PM Narendra Modi to hold meeting with vaccine manufacturers on Tuesday on COVID-19 situation, vaccination drive. PTI PLB BJ SMN SMN
PM Narendra Modi to hold meeting with vaccine manufacturers on Tuesday on COVID-19 situation, vaccination drive. PTI PLB BJ SMN SMN
Mandana Karimi can be seen wearing a grey and pink bikini in the mirror selfie she posted on Instagram.
Not only Modi’s opponents, but even his supporters will have to remember that Modi’s silence is not his weakness, it is an indication that he will reply at the right time
The number of people who have recuperated from the disease surged to 1,79,30, 960, while the case fatality rate was recorded at 1.09%
Repatriation flights will resume once the travel ban lifts on 15 May, but the government has not set a deadline for rescuing vulnerable Australians A stock photo of children at a bus terminal in Amritsar, India. Photograph: Raminder Pal Singh/EPA More than 170 unaccompanied children are among the Australians seeking to return from India as it struggles to contain a deadly second wave of Covid-19, officials in Canberra have revealed. With the Senate’s Covid-19 committee turning its attention to the government’s controversial temporary ban on travellers from India, officials reported there were now about 9,500 Australians who wished to return home from the country – including 950 classed as vulnerable. The vulnerable include “173 clients registered as under 18 in India outside of a family group – that is, they’re on their own and seeking to return to Australia”, Lynette Wood, a first assistant secretary with the Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade, told the hearing. Qantas doesn’t take unaccompanied minors, meaning their only options to get home are Air India and special repatriation flights, which are not set to resume until after the travel ban ends on 15 May. Wood said the government was planning repatriation flights into Darwin on 15, 23 and 30 May, with a focus on vulnerable Australians, and they would go to the Howard Springs quarantine facility. The government also expects a further three repatriation flights to arrive in other state capitals before the end of this month, as announced by Scott Morrison after Friday’s national cabinet meeting. Each flight is likely to carry about 150 people but the government has not committed to a deadline for rescuing the vulnerable Australians from India – and these facilitated flights will not be open to people who test positive to Covid-19 before departure. With the Covid-19 committee focusing on the impact of the travel ban, which criminalised the return of anyone who had been in India in the previous two weeks, Australia’s high commissioner to India, Barry O’Farrell, was asked if he was aware of any citizens who had died of the disease while waiting to return home. The former NSW Liberal premier said Dfat was providing consular assistance to the family of an Australian permanent resident who reportedly had died in India, but local authorities had not yet confirmed the cause. O’Farrell said with the nightly infection rate in India being “greater than the population of Canberra”, and with reported daily deaths of some 4,000 people, he did not believe “anyone can put hand on heart” and say that Australian citizens or permanent residents were not among the deaths. Dfat officials revealed that they had considered, this week, whether it was feasible to help vaccinate Australians in India against Covid-19 but decided against it. O’Farrell said that was due to a range of “legal, logistic and, frankly, government-of-India issues” and noted that Australians were spread throughout the country. But he said doses of the AstraZeneca vaccine arrived in India on an assistance plane this week for the purpose of inoculating Australian diplomatic and consular staff. “It’s clear why it’s needed to do this for diplomats, because we could not help anyone across India if more of my officers – whether locally engaged or Australian staff – went down with Covid,” O’Farrell said. The Covid-19 inquiry also heard from Australians stranded in India, including Sunny, who travelled to the country in May 2020 because his father was in a critical condition with no support during India’s coronavirus lockdown. Sunny’s father died on 1 June, 2020 while Sunny was in hotel quarantine in Delhi. He wants to bring his mother home to Australia with him, but his flights in July 2020 were cancelled due to the Melbourne lockdown. Sunny argued the Australian government had been “totally insensitive to stranded Australians” after he suffered “11 months of misery”. Meg, another Australian stranded in India after she travelled there on holiday in January 2020, said she was unable to fly back in October when her Cathay Pacific flight via Hong Kong was cancelled, and she had not been able to get a seat in the “raffle” of respite or charter flights. “The daily fear of going out and contracting Covid was with us every day and it still is now, the situation is so bad,” Meg said. “The Australian government hasn’t provided any kind of emotional support to those stranded in India … Every time I’ve called [the high commission] for help, guidance, the phone would just ring out no matter how many times you call.” Australia’s chief medical officer, Prof Paul Kelly, was also asked to explain the circumstances behind the health minister, Greg Hunt, making a declaration under the Biosecurity Act late last Friday night. “I was requested from the minister to provide him with advice at approximately 7am that morning,” Kelly said. “Because of the nature of that advice, the complexity of the issues that needed to be addressed, the need for getting this as right as possible, that took us all day and half of the evening.” Kelly said that “right throughout the pandemic we’ve looked for the least intrusive option”. But he argued Australia had been “faced with what was a large number of Australians returning from India … and with very high rates of positive” to the point that there was a concern about the potential failure of the quarantine system. Officials say the expansion in the capacity of the Howard Springs quarantine facility – which takes federal government-facilitated flights – means it will be able to care for 50 Covid-positive cases, up from 25 before. The Labor chair of the committee, Katy Gallagher, asked whether Kelly accepted the travel ban was linked to quarantine capacity. “Yes it is,” he replied. Federal Labor and a number of state premiers have been calling on the federal government to take responsibility for quarantine. After UN officials raised serious concern this week about whether the India travel ban met Australian’s human rights obligations, Dfat confirmed its legal division had been consulted about Hunt’s biosecurity determination last Friday. Marie-Charlotte McKenna, the acting assistant secretary of the international law branch at Dfat, said Australia “takes its human rights obligations seriously” and had taken these into account in its policy responses to the Covid crisis.
New Delhi [India], May 7 (ANI): A public interest litigation (PIL) has been filed in the Supreme Court seeking direction to convert the religious and charitable places that enjoy tax benefits, into Covid Care Centers as well as cease any further transactions with immediate effect and utilise their funds for Covid patients.
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A WhatsApp message began circulating listing out the same presumably Muslim employees named by Surya.
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Daughter of 59-year-old criticises consular officials’ response and says her mother has been abandoned by her own government A man runs to escape heat and flames from multiple funeral pyres of Covid-19 victims at a crematorium in the outskirts of New Delhi. A 59-year-old Australian permanent resident stranded in India has died of Covid-19. Photograph: Amit Sharma/AP An Australian permanent resident has died of Covid-19 while stranded in India, days after the government’s strict ban on arrivals from the country began. The family of the 59-year-old claim their father was “disowned” by the Australian government before he died. Now, they are pleading for help so their mother, who is also stuck in India, can return to Australia so they can grieve together. The foreign affairs minister, Marise Payne, has acknowledged the man’s death, and Australia’s high commissioner to India, Barry O’Farrell, said consular assistance was being provided to the family. However, Payne, O’Farrell and the department of foreign affairs, when asked by the Guardian, have not addressed the family’s claims that Australia’s high commission ignored requests to help repatriate or provide a ventilator to the man in the weeks before his death. Sydney woman Sonali Ralhan’s father reportedly died in a New Delhi hospital on Wednesday, two days after an Australian government determination came into effect that made it a criminal offence for anyone to travel to Australia within 14 days of being in India. The ban applies to citizens and permanent residents, who face fines of up to $66,600 or five years jail, or both, if they attempt to flee the worsening crisis in India. In an open letter to the prime minister posted on Facebook, Ralhan, an Australian citizen, said she contacted consular officials in India a few weeks ago with “great hopes” they would help her parents, long-term residents of Australia, return home safely. Instead, within weeks she would be mourning the death of her father. “I write to you with so much anger brewing inside me,” she wrote on 6 May. “I am an Australian citizen and highly disappointed to be one today. “What nation disowns their own citizens? (It) is a matter of wonder for the entire world.” India’s death toll has topped 230,000 and the country has been setting records each day with the tally of new cases. Hospitals are overwhelmed and oxygen supplies are low. On Friday, the Senate’s Covid-19 committee heard from Dfat officials that the number of Australians in India registered as wanting to return had grown to 9,500, with 950 of them now classed as vulnerable. It also heard 173 unaccompanied children were among the Australians seeking to return from India. At the committee hearing, O’Farrell was asked if he was aware of any citizens who had died of the disease while waiting to return home. The former NSW Liberal premier said Dfat was providing consular assistance to the family of an Australian permanent resident who reportedly had died in India, but local authorities had not yet confirmed the cause. O’Farrell said with the nightly infection rate in India being “greater than the population of Canberra”, and with reported daily deaths of about 4,000 people, he did not believe “anyone can put hand on heart” and say that Australian citizens or permanent residents were not among the deaths. Payne on Friday extended her sympathies to the family, who she did not identify. “Let me extend my sympathy, and that of the government, to the family of this person and to so many families that we know are dealing with what is an extraordinary challenge, with infection rates surging,” she told 2GB radio. “There are very many families dealing with this challenge,” Payne said. On Saturday, opposition foreign affairs spokeswoman Penny Wong said “this was always foreseeable, and it is tragic”. “The consequence of refusing to step up and do the job the prime minister should do, which is ensure that there is safe, national quarantine - it’s a federal responsibility - was always going to be that Australians would be placed in increasingly risky situations,” Wong said. Ralhan told SBS News her parents travelled to India towards the end of last year and had been unable to secure flights back to Australia since – a symptom of the fluctuating number of quarantine spaces in Australia and the resulting impact on flight cancellations and ticket costs. She said her father, who she has chosen not to identify, heard news of Australia’s entry ban while sick, “then his condition kept on deteriorating” while in a private hospital in New Delhi. Ralhan said that without consular help, she was left to track down oxygen for her father in his final days. “My father was still conscious and he heard the news. He got the email from the Australian government regarding the new rule and everything. He was sick, and in that condition, receiving this news really panicked him,” she told SBS. Ralhan says her pleas for help – for repatriation or even assistance in obtaining her father a desperately needed ventilator – were ignored. Instead of offering any real assistance, consular officials only called Ralhan’s mother periodically to “note down her distressed condition”. Ralhan’s mother also contracted Covid and has since recovered, but is grief-stricken and isolated from her children and community in Australia. “All I have left is my mother, who has been abandoned by her own government of Australia, with no way to come back to her children. “We all want to cry our hearts out, but we are saving them for when we are all together again. “With your current actions, there is not much to expect, but all I ask is to bring my mother home and gather the broken pieces of our souls together.” The Guardian has contacted Dfat for comment. With Australian Associated Press
Amid reports of violence continuing to emerge from West Bengal, following the Trinamool Congress's (TMC) win in the recent state Assembly elections, the Ministry of Home Affairs on Thursday rushed a four-member fact-finding team to Kolkata and asked it to submit a report within 48 hours.Headed by an additional secretary rank official, the team is likely to meet administration bureaucrats in the state.
Beijing [China], May 7 (ANI): Ahead of the Chinese Long March rocket's re-entry to Earth's atmosphere, Beijing on Friday dismissed threats posed by the out-of-control rocket, despite concerns raised by experts.
Bengaluru (Karnataka) [India], May 6 (ANI): Amid the surge in COVID-19 cases, Karnataka Deputy Chief Minister CN Ashwathnarayan on Thursday informed that as many as 7,000 medical students in the state will be roped in to provide teleconsultation services to COVID patients who are in home isolation.
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Modi’s government had a choice between saving lives and saving face. It has chosen the latter Workers cremate people who have died of Covid-19 at a crematorium outside Siliguri on Tuesday. Epidemiologists believe the country’s reported death toll is only a fraction of the true figure. Photograph: AFP/Getty Images A few years ago, as Narendra Modi came into power, I worked on an investigative report about India hiding its malaria deaths. In traveling from tribal Odisha to the Indian national health ministry in New Delhi, my colleague and I watched thousands of cases disappear: some malaria deaths, first noted in handwritten local health ledgers, never appeared in central government reports; other malaria deaths were magically transformed into deaths of heart attack or fever. The discrepancy was massive: India reported 561 malaria deaths that year. Experts predicted the actual number was as high as 200,000. Now, with Covid ravaging the country, desperate Indians have taken to Twitter to ask for oxygen cylinders or beg hospitals for an open bed. The crisis has been exacerbated by the government’s concealment of critical information. Between India’s long history of hiding and undercounting illness deaths and its much more recent history of restraining and suppressing the press, Modi’s administration has made it impossible to find accurate information about the virus’s hold in the country. Blocking that information will only hurt millions within the country. It will also stymie global efforts to stop the Covid-19 pandemic, and new variants of the virus, at India’s border. Epidemiologists in India and abroad currently estimate that the country’s official reported Covid-19 death toll – around 222,000 at time of publication – only accounts for a fraction of the real number. The director of the US-based Institute of Health Metrics and Evaluation has estimated that India is only detecting three to four percent of actual cases. Other experts point to total excess deaths in cities such as Mumbai as proof that there could be 60% to 70% more deaths from Covid-19 than the government is admitting to. There are various reasons India could be cooking the books on Covid deaths. For one, the utter failure of the public health system makes it difficult to account for the millions of bodies passing through hospitals, clinics and those dying in their own home. Despite having become one of the largest economies in the world, India has always spent a dismal portion of its GDP on healthcare, with an investment somewhere around 3%, compared to Brazil (9%) or the US (17%). But systemic failure is only one part of the puzzle. The reigning party of the Indian government touted its success in curbing the virus very early in the pandemic, and has never let go of that narrative. As bodies burned in funeral pyres across Uttar Pradesh in April, Yogi Adityanath – the state’s chief minister and a key Modi lackey – claimed that everything was under control and repeatedly refused to announce new lockdown measures, even as he himself contracted Covid-19. This denialist rhetoric is occurring at almost every level. Like India’s see-no-evil approach to malaria or tuberculosis, its Covid obfuscation suppresses “bad news” in order to buoy the country’s international image and the government party’s domestic standing. Not all countries with struggling health systems do this. Some actually at times overcount deaths from other viruses in order to get more humanitarian aid. But undercounting disease is, in many ways, far more sinister. Modi’s government had a choice between saving face and saving lives, and has chosen mass death. India's Covid obfuscation suppresses 'bad news' to buoy its image and the government party’s domestic standing While undercounting disease is a longstanding problem in India, the assault on press freedom is far more recent. Since Modi came into power in 2015, the freedom of India’s expansive media culture has dramatically shrunk, according to sources including Reporters Without Borders. In the last few years, the government has sued or prosecuted several news organizations and journalists, citing defamation or other even more dubious rationales. Controversial laws such as the 2000 Information Technology Act allow for what seem like increasingly frequent, and grossly arbitrary and politically motivated, crackdowns on freedom of speech and press. Indian journalists tell me they are often asked to self-censor their reporting on the Covid-19 pandemic, as well as what they say on social media, for fear of inciting the ire of the government. Many were understandably incensed last week when the Indian central government reportedly made Twitter and Facebook remove posts critical of the government’s Covid measures. Meanwhile, India continues to be one of the most dangerous places in the world for journalists to work, and more than 165 journalists have allegedly died of Covid-19 while covering the crisis itself. (Last month Kakoli Bhattacharya, an Indian journalist who worked as a news assistant for the Guardian, died of Covid.) In the absence of trustworthy Covid information from their own government, Indians are mostly reliant on social media and foreign reporting for the story of what’s actually happening. The result is a public health nightmare for India – and also, I fear, for the global community, which, just as many countries are breathing a sigh of relief, could face another Covid wave that includes new variants. We can learn from other epidemics what that might look like: India was one of the last countries to eradicate polio, and is one of 15 countries that still have a significant number of people with leprosy. India also has the third largest HIV/Aids epidemic in the world. India’s struggles with diseases that have been eradicated or largely ameliorated elsewhere leaves a backdoor for global public health threats and costs billions of dollars in disease burden. These health crises also harm international travel, trade, and other economic indicators, creating new challenges not only for India but for its allies, as well. India likes to tout itself as the world’s largest democracy – and use that moral authority to protect its standing in the global economy and the international diplomatic community. But with a dark curtain separating the reality of the country’s Covid-19 crisis from the rest of the world, India’s standing and authority are at risk. If the country continues to choose political expediency over transparency in the days to come, the people of India, scrambling to protect their families, are the first victims, but far from the last. Ankita Rao is a news editor at the Guardian US
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Chennai, May 6 (PTI) DMK president M K Stalin's Cabinet, including him, would be 34-member strong and he has retained senior leaders like Duraimurugan and over a dozen shall be ministers for the first time.