Tue, 02 June 2020
Mumbai airport readies for cyclone Nisarga
Photograph: Rajesh Karkera / Rediff.com
23:38 Mumbai airport readies for cyclone Nisarga
Airport operator MIAL on Tuesday said it has taken various measures to safeguard passengers and the aircraft at the aerodrome in the wake of cyclone Nisarga, which is expected to make landfall close to the city on Wednesday.
Aviation regulator DGCA has issued a circular to airlines and pilots reiterating its guidelines on adverse weather operations.
As part of the exercise, preventive checks at different airport functions have been carried out and the airport has ensured that diesel generator sets are in place to provide uninterrupted power supply, the Mumbai International Airport Ltd (MIAL) said in a release.
A meeting was held with all stakeholders on the issue of devising preventive measures to tackle potential adversities accompanied by the cyclone, the airport operator said.
Additionally, water pumps have been positioned across the airport to clear water in case of waterlogging, it added.
Furthermore, food and beverage counters at the airport will be operational for passengers round-the-clock, it said, adding that these counters will continue to operate the safety measures adopted against ongoing pandemic.
A dedicated team has been placed on standby at the airport to assist in this situation while other measures include efficient personnel management to account for the possibility that the relieving team may not be able to reach the airport to take over their shift, besides the logistical supports arrangement like vehicles, food and tea/coffee, among others.
Earlier, the Directorate General of Civil Aviation in a circular said the domestic aviation activities have recently been started after a period of two months and the operators and individuals have a challenge at hand in restarting flying after a prolonged period of non-flying and the associated weather at this time of the year across India.
This circular is being issued to operators and pilots to reiterate some existing guidelines on adverse weather operations and suggested measures "to cater for the gap in flying of pilots", it said.
"Fuel uplift calculation should be done very judiciously and it should take into account en route and destination weather and trend forecast," the DGCA said while stating in another guideline that "correct use of weather radar is very important, a common error is not having the weather radar in correct mode and range during take-off."
23:06 Guj govt relaxes rules about coronavirus testing
The Gujarat government on Tuesday scrapped the rule making it mandatory for private doctors or hospitals to seek permission for prescribing coronavirus test for any patient being treated by them.
The government revised the rules after the Gujarat high court termed the earlier policy as 'disturbing' as it led to delays which could prove fatal.
Now, for a certain category of patients as recommended by a state government panel, tests can be conducted by either government or private laboratories on the basis of prescription of a private doctor without prior permission of a health officer.
Private doctors will only have to inform the laboratory and the Chief District Health Officer (CDHO) through e-mail and upload the details of the patient on a government-approved mobile application in such cases, said a health department notification.
If the patient shows symptoms of coronavirus, he or she should be admitted to the hospital and discharged only if the test result comes negative.
If it is positive, the patient should be treated as per the COVID treatment guidelines, said the notification.
As per the recommendations of the committee, in certain cases, private doctors or hospitals would not need permission to prescribe coronavirus test, such as cancer patients receiving chemo or radio therapy and planned hemodialysis, or pregnant women admitted in hospitals in containment areas for delivery.
Symptomatic patients and symptomatic healthcare workers too can be tested on the recommendation of doctors.
Preoperation testing for patients undergoing surgery can be done at the discretion of the treating consultant, and emergency and lifesaving procedures can be carried out without waiting for COVID19 test.
If a coronavirus test is required for cases other than those covered by Indian Council of Medical Research guidelines, private hospitals or doctors will require to seek the approval of the Medical Superintendent of Sola Civil Hospital for Ahmedabad or Chief District Health Officer (CDHO) of the concerned district panchayats and medical officer (MO) for municipal corporations, the notification said.
Even in these cases, the permission should be granted within 24 hours, it added.
Earlier, for coronavirus test of any patient, private hospitals and doctors required permission of Medical Superintendent of GMRC Hospital Ahmedabad or respective CDHOs or MOs. -- PTI
Fishermen anchor their boats ahead of cyclone Nisarga in Uttan, Thane district. Photograph: Santosh Hirlekar / ANI Photo.
22:39 Nisarga to cross Maha coast on Wed afternoon
The cyclonic storm Nisarga centred over the east-central Arabian Sea has moved north-north-eastwards with a speed of 13 kmph during the past six hours.
"The cyclonic storm lay centred at 5.30 pm today over east-central Arabian Sea near latitude 16.3N and longitude 71.3E, about 280 km west-northwest of Panjim (Goa), 350 km south-southwest of Mumbai (Maharashtra), 300 km south-southwest of Alibaug (Maharashtra) and 560 km south-southwest of Surat (Gujarat)," the India meteorological department said.
"It is very likely to intensify into a severe cyclonic storm during the next 12 hours, move north-north-eastwards and cross north Maharashtra and adjoining south Gujarat coast between Harihareshwar and Daman, close to Alibaug in Raigad district of Maharashtra during the afternoon of June 3 as a severe cyclonic storm with a maximum sustained wind speed of 100-110 kmph gusting to 120 kmph," the IMD added.
22:07 Modi speaks to Trump on Covid, other issues
Prime Minister Narendra Modi spoke with US President Donald Trump on Tuesday and discussed the COVID-19 pandemic among other issues.
'Had a warm and productive conversation with my friend President @realDonaldTrump. We discussed his plans for the US Presidency of G-7, the COVID-19 pandemic, and many other issues,' Modi tweeted.
The richness and depth of India-US consultations will remain an important pillar of the post-COVID global architecture, the prime minister said. -- PTI
MumbaiÃÂÃÂÃÂÃÂs Juhu beach wears a deserted look as a red alert is put up ahead of cyclone Nisarga. Photograph: Kunal Patil / PTI Photo.
21:56 A must-read blog on Cyclone Nisarga
'It could well be that the storm (cyclone Nisarga) will end up being weak, or will only affect areas less populated than Mumbai, or both. But because Mumbai is so exposed and so vulnerable, even a small chance of a major tropical cyclone landfall there is worth being aware of, as far ahead as possible. There does seem to be, at present, such a chance,' writes Adam Sobel, atmospheric scientist and professor Columbia University, New York City, here.
21:05 Stay alert, Uddhav tells people as storm nears
Maharashtra Chief Minister Uddhav Thackeray on Tuesday asked people to stay alert in view of the impending cyclonic storm `Nisarga'.
He had spoken to Prime Minister Narendra Modi about the storm and Modi assured all necessary help from the Union government, he said.
In a televised address, Thackeray asked people to stay alert as the storm is expected to hit the state's coastal belt on Wednesday afternoon, and shared a list of 'dos and don'ts' in the situation.
"The cyclone could be more severe than the ones the state has faced till now....Tomorrow and the day after are crucial in coastal areas," he said.
"Activities which had resumed (as part of easing of lockdown to contain coronavirus) will be kept shut there for the next two days in view of the cyclone...people should remain alert, Thackeray said. -- PTI
20:24 Cyclone: Movement banned along Mumbai coastline
In view of the threat posed by impending cyclonic storm `Nisarga', movement of people along the Mumbai coastline has been prohibited from midnight to Thursday afternoon, the city police said on Tuesday.
An order under Section 144 of the Code of Criminal Procedure was being issued, the police said.
As per the India Meteorological Department's warning, the city was expected to be severely impacted by the cyclone and there was a 'grave danger to human life, health and safety', a statement by city police said.
'With this order Mumbai police has prohibited any presence or movement of one or more persons in public places along the beaches, promenades, parks and other such places near the coastline where people may gather,' it said.
Those violating the order can face action under Indian Penal Code Section 188 (defying an order lawfully promulgated by a public servant), it added.
The cyclonic storm is expected to hit Maharashtra and south Gujarat coasts on Wednesday afternoon, as per the IMD. -- PTI
IMAGE: Fire brigade rescue team stationed at Girgaon Chowpatty after a red alert was issued due to the possibility of Cyclone Nisarga, in Mumbai, on Tuesday. Photograph: Shashank Parade/PTI Photo
Wajid Khan, left, with his elder brother Sajid Khan. Photograph: Kind courtesy, Sajid-Wajid/Instagram
19:59 Sajid-Wajid's mother tests positive for coronavirus
A day after the demise of singer-music director Wajid Khan of composer duo Sajid-Wajid, their mother Razina Khan tested positive for coronavirus, a family source said on Tuesday.
Razina Khan is admitted to Surana Hospital in Chembur, where Wajid Khan was also undergoing treatment.
"She has tested positive. She is doing fine and will remain in the hospital for few more days till her test comes out negative," the insider said.
Wajid Khan, 42, tested positive for COVID-19 and died of a cardiac arrest.
Popular for collaborating with brother Sajid Khan on superstar Salman Khan's films like Wanted, Dabangg series and Ek Tha Tiger, the music composer died early Monday morning in hospital.
Tracking Cyclone Nisarga.
19:40 Cyclone Nisarga: PM speaks with Maha, Guj CMs
Prime Minister Narendra Modi on Tuesday spoke with the chief ministers of Maharashtra and Gujarat over the cyclonic situation in the two states and assured them all possible help from the Centre.
Cyclone Nisarga will cross north Maharashtra and south Gujarat coasts late in the evening on June 3.
Modi also spoke with the administrator of Daman, Diu Dadra and Nagar Haveli Praful K Patel, the Prime Minister's Office office said.
The India Meteorological Department (IMD) has said the low-pressure area formed over the Arabian Sea has intensified into a depression and it will further intensify into a cyclonic storm.
'PM @narendramodi has spoken to CM of Maharashtra Shri Uddhav Thackeray, CM of Gujarat Shri @vijayrupanibjp and Administrator of Daman Diu, Dadra and Nagar Haveli Shri @prafulkpatel regarding the cyclone situation,' the PMO tweeted.
Modi assured all possible support and assistance from the Centre, the PMO said. -- PTI
19:11 Cyclone Nisarga: Navy on stand-by in Mumbai
The Western Naval Command has put all its teams on alert and is ready to respond to cyclone
"Nisarga", a defence spokesperson said on Tuesday.
The cyclonic storm is likely to intensify and cross the coast of Maharashtra and south Gujarat on Wednesday as per the India Meteorological Department.
The navy has has kept five flood teams and three diving teams on stand-by in Mumbai, the official said.
These teams, trained and equipped for rescue operations, are stationed at various naval areas across Mumbai and can provide early response over a larger area, he said.
A recce of known flood-prone areas has been undertaken and all necessary preparations are in place. Similar arrangements have been set up within the Karwar Naval Area, Goa Naval Area as well as Gujarat Daman and Diu Naval Areas, he said.
The respective Area and Station Commanders are in touch with the state authorities, National Disaster Response Force and State Disaster Response Force, the official said, adding that navy teams will respond to any requirement of"HADR" (Humanitarian Assistance and Disaster Relief) during the storm period.
The Indian Coast Guard has, meanwhile, requested merchant ships and fishermen to return to the nearest harbour.
18:43 Union Cabinet meeting to take place tomorrow
A meeting of Union Cabinet is scheduled to be held at the Prime Minister's residence, 7 Lok Kalyan Marg, on Wednesday.
On Monday, the Union Cabinet approved the modalities for implementing Rs 50,000 crore equity infusion to support Micro, Small and Medium Enterprises, which was announced last month as part of Atmanirbhar Bharat Package to help the sector cope up with the situation created by COVID-19.
It had also approved Rs 20,000 crore subordinate debt for stressed MSMEs and a new definition for MSME, under which enterprises with investments up to Rs 20 crore and a turnover of less than Rs 250 crore will now be defined as 'medium' units.
18:36 198 migrants killed in accidents during lockdown
One hundred and ninety eight migrant workers lost their lives in road accidents during the lockdown period, according to data compiled by the SaveLIFE Foundation, a road safety NGO.
There were at least 1,461 accidents over the course of the nationwide lockdown - from March 25 to May 31 - in which at least 750 people were killed, including 198 migrant workers. There were 1,390 who got injured, according to the data.
Migrant workers, killed during their efforts to go back home, comprise 26.4% of the overall deaths during the lockdown whereas essential workers comprise 5.3% of the total deaths. The overall deaths involving other other road users stands at 68.3 percent.
The report contributes fatigue among bus and truck drivers, hired to transport migrants, combined with over speeding and poor engineering of roads as the top reason for deaths.
Out of the reported deaths, Uttar Pradesh accounted for over 30% (245) of the total deaths followed by Telangana (56), Madhya Pradesh (56), Bihar (43), Punjab (38) and Maharashtra (36).
The top five states that reported road crash deaths of migrant workers are Uttar Pradesh (94), Madhya Pradesh (38), Bihar (16), Telangana (11) and Maharashtra (9).
To be clear, the report says that the data has been compiled using media-tracking and multi-source verification.
18:32 Tripura woman kills self after COVID-19 test; result comes out positive
A day after her swab sample was tested for COVID-19, a 50-year-old woman allegedly committed suicide by hanging herself from the ceiling of a toilet in G B Pant hospital in Agartala, an official said.
The police suspects that she had developed a fear of contracting the disease and may have committed suicide out of panic.
S K Rakesh, Additional Chief Secretary, who is also the Health Secretary, said that the woman was admitted to the flu ward of the hospital on Monday.
"The body of the woman was found hanging from the ceiling of the lavatory of the hospital around 5 am while her COVID-19 report came at 11 am which revealed that she was coronavirus positive," Rakesh said.
The deceased was a resident of Matinagar village in West Tripura district.
18:18 Wuhan tests nearly 9.9 million residents with no new cases found
Wuhans Health Commission announced on Tuesday that it had completed coronavirus tests on 9.9 million of its residents with no new confirmed cases found.
"From May 14 to the end of June 1, 9,899,828 people in Wuhan have received nucleic acid tests," Lu Zuxun, of the Chinese Preventive Medicine Association, said at a news conference.
Lu said no new cases had been found as a result of the city-wide testing, but 300 asymptomatic infections were discovered. China does not count asymptomatic cases as confirmed cases.
"At present, the proportion of asymptomatic infections in Wuhan is extremely low in the entire population, and no cases of asymptomatic infections infecting other people have been found," he added.
According to Hu Yabo, the deputy mayor of Wuhan, the city spent around $126 million on the testing campaign.
17:30 Cyclone to make landfall near Alibaug on Wed
The deep depression over Arabian Sea has intensified into a cyclonic storm today and is moving northwards towards Maharashtra and Gujarat coasts. IMD has said over the next 12 hours, the cyclonic storm Nisarga will further intensify into a severe cyclonic storm.
Dr Anupam Kashyapi, IMD, Pune, said that Cyclone Nisarga likely to make landfall near Alibaug tomorrow.
He added, "Palghar, Pune, Thane, Mumbai, Raigad, Dhule and Nandurbar, Nashik expected to receive heavy rainfall tomorrow."
16:57 13 test positive in Delhi L-G's office
At least 13 people have tested positive for Covid-19 at Delhi Lieutenant Governor Anil Baijals office in the national capital, Baijals office stated on Tuesday.
According to reports, the first case came from the extended branch of the Lieutenant Governors office following which 13 people were found positive for coronavirus.
This comes just a day after a NITI Aayog official in Delhi tested positive for Covid-19. The third floor of the NITI Aayog office in Delhi was sealed for sanitisation work on Monday.
Earlier this week, at least two officials working with the external affairs ministry tested positive for coronavirus.
This comes when the Covid-19 tally in the national capital has crossed the 20,000-mark. Chief Minister Arvind Kejriwal, in an online address on Tuesday, said that administration has created an app that will help Covid-19 patients track the availability of hospital beds.
16:34 India's COVID-19 fatality rate lowest in world
The health ministry is addressing the media on the coronavirus pandemic.
During the briefing, Lav Agrawal, Joint Secretary, Health Ministry said that 95,527 Covid-19 patients have recovered. The recovery rate is now 48.07%.
He also added that India's fatality rate is the lowest in the world. "The fatality rate in our country is 2.82 per cent, one of the lowest in the world." Agrawal speaking to the media also highlighted that 73 per cent of Covid-19 deaths in India were people with co-morbidities.
Talking of testing in India, Nivedita Gupta, scientist at Indian Council of Medical Research said, "We have 681 laboratories that are approved for conducting Covid-19 tests- 476 in the government sector and 205 in private sector, as of 1st June 2020. Today, we are conducting 1 lakh 20 thousand tests every day."
The novel coronavirus death toll rose to 5,598 in India on Tuesday with 204 more fatalities, while 8,171 new cases took the number of infections to 1,98,706
16:09 Manoj Tiwari removed as Delhi BJP chief
The Bharatiya Janata Party on Tuesday appointed Adesh Kumar Gupta as its Delhi unit chief and tribal leader and former Union minister Vishnu Deo Sai as its Chhattisgarh state president, the party said in a statement.
Gupta is a former mayor of north Delhi municipal corporation and replaces Manoj Tiwari, a member of Lok Sabha, at the helm in the Delhi BJP.
Tiwari had offered to quit after the BJP lost to the Aam Aadmi Party in the Delhi assembly polls and his term was also over.
Sai was a Union minister in the first Modi government but could not contest the 2019 Lol Sabha polls after the BJP decided to not repeat any of its sitting MPs in Chhattisgarh after losing to the Congress in the assembly polls.
He replaces Vikram Usendi.
In another appointment, the party made S Tikendra Singh its Manipur state president.
These are the first important organisational appointments in the BJP after the coronavirus outbreak curbed political activities and the party primarily focussed on steering relief work for people affected by the lockdown.
The development signals, to some extent, a return of regular political activities as lockdown restrictions across the country are relaxed. -- PTI
15:59 Jessica Lal murder convict Manu Sharma released from jail
Delhi Lt Governor Anil Baijal has approved the premature release of Jessica Lal murder case convict Manu Sharma, who is serving life sentence, according to an official order.
The Delhi Sentence Review Board which comes under the Delhi government had recommended Sharma's premature release last month.
The sources said the recommendation was made at a meeting of the SRB chaired by Delhi Home Minister Satyendar Jain on May 11.
Sharma, son of former Union minister Venod Sharma, was convicted and sentenced to life imprisonment by the Delhi High Court in December 2006 for killing Jessica Lal in 1999.
A trial court had acquitted him, but the high court reversed the order and the Supreme Court later upheld his life sentence in April 2010.
Lal was shot dead by Sharma after she had refused to serve him liquor at the Tamarind Court restaurant owned by socialite Bina Ramani at Qutub Colonnade in south Delhi's Mehrauli area on the night of April 30, 1999. -- PTI
15:23 Bhima Koregaon case: SC seeks reply of Gautam Navlakha on NIA's plea
The Supreme Court Tuesday sought response from civil rights activist Gautam Navlakha on NIA plea challenging Delhi High Court order seeking records of judicial proceedings before special courts in the national capital and Mumbai in the Bhima Koregaon case.
A bench of Justices Arun Mishra, S A Nazeer and Indira Banerjee issued notice to Navlakha, who has been recently taken to Mumbai from Delhi's Tihar Jail. The top court posted the matter for hearing after two weeks.
The bench took note of the submission of Solicitor General Tushar Mehta, that the High Court order of May 27, seeking production of the records of trial court was patently without jurisdiction.
The high court had pulled up the National Investigation Agency for acting in unseemly haste in taking away Navlakha, from the national capital to Mumbai even when his interim bail plea was pending here. -- PTI
15:08 Cyclone Nisarga: PM reviews situation
Prime Minister Narendra Modi on Tuesday took stock of the situation in the wake of cyclonic conditions in western India.
The India Meteorological Department has said the low-pressure area formed over the Arabian Sea has intensified into a depression and it will further intensify into a cyclonic storm.
Cyclone Nisarga will cross north Maharashtra and south Gujarat coasts late in the evening on June 3.
"Took stock of the situation in the wake of cyclone conditions in parts of India's western coast," the prime minister tweeted.
"Praying for everyone's well-being. I urge people to take all possible precautions and safety measures," he said.
14:48 7 killed in Assam landslide, govt offers Rs 4 lakh to next of kin
Seven people, including two children, were killed and two others seriously injured in a landslide triggered by incessant rain in south Assam's Hailakandi district on Tuesday, an official said.
The landslide hit a tin shack at 6 am, killing seven of its inmates.
The injured were rushed to S K Civil Hospital at district headquarters in Hailakandi and the bodies have been sent for postmortem.
Incessant rains have lashed Mohanpur area near Bolobabazar since the past two days.
Assam Minister Parimal Suklavaidya, who was in the town to review the COVID-19 pandemic situation, directed the district administration to immediately send its report on the landslide to the government for payment of Rs 4 lakh to the next of kin of each deceased, the official added.
Image used for representation purpose only
14:46 Maharashtra deploys 10 NDRF teams for cyclone
Ten teams of the National Disaster Response Force (NDRF) have been deployed for rescue operations in view of cyclone 'Nisarga', which is likely to hit the western coast of Maharashtra on Wednesday, Chief Minister Uddhav Thackeray said on Tuesday.
Elaborating on the government's preparedness for the approaching cyclonic storm, the Chief Minister's Office tweeted that an alert has been issued for Mumbai city A nd suburbs, Thane, Palghar, Raigad, Ratnagiri and Sindhudurg districts.
It also said precautions will be taken during relief work given the prevalence of COVID-19.
"Out of the 16 NDRF units, 10 have been deployed for rescue operation during the cyclone, and 6 SDRF units are in reserve," the CMO said in a graphic shared on Twitter.
Thackeray's office said those staying in kuccha houses are being moved to safer places.
It said non-COVID hospitals are being made available for relief work.
14:10 UP's Suheldev Party blames Trump's visit for COVID-19 outbreak in India
Suheldev Bhartiya Samaj Party has blamed United States President Donald Trump for bringing coronavirus to India when he came to visit the country in February and attended the 'Namaste Trump' event in Ahmedabad.
Party chief Om Prakash Rajbhar claimed that thousands of people who came with the US president for the event were not screened.
The US president brought coronavirus to India, Rajbhar, a former Uttar Pradesh minister, alleged.
"When coronavirus was spreading in the country, Prime Minister Narendra Modi and the BJP were busy in welcoming Trump and making government in Madhya Pradesh," he told reporters on Monday night.
"Had all international airports in the country been closed on January 30 when the first case of coronavirus was found in Kerala, the virus might not have spread," he told reporters, claiming that from January 15 to March 23 over 78 lakh people came from abroad but only 26 lakh were medically tested.
On Sunday, Shiv Sena leader Sanjay Raut, too, had alleged that the event held in Ahmedabad to welcome Trump was responsible for the spread of coronavirus in Gujarat and later in Mumbai and Delhi, where some of his delegates had visited.
In party's mouthpiece 'Saamana', Raut had said, "It can't be denied that the spread of coronavirus in Gujarat was because of the massive public gathering held to welcome US President Donald Trump."
On February 24, Trump along with Prime Minister Narendra Modi had taken part in a road-show in Ahmedabad, which was attended by thousands of people. -- PTI
14:06 Modi's handling of economy a step above junk: Rahul on Moody's rating
Congress leader Rahul Gandhi on Tuesday voiced concern over the state of India's economy, saying global rating agency Moody's has termed its handling by Prime Minister Narendra Modi "a step above junk".
He said lack of support to the poor and small and medium industry indicates that the worst is yet to come.
"Moody's has rated Modi's handling of India's economy a step above JUNK. Lack of support to the poor and the MSME sector means the worst is yet to come," he said on Twitter.
Moody's Investors Service has downgraded India's sovereign credit rating for the first time in more than two decades, saying policymakers will be challenged to mitigate risks of low growth, deteriorating fiscal position and financial sector stress.
Downgrading India's rating by a notch to 'Baa3' from 'Baa2' assigned in November 2018, Moody's on Monday estimated India GDP shrinking by 4 per cent -- first full fiscal contraction in more than four decades, as the country faces a prolonged period of slower growth.
'Baa3' rating is the lowest investment grade -- just a notch above 'junk' status.
Moody's had last downgraded India's rating in 1998. -- PTI
14:04 Delhi launches app to give info about bed availability
Delhi chief minister Arvind Kejriwal on Tuesday launched an app named ''Delhi Corona'' that will give information to patients about the availability of beds in private and government hospitals.
Kejriwal said the app would fill the information gap that exists regarding availability of facilities available for novel coronavirus patients.
"There are many places where coronavirus has spread in a big way. There were shortage of beds, ventilators and ICU, leading to a large number of deaths," he said in an online briefing.
"In Delhi, cases are increasing, but we have made sufficient arrangements," the chief minister said.
According to Kejriwal, 6,731 beds are available in private and government hospitals, out of which 4,100 are vacant.
"People are not aware about it," he said. "We are launching an app today and it has details of all the beds available at private and government hospitals."
It will be updated updated twice during the day at 10 am and 6 pm, he added.
Kejriwal said if the app showed that a bed was available at a hospital but the facility refuses admission, the patient could call the government helpline number 1031 and register a complaint.
The Health Department special secretary will ensure that a person gets a bed, Kejriwal said.
"Only 2,600 people needed to be admitted at hospital out of more than 20,000 patients," he said. "If the hospital tells you that can be treated at home, please listen to them."
The government has deployed a team that will be in touch with the patients during home isolation and, if they become serious, it will ensure that they get a bed. -- PTI
13:42 COVID-19 outbreaks may be seasonal: Scientists
A one per cent decrease in atmospheric humidity may increase the number of COVID-19 cases by six per cent, according to a study which draws a link between the local climate and transmission of the novel coronavirus.
The study, published in the journal Transboundary and Emerging Diseases assessed the relationship between climate and COVID-19 in the southern hemisphere, and claims that the disease may be seasonal in nature.
"COVID-19 is likely to be a seasonal disease that recurs in periods of lower humidity. We need to be thinking if it's winter time, it could be COVID-19 time," said study co-author Michael Ward, who is an epidemiologist from the University of Sydney in Australia.
However, the scientists wrote in a statement that further studies, including ones in winter in the southern hemisphere, are needed to validate the finding and explain how this relationship works.
They said the extent to which humidity drives COVID-19 case notification rates is also unknown.
Citing earlier studies, the researchers said the link between climate and the occurrence of SARS-CoV cases in Hong Kong and China, during the 2002-03 pandemic, and MERS-CoV cases in Saudi Arabia is known.
They added that a recent study on the COVID-19 outbreak in China also found an association between transmission and daily temperature and relative humidity.
"The pandemic in China, Europe and North America happened in winter so we were interested to see if the association between COVID-19 cases and climate was different in Australia in late summer and early autumn," Ward said.
According to the researchers, lower humidity is the main driver rather than colder temperatures.
"It means we may see an increased risk in winter here, when we have a drop in humidity," Ward said.
"But in the northern hemisphere, in areas with lower humidity or during periods when humidity drops, there might be a risk even during the summer months. So vigilance must be maintained," he cautioned.
Ward said there are biological reasons why humidity matters in the transmission of airborne viruses.
When the humidity is lower, he said the air is drier, making the aerosols smaller.
"When you sneeze and cough those smaller infectious aerosols can stay suspended in the air for longer. That increases the exposure for other people," Ward said. -- PTI
13:30 Govt opposes plea in HC on PM CARES funds
The Centre on Tuesday opposed and sought dismissal of a petition seeking declaration of funds received by the Prime Ministers Citizens Assistance and Relief in Emergency Situation (PM CARES), a public charitable
trust created by the government amid the COVID-19 pandemic.
Additional Solicitor General Anil Singh told the Nagpur bench of Bombay high court that the petition, filed by advocate Arvind Waghmare, should be dismissed.
A similar petition against setting up of the PM CARES fund was dismissed by the Supreme Court in April, he informed a division bench of Justices S B Shukre and A S Kilor.
The bench, however, noted that the petition before it was seeking different reliefs, and directed the Union government to file an affidavit in response to the plea within two weeks.
File an affidavit stating whatever is your (Union government's) stand, the court said.
Waghmare in his petition sought a direction to the government to declare funds received and expenditure of the same on the governments website periodically.
As per the plea, the PM CARES trust, with Prime Minister Narendra Modi as its chairperson and ministers from departments of defence, home and finance as its members, was created with the prime objective of dealing with the emergency or distress caused by the coronavirus.
The trust was created in order to have financial assistance from people in the country and also from overseas to provide relief and assistance to those affected by COVID-19 pandemic, it said.
As per the guidelines of the PM CARES Fund, apart from the chairperson and three other trustees, the chairperson had to appoint or nominate three more trustees.
However, from the formation of the trust on March 28, 2020 till date no appointment has been made, the petition claimed.
The petition has sought a direction to the government and the trust to appoint or nominate at least two members from opposition parties to have proper check and transparency.
"In order to fortify and strengthen general public's faith and confidence, it is necessary to issue a direction to the government to declare the funds collected by PM CARES trust till date, and how the same have been used for the benefits of citizens affected by coronavirus, the plea said. -- PTI
13:21 UN Security Council elections to be held on June 17
Elections for five non-permanent members of the United Nations Security Council will be held on June 17, according to the world body's provisional programme.
The programme was released on Monday as France took over the Presidency of the 15-nation Council for the month of June.
According to the informal provisional programme of work of the Security Council for this month, Security Council elections are scheduled for June 17.
India is a candidate for a non-permanent seat from the Asia-Pacific category for the 2021-22 term.
Its victory is given since it is the sole candidate vying for the lone seat from the grouping.
New Delhi's candidature was unanimously endorsed by the 55-member Asia-Pacific grouping, including China and Pakistan, in June last year.
The General Assembly last week adopted a decision to hold the Security Council elections under new voting arrangements taking into account restrictions in place due to the COVID-19 pandemic.
From India's perspective, any change in how the voting is conducted will not impact much since it is the sole candidate from the Asia Pacific region and its term starts only in January 2021.
The UNSC elections are held in the General Assembly hall with each of the 193 member states casting its vote in a secret ballot. However, large in-person meetings at the world body's headquarters stand postponed due to the COVID-19 pandemic till end of June.
Under the new voting arrangement, President of the General Assembly Tijjani Muhammad-Bande will circulate a letter to all Member States at least 10 working days prior to the first round of secret balloting for the elections, informing them of the date on which the elections will be held, the number of vacant seats, the venue where ballots may be cast and other logistical details.
On the day of the elections, the voter will be required to visit the designated venue during a specific time slot to cast its ballots. Only ballots cast in the ballot boxes at the designated venue will be accepted and no ballots would be accepted after the last time slot has expired.
If the total number of ballot papers cast in all the ballot boxes do not amount to at least a majority of the members of the Assembly, the President would circulate a letter to all Member States indicating a new date and time for the elections. The General Assembly President will circulate a letter to all Member States informing them of the results once the voting is complete and the ballots counted.
Canada, Ireland and Norway are vying for two seats in the Western Europe and Other countries category, Mexico is the only candidate for the one Latin America and Caribbean seat and Kenya and Djibouti will contest the seat available for the African group.
Previously, India has been elected as a non-permanent member of the Council for the years 19501951, 19671968, 19721973, 19771978, 19841985, 19911992 and most recently in 20112012.
13:02 HCQ may cause heartbeat disturbances: Study
Researchers have used an optical mapping system to demonstrate how the malaria drug hydroxychloroquine, which has been promoted as a potential treatment for COVID-19, creates serious disturbances in the electrical signals that govern heartbeat.
According to the scientists, including those from Georgia Institute of Technology in the United States, the findings shed light on how the drug causes serious effects on heart rhythms.
The study, published in the journal Heart Rhythm, found that the drug made it "surprisingly easy" to trigger irregular beats in the heart, or arrhythmias.
In the study, the scientists assessed the effects of the drug in two types of animal hearts, and found that it altered the timing of electrical waves that control heartbeat.
While the findings of animal studies cannot necessarily be generalised to humans, the scientists said the videos they created clearly show how the drug can cause electrical signals in the heart to become dysfunctional.
"We have illustrated experimentally how the drug actually changes the waves in the heart, and how that can initiate an arrhythmia," said study co-author Flavio Fenton, a professor in the School of Physics at the Georgia Institute of Technology.
"We have demonstrated that with optical mapping, which allows us to see exactly how the waveform is changing. This gives us a visual demonstration of how the drug can alter the wave propagation in the heart," Fenton said.
According to the researchers, there was an elongation of the T wave -- a portion of the heart cycle during which voltages normally dissipate in preparation for the next beat.
They said the drug sets the stage for disturbances in the subsequent heart beat waves, potentially creating an arrhythmia.
Such disturbances, according to the study, can transition to fibrillation which interferes with the heart's ability to pump.
The ability to easily trigger disturbances known as "long QT" reinforces cautions about using hydroxychloroquine (HCQ) in humans -- particularly in those who may have heart damage from COVID-19, cautioned study co-author Shahriar Iravanian, a cardiologist from Emory University Hospital.
According to the scientists, the hearts used in the study are small and very resistant to this form of arrhythmia.
"If we had not seen any HCQ-induced arrhythmias in this model, the results would not have been reassuring. However, in reality, we observed that HCQ readily induced arrhythmia in those hearts," Iravanian said.
In combination with the clinical reports of sudden death and arrhythmia in COVID-19 patients taking HCQ, he said the findings are very concerning and suggest that the drug should be considered a potentially harmful medication.
Iravanian cautioned that HCQ's use in COVID-19 patients should be restricted to clinical trial settings.
In the study, the researchers administered HCQ to animal hearts -- one from a guinea pig and one from a rabbit -- while quantifying wave patterns changing across the hearts using a high-powered, LED-based optical mapping system.
They used voltage-sensitive fluorescent dyes to make the electrical waves visible as they moved across the surface of the hearts.
"HCQ shifts the wavelengths to larger values, and when we quantified the dispersion of the electrical current in portions of the heart, we saw the extension of the voltage across the tissue," said Ilija Uzelac, another co-author of the study from Georgia Institute of Technology.
He said the change was very dramatic comparing the waveforms in the heart with and without the HCQ.
In a normal heartbeat, the researchers said, an electrical wave is generated in specialised cells of the heart's upper chamber, the right atrium.
The wave propagates through the entire atria and then to the ventricles, the study noted.
As the wave moves through the heart, the researchers said, the electrical potential created causes calcium ions to be released, stimulating contraction of the heart muscle in a coordinated pattern.
They said drugs like HCQ modify the properties of these ion channels, and inhibit the flow of potassium currents, which prolongs the length of the electrical waves and creates spatial variations in their properties.
Ultimately, that can lead to the development of dangerously rapid and dysfunctional heart rhythms, the scientists noted in the study.
In the worst case, there are multiple waves going in different directions, they said, adding that every section of the heart is contracting at a different time, so the heart is just quivering.
"At that point, it can no longer pump blood throughout the body," Fenton said.
Patients taking HCQ for diseases such as lupus and rheumatoid arthritis rarely suffer from arrythmia since the doses they take are smaller than those being recommended for COVID-19 patients, Iravanian said.
According to the scientists, COVID-19 patients are different and are at a much higher risk of HCQ-induced arrhythmia.
"Not only is the proposed dose of HCQ for COVID-19 patients two to three times the usual dose, but COVID-19 has effects on the heart and lowers potassium levels, further increasing the risk of arrythmias," Iravanian added. -- PTI
12:56 George Clooney says racism is 'greatest pandemic'
Hollywood superstar George Clooney has penned an essay in the wake of the protests over the death of George Floyd, the African-American man who was killed in police custody in Minneapolis.
Floyd died last week in Minneapolis, Minnesota after a white police officer pressed his knee on his neck for more than eight minutes.
The officer was arrested on Friday and charged with third-degree murder.
In his essay, published by Daily Beast, Clooney called racism as the "greatest pandemic" of the US, lamenting that there hasn't been a "vaccine" for it even after 400 years.
"This is our pandemic. It infects all of us, and in 400 years we've yet to find a vaccine. It seems we've stopped even looking for one and we just try to treat the wound on an individual basis. And we sure haven't done a very good job of that," the 59-year-old actor said.
He called for "systemic change" in the country to tackle the problem of racism.
"The anger and the frustration we see playing out once again in our streets is just a reminder of how little we've grown as a country from our original sin of slavery.
"The fact that we aren't actually buying and selling other human beings anymore is not a badge of honour. We need systemic change in our law enforcement and in our criminal justice system," Clooney said.
The actor said that Floyd's death was reminiscent of the killing of Eric Garner's in 2014, since they both pleaded to the police, "I can't breathe."
"How many times have we seen people of colour killed by police? Tamir Rice, Philando Castile, Laquan McDonald. There is little doubt that George Floyd was murdered. We watched as he took his last breath at the hands of four police officers.
"Now we see another defiant reaction to the systemic cruel treatment of a portion of our citizens like we saw in 1968, 1992, and 2014. We don't know when these protests will subside. We hope and pray that no one else will be killed. But we also know that very little will change," Clooney added.
The actor then took aim at US President Donald Trump, who has been criticised for his response to the countrywide protests against police brutality.
"We need policymakers and politicians that reflect basic fairness to all of their citizens equally. Not leaders that stoke hatred and violence as if the idea of shooting looters could ever be anything less than a racial dog whistle. Bull Connor was more subtle."
Clooney concluded his essay by urging Americans to vote for change in the upcoming US Presidential elections.
"So this week, as we're wondering what it's going to take to fix these seemingly insurmountable problems, just remember we created these issues so we can fix them. And there is only one way in this country to bring lasting change: Vote," the actor said. -- PTI
12:51 Bihar Health dept distributes condoms among migrant labourers
To prevent unwanted pregnancy, the Bihar health department is distributing condoms among migrant labourers who are going to their homes after completing 14-day institutional quarantine and those in home quarantine, an
Of the 28 to 29 lakh migrants who have returned to the state, 8.77 lakh people have been discharged as they have completed their 14 day quarantine period. Besides, 5.30 lakh migrants, till date, are living at block and district level quarantine centres across the state.
"Migrant labourers are going to their homes after completing the 14-day institutional quarantine. Since there are chances of unwanted pregnancies, so we properly counsel them (migrant labourers) and give them tools (such as condoms) to avoid unwanted pregnancy," a senior health department official told PTI.
The official, who is entrusted with family planning in state health society, however, made it clear that "it is purely a family planning measure and has nothing to do with COVID-19. As a health professional, it is our responsibility to control the population. We have been taking the support of our health partner Care India to implement the initiative."
It has been reported from the world over about unwanted pregnancies and it is in this backdrop, th Health department has initiated the step to check unwanted pregnancy, the official said, adding that it is in addition to what the department has been doing on a regular basis.
The initiative would continue till the quarantine centres are closed, he added.
The quarantine centres are likely to be closed by June 15, official sources said.
The health coordinators have been distributing two packets of condoms at quarantine centres, ASHA workers have been distributing them during door-to-door screening of people in home quarantine.
An official of the NGO Care India, said that "we are providing technical support to the Health department in this initiative." -- PTI
12:50 Chartered flights allowed to bring back Indians overseas
The ministry of civil aviation has allowed chartered flights to come to India as long as passengers register with Indian embassies/high commissions and meet MHA humanitarian criteria of Vande Bharat and the state governments agree to the chartered flight.
12:41 2 terrorists killed in encounter in Pulwama
Two terrorists were killed on Tuesday in an encounter with security forces in Pulwama district of Jammu and Kashmir, police said.
A gunfight erupted between militants and security forces at Saimoh in Awantipora area of the district, a police official said.
"Two militants have been killed in the operation," the official said, adding that their identity and group affiliation were being ascertained. -- PTI
12:36 Cyclone Nisarga: NDRF deploys teams in Maharashtra
With cyclone Nisarga expected to make landfall south of Mumbai on June 3, several teams of National Disaster Response Force (NDRF) have been deployed at various places of Maharashtra.
Two NDRF teams have been deployed in Palghar, three teams in Mumbai, one in Thane, two teams in Raigad and one in Ratnagiri.
The administration of these districts has been asked by the state government to shift all the people along the shoreline to relief centres.
According to the India Meteorological Department, the depression over east-central and adjoining southeast Arabian Sea has moved north northwestwards with a speed of 9 kmph during past 6 hours and lay centred over east-central Arabian Sea near latitude 14.2N and longitude 71.2E about 310 km southwest of Panjim (Goa), 570km south-southwest of Mumbai (Maharashtra) and 800 km south-southwest of Surat (Gujarat). -- ANI
12:13 Curfew imposed in NYC as protesters loot stores
The authorities in the upscale New York City have imposed a curfew and ramped up police presence after violence and looting incidents were reported across the city amid widespread protests triggered by the custodial killing of African-American George Floyd.
Governor Andrew Cuomo and Mayor de Blasio announced on Monday that the citywide curfew in New York City will begin at 11 PM on Monday and will be lifted at 5 AM Tuesday morning.
They also announced that the New York City Police Department will double its presence, bringing nearly 8000 police personnel to help prevent violence and damage to property, in angry response to the killing of Floyd, a 46-year-old man who was pinned to the ground in Minneapolis last week by a white police officer who kneeled on his neck as he gasped for breath.
The additional officers will be deployed in areas where violence broke out and property was damage during the previous night's protests - specifically in lower Manhattan and Downtown Brooklyn.
Videos and photos posted on social media showed that while demonstrators protested peacefully around most areas in the city, there were several instances of looting as well.
People were seen breaking into high end stores around Manhattan's Madison Avenue and Fifth Avenue, home to almost all luxury and high-end brands from around the world, and running way with merchandise from the shops.
Groups of people also looted pharmacies, electronic stores and other businesses across the city.
Governor Cuomo said that the curfew was imposed is to help separate the overwhelming majority of peaceful protesters from "people who are looking to exploit the moment by looting".
"New York City, they looted high end stores with high end merchandise. That wasn't a coincidence. There were people who knew what they were doing. If you wanted to commit a crimethat was the time and night to do it, right?" he told CNN.
Cuomo said while there are "extremist groups that just want to propose anarchy", the majority of the people are making a very valid point that discrimination and abuse by police should finally end.
The governor said in a statement that while the state authorities encourage people to protest peacefully and make their voices heard, the safety of the general public was paramount and cannot be compromised.
"I stand behind the protestors and their message, but unfortunately there are people who are looking to distract and discredit this moment. The violence and the looting has been bad for the city, the state and this entire national movement, undermining and distracting from this righteous cause," Cuomo said.
He also criticised President Donald Trump for threatening to call in the military to end protests around the country. -- PTI
Image: People climb into a damaged store during a protest against the death in Minneapolis police custody of George Floyd, in the Manhattan borough of New York City. Photograph: Jeenah Moon/Reuters
12:11 Cricketer Shami lends helping hand to migrants, distributes food
Moved by the plight of migrant workers amid the COVID-19 pandemic, India pacer Mohammed Shami has started distributing food packets and masks to refugees travelling back to their homes.
The 29-year-old has also set up food distribution centres for the poor migrants near his house in Sahaspur, Uttar Pradesh.
The BCCI posted a video of Shami, who is seen wearing a mask and gloves, handing out food packets and masks to people travelling in buses and those at the food distribution centres.
"As #IndiaFightsCorona, @MdShami11 comes forward to help people trying to reach home by distributing food packets & masks on National Highway No. 24 in Uttar Pradesh. He has also set up food distribution centres near his house in Sahaspur," the BCCI wrote.
The coronavirus enforced lockdown has triggered a migrant movement crisis in the country with lakhs of people trying to get back home battling extreme heat and hunger.
The novel coronavirus outbreak has so far claimed over 5000 lives and infected close to 2 lakh people in the country. -- PTI
11:52 Chinese forces moved up to north of India along LAC, says Pompeo
China has moved up its forces along the Line of Actual Control with India, United States Secretary of State Mike Pompeo said on Monday, asserting that authoritarian regimes take these kinds of actions.
Several areas along the LAC in Ladakh and North Sikkim have witnessed major military build-up by both the Indian and Chinese armies recently, in a clear signal of escalating tension and hardening of respective positions by the two sides even two weeks after they were engaged in two separate face-offs.
"We see even today increasing forces of China moved up to the north of India on the Line of Actual Control there on the Indian border," Pompeo told Marc Thiessen and Danielle Pletka of AEI's 'What The Hell Is Going On' Podcast.
The Communist Party of China continues to hide and obfuscate and delay the global response to the coronavirus pandemic that began in Wuhan. It has taken actions destroying the amazing freedoms of the people of Hong Kong, he said.
"Those are just two pieces of the behaviour of this regime of the Chinese Communist Party. The nature and the activity that they're undertaking, the continued efforts to steal intellectual property, to advance in the South China Sea," he said.
Pompeo said that these are the kinds of actions that authoritarian regimes take, and they have a real impact not only on the Chinese people there in China and Hong Kongers in Hong Kong, but a real impact on people all around the world.
"The United States has a responsibility and the capability to push back against that, ensure that the American people are properly served by a foreign policy that recognises the threats that emanate from China today," he said.
Responding to a question, Pompeo said that the recent Chinese actions be it on the India border, or Hong Kong or the South China Sea, have been part of the Chinese behaviour in the recent past.
"It's not just over the past six months. We've seen over the past number of years continued Chinese build out of their military capabilities, and then continually more aggressive action. I mentioned India. You've mentioned the South China Sea.
"We see these same kind of things with them attempting to build ports around the world as part of their Belt and Road Initiative, places where they can move the People's Liberation Army Navy. We've seen their continued efforts to expand militarily," Pompeo said. -- PTI
11:51 Amit Shah to address virtual rally in Bengal on June 8
Union home minister and senior Bharatiya Janata Party leader Amit Shah will address the people of West Bengal through a "virtual rally" on June 8, state party president Dilip Ghosh said.
He said the party would reach out to people, "apprising them of the achievements of the Narendra Modi government in its first year of the second term and steps taken by the Centre to deal with the crisis caused due to the COVID pandemic."
"As right now, public rallies are banned. So we are stressing on virtual rallies on social media. It will be a five-day-long campaign, with the first virtual rally on June 8. Just like normal rallies, during these virtual rallies there will be speakers, and the main speaker of the June 8 rally would be Amit Shah, he would speak from New Delhi," Ghosh told reporters on Monday.
Shah had last addressed a rally in Kolkata on March 1, a pro CAA rally at Shahid Minar ground.
According to state BJP sources, during virtual rallies, the state BJP would highlight the state's TMC government's "mishandling" of the dual crisis of COVID pandemic and Cyclone Amphan.
"During those rallies, we would propagate how the state government mishandled the crisis. How our party leaders, were not allowed to carry out relief work, how our leaders were not allowed to visit the cyclone-affected areas," Ghosh said.
With an eye on next year's assembly polls, the BJP reconstituted its West Bengal unit on Monday, inducting more than a dozen new faces including turncoats and dropping Netaji Subhas Chandra Bose's grandnephew Chandra Bose who opposed the party's stand on CAA and NRC. -- PTI
11:37 India will definitely get its growth back: PM
Prime Minister Narendra Modi said that coronavirus may have slowed the Indian economy, but we will definitely get our growth back.
Addressing the CII's annual session via video conference, the PM said, "We have to take tough steps to fight coronavirus and also take steps to take care of the economy."
"Strengthening the economy one of top priorities alongside fighting coronavirus and the government has taken decisions that will help the country in long run," he said.
Modi said that getting growth back has started with Unlock 1.0 and expressed confidence in India's capabilities and crisis management
In his speech, he also stressed on five "I"s to get India back to the high growth trajectory.
"To bring India back on track for fast-paced growth five things are very important: Intent, Inclusion, Investment, Infrastructure, Innovation," he said.
11:19 No asymptomatic infections in Wuhan for 1st time
China has reported 15 new coronavirus cases while Wuhan, the epicentre of the COVID-19, where over nine million people have been tested in the last few weeks has not registered any asymptomatic case for the first time, the health authority said on Tuesday.
According to China's National Health Commission, five imported cases and 10 asymptomatic cases were reported in the country on Monday.
So far, 371 asymptomatic cases, including 39 from overseas, were still under medical observation, it said.
Asymptomatic cases pose a problem as the patients are tested COVID-19 positive but develop no symptoms such as fever, cough or sore throat. However, they pose a risk of spreading the disease to others.
Meanwhile, Wuhan which has been reporting a number of asymptomatic cases for a while for the first time reported zero cases on Monday.
The growing number of asymptomatic cases prompted the government to embark on testing of all its 11.2 million people last month. Life has returned to normal in the city after 76-day lockdown to control the virus.
The city so far had 50,340 confirmed coronavirus cases since January this year of which 3,869 people have died.
Health authorities in Wuhan said, zero new asymptomatic cases of COVID-19 were reported on Monday for the first time since the city started publishing the cases of silent carriers but 320 people with the symptoms were still under quarantine in the city.
According to a notice from the Wuhan Health Commission, the city tested more than 60,000 residents on Sunday for asymptomatic infection and all tested negative, state-run Global Time reported.
The result shows that the concentrated nucleic acid testing and screening work in the city has made significant progress, the notice said.
According to the commission, more than nine million residents have been tested as of May 24 since the launch of centralised nucleic acid testing in Wuhan on May 15, completing more than 90 per cent of the whole city's sampling work.
As of Monday, the overall confirmed coronavirus cases had reached 83,022, including 73 patients still being treated, 78,315 people who had been discharged after recovery, and 4,634 people who died of the disease. -- PTI
10:26 No place for hate, racism in society: Nadella
There is no place for hate and racism in the society, Microsoft CEO Satya Nadella has said, asserting that empathy and shared understanding are a start, but more needs to be done.
Nadella's remarks come in the wake of the custodial death of George Floyd, a 46-year-old African-American man who was pinned to the ground in Minneapolis on May 25 by a white police officer who kneeled on his neck as he gasped for breath.
"There is no place for hate and racism in our society. Empathy and shared understanding are a start, but we must do more," Nadella said in a tweet on Monday.
"I stand with the Black and African American community and we are committed to building on this work in our company and in our communities," Nadella said.
A day earlier, Google CEO Sunder Pichai expressed solidarity with the African-American community.
"Today on US Google & YouTube homepages we share our support for racial equality in solidarity with the Black community and in memory of George Floyd, Breonna Taylor, Ahmaud Arbery & others who don't have a voice," Pichai wrote on Twitter on Sunday.
"For those feeling grief, anger, sadness & fear, you are not alone, Pichai said, sharing a screenshot of the Google search home page which said we stand in support of racial equality, and all those who search for it."
Nadella's Microsoft also said they will be using the platform to amplify voices from the Black and African American community at the company.
Violent protests have engulfed at least 140 cities across the US in the days following the death of Floyd.
The white police officer has been fired, and on Friday was arrested and charged with third-degree murder and manslaughter. -- PTI
10:14 Sensex surges over 300 pts in early trade
Equity benchmark Sensex jumped over 300 points in early trade on Tuesday, led by index-heavyweights Kotak Bank, HDFC, TCS and Reliance Industries amid positive cues from global markets.
After opening on a tepid note, the 30-share index was trading 309.68 points or 0.93 per cent higher at 33,613.20.
Similarly, NSE Nifty advanced 98.10 points or 1 per cent to 9,924.25.
Kotak Bank was the top gainer in the Sensex pack, rising around 7 per cent, followed by M&M, Sun Pharma, Hero MotoCorp, Bajaj Finance, Tata Steel, Bharti Airtel and HCL Tech.
On the other hand, L&T, ITC, ICICI Bank and SBI were among the laggards.
In the previous session, the BSE barometer settled 879.42 points or 2.57 per cent higher at 33,303.52 and the broader Nifty surged 245.85 points or 2.57 per cent to finish at 9,826.15.
On a net basis, foreign portfolio investors bought equities worth Rs 1,575.46 crore in the capital market on Monday, provisional exchange data showed.
According to analysts, gradual easing of the lockdown boosted investor sentiment which further strengthened with the buoyancy in the global markets. Besides, the news of the timely arrival of monsoon also aided the surge.
Meanwhile, Moody's Investors Service on Monday downgraded India's sovereign rating to 'Baa3' from 'Baa2', saying there will be challenges in implementation of policies to mitigate risks of a sustained period of low growth and deteriorating fiscal position.
"Even though it is a downgrade, the rating is still in investment grade. This is on par with the rating of S&P and Fitch. This is unlikely to impact the market materially since the strength of the market is largely due to the humongous liquidity floating in the global financial system," said VK Vijayakumar, Chief Investment Strategist, Geojit Financial. -- PTI
09:59 8171 more COVID-19 cases, 204 deaths in India
The novel coronavirus death toll rose to 5,598 in India on Tuesday with 204 more fatalities, while 8,171 new cases took the number of infections to 1,98,706, the health ministry said.
The active cases of the coronavirus disease (COVID-19) climbed to 97,581, while as many as 95,526 people have recovered and one patient has migrated, the ministry said.
09:17 Cyclone to make landfall near Mumbai on June 3
India Meteorological Department on Tuesday said that tropical cyclone Nisarga has headed for the Maharashtra coast, and is going to make landfall on June 3 close to Mumbai.
"Depression over east-central Arabian Sea lay near latitude 14.4N and longitude 71.2E about 300 km west-southwest of Panjim, 550 km south-southwest of Mumbai and 770 km south-southwest of Surat," the IMD added.
The organisation has advised, "fishermen not to venture into the southeast Arabian Sea, Lakshadweep area and along and off Kerala coast during next 48 hours; east-central Arabian Sea and along with off Karnataka-Goa coasts till June 3 east-central the Arabian Sea along and off Maharashtra coast and the northeast Arabian Sea along and off Gujarat coast during June 3-4."
The IMD also predicted that the national capital and some areas of Uttar Pradesh are likely to receive rainfall in the next two hours.
It also stated that the thunderstorm would accompany downpour in these regions.
"Thunderstorm with rain and gusty winds of 20-40 kmph speed would occur over and adjoining areas of Karnal, Sonipat, Panipat in Haryana and Shamli, Baghpat, Ghaziabad, Modinagar, Meerut in UP and many places of Delhi during the next two hours," the IMD stated. -- ANI
08:57 New Ebola outbreak detected in Congo
The Government of the Democratic Republic of the Congo announced that a new outbreak of Ebola virus disease is occurring in Wangata health zone in the Equateur province.
The country's ministry of health has informed that six Ebola cases have so far been detected in Wangata, of which four have died and two are under care.
Three of these six cases have been confirmed with laboratory testing, according to the press release by the World Health Organisation.
"This is a reminder that COVID-19 is not the only health threat people face," said Dr Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus, WHO Director-General. "Although much of our attention is on the pandemic, the WHO is continuing to monitor and respond to many other health emergencies."
This is Congo's 11th outbreak of Ebola since the virus was first discovered in the country in 1976.
"It's happening at a challenging time, but the WHO has worked over the last two years with health authorities, Africa CDC and other partners to strengthen national capacity to respond to outbreaks," said Dr Matshidiso Moeti, WHO Regional Director for Africa.
"To reinforce local leadership, WHO plans to send a team to support scaling up the response. Given the proximity of this new outbreak to busy transport routes and vulnerable neighbouring countries, we must act quickly."
WHO is already on the ground in Mbandaka supporting the response to this outbreak. Contact tracing is also underway in the country.
According to WHO, new outbreaks of Ebola are expected in the Democratic Republic of the Congo given the existence of the virus in an animal reservoir in many parts of the country. -- ANI
08:52 Anti-viral remdesivir cleared for use on Covid patients
India's drug regulator has granted United States pharma giant Gilead Sciences marketing authorisation for its anti-viral drug remdesivir for "restricted emergency use" on hospitalised COVID-19 patients in view of the crisis posed by the pandemic.
The approval process for remdesivir was accelerated in view of the emergency situation and the unmet need for medicines in light of the coronavirus outbreak, a source in the know of the developments told PTI.
The drug has been allowed for restricted emergency use for treatment of suspected or laboratory-confirmed cases of COVID-19 in adults and children hospitalised with severe symptoms, subject to several safeguards, the source said.
"The drug, which is administered in the form of an injection, has been approved to be sold by retail on the prescription of specialists for use in hospital or institutional setup only," the source told PTI.
"The approval process for remdesivir was accelerated by invoking special provisions under the New Drug and Clinical Trial Rules, 2019, which provides for waiver of clinical trials in special circumstances," the source said.
Gilead Sciences had on May 29 applied for marketing authorisation for remdesivir in India. The drug is being touted as a potential treatment for COVID-19.
The approval was given following consultation with the subject expert committee of the Central Drugs Standard Control Organisation.
"The drug is given in the form of an injection and that is why it has to be administered under the supervision of a doctor in a hospital setting," the source said.
Gilead Sciences, the patent holder of the drug, has the complete data about the pre-clinical and clinical studies for remdesivir, the source added.
The medicine has been issued an Emergency Use Authorization by the United States Food and Drug Administration to treat hospitalised coronavirus-infected patients.
Meanwhile, the applications of two Indian pharmaceutical companies -- Cipla and Hetero Labs -- seeking permission to manufacture and sell remdesivir in India is still under consideration.
Gilead Sciences Inc has entered into non-exclusive licensing agreements with pharma firms, including three domestic majors Cipla, Jubilant Life Sciences and Hetero, for manufacture and distribution of remdesivir.
The Indian Council of Medical Research had earlier said anti-viral medication remdesivir, which was used during the Ebola outbreak, may inhibit the SARS-CoV-2 replication and research on its efficacy in the treatment of COVID-19 is a part of WHO's 'Solidarity Trial'.
According to a recently published study in the New England Journal of Medicine, two out of three critically ill coronavirus patients who were on oxygen support showed signs of improvement when they were administered remdesivir.
All new drugs have to undergo trials before getting approval for marketing them in India.
But the New Drug and Clinical Trial Rules, 2019, provide for certain clauses, according to which the provision of waiver of local phase-III clinical trials of the drug is approved and marketed in certain countries (as notified from time to time) subject to certain conditions like national emergency or epidemics in public interest. -- PTI
08:28 Trump threatens to use military to quell protests
United States President Donald Trump on Monday threatened that he would deploy the military to quell violent protests against the custodial killing of African-American George Floyd, if the states and cities fail to take necessary actions.
But at the same time, in his address to the nation from Rose Garden of the White House, Trump also said all Americans were "rightly sickened and revolted by the brutal death" of Floyd, and asserted that justice will be served.
Considered to be the worst ever civil unrest in the US in decades, the violent protests have engulfed at least 140 cities across America in the days following the death of Floyd, a 46-year-old man who was pinned to the ground in Minneapolis on May 25 by a white police officer who kneeled on his neck as he gasped for breath.
Trump assured the nation that he is taking actions to stop the violence and restore security and safety in America.
The President said he has mobilized all available federal resources, civilian and military, to stop the rioting and looting, to end the destruction and arson, and to protect the rights of law-abiding Americans, including the Second Amendment rights.
"Today I have strongly recommended to every governor to deploy the National Guard in sufficient numbers that we dominate the streets. Mayors and governors must establish an overwhelming law enforcement presence until the violence has been quelled. If a city or state refuses to take the actions that are necessary to defend the life and proper of their residents, then I will deploy the US military and quickly solve the problem for them," he threatened.
Trump said the country, in the recent days, has been gripped by "professional anarchists, violent mobs, arsonists, looters, criminals, rioters, Antifa and others".
A number of state and local governments have failed to take necessary action to safeguard their residents, he said. "Innocent people have been savagely beaten, like the young man in Dallas, Texas who was left dying on the street, or the woman in upstate New York viciously attacked by dangerous thugs".
"Small business owners have seen their dreams utterly destroyed. New York's finest have been hit in the face with bricks," Trump said.
"Brave nurses who have battled the coronavirus are afraid to leave their homes. A police precinct has been overrun. Here in the nation's capital, the Lincoln Memorial and the World War II Memorial have been vandalized. One of our most historic churches was set ablaze. A federal officer in California, an African-American enforcement hero, was shot and killed," he said.
"These are not acts of peaceful protest. These are acts of domestic terror. The destruction of innocent life and the spilling of innocent blood is an offense to humanity and a crime against God," Trump said.
"I swore an oath to uphold the laws of our nation and that is exactly what I will do. All Americans were rightly sickened and revolted by the brutal death of George Floyd. My administration is fully committed that, for George and his family, justice will be served. He will not have died in vain," he said .
08:15 US House panel slams 'Chinese aggression' against India
United States House Committee on Foreign Affairs on Tuesday strongly urged China to use diplomacy and existing mechanisms to resolve its border issues with India.
"I am extremely concerned by the ongoing Chinese aggression along the Line of Actual Control on the India-China border. China is demonstrating once again that it is willing to bully its neighbours rather than resolve conflicts according to international law," Eliot L. Engel, Chairman of the House Committee on Foreign Affairs said in a statement.
"Countries must all abide by the same set of rules so that we don't live in a world where "might makes right." I strongly urge China to respect norms and use diplomacy and existing mechanisms to resolve its border questions with India," Engel added.
China on Monday said both diplomatic and military communication channels are open between the two countries on the border issue and expressed the belief that the two sides can properly resolve it through dialogue.
"Currently the overall situation along the China-India border is stable and controllable. Both diplomatic and military communication channels between China and India on the border issue are open," Chinese Foreign Ministry spokesperson Zhao Lijian said at a press briefing.
"We believe that the two sides can properly resolve the issue through dialogue and consultations," he added.Tensions have escalated along the LAC in the last few weeks following skirmishes between Indian and Chinese troops. There was a face-off in Sikkim and the troops of two countries are in a stand-off in Eastern Ladakh.
India has said that its troops fully abide by the alignment of the Line of Actual Control in the India-China border and it is the Chinese side that has undertaken activity hindering India's normal patrolling patterns.
01:37 India, Australia may ink landmark defence pact
The summit talks between Modi and Morrison were originally scheduled to take place in January.
After years of negotiations, India and Australia are expected to sign a landmark agreement on reciprocal access to military bases for logistics support during an online summit between Prime Minister Narendra Modi and his Australian counterpart Scott Morrison on Thursday.
Australian High Commissioner Barry O'Farrell told reporters during an online media briefing that the summit is expected to take the bilateral ties to a 'historic' high as the two leaders will focus on ways to further deepen cooperation in a range of areas including trade, energy and defence.
"We have talked about what we expect to come out of the summit. Obviously mutual logistics support agreement is one of those things. That will make it easier for defence forces of both the countries to conduct complex exercises like AUSINDEX," he said.
The AUSINDEX is a bilateral naval exercise between India and Australia.
The pact will allow militaries of the two countries to use each other's bases and facilities for repair and replenishment of supplies besides facilitating scaling up of overall cooperation.
India has already signed a similar agreement with the United States, France and Singapore.
O'Farrell said the pact will be an important stepping stone to facilitate deeper defence engagement between the two countries.
The summit talks between Modi and Morrison were originally scheduled to take place in January.
However, they were postponed as the Australian prime minister had to cancel his four-day state visit to India due to the raging bush-fire crisis in his country.
Asked how he sees the virtual summit, O'Farrell said: "It will be like a virtual interview, I suppose, although you have two friends on either side probably asking each other questions about the obvious issues, not just how each country is dealing with COVID-19."
He said there have been some 'great similarities' between the approaches of both the leaders in dealing with the pandemic.
"Both the leaders are people's persons. They will be talking about issues with a focus on how to work together to improve the lives of their citizens," the envoy said.
"I think both clearly understand that government is not just about theoretical issues, not just about number of agreements you sign, but it is about what you can do to help your citizens improve their lives," he said.
"In the virtual summit between the two leaders, you will see the Australia-India relationship reaching a historic high, matched by an ambitious agenda by both countries on what we can achieve in the future," he said.
O'Farrell said the focus of the talks will be to boost cooperation in areas like public health, education, science and technology cooperation, cybersecurity and critical technology and defence.
"Over the past months and years, we have seen India and Australia work even more closely together on shared goals particularly in contributing to a more secure, open, inclusive and prosperous Indo-Pacific," he said.
The envoy said further enhancing bilateral maritime security as well as expanding cooperation in the Indo-Pacific region would be other key areas for talks.
Asked about US President Donald Trump's call for inclusion of India and Australia in G7 grouping along with two other countries, the Australian envoy said global organisations should always be ready to adapt to realities of an ever changing world.
He also supported Modi's call for strengthening the WHO. -- PTI