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Daily Briefing: Centre concerned over Covid-19 situation in Chhattisgarh and UP; ICSE and ISC exams put off

A day after the death of the head of the Maha Nirvani Akhada from Madhya Pradesh, who had arrived for the Kumbh and tested positive for the coronavirus, several akhadas rushed to take precautionary steps.

By: Express Web Desk | New Delhi |
Updated: April 17, 2021 8:34:02 am
A look at the top news today, April 22, 2021.

Good morning,

The Second Wave

As Covid-19 cases continue rising unabated across the country, Union Home Secretary Ajay Bhalla and Union Health Secretary Rajesh Bhushan chaired high-level meetings to review the status in two states of concern — Chhattisgarh and Uttar Pradesh. During the meeting, shortage of hospital infrastructure being reported in both states, including ICU and oxygen-supported hospitals beds, resulting in difficulty to the public in easily accessing critical healthcare services, were discussed in detail. 

With shortage of vaccines being reported from across the country, Adar Poonawalla, CEO of Serum Institute of India, the company that produces the Oxford AstraZeneca vaccine, appealed to US President Joe Biden to lift the embargo on export of raw materials needed to manufacture vaccines out of the United States so that production can be fast-tracked.

A day after the death of the head of the Maha Nirvani Akhada from Madhya Pradesh, who had arrived for the Kumbh and tested positive for the coronavirus, several akhadas rushed to take precautionary steps. At least 59 saints have tested positive so far, including the president of the Akhil Bharatiya Akhada Parishad, apart from more than 200 pilgrims (of 1.54 lakh tested), even as officials fumble before the impossible task of keeping the virus out at a gathering that has seen crowds up to 32 lakh.

In a relief for thousands of students and their family members across India, The Council for the Indian School Certificate Examinations deferred the board exams for Classes X and XII, scheduled to begin on May 4. The council informed that a final decision would be taken by the first week of June after reviewing the Covid-19 situation.

Only in the Express 

With schools and colleges shut for over a year in response to Covid-19, it has undoubtedly been a situation without parallel and as education emerges out of this churn, there has been an attempt to see what has changed. How different will institutions be in a post-Covid world? Is this the disruption education needed? And will it transform education in India for the better? As part of IE Thinc — an initiative of The Indian Expressour experts answer some of the questions.

From the Front Page 

There’s some good news for all rain lovers as the India Meteorological Department, in its first stage Long Range Forecast, has said that monsoon will be normal this year. If the forecast is accurate, this will be the third consecutive year of normal monsoon in the country. 

The UK government has approved the extradition of fugitive jeweller Nirav Modi — wanted in the Rs 13,500 crore Punjab National Bank loan fraud case by CBI and the Enforcement Directorate — to India. Unless overturned by the High Court in the country, Modi should be brought back to India soon, sources said. Modi had fled India in 2018 and was finally arrested in the UK a year later. 

A day after the video of Saima Akhter, a Special Police Officer in Jammu and Kashmir, objecting to frequent searches of her house by the Army in South Kashmir went viral, the J&K Police arrested her under anti-terror laws and terminated her services. Police said the action against the SPO was taken for “glorifying terrorism and obstructing government officials in the discharge of duty”.

Must Read 

Amid the fifth phase of the West Bengal Assembly elections and a sharp spike in coronavirus cases, Gorkhaland does not echo anymore in the Darjeeling hills anymore, rather the fear of another lockdown looms large. “Our bellies are tied with tourists. Another lockdown will finish us,” said one Darjeeling resident. 

In an all-party meeting held by West Bengal’s Chief Electoral Officer to address campaigning strategies amid the Covid surge, the Election Commission banned all forms of campaigning, including rallies, street plays and nukkad sabhas, between 7 pm and 10 am in West Bengal starting Friday. But the EC denied Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee’s request to club the remaining phases of the election together. 

UK health authorities have identified 77 cases of the highly infectious B.1.617 variant of coronavirus which causes COVID-19, first found in India, and has designated it a Variant Under Investigation (VUI).

ICYMI 

With crowding being witnessed at many places across Maharashtra, senior ministers and Maha Vikas Aghadi (MVA) leaders warned that the government may have to impose tighter restrictions to prevent Covid-19 cases from spreading.

After showing signs of illness while campaigning for the upcoming bypolls in Karnataka, CM B S Yediyurappa tested positive for Covid-19 in a rare case of re-infection. 

Eight people were shot and killed in a shooting late Thursday at a Fedex facility in Indianapolis, police said.

And Finally 

There have been very few times in the last one year that we have heard farmers being happy. Now is one such instance as the phones of many growers were buzzing with messages announcing the credit of the minimum support price of their produce into their bank accounts. Direct benefit transfers have finally started and for now, it is being made on the basis of Aadhaar and the quantity of crop being brought to the mandis.

Delhi Confidential: Amid the surge in Covid-19 cases, British Prime Minister Boris Johnson’s visit is on schedule as of now, it appears. He is likely to come on April 25-26 but will not visit other cities as planned earlier. 

Until tomorrow, 

Rounak Bagchi and Rahel Philipose 

Express Cartoon by EP Unny

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