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Raju Vernekar

Raju Vernekar

Raju Vernekar is a Media Professional based in Mumbai and is a regular contributor of Imphal Times. He had served as Chief Reporter at Free Press Journal (1996 – 2015 ). His Activities includes writing for different news papers, script writing/production for TV channels, Films Division. Writing poems in Marathi, Hindi, English, Guiding mass media students and helping people to solve their problems. Raju may be contacted at [email protected]

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Reduce price of COVID-19 test, ICMR to states

Our Correspondent
Mumbai, May 27:
The Indian Council of Medical Research (ICMR) has advised state governments and UT administrations to negotiate with private laboratories and fix up mutually agreeable prices for samples being sent by the government and also for private individuals desirous of testing by these labs.
“Testing supplies are stabilising and due to the availability of a variety of testing materials and kits, including indigenous ones, the prices are becoming competitive and are undergoing reduction.  Considering these developments and the evolving prices of the testing kits, the earlier suggested upper ceiling of Rs 4,500 may not be applicable now, ICMR Director-General Dr Balram Bhargava, wrote in a letter addressed to states.
“At the beginning of COVID-19 pandemic, there was a paucity of testing kits as India was heavily reliant on imported products for the detection of the novel coronavirus. Considering the cost of imported kits, the ICMR had suggested Rs 4,500 as the upper limit of a single test,” Bhargava wrote. In a letter dated 17 March 2020, the ICMR had suggested Rs 4,500 price cap for private labs testing the novel coronavirus.
However private laboratories claim that Rs 4,500 price cap for COVID -19 test is one of the reasons behind low testing. According to an analysis, on 16 April, private labs did a little over 15 percent of the total 28,340 tests done that day. And on 23 May, that figure was 19 percent of the total 1,10,397 tests done.
According to ICMR, unlike March, today there’s ample of alternative testing kits and supplies which can be used. Hence, the price should be revised accordingly. In the meanwhile centre is studying whether two lakh tests could be conducted per day.
In January 2020, India had only one laboratory testing for COVID-19, at the ICMR’ National Institute of Virology, Pune. Today there are 555 laboratories across the country, performing molecular tests for diagnosis of COVID-19 -an unparalleled achievement in the history of the Indian health system. The remarkable story of how India became fully self-reliant in its testing capabilities, despite starting from scratch just a few months ago, is one about the steely resolve of multiple agencies, working together round-the-clock to save lives, ICMR’s scientists said.

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Passenger on Delhi-Ludhiana AI flight tests positive, 40 others quarantined

Our Correspondent

Mumbai, May 27:

One passenger on Air India’s Delhi-Ludhiana flight tested positive for coronavirus and as such, the airline has quarantined a total of 36 passengers on the flight along with 4 crew members in Ludhiana, following the Punjab government rules, on Tuesday.

“The passenger who works in the security department of “Alliance Air”,  flew on AI 9I837 Delhi-Ludhiana domestic flight on the second day of flight operations in India in the lockdown, on a paid ticket. A 50-year-old man, is a permanent resident of Delhi. He came back from Delhi on 25 May on board a domestic flight.

Earlier a passenger on an “Indigo” flight from Chennai to Coimbatore, tested positive for coronavirus. The passenger himself has been quarantined at ESI state medical facility at Coimbatore. As such “Indigo” grounded the entire crew of the flight for 14 days. The airline  said they were trying to reach out to the passengers of the flight as per government norms.

“We received confirmation from the Coimbatore airport doctor that a passenger who travelled on 6E 381 from Chennai to Coimbatore on 25 May in the evening, tested positive for Covid-19,” said the airline in a statement. He is currently quarantined at an ESI state medical facility in Coimbatore.

While over 39,000 passengers flew on the first day of flight operations resuming across states, some 42,000 passengers flew on the second day. While many flights were cancelled over the two days, the airports across the country managed to fly over 1,000 flights in the first two days. Airlines also began operating from Andhra Pradesh on Tuesday while flights will resume in West Bengal from Thursday that is expected to increase the passenger traffic.

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A tension within MVA seemingly defused

Our Correspondent

Mumbai, May 27:

Chief Minister Uddhav Thackeray heading three party (Maha Vikas Aghadi) Maharashtra Government got a little relief after he had a telephonic conversation with Congress leader Rahul Gandhi, about measures being taken to combat ongoing COVID-19 pandemic, on Wednesday.

Rahul Gandhi assured full support to the government and scotched rumors that the Congress may pull out of the government, since it had no “respectable” role in the state government, sources here said.

On Tuesday, in a media interaction Rahul Gandhi had tried to distance away from the spread of the virus in Maharashtra saying that Congress is not in a decision making role in the state.  He had said that there is a difference between running the government and supporting the government. The Congress can be considered to be in a decision making role in states like Punjab and Rajasthan, but not in Maharashtra. Earlier. another senior Congress leader from Maharashtra Prithviraj Chavan had also remarked that the Government in Maharashtra was a “Shiv Sena” Government and not the “Congress Government”.

Thackeray assured Gandhi that the suggestions by the Congress will be given due importance. The Congress has several important ministries in Maharashtra including Education, energy, public works, revenue etc.

The efforts by Opposition BJP to “expose” shortcomings of Maharashtra Government in handling “COVID-19” are already on by submitting petitions to the Governor, addressing media through video conferencing etc.

In the meanwhile Thackeray held a meeting of all the constituents of his government at his official residence “Varsha” in South Mumbai on Wednesday.  The meeting was on at the time of filing this report.

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SC seeks report on migrant workers

Our Correspondent

Mumbai, May 27:

The Supreme Court has asked the Union Government to furnish information by Thursday, about steps being taken to help migrant workers stranded due to the nationwide Covid-19 lockdown and has asked Solicitor General Tushar Mehta to assist it on the issue.

Taking a suo motu cognizance of plight of migrant labourers, stranded in different parts of the country, a bench comprising Justices Ashok Bhushan, Sanjay Kishan Kaul and M R Shah issued notice to the Centre, states and Union Territories on Tuesday and sought their replies by Thursday, on the steps taken to redeem the situation.

The apex court said that there have been lapses on part of Centre and state governments and immediate measures are required to provide travel dacilities, shelter and food to migrant labourers. The SC said, “this section of the society needs succour and help” by the governments concerned. It was unfortunate that the plight of the migrant workers remains unchanged despite announcement of Rs.20 lakh crore economic relief package by PM to bring life into the Indian economy battered by COVID-19".

The bench said it was taking suo motu note of media reports and the many representations it  received about the plight of migrants. In its preliminary remarks recorded in the order, the bench said the central and state governments should immediately make necessary t arrangements, “free of cost”. The government and the states had taken measures “yet there have been inadequacies and certain lapses”, the bench observed.

“We are of the view that effective concentrated efforts are required to redeem the situation,” the bench said in its two-page order, the large part of which was devoted to outlining the reasons why the court had decided to take up the issue on its own.

Media reports, the order said, had been “continuously showing the unfortunate and miserable conditions of migrant labourers” walking on-foot and cycles from long distances. They have also been complaining of not being provided food and water by the administration at places where they were stranded in the way i.e. highways from which they proceeded on-foot, cycles or other modes of transport.

Tuesday’s EC notice came barely 10 days after another bench refused to intervene on a petition that wanted the government to identify stranded migrant workers, take care of their needs and provide free transport to them. After the nation wide lock down came into force,  the SC had declined to push the government to do more for the migrant workers. On 27 April, the court had closed another petition on the plight of migrant workers after the Centre insisted that all arrangements were made for the migrant workers at 26,000 plus relief camps.

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