Popular Malayalam TV journalist Vipin Chandh, 42, dies of covid

News Network
May 9, 2021

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Kochi, May 9: Television journalist Vipin Chandh, the chief reporter of Manorama News here, died of COVID-19 related complications in the city early on Sunday, his family said. He was 42 and is survived by his wife and child.

Chandh, who was very active in reporting even during the second wave of the pandemic, had tested positive for the virus two weeks ago and was in home quarantine.

 Later, he was admitted to a private hospital in the neighbourhood. When his condition deteriorated after an attack of pneumonia, he was shifted to a better medical facility in Kochi, where he died at 2 am on Sunday.
 
A native of Alangad in Ernakulam district, Chandh began his journalism career in 2005. He joined Mathrubhumi News in 2012. Kerala Governor Arif Mohammed Khan, Chief Minister Pinarayi Vijayan and senior Congress leader Ramesh Chennithala condoled the demise of Chandh.

"This is a sad loss to Malayalam journalism. My heartfelt condolence to the bereaved family", Khan tweeted.

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News Network
June 12,2021

Bengaluru, June 12: Diesel price on Saturday breached the Rs 100 per litre mark in Rajasthan after yet another increase in fuel rates, which also led to Karnataka becoming the 7th state to record Rs 100 a litre petrol.

Petrol price was hiked by 27 paise per litre and diesel by 23 paise, according to a price notification of state-owned fuel retailers.

The hike, 23rd since May 4, pushed fuel prices across the country to new historic highs.

In Delhi, petrol hit an all-time high of Rs 96.12 a litre, while diesel is now priced at Rs 86.98 per litre.

Fuel prices differ from state to state depending on the incidence of local taxes such as VAT and freight charges.

And because of this petrol retails at over Rs 100 per litre mark in six states and union territories -- Rajasthan, Madhya Pradesh, Maharashtra, Andhra Pradesh, Telangana and Ladakh.

Karnataka got added to that list with many places in the state including Bidar, Bellary, Koppal, Davanagere, Shimoga and Chikmagalur recording over Rs 100 per litre petrol.

Petrol in the state capital Bengaluru is priced at Rs 99.39 per litre and a litre of diesel comes for Rs 92.27.

Sri Ganganagar district of Rajasthan near the India-Pakistan border was the first place in the country to see petrol hit Rs 100 a litre mark in mid-February and on Saturday it also earned the distinction of diesel crossing that psychological mark.

Petrol in the city is sold at Rs 107.22 a litre - the highest rate in the country, and diesel comes for Rs 100.05. Premium or additive laced petrol in the town sells for Rs 110.50 a litre and same grade diesel at Rs 103.72.

Rajasthan levies the highest VAT on petrol and diesel in the country, followed by Madhya Pradesh, Maharashtra, Andhra Pradesh and Telangana.

Mumbai on May 29 became the first metro in the country where petrol was being sold at over Rs 100 a litre. Petrol now costs Rs 102.30 a litre in the city and diesel comes for Rs 94.39.

After Leh, Srinagar too is witnessing near Rs 100 a litre petrol (Rs 99.27). Hyderabad too is in the same league with petrol costing Rs 99.96.

Petrol sells for Rs 101.73 a litre in Leh and diesel costs Rs 93.66.

The hike on Saturday was the 23rd increase in prices since May 4, when state-owned oil firms ended an 18-day hiatus in rate revision they observed during assembly elections in states like West Bengal.

In 23 increases, petrol price has risen by Rs 5.72 per litre and diesel by Rs 6.25 a litre.

Oil companies revise rates of petrol and diesel daily based on the average price of benchmark fuel in the international market in the preceding 15 days, and foreign exchange rates.

International oil prices have firmed in recent weeks in anticipation of demand recovery following the rollout of vaccination programme by various countries.

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News Network
June 1,2021

Bengaluru, June 1: BJP MLA Basanagouda Patil Yatnal, for long at loggerheads with Chief Minister B S Yediyurappa over a host of issues, on Tuesday hit out at his son and party state vice president B Y Vijayendra' visit to Delhi, alleging that he was "running the government in Karnataka."

He said Yediyurappa himself should have left for the national capital and not his son, who left for Delhi on Tuesday, as he has no role to play since it pertains to government matters. "This shows that this is not Yediyurappa's government, but that of Vijayendra.

That's why we oppose this government," Yatnal told reporters. Yatnal claimed the Central leadership had sought reports on a few issues including the proposal to sell land to JSW Group in Ballari region and Covid-19 management, over which they were unhappy. "Our high command has taken a serious view of giving away 3,666 acres of land at Rs 1.2 lakh per acre. Also, the Centre is not happy with the Covid-19 management," he said.

Though the proposal to sell the land to JSW Group was on the agenda in the recent Cabinet meeting, it was dropped owing to protests from from both within the government and outside. About a month ago Vijayendra had gone to Delhi with Home Minister Basavaraj Bommai, triggering speculations of a possible change of leadership.

There were rumours that the Centre wanted Bommai to replace Yediyurappa as the BJP high command was not happy with the functioning of the government. Bommai had dismissed all such rumours as false. Recently, speculations were again rife when Revenue Minister R Ashoka conceded that some MLAs and ministers have been organising meetings to effect a change in leadership.

There were allegations that Tourism Minister C P Yogeeshwar was at the centre of the 'conspiracy', but he has remained silent on the issue Many ministers and MLAs loyal to Yediyurappa have demanded the removal of Yogeeshwar. Yatnal, however, said no one can remove the minister as the Yediyurappa government would not survive.

"The Yediyurappa government will not survive if Yogeeshwar is removed. Yogeeshwar can even come back with the Energy portfolio," Yatnal added. The Vijayapura MLA has for long been at loggerheads with Yediyurappa and Vijayendra over scores of issues and even demanded that the Central leadership "not encourage dynastic politics and corruption" in BJP's Karnataka unit, a reference to Vijayendra and his brother B Y Raghavendra, an MP from Shimoga constituency, allegedly running affairs of the state.

Meanwhile, BJP sources said Vijayendra's Delhi trip has nothing to do with state politics and it was for a function. "He has gone on a family trip to Delhi to attend a function. He is accompanied by his wife and others," a BJP leader said.

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News Network
June 11,2021

New Delhi, June 11: A group of public health experts, including doctors from AIIMS and members from the national taskforce on Covid-19, have said that mass, indiscriminate and incomplete vaccination can trigger emergence of mutant strains and recommended that there is no need to inoculate those who had documented coronavirus infection.

In their latest report, the experts from Indian Public Health Association (IPHA), Indian Association of Preventive and Social Medicine (IAPSM) and Indian Association of Epidemiologists (IAE) said vaccinating the vulnerable and those at risk, instead of mass population-wide inoculation including children, should be the aim at present.

"The present situation of the pandemic in the country demands that we should be guided by the logistics and epidemiological data to prioritise vaccination rather than opening vaccination for all age groups at this stage.

"Opening all fronts simultaneously will drain human and other resources and would be spreading it too thin to make an impact at the population level," the experts said in the report which has been submitted to Prime Minister Narendra Modi.

Highlighting that vaccination of young adults and children is not supported by evidence and would not be cost effective, they said unplanned inoculation can promote mutant strains.

"Mass, indiscriminate, and incomplete vaccination can also trigger emergence of mutant strains. Given the rapid transmission of infection in various parts of the country, it is unlikely that mass vaccination of all adults will catch up with the pace of natural infection among our young population," they said in the report.

There is no need to vaccinate people who had documented Covid-19 infection. These people may be vaccinated after generating evidence that vaccine is beneficial after natural infection, the recommendations stated.

Evidence-based flexibility in vaccine schedules may need to be considered for areas or populations experiencing surge on account for specific variants; for example, a reduced interval for the second dose of Covishiled for areas with surge due to the delta variant.  

"Vaccine is a strong and powerful weapon against the novel coronavirus. And like all strong weapons it should neither be withheld nor used indiscriminately; but should be employed strategically to derive maximum benefit in a cost-effective way," they said. 

While it makes perfect sense to vaccinate all adults, the reality is that the country is in the midst of an ongoing pandemic with limited availability of vaccines, the report said.

In this scenario the focus should be to reduce deaths, majority of which are among older age groups and those with co-morbidities or obesity. Vaccinating young adults, given the present constraints, will not be cost-effective, they stated. 

The report suggested implementing repeated local level serosurveys in real time at the end of the second wave to map the vulnerability at district level to guide vaccination strategy and long term follow up of the cohort of recovered Covid-19 patients to document re-infection, severity and outcome to provide evidence base on duration of immunity after natural infection.

Ongoing research on vaccine effectiveness under field conditions by following cohorts of vaccinated and unvaccinated in different age strata should be prioritised.

Stating the current wave is largely attributable to multiple variants, the experts pointed out that India has done genome sequencing of less than 1 per cent of its positive samples and also lags behind other high incidence countries in another crucial measure, sequence per 1,000 cases.

Achieving a target of genomic sequencing of 5 per cent positive samples looks challenging at the moment, but all efforts should be made to reach at least 3 per cent mark, they recommended while appreciating setting up of the Indian SARS-CoV-2 Genomics Consortium (INSACOG) of 10 national laboratories timely and addition of 17 more laboratories.

The molecular epidemiology investigations need to be accelerated with INSACOG scientists, field epidemiologists and clinical specialists working in synergy to delineate the epidemiological features of the variants with specific reference to transmissibility and fatality. 
 
Genetic sequences need to be tracked to delineate virus transmission both across the community and in health care settings. It can detect outbreaks that may otherwise be missed by traditional methods, the experts pointed out.

They also recommended that syndromic management approach should be rolled out in a planned manner after sensitisation of healthcare staff, along with the optimum utilisation of laboratory testing.

There is an acute shortage of testing facilities for SARS-CoV-2 in rural and peri-urban areas. 

The sensitivity of RAT is quite low; there are chances that some truly positive cases would remain unidentified and thus continue to spread the disease.

"Timely testing of each and every symptomatic patient is not possible and will put a huge burden on the health system and will delay the isolation and treatment. The optimal solution in such a situation is to adopt a syndromic management approach. It should put focus on making diagnosis based on clinical symptoms and epidemiologically linked suspects," they said.

They further recommended that the vaccination status of all individuals tested for Covid-19 must be entered into the sample referral form in the RTPCR app both for individuals tested by RTPCR and RAT. 

The collected information must be analysed periodically to know the status of vaccinated individuals with regards to Covid-19 and its severity including mortality.

As way forward, the experts said that district level sero surveillance may be planned with the methodology of EPI cluster sampling.

" If the seroprevalence at district level, is more than 70 per cent (on account of a combination of natural infection and vaccination,) there should not be any lockdown and return to normalcy should be attempted. 

"This will also help in prioritizing the districts for vaccination i.e. districts with lower seroprevalence should be given priority for vaccination. A fine balance is needed to be maintained between life and livelihood."

The experts also said that if very large number of individuals are vaccinated at a fast pace with limited resources for monitoring of adverse events following immunization (AEFI), some adverse events and deaths will be missed. Also, while some of these AEFI may be coincidental, it may end up contributing to vaccine hesitancy. 

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