HIGHLIGHTS AT 12.40 PM

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New Delhi, Jul 3 (PTI) Following are the top stories at 12.40 pm: Nation: DEL7 PM-MSME-RETAIL Committed to empowering our traders: PM Modi New Delhi: Prime Minister Narendra Modi on Saturday described as 'landmark' the decision to include retail and wholesale trade as MSMEs, which will allow traders the benefits of priority sector lending, and said his government is committed to empowering the community.

DEL6 VIRUS-LD CASES India records 44,111 new COVID-19 cases, 738 deaths New Delhi: India saw a single-day rise of 44,111 new coronavirus infections, raising its tally to 3,05,02,362, while the death toll climbed to 4,01,050 with 738 new fatalities, the lowest in 86 days, according to the Union Health Ministry data updated on Saturday.

DEL8 ED-DESHMUKH-SUMMON ED issues fresh summons to ex-Maha home min Deshmukh in money laundering case Mumbai: Former Maharashtra home minister Anil Deshmukh has been issued fresh summons by the ED for appearance on July 5 in a money laundering case investigation being conducted against him and others, officials said on Saturday. BOM1 MH-CLASS 12-EVALUATION POLICY Maha govt announces evaluation criteria for Class 12 state board students Mumbai: The Maharashtra government has announced the policy for allotment of marks to the state board students of Class 12, as its exams were cancelled this year owing to the coronavirus pandemic.

MDS1 TL-COVAXIN-ANALYSIS Final analysis of Covaxin efficacy out; vaccine 65.2 percent effective against Delta variant Hyderabad: Bharat Biotech's Covaxin has demonstrated 77.8 per cent effectiveness against symptomatic COVID-19 and 65.2 per cent protection against the new Delta variant.

Legal: LGD1 WB-TMC-LAW OFFICER SG denies meeting West Bengal BJP leader Suvendu Adhikari New Delhi: Solicitor General Tushar Mehta has denied meeting West Bengal BJP leader Suvendu Adhikari at his official residence here after the Trinamool Congress wrote to Prime Minister Narendra Modi seeking his removal over the issue.

LGD2 SC-JOURNALIST-MURDER Gauri Lankesh murder: Decide bail plea of accused uninfluenced by HC order, says SC New Delhi: The Supreme Court has asked the Karnataka High Court to decide the bail plea of one of the accused in the murder of activist-journalist Gauri Lankesh without being influenced by an order quashing charges against him.

Foreign: FGN3 VIRUS-WHO-DELTA Delta variant dangerous and continuing to evolve and mutate: WHO chief United Nations/Geneva: The world is in a very 'dangerous period' of the COVID-19 pandemic compounded by more transmissible variants like Delta, which is continuing to evolve and mutate, World Health Organization Director-General Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus has warned. By Yoshita Singh. PTI AQS AQS

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