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Unplanned implementation of lockdown resulting in chaos: Sonia Gandhi at CWC meet

“The magnitude of the challenge before us is daunting but our resolve to overcome it must be greater,” Congress interim president Sonia Gandhi said at the Congress Working Committee (CWC) meeting.

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The 21-day lockdown enforced to curtail the coronavirus pandemic, which has claimed at least 50 lives so far and infected nearly 2,000, may have been necessary but the unplanned manner in which it has been implemented has resulted in chaos and pain among millions of migrant labourers, the Congress said on Thursday.

During a Congress Working Committee (CWC) meeting held through video conferencing, Congress interim president Sonia Gandhi said the country is in the midst of an unprecedented health and humanitarian crisis.

“The magnitude of the challenge before us is daunting but our resolve to overcome it must be greater,” she said.

Besides Sonia, former prime minister Manmohan Singh and former Congress chief Rahul Gandhi and other senior leaders also discussed the issue at the CWC.

Highlighting the plight of poor and disadvantaged, Sonia said, “In our country, those who are most vulnerable to the consequences of this pandemic are the poor and disadvantaged. We must come together for their sake and do all we can to support them through the difficult days that lie ahead,” she said.

“It has been heart-breaking to see lakhs of people walking for hundreds of kilometres towards their villages without food or shelter. It is the duty of us all to do our utmost to lessen their suffering,” she added.

The government needs to put in place a comprehensive strategy to manage this crisis arising out of the coronavirus lockdown, she said.

Stressing on the need to provide the required support to medical professionals, Sonia said, “Personal Protection Equipment such as hazmat suits, N-95 masks, etc. must be provided to them on a war footing. Equally important are Ventilators and breathing equipment, isolation beds and designated hospitals to treat Covid-19. The onus lies on Governments to ensure that the spread of infection and casualties are not caused owing to lack of infrastructure or preparedness.”

“As far as the Covid-19 virus is concerned, there is no alternative to constant and reliable testing. This is the most effective way to combat it,” she added.

The government needs to put in place a comprehensive strategy to manage this crisis arising out of the coronavirus lockdown, Sonia Gandhi said.

The Congress president also urged the government to make available the details of designated hospitals and facilities offered as well as information regarding the availability of medical supplies to the public.

From referring to conditions of farmers, who are trying hard to cope with the harvesting season, to the those involved with medium and small enterprises, the party interim chief urged the government to help all families who are at extreme risk.

“Farmers urgently require the availability of fertilizers and pesticides, access to easy lines of credit, forward guidance in preparing for the planting of the kharif crop. Above all proper remuneration prices are essential for them to be able to survive the present economic onslaught,” she said.

“Medium and Small-Scale Enterprises have been hit hardest by recent events. The livelihood of crores of our citizens has been imperilled. Government needs to put in place a comprehensive strategy to manage this crisis,” she added.

Sonia also mentioned those working in the unorganised sector, saying “the economic consequences of the pandemic threatens to destroy their livelihood. They are already facing tremendous hardship due to hunger and lack of health facilities. As a nation, we owe them our full and constructive support”.

Touching upon the middle class, Sonia said wage cuts, job losses across all sectors of the economy, high petrol diesel and gas prices were leading to acute distress. “If this was not enough, while EMIs have been deferred, no interest subvention or relief has been provided. This offsets the entire purpose of the deferment,” she said.

“The choices we make today will have a direct impact tomorrow on our family, neighbourhood, community, environment and nation. How effectively we meet this challenge, how we protect all sections of our society, specially the most vulnerable among us will define us for generations to come,” she added.

Cities

Earthquake of magnitude 4.1 strikes Jammu and Kashmir

They said while the tremors caused panic among people, there were no reports of any loss of life or injury or damage to property.

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Earthquake Strong

Srinagar, Jan 16 : An earthquake of magnitude 4.1 hit Jammu and Kashmir on Saturday, but there was no report of any damage, officials said.

At 10:01 pm, the earthquake struck at a latitude of 33.03 degrees north and a longitude of 75.93 degrees east — 93 kms east of Katra, they added.

The depth of the earthquake was 10 kms, the officials said.

They said while the tremors caused panic among people, there were no reports of any loss of life or injury or damage to property.

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Covaxin consent form says vax administered without ph-3 trial

The vaccine is first offered to the healthcare workers, frontline workers and those above 50 years of age, followed by the below-50 population with comorbidities, and finally to the remaining population based on disease epidemiology and vaccine availability.

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COVAXIN Corona Covid vaccine

New Delhi, Jan 16 : Amid the vaccinaton drive against Covid-19, it has emerged that there is a separate consent form for those who are administered the ‘Covaxin‘ vaccine manufactured by Bharat Biotech.

The form says that “In phase-1 and phase-2 clinical trial ‘Covaxin’ has demonstrated the ability to produce antibodies against Covid-19, however the clinical efficacy of Covaxin is yet to be established and it is still being studied in phase-3 clinical trial, hence it is important to appreciate that receiving the vaccine does not mean that the other precautions related to Covid-19 should not be followed.”

The form says that in case of any adverse and serious condition, the receiver will be provided utmost care at the health centre and in case of casuality the compensation will be provided by Bharat Biotech.

“The compensation for serious adverse event will be paid by sponsor BBIL if the SAE is proven to be casually related to the vaccine,” it said.

Serious concerns were raised in certain quarters including by opposition parties and Congress leader Manish Tewari has questioned the efficacy of ‘Covaxin’ while the Prime Minister has warned people not to believe in “rumours”.

The world’s biggest vaccination drive come almost a year after the first coronavirus case was detected in India, and since then the deadly virus has claimed over 1.5 lakh lives and infected one crore people. The first case came to the fore on January 30, 2020 in Kerala.

Two vaccines — the Oxford vaccine ‘Covishield’ manufactured by the Serum Institute of India, and indigenously developed ‘Covaxin’ by Bharat Biotech — will be administered to priority groups. So far, the central government has procured 1.1 crore Covishield and 55 lakh Covaxin vaccines at a cost of Rs 200 and Rs 206 per dose, respectively.

In Delhi, which has 81 vaccination sites, ‘Covaxin’ has been allotted to six Centre-run hospitals while 75 Delhi government and private hospitals will receive ‘Covishield’.

The vaccine is first offered to the healthcare workers, frontline workers and those above 50 years of age, followed by the below-50 population with comorbidities, and finally to the remaining population based on disease epidemiology and vaccine availability.

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Disaster

Magnitude 6.7 Earthquake Hits Russia-Mongolia Border Region

The quake was at a depth of 10 kilometers

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Earthquake Strong

AN earthquake of magnitude 6.7 struck the Russia-Mongolia Border Region on Tuesday, the GFZ German Research Center for Geosciences said.

The quake was at a depth of 10 kilometers, it added.

The epicenter of the earthquake was registered 277 kilometers southwest of the city of Angarsk, in the Russian Irkutsk region, and 30 kilometers from the Mongolian city of Turt, Russian state-owned news agency Sputnik reported. https://bit.ly/2XtgrJs

There were no immediate reports of damage or victims, the report said.

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