Saud Arabia becomes more vigilant amid drastic rise in covid cases 

News Network
April 5, 2021

Jeddah, Apr 5: Saudi Arabia’s critical COVID-19 cases have risen in the past few weeks, prompting calls from relevant authorities for the public to adhere to measures designed to limit the spread of the virus.

At a press conference on Sunday, Interior Ministry spokesman Lt. Col. Talal Al-Shalhoub said the “unfortunate rise in daily cases” is due to “individuals who have been lax in following precautionary measures.” He added: “Each violation adds to the frightening rise in numbers.”

Al-Shalhoub warned that field inspectors in coordination with relevant authorities will remain vigilant, and will issue fines and closures when necessary.

He issued a reminder that infected individuals could be fined up to SR200,000 (Rs 40 lakh), jailed for up to two years, or both, if they violate quarantine measures.

Those spreading misinformation about COVID-19 on social media face fines from SR100,000 to SR1 million, jail time of no less than a year and no more than five, or both.

Last week, 27,083 violations were reported, 32 percent of them in the Riyadh region.

At the press conference, Health Ministry spokesman Dr. Mohammed Al-Abd Al-Aly said there are nearly 800 cases in intensive care units (ICUs) across the Kingdom.

“Authorities noted a drastic increase in daily cases in the past two days, most of which were reported in … Riyadh, Jeddah and the Eastern Province. The numbers we’re recording today are the same that were reported last year,” he added.

“We all remember, painfully, the various leaps in numbers that led to stricter measures. Will we repeat last year’s scenario and reach last year’s peak?”

Al-Abd Al-Aly reminded the public of the importance of adhering to the rules. “Many sacrifices and painful moments were seen and felt in this journey, strict measures and procedures to control the spread — there’s more left to do,” he said. “We surely don’t want to repeat the sacrifices again.”

Regarding the newest update on the Health Ministry’s Tawakkalna app, he said three new icons will show users’ immunization status: Immune (user received both vaccine doses), immune recovered (user recovered from COVID-19 but has not received the vaccine), and immunized with first dose.

Almost 5 million COVID-19 vaccine doses have been administered across the Kingdom, at a rate of 124,158 doses per day as of Sunday. More than 14.3 percent of the population has been inoculated so far.

On Sunday, 673 new cases were reported, raising the total number of those infected to 392,682.

There are 6,169 active cases, 782 of which are in ICUs. The number of recoveries has risen to 379,816, with 504 new ones reported in the past 24 hours, leading to a slight rise in the Kingdom’s recovery rate to 96.7 percent. Seven new deaths were reported, raising the tally to 6,697. In the past 24 hours, 51,414 polymerase chain reaction tests were conducted, raising the total number to 15.3 million.

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News Network
May 9,2021

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Kabul, May 9: The death toll from an explosion outside a school in Afghanistan's capital city Kabul has risen to 58, Afghan officials say.

Officials said on Sunday that medical staff in hospitals were struggling to provide medical care to at least 150 people, mostly schoolgirls, who were injured in the blast on Saturday.

The blast occurred in front of a school in the Shia majority neighborhood of Dasht-e-Barchi in western Kabul.

An eyewitness reported that the victims of the attack were mostly female students headed on their way back home after finishing school.

The death toll in the blasts might increase, Tariq Arian, a spokesman for the Interior Ministry, said on Sunday.

According to the ministry, there were a total of three consecutive blasts in the afternoon near Kabul’s Seyyed ul-Shohada Girls School in Dasht-e-Barchi.

Afghan President Ashraf Ghani said the Taliban militant group was responsible for the attack. 

The Taliban, however, did not claim responsibility for the blast.

Iran's Foreign Ministry spokesman Saeed Khatibzadeh condemned the terrorist attack in Kabul.

Khatibzadeh described the attack against civilians as detestable, particularly as the targets were girl students. He offered condolences to the survivors and families of those killed in the attack.

The violent attack came a week after the United States and its NATO allies began pulling their troops and military hardware out of Afghanistan.

US President Joe Biden announced the schedule to complete the drawdown of US forces by September 11.

The Taliban have issued a warning, pledging to attack US troops if they failed to withdraw as scheduled.

Twenty years on, violence is increasingly rampant in the conflict-stricken country. 

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News Network
May 9,2021

Bengaluru, May 9: The 17 Muslim BBMP war room staffers that were suspended from their jobs and branded as “terrorists” after a communally motivated “raid” by Bangalore South MP Tejasvi Surya's team earlier this week, are expected to get their jobs back from May 10. 

On May 4, the MP along with MLAs Sathish Reddy, Ravi Subramanya and Uday Garudachar stormed the war room and made allegations of a bed-blocking scam during which he read out the names of only Muslim staff and questioned their appointment.

The 17 were part of the 212 staffers outsourced by Crystal Infosystems and Services. Within minutes after the MP singled them out, they were branded as terrorists and many of them were picked up by the police in the night.

Sources said Crystal Infosystems and Services, the company which had outsourced the employees to the BBMP, met Thulasi Maddineni, the IAS officer who is in charge of the South Zone War room, on Saturday and requested for the reinstatement of the staffers considering that none of them were connected to the bed-blocking facility.

To a question, the officer said they have assured the company that the jobs will be restored. "The agency came and requested us to reinstate the issue. For many of the employees, it is the question of their livelihood. The request was made on Saturday. The staffers will be taken back from Monday," she said.

Shivu Naik, manager of Crystal Infosystems, said he was yet to hear from officials but the move was a good step forward considering none of the staffers provided by the company were working in the bed-blocking section. "It's definitely a welcome move. Our company had given a letter to BBMP on behalf of the employees as the job was important to them in the pandemic. I will meet the officials tomorrow," he said.

A day after Tejasvi Surya's allegations, the war room had seen attrition as many employees refused to work citing the leakage of their personal phone numbers. Surya visited them once again and apologised for the leak of numbers. His office has clarified that the MP didn't apologise for what happened to the Muslim staffers as reported by some media.

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News Network
April 26,2021

Karnataka Chief Minister BS Yediyurappa today announced that the entire state including Bengaluru city will go for a full lockdown for two weeks starting from April 27 night 10 p.m. in a bid to contain the raging COVID-19 crisis in the state.

Shops selling essential items and groceries will be allowed to remain open between 6 am and 10 am. Only construction, manufacturing and agriculture sectors will be allowed to function. Public transport will remain shut, Yediyurappa said.

The decision came following a Cabinet meeting that was held on Monday morning as the state registered a record high of 34,000 COVID-19 cases on a single day on Sunday.

“We have come to a decision after speaking to all ministers and experts,” Chief Minister BS Yediyurappa said in a press briefing after the cabinet meeting. 

“In government hospitals vaccination will be free for people between 10-45 years. For those above 45 years, Union Government will provide vaccination free," the Chief Minister said. "From April 27 evening, stringer measures will be in place. Request vendors, shopkeepers to close right after so the police don't have to compel them."

Manufacturing sector constructions, agricultural activities will be allowed but garment factories are prohibited.

There will be no shortage of oxygen henceforth. The Union government has agreed to increase supply from 300 MT to 800 MT, he added.

Public transportation will not function. Goods can be transported from one state to another.

Takeaway from restaurants and home delivery of alcohol has been allowed.

The state especially capital Bengaluru is reeling under a crisis of ventilator and ICU-beds with patients needing to wait for hours to get admitted in hospitals. As of Monday morning, Karnataka has more than 1.6 lakh active cases with an overwhelming majority in Bengaluru.  In light of this, some members of the Technical Advisory Committee (TAC) which held its 99th meeting on April 24 in Bengaluru had advised for a two-week long down.

The state is already under night curfew and weekend lockdown under existing restrictions as the number of cases have been on the rise since the start of April.

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