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Must worry about citizens’ health, instead of airlines: SC to Centre

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Supreme Court

New Delhi, May 25 (IANS) The Supreme Court on Monday said there cannot be two norms — six feet social distance outside and shoulder to shoulder travel on flights, “the government should worry about the health of citizens than the health of commercial airlines”.

After making the observation, the top court allowed the Centre and national carrier Air India to keep flying back Indians stranded abroad, by utilizing middle seats in each row till June 6.

A bench headed by Chief Justice S.A. Bobde and comprising Justices A.S. Bopanna and Hrishikesh Roy said: “We are of the considered view that the petitioner – Air India should be allowed to operate the non-scheduled flights with the middle seats booking up to 6th June, 2020.”

However, the top court said after this Air India will operate non-scheduled flights in accordance with the interim order to be passed by the Bombay High Court. The bench conducted an urgent hearing on Eid holiday, through video conferencing, to hear the appeals of Centre and Air India against the Bombay High Court order.

The Bombay High Court had barred the middle seat occupancy in on-scheduled international flights on Air India’s pilot, Deven Kanani’s petition alleging violation of social distancing guidelines.

The apex court asked the Bombay High Court to decide on the matter against Director General of Civil Aviation (DGCA) circulars expeditiously, and insisted airlines should follow the High Court order in connection with safety measures. “We make it clear that the DGCA is free to alter any norms he may consider necessary during the pendency of the matter in the interest of public health and safety of the passengers rather than of commercial considerations,” added the bench.

Solicitor General Tushar Mehta contended before the court that immense difficulty has arisen because of the passengers who are stranded on foreign soil at the airports after they were issued valid tickets for travel. And, this has resulted in a lot of anxiety and difficulties arising from want of proper shelter, money, etc., at the foreign airports, he added.

“Moreover, in some cases, the travel plan of families who were travelling together has been disrupted because those in the families who had middle seats have to be offloaded and remain behind,” said Mehta.

The top court said “at this juncture, we would consider it necessary for the High Court to arrive at a prima facie finding regarding the safety and health of the passengers qua the COVID-19 virus, whether the flight is scheduled flight or a non-scheduled flight.”

The top court asked the Bombay High Court to pass an effective interim order after hearing all concerned, in the backdrop of health risk posed by Covid-19 pandemic, on the next date of hearing June 2.

Cities

Delhi’s coronavirus cases cross one lakh mark

Earlier on Monday, an order was issued for all health care facilities to carry out compulsory rapid antigen detection testing of all individuals of high risk groups who visit their facility.

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Arvind Kejriwal Delhi

New Delhi, July 6 : With 1,379 fresh coronavirus cases in the last 24 hours, the national capital on Monday surpassed the one lakh mark of patients to reach 1,00,823. There were 48 more deaths in this period.

The silver lining, however, is the recovery rate, which has exceeded 70 per cent. According to Delhi government”s daily bulletin, as many as 749 patients recovered in the last 24 hours.

Till now, 72,088 people have recovered, 25,620 are active cases and 3,115 patients have succumbed to the deadly disease. This means that the city has a case fatality rate of 3 per cent.

Testing numbers in the city have gone up since the commencement of rapid antigen tests last month. Over 5,327 RT-PCR and 8,552 rapid antigen Covid-19 tests were conducted on Monday.

In total, 6,57,383 tests have been conducted so far in the national capital. Delhi has a total of 455 containment zones.

Currently, 5,250 beds are occupied in the hospitals out of a total capacity of 15,301 beds, 1,714 in the dedicated Covid Care Centres out of 7,869 and 136 beds in the dedicated Covid Health Centres as against the availability of 544 total beds. Over 17,141 people are under home isolation.

Earlier on Monday, an order was issued for all health care facilities to carry out compulsory rapid antigen detection testing of all individuals of high risk groups who visit their facility.

Lt Governor Anil Baijal also chaired a meeting of Delhi Disaster Management Authority to review the Covid-19 situation in the city.

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Cities

Bengal CM launches indigenous ‘Self-Scan’ app

Banerjee said that the new app would help people to scan important documents and nothing will be saved on its server.

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Mamata Banerjee

Kolkata, July 6 : West Bengal Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee on Monday launched an indigenously developed mobile application ”Self-Scan” to help people scan important documents and keep them stored on their mobile phones.

The application was developed by the state”s Information Technology Department amidst a call to boycott all Chinese goods in India. It comes in the wake of Centre”s ban on 59 Chinese mobile applications, including TikTok.

“It reflects patriotism. I would always want to use an app prepared in my country,” the CM said, reiterating that “what Bengal thinks today, the whole world thinks tomorrow”.

Banerjee said that the new app would help people to scan important documents and nothing will be saved on its server.

Besides this, she also announced that Beleghata ID Hospital would be upgraded to a centre of excellence for its outstanding work during the Covid-19 crisis. Kolkata Medical College and Hospital”s haematology section will also have a plasma bank soon.

She said that the state government has taken a project worth Rs 58 crore, namely Jal Swapno, to supply safe drinking water in the rural belts of Bengal over the next five years. “This scheme will benefit about 2 crore people across the state,” she said.

Talking about the Cyclone Amphan relief package, Banerjee said the relief funds were disbursed quite fast, though there were some reports of irregularities.

“We have taken note and are looking into the matter. Let us not do politics over this. We must serve the people who are in real crisis,” she added.

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India

Covid-19: Ex-state BJP Prez Suresh Amonkar dies; 8th death in Goa

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Suresh Amonkar

Panaji, July 6 : Former BJP state President and ex-Goa Health Minister Suresh Amonkar, who had tested positive for Covid-19 last week, died on Monday, Chief Minister Pramod Sawant said.

Amonkar, 68, had been admitted to the state’s designated Covid hospital two weeks back. He is the eighth person to die in the state after testing positive for Covid-19.

“Deeply saddened by the passing away of Suresh Amonkar, former President of BJP Goa Pradesh and former cabinet minister of Goa. His contribution to the state of Goa is immense and will never be forgotten. I express my heartfelt condolences to the bereaved family,” Sawant tweeted.

Last week, Sawant had said that Amonkar, who was suffering from a comorbid condition, had stabilised after his health parameters had slipped into a critical condition.

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