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Daily Briefing: India detects 2 cases of Omicron; As cyclone nears, Odisha farmers start distress sale

While India’s cricket tour of South Africa is set to be delayed by a week after global panic over the new coronavirus variant Omicron, the chief medical officer of Cricket South Africa Dr Shuaib Manjra insisted that there are protocols in place for all eventualities.

By: Express Web Desk | New Delhi |
December 3, 2021 8:10:56 am
A look at the top news today, January 18, 2022

Good morning,

Big Story 

The Union Health Ministry has said that Omicron, the latest Covid variant of concern, has been detected for the first time in India in two cases from Karnataka through genomic surveillance. The Ministry, however, stressed that there was no need to panic, called for strict adherence to Covid-appropriate behaviour and urged everyone to adopt the “universal vaccine” of wearing masks to tackle the new challenge.

A 66-year-old South African national, who arrived in Bengaluru via Dubai last month, and a 46-year-old doctor at a private hospital in the city, with no travel history, are the first two cases of Omicron to be detected in India. Both were fully vaccinated before testing positive and displayed only mild symptoms, officials said.

Seven Covid-19 vaccines are safe and stimulate a strong immune response when given as boosters to people who have previously received a two-dose course of either Oxford-AstraZeneca or Pfizer-BioNTech, as per the first such randomised trial of boosters published in The Lancet. As SII seeks nod, booster trial clears AstraZeneca on the comparative safety of Covid vaccines, and the immune responses they stimulate as a third dose. 

Only in the Express

With more than 260 million cases and 5.2 million deaths due to Covid-19 worldwide, as we enter the third year of the pandemic, it is clear that the battle is far from over. Almost all vaccines that are based on the initial Wuhan virus genome have held on to their promise. But the recent, fierce fourth wave in European countries, more than two-thirds of whose populations are fully vaccinated, and a surge of infections in the US, have sent alarm bells ringing around the world.

Explaining what the National Family Health Survey’s data means, Abhishek Anand and Arvind Subramanian write: “Insofar as health and nutrition are determined by actions of the states, stunting outcomes reflect on their performance. The improvements in Rajasthan have happened under the Congress, in MP and Haryana under the BJP, in Odisha under the BJD, and in UP under both Samajwadi Party and BJP; and the stagnation/setbacks have occurred in Gujarat (BJP), West Bengal (Trinamool), and Telangana (TRS). Neither success nor failure seems to be the monopoly of any one political party.” 

From the Front Page 

A day after Trinamool Congress supremo Mamata Banerjee took a swipe at Rahul Gandhi saying “you can’t be abroad most of the time” and “there’s no UPA now”, political strategist Prashant Kishor, who manages TMC’s electoral forays, said the Congress’s leadership of the Opposition is not the “divine right of an individual, especially when the party has lost more than 90 per cent elections in last 10 years”. Let Opposition leadership, he said, be decided “democratically”.  

Must Read 

With the Trafficking in Persons (Prevention, Care and Rehabilitation) draft Bill 2021 expected to be tabled in Parliament this session, the Indian Leadership Forum Against Trafficking (ILFAT), a forum set up in 2019 by trafficking survivors, has now written to the Ministry identifying gaps in the Bill. Survivors of trafficking have demanded that the draft bill include provisions of funds for the rehabilitation of survivors as well to investigate cases, often across states and even countries. They have also said that the Bill needs to give “more agency to the victim’’ to decide the duration of their stay in protection and rehabilitation homes.

Saying that there are “actionable clues” pointing to a “mastermind” behind the death of Dhanbad Additional Sessions Judge Uttam Anand, the CBI has said it wants to subject the two accused  — Lakhan Kumar Verma and Rahul Kumar Verma — to narcoanalysis, brain-mapping and polygraph tests again. The two accused are alleged to have knocked down ASJ Anand with an autorickshaw on July 28, while he was on a morning walk.

Between cyclone Yaas  and unseasonal rain in the pre-harvest season, Odisha’s farmers have had to grapple with setback after setback in recent months. And now with cyclonic storm Jawad predicted to hit the state this weekend, farmers are resorting to an early harvest and distress sale of paddy as mandis are slated to open towards the end of the month. “Back to back crop damage will leave us with heavy debt. The produce this year has been nearly 40 per cent lower than usual,” a farmer from Sohoda village of Bhadrak district said. 

And Finally 

While India’s cricket tour of South Africa is set to be delayed by a week after global panic over the new coronavirus variant Omicron, the chief medical officer of Cricket South Africa (CSA) Dr Shuaib Manjra insisted that there are protocols in place for all eventualities. Speaking to The Indian Express, Manjra said that though cases are growing exponentially, the evidence so far is that the cases have been mild in general.

Delhi Confidential: A copy of the latest edition of the ‘Who’s Who’ in Parliament library has the wrong photograph against the name of Union Minister of State for Parliamentary Affairs and External Affairs V Muraleedharan. Instead, it has a picture of K Muraleedharan, Congress MP from Vadakara, Kerala.

In today’s episode of ‘3 Things’, we take a look at how the prime accused in the lynching of a student leader died in Assam, the significance of Mamata Banerjee saying that “there is no UPA now”, and the government’s strategy to tackle Omicron. 

Until tomorrow, 
Rahel Philipose and Rounak Bagchi

Express cartoon by EP Unny.

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