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NEW DELHI: The number of new coronavirus cases and deaths have declined in the last three weeks as the spread of the pandemic has stabilised in most of the states, Niti Aayog Member V K Paul said on Sunday, but did not rule out the possibility of a second wave of infections in the winter season.

Paul, who is also the chief of an expert coordinating efforts to tackle the pandemic in the country, in an interview to PTI said that once the Covid-19 vaccine is available, there will be enough resources to deliver as well as make it accessible to the citizens.

“In India, the new coronavirus cases and number of deaths have declined in the last three weeks and the pandemic has stabilised in most of the states.

“However, there are five states (Kerala, Karnataka, Rajasthan, Chhattisgarh and West Bengal) and 3-4 Union Territories (UTs), where there is still a rising trend,” Paul said.

Paul is heading the National Expert Group on Vaccine Administration for Covid-19 (NEGVAC).

According to him, India is in a somewhat better position now but the country still has a long way to go because 90 per cent of the people are still susceptible to coronavirus infections.

On whether India could see a second wave of coronavirus infections in the winter, Paul said that with the onset of winter, countries across Europe are seeing resurgence of Covid-19 cases.

“We cannot rule out (a second coronavirus wave this winter in India). Things can happen and we are still learning about the virus,” Paul noted.

To a query about storage and distribution of vaccine once it is available, he said India has enough cold storage facilities to an extent and this can be readily augmented as required.

“Once the vaccine is available, there will be enough resources for delivering vaccines and making vaccines accessible to the citizens and there will be no concern about resources under those circumstances,” Paul said.

The coronavirus death toll climbed to 1,14,031, the health ministry’s data updated at 8 am showed. The number of active cases of coronavirus infection remained below eight lakh for the second consecutive day.

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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INDIA

UP cop suspended for sporting beard

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MEERUT: A beard grown and kept “despite warnings” has led to the suspension of subinspector Intesar Ali in UP’s Baghpat. While SP Abhishek Singh said Ali did not have authorisation, as rules require, Ali insisted he had sought permission to keep his beard but hadn’t heard back from his seniors.

“I had applied for permission to my circle officer in November 2019. It was forwarded to senior officials,” Ali, posted at Ramala police station, told TOI on Thursday. “This is a matter of faith and a just demand. I will request my superiors to consider my request again.”

The 46-year-old has been serving with the police for the past 25 years and was posted at Ramala this March.

A statement from the local police said Ali had been “warned on several occasions and was served a notice over the dress code.” The Baghpat SP said, “UP police uniform rules are clear… He had been warned several times. A notice was served, but his indiscipline continued. A beard is allowed on a permanent basis only for followers of Sikhism. The armed forces also allow that because the beard is an integral part of their faith. It is not the case with Islam.”

Police uniform rules in India do not allow beard, though moustache is allowed.

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INDIA

Covid: India’s active cases below 7 lakh after 21-day decline

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NEW DELHI: India’s active Covid cases went below the 7-lakh mark on Thursday as the downtrend continued for the 21st day running, with the number of discharged patients outstripping fresh cases in most states.

Active cases on Thursday were 6,99,527, a fall of more than 21,000 from the previous day. The slide in active cases has been continuous since October

2. With 54,723 testing positive for the virus, fresh infections remained below the 60,000-mark for the fifth consecutive day on Thursday. There were 675 fresh casualties on Thursday, after staying above the 700-mark for two days, taking the cumulative toll to 1,17,275.

Tamil Nadu crossed the 7-lakh mark with 3,077 fresh cases, becoming the fourth state after Maharashtra, Andhra and Karnataka to record more than seven lakh infections.

With 7,539 cases, Maharashtra reported less than 10,000 infections for the fifth day in a row. Daily deaths in the state saw a marginal increase from Wednesday but, at 198, continued to remain under 200. The state’s toll is now 42,831.

However, the situation continues to be of concern in Bengal with a steady rise in daily infections leading to active cases crossing the 36,000-mark on Thursday at 36,064. Bengal reported 4,157 new cases, its highest daily spike. Since October 8, Bengal has been reporting highest spike in cases daily.

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INDIA

Autopsy finds Covid patient’s lungs ‘hard as a leather ball’

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BENGALURU: The first autopsy of a Covid-19 patient in Karnataka has revealed presence of the virus in nasal and throat swab samples even 18 hours after death.

Dr Dinesh Rao of Oxford Medical College, who performed the autopsy, said the lungs of the 62-year-old patient were “hard as a leather ball”, with air sacks ruptured and clots in the blood vessels.

“Autopsy of Covid victims helps in understanding the disease progression,” said Rao, who heads the forensic medicine department. The procedure was completed in an hour and 10 minutes on October 10 and the last of the microscopic evidence came on Wednesday.

Rao took five swab samples from the cadaver’s nose, throat and mouth, lung surface, respiratory passages (trachea, bronchi) and skin on the face and neck. RTPCR tests showed the nose and throat samples were positive for coronavirus. “This means that a Covid patient’s body can be infectious. Most surprisingly, it was negative on the skin.”

The autopsy was conducted with the family’s consent. When the patient died, his family members were either in home isolation or quarantine and could not claim the body. “My findings are unique to the findings seen in autopsy reports from the US and Italy. This could mean the virus strains seen in India are different,” said Rao.

Rao plans to publish his findings in a peer-reviewed jour nal.

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