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India determined to bring Mehul Choksi back: MEA


Choksi was charged with illegal entry by the police in Dominica after he allegedly escaped from Antigua and Barbuda in a possible attempt to evade extradition to India.

India will continue to make all efforts to ensure that fugitive diamantaire Mehul Choksi, an accused in the PNB fraud case, is brought back to the country to face justice, the Ministry of External Affairs (MEA) said today.

”India remains steadfast in its efforts that fugitives are brought back to India. He (Choksi) is currently in the custody of Dominica with some legal proceedings underway. We will continue to ensure he is brought back to India to face justice,” MEA spokesperson Arindam Bagchi said at a media briefing.

He said Choksi was currently in the custody of the Dominican authorities.

Choksi had gone missing from Antigua on 23 May after going out for dinner and was soon caught in Dominica after Antigua police launched a manhunt for him.

Choksi was charged with illegal entry by the police in Dominica after he allegedly escaped from Antigua and Barbuda in a possible attempt to evade extradition to India.

A Dominican court on Thursday denied bail to Choksi. During the hearing, Dominican Judge Bernie Stephenson said the fugitive businessman must answer the charges of illegal entry into Dominica.




India looks forward to WHO’s approval for Covaxin: Foreign Secretary


Noting that vaccines have complex supply chains, he said India has worked to ease regulatory disruptions to these supply chains with key partners through diplomatic interventions.

India is looking forward to the WHO’s approval for its indigenous Covid-19 vaccine manufactured by Bharat Biotech and is in talks with major vaccine manufacturers like Pfizer, Johnson & Johnson and Moderna about sourcing and possible local manufacture of their jabs in India, Foreign Secretary Harsh Vardhan Shringla said today.

Hyderabad-based Bharat Biotech has applied to the WTO for the Emergency Use Listing (EUL) of its vaccine candidate Covaxin. However, the WHO has sought “more information” from Bharat Biotech on its EUL application.

Addressing the WHO’s “South-East Asia Regional Health Partners’ Forum on Covid-19”, Shringla also stated that India was working with several other countries in the WTO on a targeted and temporary waiver under TRIPS to ensure timely and secure access to vaccines for all.

Pointing out that India was fighting an exceptionally severe second wave of the pandemic, he said the country was simultaneously dealing with unprecedented economic and social disruptions and distress.

”Challenges of this nature require a response at multiple levels. Nationally, it requires not just a whole-of-government approach but a whole-of-society approach. It also requires us to source solutions and capacities on a global basis,” he said.

The Indian diplomat said India has, throughout the pandemic, identified and connected with potential suppliers of essential medicines, raw materials and medical equipment across the world. ”The effort to procure urgently needed medical supplies was reactivated during the second wave. We have been a vital part of a global effort to source Liquid Medical Oxygen, cryogenic ISO tankers, zeolites and essential medicines like Remdesivir, Tocilizumab and Amphotericin B.”

Noting that vaccines have complex supply chains, he said India has worked to ease regulatory disruptions to these supply chains with key partners through diplomatic interventions.

Shringla said India would participate in the process of creating global scale capacities that were needed to deal with pandemic scale challenges. A number of serious global conversations were underway on this in platforms such as the G7, the G20, QUAD, BRICS, the United Nations and the WHO itself.

Every crisis, he observed, was followed by growth. ”The same will happen as the pandemic ultimately wanes. We will participate fully in the international process of regeneration through building newer and more resilient supply chains, by focusing on newer technologies and knowledge-driven opportunities and leveraging India’s strengths and capacities,” he added.




India logs 1.32 lakh COVID-19 cases, 2713 deaths


India’s overall tally of Covid-19 cases now stands at 2,85,74,350 with 16,35,993 active cases and 3,40,702 deaths so far.

India on Friday reported 1,32,364 new COVID-19 cases as 2713 more patients succumbed to the coronavirus in the last 24 hours, Union Health and Family Welfare Ministry said.

India’s overall tally of Covid-19 cases now stands at 2,85,74,350 with 16,35,993 active cases and 3,40,702 deaths so far.

On May 25, India recorded less than 2 lakh cases of COVID-19, the first time since April 14.

According to the Health Ministry, a total of 2,07,071 people have been discharged in the last 24 hours, with 2,65,97,655 being cured of Covid till date.

The Health Ministry said that a total of 22,41,09,448 people have been vaccinated so far in the country.

According to the Indian Council of Medical Research (ICMR), as many as 35,74,33,846 samples have been tested in the country thus far, including 20,75,428 samples tested yesterday

Last week, India crossed a grim milestone of three-lakh deaths due to the coronavirus infections, thus becoming world’s third country after the US and Brazil to cross three-lakh deaths.

India registered record deaths due to Covid exactly two week back with 4,529 deaths — the highest number of fatalities from Covid infection in any country since the coronavirus outbreak was reported in China’s Wuhan in December 2019.

It surpassed 4,468 deaths in the US on January 12, and earlier 4,211 in Brazil on April 6. These three are the worst hit by the pandemic.

After battling a brutal second wave for weeks, fresh Covid cases came down below the three lakh mark for the first time on May 17 after touching record high of 4,14,188 on May 7.




Union Health Ministry buys 300 million doses of Biological-E’s covid vaccine in advance


It pointed out that the proposal of the company concerned was examined and recommended for approval after due diligence by National Expert Group on Vaccine Administration for COVID-19 (NEGVAC).

To add more pace to the vaccination programme, the Union Ministry of Health has finalized arrangements with a Hyderabad based vaccine manufacturer, ‘Biological-E’, “to reserve 30 crores of Covid – 19 vaccine doses.”

The Union health minister, Dr. Harsh Vardhan today shared in his Twitter handle that “GOI has finalized an agreement with @biological_e for 30 cr doses of its #Covid19Vaccine candidate undergoing phase 3 clinical trial.” He mentioned that Rs 1500 crore would be paid in advance for stockpiling of doses between August to December.

An issued statement from the Union Health Ministry stated that the Covid-19 vaccine of Biological-E is currently undergoing Phase-3 clinical trial after showing “promising results in Phase 1 and 2 clinical trials.” The vaccine being developed is an RBD protein sub-unit vaccine and is likely to be available in the next few months.

It pointed out that the proposal of the company concerned was examined and recommended for approval after due diligence by National Expert Group on Vaccine Administration for COVID-19 (NEGVAC).

“Biological-E COVID vaccine candidate has been supported by Government of India from preclinical stage to Phase-3 studies.” The statement further read, “the department of Biotechnology has not only provided financial assistance in terms of grant-in-aid of over Rs 100 cr but has also partnered with Biological-E to conduct all animal challenge and assay studies through its Research Institute Translational Health Science Technology Institute (THSTI), Faridabad.”

The ministry informed this was undertaken as part of the government’s ‘Mission COVID Suraksha which “aims to bring to the citizens a safe, efficacious, affordable and accessible COVID-19 vaccine.” It is supporting the development of five to six COVID-19 vaccine candidates. The ministry claimed this has fostered a robust end-to-end vaccine development ecosystem in the country.




India logs 1.34 lakh COVID-19 cases, 2887 deaths


India’s overall tally of Covid-19 cases now stands at 2,84,41,986 with 17,13,413 active cases and 3,37,989 deaths so far.

India on Thursday reported 1,34,154 new COVID-19 cases as  2,887 more patients succumbed to the coronavirus in the last 24 hours, Union Health and Family Welfare Ministry said.

India’s overall tally of Covid-19 cases now stands at 2,84,41,986 with 17,13,413 active cases and 3,37,989 deaths so far.

On May 25, India recorded less than 2 lakh cases of COVID-19, the first time since April 14.

According to the Health Ministry, a total of  2,11,499 people have been discharged in the last 24 hours, with 2,63,90,584 being cured of Covid till date.

The Health Ministry said that a total of  22,10,43,693 people have been vaccinated so far in the country.

According to the Indian Council of Medical Research (ICMR), a total of 35,37,82,648 samples have been tested in the country up to June 2 including 21,59,873 samples that were tested yesterday.

Last week, India crossed a grim milestone of three-lakh deaths due to the coronavirus infections, thus becoming world’s third country after the US and Brazil to cross three-lakh deaths.

India registered record deaths due to Covid exactly two week back with 4,529 deaths — the highest number of fatalities from Covid infection in any country since the coronavirus outbreak was reported in China’s Wuhan in December 2019.

It surpassed 4,468 deaths in the US on January 12, and earlier 4,211 in Brazil on April 6. These three are the worst hit by the pandemic.

After battling a brutal second wave for weeks, fresh Covid cases came down below the three lakh mark for the first time on May 17 after touching record high of 4,14,188 on May 7.




Delhi govt to plant 33L saplings of trees and shrubs: Gopal Rai


Delhi Environment Minister Gopal Rai on Wednesday said that around 33 lakh saplings of trees and shrubs will be planted in a bid to combat air pollution and bring down PM10 levels.

To mark World Environment Day, the Delhi government will launch a mega plantation drive to plant 33 lakh saplings in a year.

Delhi Environment Minister Gopal Rai on Wednesday said that around 33 lakh saplings of trees and shrubs will be planted in a bid to combat air pollution and bring down PM10 levels.

“Chief Minister Arvind Kejriwal had given a guarantee before elections that they would plant 2 crore saplings in the next five years. Following this, the Delhi government’s target is to plant 33 lakh saplings this year, which is near twice the target set by the Central government. Beginning June 5, in all the nurseries of the Delhi government, citizens will be able to take free saplings of the medicinal plants,” he informed.

Rai said that the city government planted 32 lakh trees in the last year. “It is twice the target set by the Centre. We were told to plant 15 lakh saplings but we achieved more than double of it. This year, the target set by the union government is 18 lakh but we will strive to cross the achievement of the previous year,” Rai added.

The environment minister also said that the UT government’s afforestation drive will significantly expand the city’s green cover.

“In 2017, Delhi’s Green Arena covered 299 km, which increased to 325 km, and we are hopeful that this year’s tree plantation program will further increase this to an area of about 350 km,” he shared with the reporters.




SC acts tough with Centre, asks for data and details of vaccination policy and drug availability for mucormycosis


The Top Court stressed on Centre bringing on record an outline for how and when it seeks to vaccinate the remaining population in Phases 1, 2 and 3.

The Supreme Court on Wednesday directed the Government to provide the entire facts and figures related to the percentage of population vaccinated so far, both single and both doses, both in rural and urban areas, along with the documents “reflecting its (government’s) thinking in connection with the vaccination policy” within two weeks.

A bench of Justices DY Chandrachud, L Nageswara Rao and S Ravindra Bhat said, “UoI (Union of India) shall also ensure that copies of all the relevant documents and file notings reflecting its thinking and culminating in the vaccination policy are also annexed on the vaccination policy. Hence, we direct the UoI to file its affidavit within 2 weeks.”

The Top Court stressed on Centre bringing on record an outline for how and when it seeks to vaccinate the remaining population in Phases 1, 2 and 3.

The Top Court also sought data on the percentage of the population which has been vaccinated (with one dose and both doses), as against eligible persons in the first three phases of the vaccination drive. The bench emphasised the data should include the percentage of the rural population as well as the percentage of the urban population vaccinated so far.

“The complete data on the Central Government’s purchase history of all the Covid-19 vaccines till date (Covaxin, Covishield and Sputnik V). The data should clarify:

(a) the dates of all procurement orders placed by the Central Government for all 3 vaccines; (b) the quantity of vaccines ordered as on each date; and (c) the projected date of supply,” it said.

In its May 9 affidavit, the Centre had said that every state/UT government will provide vaccination free of cost to its population to which the court noted: “It is important that individual state/UT governments confirm/deny this position before this court.

“Further, if they have decided to vaccinate their population for free, then, as a matter of principle, it is important that this policy is annexed to their affidavit, so that the population within their territories can be assured of their right to be vaccinated for free at a state vaccination centre.”

The top court directed each of the state/UT governments to also file an affidavit within 2 weeks, clarifying their position and put on record their individual policies.

The top court also asked the Centre to submit an update on steps taken to ensure drug availability for mucormycosis.

The order was passed by the top court in the suo motu case initiated by it to deal with issues relating to Covid-19 management in the country. It has posted the matter for further hearing on June 30.

The Supreme Court had, on May 31, shot a volley of tough questions at the Centre in connection with its Covid vaccine policy and flagged various flaws: the shortage of vaccine doses, pricing issues, registration for vaccination, and lack of vaccine, especially for the rural areas in the country.

(With IANS inputs)




India logs lowest Covid cases since April 9 with 1.52 Lakh cases


India’s overall tally of Covid-19 cases now stands at 2,80,47,534 with 20,26,092 active cases and 3,29,100 deaths so far.

India on Monday reported 1,52,734 new COVID-19 cases as 3,128 more patients succumbed to the coronavirus in the last 24 hours, Union Health and Family Welfare Ministry said.

India’s overall tally of Covid-19 cases now stands at 2,80,47,534 with 20,26,092 active cases and 3,29,100 deaths so far.

India reported the lowest daily new cases of 1.52 lakh in 50 days today.

On May 25, India recorded less than 2 lakh cases of COVID-19, first time since April 14.

According to the Health Ministry, a total of 2,38,022 people have been discharged in the last 24 hours, with 2,56,92,342 being cured of Covid till date.

The Health Ministry said that a total of 21,31,54,129 people have been vaccinated so far in the country.

According to the Union Health Ministry, COVID19 recovery rate increases to 91.60%. The weekly positivity rate is currently at 9.04% and daily positivity rate at 9.07%, less than 10% for 7 consecutive days.

According to the Indian Council of Medical Research (ICMR), 34,48,66,883 samples have been tested up to May 30 for Covid-19. Of these 16,83,135 samples were tested on yesterday.

On Monday, India crossed a grim milestone of three-lakh deaths due to the coronavirus infections, thus becoming world’s third country after the US and Brazil to cross three-lakh deaths.

India registered record deaths due to Covid exactly a week back with 4,529 deaths — the highest number of fatalities from Covid infection in any country since the coronavirus outbreak was reported in China’s Wuhan in December 2019.

It surpassed 4,468 deaths in the US on January 12, and earlier 4,211 in Brazil on April 6. These three are the worst hit by the pandemic.

After battling a brutal second wave for weeks, fresh Covid cases came down below the three lakh mark for the first time on May 17 after touching record high of 4,14,188 on May 7.




Lockdown extended till 17 June as COVID surge goes unabated in Odisha


There will be relaxation of six hours from 6 am till 1 pm in Nuapada, Gajapati and Sundargarh in view of decline in the covid positive cases in these districts.

With no letup in the consistent surge in Covid cases, the Odisha government on Sunday extended the lockdown till 17 June to break the chain of virus infections across the State, said Odisha Chief Secretary Suresh Mohapatra.

The current phase of lockdown enforced from 18 May has been extended to 17 June keeping in view the fact that COVID situation is yet to be brought under control in the State. Earlier the government had clamped the lockdown on 5 May till 19 May.

The restrictions that were clamped in the first two phases of lockdown will remain in force. The weekend shutdown will also be enforced during the extended phase of the lockdown, he said.

There shall be Lockdown throughout the State with effect from 5 am from June 1 (Tuesday) till 5 am of June 17 (Thursday). There shall be complete shutdown on Weekends from 6 pm of Fridays till 5 am of Mondays. The lockdown is primarily aimed at restricting the movement of persons. Movement of goods and goods carriers shall not be affected by the lockdown,” the Special Relief Commissioner’s notification stated.

There will be relaxation of six hours from 6 am till 1 pm in Nuapada, Gajapati and Sundargarh in view of decline in the covid positive cases in these districts.

The State has consistently been logging over 10,000 cases daily in May. The sole comforting development however lies in the fact that the test positivity rate which hovered around 20-24 per cent in the first week of May has currently dipped to 14 percent. However the situation in Khordha, Cuttack, Dhenkanal, Angul, Balasore, Bhadrak, Boudh, Puri and Jajpur districts continues to be grim reporting above 20% test positivity rate




Israel issues severe travel warning for 10 more nations


The Ministry also suggested Israelis to avoid unnecessary travel abroad.

The Israeli Ministry of Health has issued a severe travel warning for 10 additional countries, citing their high coronavirus morbidity.

The countries are Seychelles, Uruguay, Bolivia, Maldives, Nepal, Paraguay, Chile, Colombia, Costa Rica and Tunisia, Xinhua news agency quoted the Ministry as saying on Sunday.

Starting from Monday, Israeli citizens and permanent residents will not be allowed to travel to Russia and Argentina over Covid-19 concerns.

The previously announced ban on travel covers Mexico, South Africa, Ethiopia, India, Ukraine, Turkey and Brazil.

Israeli citizens and permanent residents who want to travel to the seven destinations must apply to an exceptions committee.

Meanwhile, all passengers arriving in Israel from these countries must go into quarantine, including those vaccinated and recovered from the virus.

The Ministry also suggested Israelis to avoid unnecessary travel abroad.





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