Fear mounts as India’s covid infection rate edges up, with second-wave yet to abate

News Network
July 15, 2021

New Delhi, July 15: A rise in India's Covid-19 infection rate is worrying authorities who are concerned that pilgrimages and tourism could prove to be "superspreader" events in the battle to douse a devastating second wave of infections that has killed thousands.

In a pilgrimage this month, thousands of Hindus are set to walk hundreds of miles across northern cities, carrying pitchers of water from the Ganges, a river they consider sacred.

The pilgrims could act as "super spreaders" and set off a third wave of infections, a top medical body has warned.

The Supreme Court this week questioned federal and state authorities in the most populous state of Uttar Pradesh why mass religious gathering should be allowed.

The home ministry flagged the increase in the infective rate as a cause for concern in some states, urging officials nationwide to enforce social distancing and clamp down on overcrowding at tourist sites.

"We must guard ourselves against complacency and laxity, which creep in as positivity declines," Home Secretary Ajay Bhalla told them in a letter on Wednesday, at a time when most cities have lifted strict lockdowns.

Infectivity jumps

The effective reproduction rate of the disease, which health experts call the "R" factor, now stands at 0.86 in the world's second-most populous nation, online publication Our World in Data shows, a jump of more than 25% in a month.

Bhalla warned of the risk of a faster spread of infection when the rate exceeds 1.

"You may be aware that any increase in 'R' factor above 1.0 is an indicator of spread of Covid-19," he added.

Still, the website showed the 0.86 figure is off an April 9 peak of 1.47.

By May, that had propelled India's daily cases to a staggering 400,000, leaving thousands in cities, including the capital New Delhi, scrambling for oxygen, hospital beds, ambulances and ultimately, morgues.

Bodies washed up on the banks of the Ganges.

States had largely lifted curbs as infections slowed, but the second wave has not yet ended, top officials have warned.

India's tally of 30.99 million infections is second only to the United States, with 411,989 deaths.

Prime Minister Narendra Modi has warned against overcrowding and called for vigilance against new variants, saying vaccination efforts needed to be sped up.

India is trying to inoculate all 950 million adults by year-end, but vaccine shortages and logistics hurdles have meant just 8% have received both doses. 

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Ramesh Mishra
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Friday, 23 Jul 2021

COVID-19, DEATH AND INDIA
The true number of dead people due to Covid-19, pandemic India has no reliable system to justify.
Ramesh Mishra
Victoria, BC, CANADA

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News Network
September 12,2021

pate.jpg

Ahmadabad, Sept 12: Bhupendra Patel was elected as the new Chief Minister of Gujarat on Sunday. Patel is MLA from Ghatlodia seat. Patel (55) was unanimously elected BJP legislature party leader. His name was proposed by CM Vijay Rupani, whose resignation from the post on Saturday surprised many.

Patel won the 2017 Gujarat Legislative Assembly elections from Ghatlodia constituency, defeating Congress candidate Shashikant Patel.

Vijay Rupani (65) resigned on Saturday from the chief minister's post. It is not clear what prompted the development in Prime Minister Narendra Modi's home state, where elections to the 182-member Assembly are due in December next year.

Rupani (65), the fourth chief minister to demit office in BJP-ruled states during the coronavirus pandemic, was sworn in as chief minister – his second stint as CM - in December 2017.

"I have resigned as chief minister of Gujarat,” Rupani told reporters after meeting Governor Acharya Devvrat and submitting his resignation letter.

"I was allowed to serve the state for five years. I have contributed to the development of the state. I will further do whatever is asked by my party,” said Rupani, who completed five years in office on August 7 this year.

He first became the chief minister on August 7, 2016, following the resignation of incumbent Anandiben Patel, and continued in the office after the BJP's victory in the 2017 Assembly elections.

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News Network
September 9,2021

Kabul, Sept 9: Cricket Australia said Thursday it would have "no alternative" but to cancel hosting a historic Test match against Afghanistan unless the Taliban backtracks on a reported ban on women playing sport.

The governing body said the first ever men's Test between the two nations was under serious threat after the deputy head of the Taliban's cultural commission, Ahmadullah Wasiq, reportedly said women would not play cricket or any other sport under the new regime.

"I don't think women will be allowed to play cricket because it is not necessary that women should play cricket," Wasiq told Australian broadcaster SBS on Wednesday.

"In cricket, they might face a situation where their face and body will not be covered. Islam does not allow women to be seen like this.

"It is the media era, and there will be photos and videos, and then people watch it. Islam and the Islamic Emirate do not allow women to play cricket or play the kind of sports where they get exposed."

The Taliban said shortly after taking power that the schedule for the Afghanistan men's team would not be interrupted, leading Cricket Australia to announce earlier this month it still hoped to host the landmark match on November 27.

On Thursday, Cricket Australia said driving the growth of women's cricket globally was "incredibly important" to the organisation.

"Our vision for cricket is that it is a sport for all and we support the game unequivocally for women at every level," it said.

"If recent media reports that women's cricket will not be supported in Afghanistan are substantiated, Cricket Australia would have no alternative but to not host Afghanistan for the proposed Test Match due to be played in Hobart."

During their first stint in power, the Taliban banned most forms of entertainment -- including many sports -- and stadiums doubled as public execution venues.

Despite promising to enforce a less strict version of Islamic law this time, the United Nations says women in Afghanistan are being prohibited from leaving home without a male family member and in some areas stopped from working. 

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News Network
September 23,2021

Bengaluru, Sept 23: The number of ‘illegal’ foreigners living in Karnataka is two times more than those whose visa has expired, Home Minister Araga Jnanendra has told the Legislative Assembly. 

According to written replies tabled by Jnanendra in the Assembly, Karnataka has 683 ‘illegal’ foreigners. However, foreigners with an expired visa living in Karnataka are just 260.  This either suggests India’s porous borders or poor data-keeping on the part of the state government. 

Number wise, Bengaluru tops with most of 622 foreigners who continue to stay even after the expiry of their Visa period, followed by Hubballi- Dharwad-18, Mysuru-16 and Ramanagar-11. While KGF has 7 illegal foreigners, Mangaluru (city police) - 3 and 1 in each of Bagalkot, Bidar, Chitradurga, Dakshina Kannada (rural police), Uttara Kannada and Vijayapura.

Of the 683 ‘illegal’ foreigners or immigrants, only 53 have been identified as Bangladeshi nationals, Jnanendra said. A majority of these 683 foreigners are in Bengaluru (619). A total of 112 cases for various offences have been lodged against them. 

Jnanendra said the government had filed 88 cases against foreigners whose visa has expired since 2019. Also, 103 such foreigners have been deported. Some are kept in a detention centre as directed by the Union Ministry of Home Affairs. 

“To curb the illegal stay of immigrants, a Special Task Force has been constituted in every city and district. Personnel belonging to the special team and the police are constantly working to identify illegal immigrants,” Jnanendra said, adding that lookout circulars are issued against immigrants who are on the run. 

The presence of foreigners is also linked with the drugs business, Jnanendra’s written replies suggest. In this connection, police stations have been asked to track information on foreigners and “special operations are conducted to take strict action against those who are indulging in (drugs).” 

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