CHENNAI THURSDAY JUNE 04, 2020 `7.00 PAGES 12 VELLORE EDITION CYCLONE NISARG BATTERS KONKAN, SPARES MUMBAI The cyclone made landfall in Maharashtra’s Raigad district around 1 pm on Wednesday bringing winds of up to 120 kph FALLING TREES DAMAGE HOUSES, CARS HEAVY RAINS LASH MUMBAI, PUNE The cyclone uprooted trees and electricity poles causing widespread damages to private property in the worst-hit Raigad district where a 58-year-old man was killed, when a power transformer, knocked down by strong winds, fell over him. Falling trees blocked roads and caused damages to houses and cars in others districts along the Konkan coast ■ ■ By evening, Nisarg weakened into a cyclonic storm and headed to Maharashtra’s north-east. It may weaken further by midnight Although spared the cyclone’s full fury, Mumbai and Pune were lashed by heavy rains, that caused waterlogging in many areas. Gujarat, which evacuated thousands, reported no big damages 18,887 PEOPLE MOVED TO 30 TEMPORARY SHELTERS IN MUMBAI 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 Farmers finally freed from mandi stranglehold State laws restricted to mandi perimeter alone; ad-hocism on stocking, export of produce ends; green light to contract farming Dodgy data behind dissing HCQ? A supposedly path breaking study on the harmful effects of administering anti-viral hydroxychloroquine, published by respected medical journal The Lancet on May 22, was possibly based on suspect data. A look The Lancet study was based on data from Surgisphere, an Illinois-based company, on 96,032 PATIENTS Ordinance route taken The Cabinet decided on ordinances because states refused to introduce reforms. There was vested interest in mandis as their managers have political clout since they are money spinners M A N I S H A N A N D @ New Delhi LONG-AWAITED agrarian marketing reforms got a decisive push in the wake of the Covid-19 pandemic, as the Union Cabinet on Wednesday approved three Ordinances to unshackle far mers from restrictive state laws on mandis (APMC Act) and price fluctuations (Essential Commodities Act), besides allowing unhindered contract farming. The Centre took the Ordinance route after all persua- sion to prod states on agricultural marketing reforms failed. Freeing farmers from compulsions to sell their produce only to registered licensee traders of state governments under the Agriculture Produce Marketing Committee Act (APMC), the Cabinet gave the nod to “The Farming Produce Trade and Commerce (Promotion and facilitation) Ordinance, 2020.” No state law will affect sell-purchase of agricultural produce outside the mandi perimeter. Buyers would just need to have PAN cards, rules for which will be framed by the Centre, said Union minister for agriculture Narendra Singh Tomar after the Cabinet meeting. Doing away with policy ad-hocism through stock-holding limits and banning exports to curb price rise, the Cabinet approved the second Ordinance to amend the Essential Commodities Act to take cereals, onions, pulses, edible oils, oilseeds and potatoes out of its purview. The law can COVID-19 BAT T L E in 671 hospitals across six continents. Of them, 10,698 had died in hospital by April 21 But The Guardian found Surgisphere’s employees had little or no data or scientific background. One of its six employees appears to be a science fiction author and another is an adult model. How did it process the huge volume of raw data? Last week, over 140 scientists wrote an open letter challenging the validity of the study, sought full access to raw data Based on the Lancet report, the WHO had suspended its global solidarity test for HCQ. Finding the report dodgy, the WHO on Wednesday reversed its decision and said it will resume trials FRESH CASES ICMR, however, stood by HCQ, saying it may be working in preventing Covid-19 when used a prophylaxis for healthcare workers and close contacts of positive patients The Lancet has now opened its probe into the report and issued an ‘Expression of Concern’ over its quality MEANWHILE, INDIA CROSSED 2 LAKH POSITIVE CASES ON WEDNESDAY. ITS LATEST COUNT IS 2,07,615 DISCHARGED DEATHS Ramavatar Singh (in blue shirt) helps a woman take away sand dug out from an MGNREGA work site SACKED TEACHERS, GRADS TURN TO MANUAL LABOUR RAJESH ASNANI, RAGHOTTAM KOPPAR, S RAJA REDDY, A AMRUTH RAO, ANTHONY FERNANDO & MUKESH RANJAN @ Jaipur / Gadag / Adilabad / Mahabubnagar / THE COUNTRY ADDED 1 LAKH CASES IN 15 DAYS Govt eases travel curbs on foreign businessmen E X P R E S S N E W S S E R V I C E @ New Delhi THE ministry of home affairs on Wednesday excluded businessmen and healthcare professionals from the travel restrictions imposed on foreigners in the wake of the Covid-19 pandemic, but they’ll have to obtain a fresh visa before flying in. As per the order, relaxation of curbs will apply to foreign businessmen seeking to visit India on a business visa (other than on B3 visa for sports) in non-scheduled commercial chartered flights. Healthcare professionals, health researchers and technicians required to carry out technical work in India’s healthcare facilities will also be allowed to VISA come in. But, a fresh visa will be issued to them only if they have a letter of invitation from a recognised authority . Specialists wanting to visit India to work for foreign companies—including manufacturing, IT and financial sector companies— operating in the country have also been excluded from travel curbs. All foreigners will have to obtain a fresh business or employment visa. Those holding a valid multipleentry business visa (other than B-3 visa) would have to get it re-validated at an Indian mission in their country . Nagapattinam / Ranchi RAMAVATAR Singh, 35, stands out as the odd one out among the 100-plus labourers working on a well under an unrelenting summer sun in Jobner, 70 km from Jaipur. While the other labourers comprising mainly women and a handful of men appear rustic, under-fed, sporting rubber slippers and lungis, Singh is tall, well built, clad in a shirt and trouser and clearly not village-bred. Singh led a rather comfortable life, earning `15,000 a month as a private school teacher in Jobner. That is, until Covid-19 struck and a lockdown was ordered on March 25. A postgraduate in political science, he was sacked from his job and has been unpaid since. At first, Singh managed with the meagre savings he had, but when the cash dried up and there was no one to borrow money from, he enrolled himself as a worker under the MGNREGA. “After the lockdown, the school authorities refused to pay salary and dismissed me. With all factories and markets closed, I had no choice but to work under the MGNREGA to earn money he said. ,” Singh is not the only qualified worker forced into manual labour to make both ends meet. From Rajasthan and Jharkhand to Karnataka and Telangana, there are many like Singh toiling as labourers constructing roads, bridges, check dams and tilling land. Lumping their pride, they have no qualms about doing manual work to feed their hungry families. As the MGNREGA guarantees everyone holding a job card 100 days of work, the rural job scheme has come as a godsend for the newly-unemployed. Workers are paid `202 a day, up from `182 before the Covid19 lockdown. Giving Singh company is Sita Verma, a 30-year-old arts graduate whose postgraduate husband Shanker Lal was a school teacher. Lal lost his job and the desperate couple had no income. Sita finally turned to MGNREGA on May 16 to feed her little children. “I am doing such manual labour for the first time in my life, that too in this heat. As my husband has not been paid since March, I had no choice but to get a job card made,” she said. A few kilometres away at Aasalpur village is Sakaram Jat, 36, a double MA. He used to teach school students up to Class X but has been not been since March. He, too, has been reduced to becoming a manual labourer at an MGNREGA site. “I have no other source of income as the school where I worked has not paid me a penny for three months,” he said. Sadanand Mukkannavar in Karnataka’s Gadag district was a maintenance engineer in Bengaluru, earning `50,000 a month. When the virus struck, his company showed him the door, asking him to return only after the disease abates. Sadanand now works at a farm in the Kadadi gram panchayat limits under the MGNREGA. “I cannot sit idle so I started working on a daily wage basis. It may take 4-5 months to rejoin duty so something is better than nothing,” he said. S Thangapandiyan, 40, in Tamil Nadu’s Nagapattinam district was a sales representativecum-supervisor at a popular textile shop in Tiruvarur. He was laid off when the shop closed on March 25. With a wife and two children to feed, he has turned to MGNREGA work to keep the home fires burning. “I am educated up to Class X. I worked in a textile shop for over 20 years. My company terminated me recently citing loss of business due to the lockdown. I have a wife and two children to take care of so I have come for wages under the MGNREGA,” he said. CONTINUED ON: P7 CHOKING CONCERN Oxygen deprivation is causing silent deaths? SUSHMITHA RAMAKRISHNAN @ Chennai THE death of an asymptomatic COVID-19 patient just a day after he was discharged from quarantine has raised a question of whether the infection is silently depleting the oxygen levels in the body tissues of the patients. Arumugam (58), a corporation 1,286 610 11 11,345 office assistant at Royapuram, was quarantined in Kilpauk Medical College (KMC) Hospital on May 18 after he tested positive. “He was completely asymptomatic for nearly 10 days, so we discharged him on May 28,” said KMC dean Dr P Vasanthamani. A day later, he collapsed and died while having dinner. Doctors suspect this could be a rare case Where ventilators fail to save lives In April, an expert panel told doctors to monitor oxygen levels of all patients, including the asymptomatic. Subclinical hypoxia is a condition wherein the body is deprived of oxygen. The oxygen levels do not improve even when the patient is put on ventilator. of slow hypoxia — the lack of oxygen in body tissues — which ultimately leads to cardiac arrest and death. When the oxygen levels drop severely, people often feel breathless. However, when it is slow, people experience euphoria, confusion, and impaired psychomotor performance, almost like a sense of high. Patients are often unaware of their oxygen deprivaP4 tion. ACTIVE CASES be changed only in the event of war or excessive price rise, added Tomar. To promote the concept of ‘one nation, one agricultural market’, the Cabinet through the third Ordinance allowed farmers and bulk buyers to enter into contracts at guaranteed prices, adding no state laws will affect such transactions. Farmers will also be able to get part of the additional value at the time of delivery of the produce. It does not mean leasing of land, said Tomar, adding that in the event of crop failure, only advance paid to them by the buyers could be recovered. Payments to farmers must be made by buyers within three days of delivery of the produce, while dispute resolution will first be through mediation at the sub-divisional magistrate level and the final award by the district magistrate. NITI Aayog’s proposal in 2015 to reform state farm laws had drawn a tepid response. Day 4: Tamil Nadu tally crosses 1k-mark yet again EXPRESS NEWS SERVICE @ Chennai FOR the fourth consecutive day fresh cases in Tamil Nadu , crossed the 1,000-mark with 1,286 testing positive on Wednesday, taking the tally to 25,872. Eleven patients, in the 47-80 age group, died taking the toll to 208. The fresh cases include 42 people who came from other States and countries. Chennai took a large bite out of the cases reported with 1,012 testing positive. The city tally now stands at 17,598. Chennai also accounted for eight out of the 11 deaths reported on the day, taking the toll to 158. Two men (47 and 68) who were among the deceased in the city , had no co-morbidities. Royapuram and Tondiarpet zones remained at the top with 1,435 and 1,242 active cases respectively. Teynampet stood third with 908 active cases. On a positive note, the recovery rate in Chennai stood at 8,506, higher than the 7,805 active cases. Chengalpattu recorded 61 cases; Tiruvallur, 58 and Kancheepuram, 19. Meanwhile, the Indian Medical Association’s Tamil Nadu branch has worked out treatment cost for COVID-19 at private hospitals and submitted it to the government. The cost, including accommodation, equipment and administrative charges, for those with mild to moderate symptoms for 10 days has been put at `1,75,596 and for those with severe symptoms, `3,30,826. Those with mild symptoms will be charged `56,224 towards pharmacy consumable, and in, vestigation, while those with severe symptoms, `1,00,585. The total cost comes to `2,31,820 and `4,31,411 for both the categories respectively .
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