CHENNAI SUNDAY APRIL 26, 2020 `8.00 PAGES 24 LATE CITY EDITION NO EVIDENCE TO RULE OUT REINFECTION, WARNS WHO The WHO said on Saturday there’s no evidence that those who’ve recovered from Covid-19 are immune to reinfection ‘IMMUNITY PASSPORTS NOT A SOUND IDEA’ MAY RAISE RISK OF CONTINUED SPREAD The warning from the Geneva-based UN health body came after some countries and businesses proposed the idea of “immunity passports” that would allow those who’ve recovered from the disease to travel freely. “No study has evaluated whether the presence of antibodies to SARS-CoV-2 confers immunity to subsequent infection by this virus,” the WHO said ■ ■ WHO warned that those who are given such certificates would assume they are immune to reinfection and may ignore health advice thereby raising the risks of continued virus transmission In recent days, authorities in the US, Germany, Italy and Chile said they are studying the idea of granting immunity passports 367 POSITIVE CASES PER MILLION PEOPLE WORLDWIDE AS OF SATURDAY CHENNAI ■ MADURAI ■ VIJAYAWADA ■ BENGALURU ■ KOCHI ■ HYDERABAD ■ VISAKHAPATNAM ■ COIMBATORE ■ KOZHIKODE ■ THIRUVANANTHAPURAM ■ BELAGAVI ■ BHUBANESWAR ■ SHIVAMOGGA ■ MANGALURU ■ TIRUPATI ■ TIRUCHY ■ TIRUNELVELI ■ SAMBALPUR ■ HUBBALLI ■ DHARMAPURI ■ KOTTAYAM ■ KANNUR ■ VILLUPURAM ■ KOLLAM ■ WARANGAL ■ TADEPALLIGUDEM ■ NAGAPATTINAM ■ THRISSUR ■ KALABURAGI RELAXATION FOR SHOPS WITH LOW FOOTFALL OPEN & SHUT WHAT OPENS NOW Stationery shops Sweet shops Bakeries Cosmetic shops WHAT WON’T OPEN Salons Barber shops Shops of ticketing agents 9.1 days Average doubling rate of new coronavirus cases Repair shops Restaurants Shops selling liquor, Tobacco, Gutka MHA says shops offering services like salons can’t open; ban on liquor, tobacco, gutka sale stays; Kerala, Odisha allow shops in rural areas; ‘Intense lockdown’ in 5 TN cities S A N A S H A K I L @ New Delhi 20.66% Recovery rate Operation of oil & gas sector Pharmacies 18,953 5,210 723 16,689 4,325 4,814 652 15,859 3,960 603 3,260 559 15,122 13,295 2,302 Courier services 10,284 1,515 420 Postal services 452 Manufacturing units 488 519 Prepaid mobile recharge services 14,255 2,842 DEATH CURED ACTIVE CASES 686 As many as 24,942 people have so far tested positive in India 779 CASE COUNT NEARS 25K 12,289 2,015 Shops selling educational books, electric fans and agricultural products Death rate 11,616 1,767 Shops selling essential items (Groceries, milk, vegetables, meat etc) 3.1% The rush for buying essentials on the first day of the holy month of Ramzan at Jama Masjid, New Delhi on Saturday | SHEKHAR YADAV 17,915 WHAT’S ALREADY OPEN April 25 April 24 April 23 April 22 April 21 April 20 April 19 April 18 April 17 Services provided by self-employed persons (Electricians, IT repairs, plumbers, motor mechanics and carpenters) April 16 Truck repair shops Govt shelves plan to use rapid anti-body test kits S U M I S U K A N YA D U T TA @ New Delhi THE Centre has shelved its plan to use rapid antibody testing kits in hotspot districts due to concerns over the accuracy of the results, this newspaper has reliably learnt. The decision to put off the usage of these kits, which were imported from China brings a huge embarrassment to ICMR, the top health research agency leading India’s Covid-19 battle. Around 5.5 lakh rapid test kits had been procured by the government recently from two Chinese firms —Guangzhou Wondfo and Zhuhai Livzon— and sent to states after ICMR recommended that extensive sampling would be carried out in coronavirus hotspots for epi- demiological purposes. According to official sources, Health Minister Harsh Vardhan told a Group of Ministers that “the outbreak is under control and we can do without using the antibody testing kits as of now as there is doubt on the efficacy of the kits”. On April 21, the ICMR had said it would investigate the reports of faults with the rapid testing kits after getting them assessed by eight research teams and issue fresh guidelines in two days. The next day it issued a pro, tocol to the state governments reiterating that the kits be used only for surveillance purposes and not for diagnosis of infection in individuals. CONTINUED ON: P8 A day after the Centre announced relaxation in lockdown rules for shops selling non-essential goods, the Ministry of Home Affairs on Saturday clarified that only standalone shops, neighbourhood shops and shops in residential complexes can open. Shops in markets and shopping complexes in urban areas will continue to remain shut during the lockdown period. The new relaxation is only for shops “selling items” and not the ones that render services, the MHA said, implying that repair shops, barber shops, shops of ticketing agents, restaurants and salons will remain shut. The idea behind the move is to avoid crowding. Relaxations have been given in areas where the footfall tends to be low, officials said. For rural areas, the government clarified that “all shops, except those in shopping malls are allowed to open”. The new relaxations, however, will not be applicable to hotspot areas or containment zones. The Union home ministry also made it clear that sale of liquor, tobacco and gutka will remain prohibited as specified in the National Directives for Covid-19 Management. The clarifications pertain to Friday’s late night order issued by MHA, through which it allowed EXPRESS READ Panel suggests S African model post lockdown New Delhi: The national task force on Covid-19 management has proposed the South African model of gradually easing the curbs. It involves creating five “alert levels”, corresponding to the rate of virus transmission, to be followed in all districts. Level 5 would signal high spread and calls for complete lockdown | P7 BJP-led govt on talent hunt to expand CoM New Delhi: The Modi government has begun the process to find key talents within the BJP to head ministries, crucial for the postpandemic reconstruction works. “The expansion of the council of ministers is more imminent than ever since the pandemic brought everything to the standstill,” a source said | P7 shops selling all kinds of goods to open in specified areas. The order was issued under Section 10(2) of the Disaster Management Act and the shops will have to function with 50% worker strength. Wearing of masks and maintaining social distancing will be mandatory . Opening of neighbourhood shops is being seen as a relief to both shopkeepers and customers who have been under lockdown since March 24 to contain the spread of novel coronavirus. Following the MHA order, Kerala allowed shops registered under the Kerala Shops and Establishment Act — except those in malls — to function with certain conditions. Odisha also allowed shops registered under Odisha Shops and Commercial Establishments Act, 1996 to open. In Bengaluru, standalone shops in neighbourhoods including ice cream parlours, shops selling electronic goods, electrical repair shops and other essential services are allowed to open. However, in many states such as Telangana and Tamil Nadu, there is no relaxation for shops. In Telangana, the lockdown will continue till May 7. Meanwhile, the Uttar Pradesh government said it will not allow any public gathering till June 30, well beyond the end of the current nationP5,7,8,9,10,11 wide lockdown. Social distancing went for a toss when hundreds thronged a school premises in KK Nagar, Chennai, on Saturday to buy vegetables ahead of the four-day intense shutdown beginning Sunday | ASHWIN PRASATH 66 NEW CASES, 94 DISCHARGED EXPRESS NEWS SERVICE @ Chennai EFFORTS RAMPED UP CM Edappadi K Palaniswami on Saturday said 1,508 lab technicians, 530 doctors and 1,000 nurses have been appointed to ramp up the State’s efforts 21,770 workers in 1,778 match box manufacturing units in Tamil Nadu will be given `1,000 each as monetary aid ALLOWED Hospitals, pharmacies and allied medical activities. Milk, LPG cylinder and water supply. Mobile units for sale of vegetables and fruits. Petrol and diesel bunks - 8 am to 12 noon. Only home delivery of parcel food from hotels/ restuarants ordered by phone. Print and electronic media NOT ALLOWED All grocery, bakery, fruit and vegetable shops to remain shut. Public movement will be heavily restricted. Issue of emergency passes suspended temporarily Who is allowed to work Staff of departments engaged in essential services THE State recorded 66 fresh cases on Saturday taking the total tally to 1,821, a day before an ‘intense lockdown’ begins across five cities. Continuing the trend of the previous day, on Saturday too the number of people getting discharged was more than the number of fresh cases. On Saturday alone 94 people were cured and discharged, taking the total number of cured cases to 960. The number of active cases in the State is 835. The death toll rose to 23, after a Chennai resident succumbed on Friday night. The deceased, a 36-yearold, is the youngest victim in the State. He was admitted at the Chromepet GH with Severe Acute Respiratory Infection (SARI). “We were shocked he was just 36,” said official sources. “Later, we found out he had hypothyroidism and obesity.” Officials added that he is likely to have contracted the virus from vegetable vendors in his area. “Five vendors near his house have tested positive. We have quarantined his family members.’’ In yet another worrying incident, a minor boy employed at a shop in the Vadapalani market tested positive. The shop owner tested positive on April 19, and officials are now tracing all contacts and quarantining them. Meanwhile, an inter-ministerial Central team led by National Disaster Management Authority Joint Secretary V Thiruppugazh on Saturday inspected the measures taken to prevent the infection in Chennai and other areas. The team is also scheduled to visit more places in the coming days. Just 1 dist in green zone As per the latest health bulletin, the State has been divided into Red, Orange and Green zones. Red zone districts have more than 15 cases or their doubling time is lower than four days, the orange zone has less than 15 cases while the green zone has had no new cases in the past 28 days. Currently, only Krishnagiri is in the green zone while most districts of the State are in the Red. Health Minister C Vijayabhaskar said TN has ramped up testing facilities to 41 and the recovery rate has risen to 52 percent. “This week, we will increase the testing capacity. In TN, we have done double the number of tests than the national average,’’ P4 said the Minister. Increase fiscal deficit ceiling and allow states to borrow directly from RBI, says Kerala FM EX P R ESS N E WS S E RVI CE THE Covid-19 outbreak and nationwide lockdown have hit the finances of states hard, and Kerala is no exception. Its finance minister Thomas Isaac, known for his economic sense and straight talk, is under pressure to maintain fiscal prudence and, at the same time, manage resources to keep a financially struggling state going. The revenue has fallen to almost zero and the expenditure has risen on account of the ongoing fight against the pandemic. During an interview with TNIE Editor G S Vasu, the Kerala FM minced no words while explaining his predica- ment. According to him, India is in for a long recession. Isaac said he was disappointed that Union Finance Minister Nirmala Sitharaman did not even think of holding a consultative meeting with state finance ministers despite the country facing a huge economic crisis and claimed his three letters to the Centre asking for such a consultation were not even acknowledged. The Kerala FM said the only way for states to come out of the crisis is to borrow more. But for that to happen, the Centre has to increase the fiscal deficit ceiling and allow states to borrow directly from the Reserve Bank of India. He also demanded that the Centre bear the entire expenditure regarding both international and inter-state migrants, as the matter comes under the Union list. Saying that all states are in agreement with his opinion that they must get full GST compensation, Isaac sought to remind the Centre that it was agreed, before the GST law was passed, that if there are no funds, payment would be made by borrowing. According to the Kerala finance minister, the government should spend more, instead of trying to be fiscally prudent. He said this is not the time for reforms, as the country is staring at a humanitarian crisis. “You have a Covid crisis and now you would have starvation crisis. Don’t allow things to slip into that level,” he warned. Isaac said any fiscal package from the Centre to deal with the crisis should involve large-scale income transfer to people, and separate packages for the MSME sector and FULL INTERVIEW: P7 states. PLANS DISRUPTED Sports award nominations to get late, process could be simplified I N D R A N E E L D A S @ Chennai THE AGE OF NOSTALGIA PLUS 12 PAGES THE nomination process for country’s most prestigious recognition of sporting achievement — Khel Ranta and Arjuna Awards — is set to be delayed because of the prevailing situation. The sports ministry has not even advertised for nomina- tions as yet. The final date of nomination too could stretch to June or beyond. Usually, the process ends by last week of April. But this year, due to the lockdown and various restrictions in place, the ministry is yet to send out a circular or advertise. There are indications that the process of finalising the formalities might take place sometime next week. However, the date on which the awards are conferred — National Sports Day August 29 — re, mains unchanged, as of now. Even though the awards committee takes into consideration four years’ achievement, since 2019 was a non-Olympic, Asian and Commonwealth Games year, things would be simpler. There is a possibility that the process this time would be simplified. Since the country is under lockdown and send- ing hard copies or submitting them physically as per earlier instructions might be difficult, the entire process might go online. There are indications that the nomination process could also be easier. The sports ministry usually calls for nominations from players, coaches, sporting icons under the following heads: Arjuna Awards, Rajiv Gandhi Khel Ratna, Dronacharya Awards, Rashtriya Khel Protsahan Purashkar (for sports promotion and development), Dhyan Chand Award for lifetime achievement in sports and games and Tenzing Norgay National Adventure Awards.
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