherings at Mahant Laxman Das Kanya Inter College in Baragaon, Rashtrakavi Maithilisharan Gupt Mahavidyalaya in Chirgaon and Tika Ram Kanya Mahavidyalaya.

Earlier, in Lalitpur, Akhilesh accused the BJP of “fooling” the people. He raised the farmers’ issue and said that only a family man can understand the pain of a family member.

In Bundelkhand, Hamirpur, Mahoba, Banda and Chitrakoot comprise a division (mandal). Jhansi, Lalitpur, Jalon is another division. There are seven districts and 19 Assembly seats in the area.

For Akhilesh, Bundelkhand remains a major challenge because the BJP has a strong hold in the area and it had won all the 19 Assembly seats in the region.

In the 2019 Assembly elections, the BJP wiped out the SP, BSP and Congress in the region.

The SP is busy in stitching together alliances with small parties to give a tough fight to the saffron party.

On October 13, Akhilesh had launched his ‘Vijay Rath Yatra’ as part of the 2022 UP Assembly election campaign.

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