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Battle against Covid-19 still far from over, bold decision of lockdown prevented 37-78 thousand deaths: Harsh Vardhan




NEW DELHI: The Centre on Monday said that the battle against pandemic was still far from over and told the Parliament about its balanced approach of unlocking to revive the economy while seeking for sustained community support to break the chain of transmission of Covid-19.

Making a suo-moto statement on Covid-19 situation, Union health minister Harsh Vardhan said a total of about 40 lakh persons had been kept under surveillance as on September 11 to break the chain of transmission.

Calling the lockdown, a “bold decision”, he said the decision prevented approximately 14-29 lakh cases and 37-78 thousand deaths.

On the vaccine front, the minister informed the members that there are around 145 candidate vaccines globally in pre-clinical evaluation while 35 vaccines are currently in clinical trial.

“In India, a major focus has been on facilitating the development of Covid-19 vaccine. More than 30 vaccine candidates have been supported which are in different stages of development, three candidates are in advanced stage of Phase I/II/III trials and more than four are in advanced preclinical development stage,” he said.

It was the health minister’s third statement on the Covid-19 situation with the first two being delivered in February and March, respectively. Speaking about the current situation, Vardhan said, “We have now moved from ‘managing travel related cases’ to containing clusters and large outbreaks due to local transmission to wide spread of infection to urban, peri-urban and rural areas.”

On the ongoing efforts, Vardhan said the government was proactively identifying gaps and building an ‘Atmanirbhar Bharat’ (self-reliant India) that would be able to take challenges of similar pandemics, epidemics and disasters in future.

He said an expenditure finance memorandum of over Rs 65,560 crores under Prime Minister ‘Atma Nirbhar Swasth Bharat Yojana’ was under consideration. “This includes investment in research, healthcare and public health infrastructure with particular focus on pandemic management,” said Vardhan.

On the spread of the pandemic, he said, “As per WHO, there are more than 2.79 crore confirmed cases across the world with more than 9.05 lakh deaths, with a case fatality rate of 3.2%. As on September 11, a total of 45,62,414 confirmed cases and 76,271 deaths (Case Fatality Rate 1.67%) have been reported in India.”

The minister informed the members that the maximum cases and deaths have been primarily reported from Maharashtra, Andhra Pradesh, Tamil Nadu, Karnataka, Uttar Pradesh, Delhi, West Bengal, Bihar, Telangana, Odisha, Assam, Kerala and Gujarat. All these states have reported more than one lakh cases.

“With our endeavour to manage Covid-19 through a whole of government and whole of society approach, India has been able to limit its cases and deaths per million to 3,328 cases per million and 55 deaths per million population respectively, which is one of the lowest in the world as compared to similarly affected countries,” claimed the minister.

The Times of India is an Indian English-language daily newspaper owned by The Times Group. It is the third-largest newspaper in India by circulation and largest selling English-language daily in the world. according to Audit Bureau of Circulations.

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PM Modi speaks to Japan’s Yoshihide Suga




NEW DELHI: Prime Minister Narendra Modi spoke to his Japanese counterpart Yoshihide Suga and said they agreed that stronger India-Japan ties would help meet the challenges of the current regional and global situation.

“Had a very good conversation with PM Suga Yoshihide. We exchanged views on the tremendous progress in our relationship in the last few years, and the future direction of our Special Strategic and Global Partnership. @sugawitter,” Modi tweeted on Friday.

We agreed that stronger India-Japan ties would help meet the challenges of the current regional and global situatio…

— Narendra Modi (@narendramodi) 1601034901000

He added, “We agreed that stronger India-Japan ties would help meet the challenges of the current regional and global situation. I look forward to working with PM Suga to further strengthen our all-round partnership.”

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Opposition members boycotted last day of session due to some political compulsions: Om Birla




NEW DELHI: Opposition members boycotted the last day of the Monsoon Session due to some “political compulsions,” Lok Sabha Speaker Om Birla said on Friday, noting that they conveyed they have no issues with him.

Birla said he called the floor leaders of all opposition parties for a meeting over a cup of tea and requested them to attend the valedictory proceedings of the house.

“The opposition leaders boycotted the last day of the session due to some political compulsions, while they conveyed to me that they had no issues with me,” the speaker said.

Birla was addressing a press conference here on the conclusion of the Monsoon Session.

Underlining that the productivity of the Lok Sabha was at a historic 167 per cent, he said that despite the threat of Covid-19, the average attendance of MPs in the Lower House, during this session, was more than 300 which sends a very positive message and strengthens peoples’ faith in democratic institutions.

He credited the cooperation from all political parties for higher productivity of the Lower House.

“The Lok Sabha sat for 60 hours instead of the allotted time of 37 hours. In fact, despite the curtailment of the session due to Covid-19, the Lok Sabha was able to function optimally with minimal loss of productivity,” Birla said.

Describing unruly scenes on the last day of the Rajya Sabha as “unfortunate,” Birla said he doesn’t want to comment on the proceedings of the other House and efforts should be made to further strengthen the democratic institutions.

On the issue of the Question Hour, Birla said that members were given ample opportunities to raise matters concerning peoples’ welfare through written questions and the Zero Hour.

Highlighting the enhanced participation of members during the Zero Hour, Birla said it shows that they were given enough opportunities to express their views and were encouraged to participate in the discussions.

Talking about curtailment of the session, Birla said the decision was taken with a consensus in view of the Covid-19 pandemic.

The Monsoon Session of Parliament, which started on September 14, concluded on September 23, eight days before the scheduled end on October 1.

When asked about new Parliament building, Birla informed that the construction work has started and it will be completed within 21 months.

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DNA samples of 3 men killed in Shopian encounter match with families from Rajouri: J&K Police




SRINAGAR: The DNA samples of three men who were killed in an alleged fake encounter with the Army in Jammu and Kashmir’s Shopian district in July have matched with their families from Rajouri, a senior police officer said on Friday.

Asked whether the three men were indeed labourers, as claimed by their families, and not involved in terrorist activities, he said it is a matter of further investigation.

On July 18, the Army had claimed three terrorists were killed in Amshipura village in the higher reaches of south Kashmir’s Shopian. It initiated an inquiry after social media reports indicated that the three men were from Rajouri and had gone missing in Amshipura.

The families of the three men claimed they worked as labourers in Shopian and lodged a police complaint.

The police also launched an investigation and collected the DNA samples of the three families from Rajouri to match with the slain men.

“The DNA report has come and matching has taken place,” inspector general of police (IGP), Kashmir, Vijay Kumar told reporters here.

Asked if he meant that the DNA samples of the three men have matched with the families from Rajouri, he said, “There is positive matching with the families from Rajouri.”

On whether it had been established that the three men were labourers and not involved in any militant activities, Kumar said, “The police are now taking up further investigations in the case.”

The Army completed its inquiry into the matter in a record four weeks.

On September 18, the force said it had found “prima facie” evidence that its troops “exceeded” powers under the Armed Forces Special Powers Act (AFSPA) during the encounter and has initiated disciplinary proceedings.

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