Enhanced Delta+ variant of Covid-19 seen in 6 states including Karnataka

News Network
June 15, 2021

Bengaluru, June 15: A dangerous new Covid-19 variant that is potentially resistant to certain drugs has been found in Karnataka and other states with experts stressing the need for close monitoring of the situation.

Research suggests that the new variant, which is officially designated B.1.617.2.1 (or alternatively as AY.1) was first spotted in India on April 5.

Since then and up to May 15, seven additional sequences were identified in five other states, besides one from Karnataka.

According to experts, the increased mobility of people in March and April prior to the lockdown imposed on April 27, could have triggered the mutation, especially as it is a derivative of the B.1.617.2 “Delta” variant which experts already blame for driving the second wave.

Speaking as an independent authority, associate professor Amit Singh, head, Centre for Infectious Disease Research, Indian Institute of Science (IISc), said the larger the scale of the infections, the more opportunity for a virus to add a “gain of function” mutation.
 
“This is a mutation which gives a typical virus increased transmissibility, virulence, immunogenicity,” he said.

Well known virologist Dr V Ravi, who is also the chairman of the state’s Genomic Surveillance Committee, said that there was precedent to show that previous variants of the novel coronaviruses obtained same mutations independently across various geographic regions. 

Dr Vishal Rao, also a member of the Committee, said that the state does not know how many of the sequences are coming from airline passengers of the ongoing “air bubble” international flights and how many are coming from hospitals.

“There is no data. We also need to get clinical correlation by monitoring ICUs and hospitals to find out what the genomic pattern and behavior is. We are not keeping our ears to the ground,” he said.

What is known is that the sequences have been found in states which reported some of the highest incidences of Covid-19 cases in the second wave: Karnataka, Maharashtra, Andhra Pradesh, Gujarat and Tamil Nadu. Odisha also found one sequence.

The largest number of sequences found so far have been in Tamil Nadu (three sequences found out of 562 genome samples). In Karnataka, the sole sequence was found among 1,115 samples.

At the same time, the number of Delta+ sequences being found in India are increasing. Up to June 11, six sequences had been made public. This rose to seven on June 13 and finally to eight on Monday.

Some 158 sequences of the Delta+ have been found across 11 countries to date: Nepal, Portugal, Poland, Switzerland, Japan, Russia, Turkey, the UK, the US and Canada. The first global cases were found on March 29.

What makes Delta+ a concern is that it has picked up a key new mutation in the S protein according to scientists at Delhi’s CSIR-Institute of Genomics and Integrative Biology. This allows it to evade an immune response. The new variant is also potentially resistant to monoclonal antibody cocktail, which has been hailed as a cure.

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News Network
July 26,2021

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Bengaluru, July 26: There seems to be no "closure" for B S Yediyurappa, the BJP's "comeback man" in Karnataka, as he could never complete a full term in office, despite becoming the Chief Minister four times, surmounting odds.

It's also too early to write a political obituary of the 78-year old Lingayat strongman and the 24X7 politician, the face of the party in the State for decades.

From the humdrum existence as a government clerk and a hardware store owner to becoming the chief minister four times, Yediyurappa has navigated the choppy waters of politics with the consummate ease of a seasoned oarsman.

In a repeat of sorts, it is a "cut short" tenure for the rarely smiling and ever grim-looking Yediyurappa as he is stepping down less than two years ahead of the end of the current tenure, ascending to power, exactly two years ago after a murky legal battle and weeks of political drama.

For the architect of the BJP's first ever government to the south of Vindhyas, age is being seen as a primary factor for his exit from the top job, with an unwritten rule in the BJP of keeping out those above 75 years from elective offices; also the high command wants to make way for the fresh leadership, ahead of the Assembly polls, likely by mid-2023.

Among the other reasons that might have contributed to his exit include rumblings within the party with complaints about his "authoritative" style of functioning, his younger son and state BJP Vice President B Y Vijayendra's alleged interference in the administration, and allegations of corruption.

Yediyurappa's tenure as Chief Minister includes seven days during his first term in November 2007; three years and two months from May 2008; for three days in May 2018, following the Assembly polls, which was his third term; and finally for exactly two years since July 26, 2019, his fourth tenure.

A hardboiled RSS swayamsevak, Bookanakere Siddalingappa Yediyurappa was born on February 27, 1943 at Bookanakere in K R Pet Taluk of Mandya district to Siddalingappa and Puttathayamma.

Fondly called "Raja Huli" (King Tiger) by his followers, he joined the RSS when he was barely 15, and cut his political teeth in the Jana Sangh, the BJP's forerunner, in his hometown Shikaripura in Shivamogga district.

He became the Jana Sangh's Shikaripura taluk chief in the early 1970s.

Yediyurappa, who began his electoral politics as Purasabha president in Shikaripura, was first elected to the Legislative Assembly from Shikaripura in 1983 and went on to win eight times from there.

Widely credited for BJP's growth in Karnataka, along with being party's state unit president, he has also served as opposition Leader in the Legislative Assembly, member of Legislative Council, as also member of parliament.

A Bachelor of Arts, he was jailed during the Emergency, worked as a clerk in the social welfare department before taking up a similar job at a rice mill in Shikaripura before he set up his hardware shop in Shivamogga.

He married Maitradevi, daughter of the rice mill owner, where he worked, on March 5, 1967 and has two sons and three daughters. 

His elder son B Y Raghavendra is a MP from Shivamogga Lok Sabha constituency.

Always seen in his trademark white safari suit, according to those close to him, he had keen interest in watching Kannada movies.

Yediyurappa is also seen as BJP's only leader with a "mass leader" stature in South India, and wields considerable influence over the Veerashaiva-Lingayat community, which is estimated to form about 16 per cent of the states population, and is considered to be the BJPs core support base in the state.

He could have landed in the hot seat in 2004 when the BJP emerged as the single largest party, but the Congress and JD(S) of former prime minister H D Deve Gowda formed an alliance, and a government was formed under Dharam Singh.

Known for his political acumen, Yediyurappa joined hands with H D Kumaraswamy, Deve Gowda's son, in 2006 and brought down the Dharam Singh government.

Under a rotational chief ministership arrangement, Kumaraswamy became the CM and Yediyurappa his deputy.

Yediyurappa became CM for the first time in November 2007 but his term lasted just seven days as Kumaraswamy reneged on a power sharing pact and walked out of the alliance.

He became the chief minister once again after the BJP came to power in May 2008 but had to step down in July 2011 following his indictment by the then Lokayukta N Santosh Hegde in an illegal mining case.

In the 2008 polls, Yediyurappa had led the party to victory, and the first BJP government in the south was formed under him, with the help of "Operation Kamala" (Operation Lotus)- an alleged attempt of the BJP to engineer defection of opposition legislators to ensure the stability of the government.

On October 15, 2011, he surrendered before the Lokayukta court after it issued a warrant against him in connection with alleged land scams, and was in jail for a week.

Sulking after having been made to quit, Yediyurappa broke his decades-long association with the BJP and formed the Karnataka Janata Paksha. However, ploughing a lonely furrow, he failed to make the KJP a force to reckon with in state politics but wrecked the BJP's chances of retaining power in the 2013 polls, winning six seats and polling about 10 per cent votes.

As Yediyurappa faced an uncertain future and the BJP looked for a leader with a formidable reputation to lend its campaign the required heft ahead of the 2014 Lok Sabha polls, the two cosied up to each other, leading to the KJP's merger with the BJP on January 9, 2014.

In the Lok Sabha election, the BJP won 19 of the state's 28 seats, a remarkable turnaround for the party which had secured only 19.9 per cent votes in the Assembly polls just a year ago leading to the fall of its first government.

Notwithstanding the corruption taint, Yediyurappa's status and clout grew in the BJP.

On October 26, 2016, he got a huge relief when a special CBI court acquitted him, his two sons and son-in-law in a Rs 40 crore illegal mining case, which had cost him the chief ministership in 2011.

In January 2016, the Karnataka High Court quashed all 15 FIRs against Yediyurappa lodged by Lokayukta police under the Prevention of Corruption Act.

In April that year, he was appointed the state BJP chief for the fourth time.

The Lingayat leader, however, continued to be dogged by controversies, with some cases against him still pending before courts.

The BJP declared him its chief ministerial candidate in the 2018 assembly polls, ignoring the taunts by the Congress.

As the polls threw up a hung verdict, with no party getting a clear majority in the 225-member House (including Speaker), the Governor invited Yediyurappa, the leader of the single largest party, to form the government and gave him 15 days to prove the majority.

However,the Supreme Court asked him to prove the majority in the House within 24 hours following a plea by the Congress-JD(S) challenging the Governor's decision to invite the BJP to form the government.

The three-day-old BJP government collapsed on May 19, 2018, minutes before the scheduled trust vote, with him resigning in a tame anti-climax and hours later Kumaraswamy, the chief ministerial candidate of the newly formed JD(S)- Congress alliance, was invited to form the government.

In the next over one year period, the BJP under Yediyurappa managed to keep the coalition government on tenterhooks as the ruling combine constantly feared poaching of MLAs.

In its best ever performance the BJP also won 25 out of 28 Lok Sabha seats in 2019 parliamentary polls.

The resignation of 17 rebel Congress-JD(S) MLAs came as a blow to the alliance and it collapsed, losing the trust vote on July 23, 2019, paving the way for his return.

Determined to regain the reins of power, amid uncertainties about his political future with growing age, Yediyurappa is said to have played a key role in engineering the defection of the 17 Congress-JD(S) rebels.

Sixteen of them had subsequently joined the BJP.

He ensured that most of them won the bypolls in December that year on a BJP ticket, and 12 are currently Ministers in his Cabinet, as promised.

Though in the last two years, BJP won most of the bye-elections under Yediyurappa's leadership, repeated floods, alleged shortcomings in Covid management and growing disgruntlement within the party and the government, threw challenges to administration.

With growing age and strong central leadership, his declining sway over the party and administration, marred his final tenure, bringing him the criticism of being a "weak CM" from the Opposition parties.

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coastaldigest.com news network
August 4,2021

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Mangaluru, Aug 4: A team of National Investigation Agency (NIA) visited the residence of former Ullal MLA late B M Idinabba early on Wednesday morning at Mastikatte, Ullal on the outskirts of the city. 

The 25-member team was led by an officer of the rank of Deputy Inspector General of Police. The NIA has so far not issued any statement about the visit.

Idinabba, who was also a prominent advocate of communal harmony and unity, passed away in April 2009. His son B M Basha, a realtor, stays in the house along with his family. Basha's two sons stay abroad.

Rumours are doing rounds that the NIA team that came from Bengaluru is conducting investigation based on a suspicion that one of the family members might have some connection with some hardline outfits.

According to sources, Basha’s kin had mysteriously gone missing from Kerala a few years ago. While the family members deny links with any terror organisation, a few media reports had expressed suspicion that the missing person might have joined some terror outfits. 

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News Network
August 1,2021

Mangaluru, Aug 1: The fishing activity has begun across coastal districts of Karnataka today as the 61-day fishing ban has ended. 

As monsoon is the breeding season for fishes, the government had banned fishing between June 1 and July 31 under the Karnataka Coastal Fishing (Regulation) Act, 1986. The ban is to facilitate breeding of fishes in the sea. The fisheries harbour at Old Port in Mangaluru was buzzing with activities, as fishermen and labourers went around preparing nets and fishing boats.

Though the fishing season began today, not all the boats ventured into deep-sea fishing. “The Covid-19 pandemic, uncertainty in markets, fishermen failing to get their diesel passbook to avail subsidised diesel for boats and other factors will prevent full-scale fishing,” fishing leaders informed

There are 80 purse seine boats and 1,200 trawler boats in Dakshina Kannada district. Labourers from Tamil Nadu, Andhra Pradesh, Odisha, Jharkhand work in these boats that engage in deep sea fishing. "Many boat owners had not received their passbooks in order to avail subsidised diesel. Without the passbook, we can not avail diesel by paying the market price,” Mohan Bengre, a fisherman leader said.

A fishing boat requires 6,500 litres of diesel while going on deep sea expeditions. The fishermen get about 9,000 litres of subsidised diesel per month.

A few trawl boats will venture into the sea after offering prayers at Urwa Mariyamma Temple on August 6. Fishermen leaders, on the other hand, said they would go for deep sea fishing "after offering Samudra pooja on August 8.”

The inclement weather with cyclones and rise in price of diesel had affected fishing activities during the last fishing season. The fish catch during 2020-21 was 1,39,714.04 tonne worth Rs 1,924 crore, while in 2019-20, it was 1,79,944 tonne worth Rs 2,031 crore.
 

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