KOCHI l SUNDAY l JULY 05, 2020 l `8.00 l PAGES 24 l LATE CITY EDITION MINISTRY REMOVES SALARY CAP ON INDIAN COACHES Sports minister Kiren Rijiju says elite Indian coaches will be eligible for over `2 lakh a month and four-year contracts REPRESENTATIVE PHOTO ATTRACTING FORMER ELITE ATHLETES The ministry said future hirings will be like that of foreign coaches, for a four-year cycle in sync with Olympics. This move, according to ministry, has been taken “to attract ex-elite athletes into the high performance sporting ecosystem, and to use their experience and skill to train athletes bound for major international competitions, including the Olympics” ■ 20 TARGET CENTRES OF EXCELLENCE ■ All new coaches and existing coaches who are given the new contracts will be imparting training at national camps and SAI’s National Center of Excellence (NCOEs) The selection will be made jointly by the sports ministry and respective National Sports Federations NUMBER OF NCOEs IN INDIA TO BENEFIT FROM THIS 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 ICMR defends vaccine push, says process in line with global norms Clarifies its order to speed up clinical trial was meant to cut unnecessary red tape; statement mum on August 15 launch E X P R E S S N E W S S E R V I C E @ New Delhi Trust our researchers, says ICMR The ICMR said that while criticism is welcome, one should not second-guess the best of India’s medical professionals and research scientists for their professionalism or adherence to the highest scientific rigour ‘Can’t expect a vaccine this yr’ A vaccine cannot be expected before early next year, as its development is a complex process, said Rakesh Mishra, Director of Centre for Cellular and Molecular Biology A day after the Indian Council of Medical Research (ICMR) was widely criticised for setting a deadline of sorts to develop an indigenous vaccine for Covid-19, the country’s apex health research body said on Saturday that its order to 12 hospitals to expedite clinical trials was in accordance with “globally accepted norms to fast track the vaccine development.” In a statement, the ICMR said its letter “to investigators of the clinical trial sites was meant to cut unnecessary red tape, without bypassing any necessary process, and speed up recruitment of participants.” It was, however, silent on the date of the launch of the vaccine, which had been fixed for August 15. ICMR director general Balram Bhargava’s July 2 letter directed the hospitals to get immediate approval by their internal research ethics committee and enrol subjects and complete the trial at the earliest as the government was looking to launch the vaccine for public use by August 15. It warned that “non-compliance will be viewed very seriously.” Saturday’s statement sought to defend the letter saying “after intense characterisation and review of all data from BBIL, (the) ICMR is sup- porting the clinical development as the vaccine candidate appears to be promising.” The clarification said the “ICMR is committed to treat the safety and interest of people of India as a topmost priority Based on in-depth scruti.” ny of the available data from pre-clinical studies, the Drugs Controller General of India has accorded permission to conduct phase 1 and 2 clinical trial, the statement said, adding that in the larger public health interest, it was important for the ICMR to expedite the clinical trials with “a promising indigenous vaccine.” India’s nodal agency for Covid-19 management said that just as red tape was not allowed to become a hindrance in the fast track approval of new indigenous testing kits or for introducing in the Indian market potential Covid-related drugs, the indigenous vaccine development process has also been sought to be insulated from slow file movement. The aim was to complete these phases as early as possible so that population-based trials for its efficacy could be initiated without delay, the ICMR said, adding that the trials would be done following the best practices and rigour and would be reviewed, as required, by a Data Safety Monitoring Board. China’s numerous border disputes prove Modi’s point, say experts EXPRESS READ I-T dept pushes for equalisation levy New Delhi: The I-T dept on Saturday notified changes to tax challans to make foreign e-commerce transactions liable for 2% equalisation levy. The first instalment of the tax is to be paid on July 7. P10 P U S H K A R B A N A K A R @ New Delhi CHINA on Friday refuted Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s remarks of expansionism but Beijing has an ongoing border/maritime dispute with 18 countries primarily because of its claims on the other country’s territory or waters. In the South China Sea, it has disputes with countries such as Vietnam, Taiwan, Brunei, Indonesia, Malaysia and the Philippines. Despite a 2016 arbitration ruling against its claims, Beijing continues to push its claims for jurisdiction over the resource-rich region. China is also involved in a tussle with Japan over the ownership of the Senkaku Islands, known as Diaoyudao Islands in China. While the ‘Most firms report revenue loss in Q4’ New Delhi: Companies across sectors suffered a 5% revenue dip and a 30% drop in operating profits in the 4th quarter of FY20, says a new SBI Ecowrap report. P10 3 Indian firms keen on monorail project Mumbai: BHEL, BEML and Titagarh have shown interest in manufacturing rakes for the monorail project, weeks after MMRDA scrapped the bids by two Chinese firms. Kolkata bans flights from 6 cities Kolkata: No passenger flights will operate to Kolkata from Delhi, Mumbai, Chennai, Pune, Nagpur and Ahmedabad between July 6 and July 19, the Kolkata airport said on Saturday. P8 WITH THIS ISSUE THE FUTURE IS GREEN PLUS 12 PAGES administration of the waters has been with the Japanese, China lays claim to the islands. As recently as Thursday, the Japanese had lodged a protest when two Chinese vessels entered their territory . China also lays claims to Mongolia, citing historical precedents. Beijing does not recognize its norther n neighbour. With India, apart from the Ladakh sector where it has a border dispute, China also does not recognize Arunachal Pradesh to be part of India’s territory Its maps . include India’s northeastern state. “Yes of course China is pursuing expansionism. But China is so hypersensitive about its perceived sovereignty that it forgets that it has I N T E R V I E W ‘We lost 26L man-hours in last two months’ R A M U PAT I L @ Bengaluru MANY ongoing defence projects at the state-owned Hindustan Aeronautics Limited (HAL) are likely to be hit due to the Covid19-induced disruption in the supply chain in India and abroad. HAL Chairman and Managing Director R Madhavan told TNIE that getting materials from sub-contractors, mostly MSMEs, PHOTO: VINOD KUMAR T and some big firms is crucial for their projects. “We lost 26 lakh man-hours in the last two months. Currently, it is recoverable as long as material starts coming. But our main problem is with the supply chain,” Madhavan said while hoping for an improvement in the situation. The ongoing projects, including Light Combat Aircraft Tejas, Su-30MKI repair and overhaul, Intermediate Jet Trainer that is designed and developed by the PSU, and Advanced Light Helicopter, are likely to take a hit | P7 MID-SEA SHOOTING Pinarayi calls for fair trial, compensation E X P R E S S N E W S S E R V I C E @ T’Puram CHIEF Minister Pinarayi Vijayan has written to Prime Minister Narendra Modi urging the Centre to build international pressure for a fair trial of the two marines in the Enrica Lexie case. The duo —Salvatore Girone and Massimiliano Latorre — were accused of shooting two fishermen to death off the coast of Kerala in 2012. Pinarayi, in his letter, said the matter deserved a more sensitive and cautious handling by the Central government. The tribunal’s decision against the trial of the accused in India was shocking and unfortunate, he said. “The matter definitely deserved a more sensitive and cautious handling from the beginning and during the proceedings in the International Tribunal for the Law of the Sea (ITLOS), as it involved the loss of life of two innocent Indians. Whatever be the technicalities of the international conventions, the decision of the ITLOS has resulted in added grief to the bereaved families and people of Kerala. I wish to convey our strong feelings in the issue,” he said. If the tribunal’s award is not appealable, Pinarayi asked Modi to “take earnest efforts to build international pressure for a fair trial in Italy”. He said that India should bargain for an exemplary amount as compensation. “We should also keep our option of approaching the ITLOS within the stipulated time of one year if getting adequate compensation is not possible through negotiations,” the letter stated. another role to play as a modern nation,” said Debashis Chaudhari of the Institute of Chinese Studies. B R Deepak, Sinologist and chairperson of the Centre for Chinese and South Asian Studies at JNU, echoed his views saying China was quick to accuse others of imperialist expansionism but never accepted its own expansionism. “Modi has struck the right chords when he talked about expansionism, no wonder China knew who the target was and came up with their explanations. China has laid huge territorial claims in the South China Sea where her claims are being fiercely contested by many other countries,” CONTINUED ON: P7 he said. Private labs sore over cut in Covid test rates D I L E E P V K U M A R @ T’Puram NEW RATES THE state government’s plan to augment Covid-19 tests on a public-private partnership is set for a bumpy ride as the slashing of test rates has not gone down well with some private laboratories. The state had reduced the cost of Covid tests on July 2, based on the direction of the Indian Council of Medical Research (ICMR). As per the revised rates, private laboratories can charge `2,500-`2750 for RT-PCR test, as against `4,500 fixed earlier. The rates of other tests like XpertNAT and TrueNAT have also been revised. According to the state health department, the ICMR had directed it to negotiate with private labs and fix mutually agreeable prices for samples sent by the government and also for private individuals referred by registered medical practitioners for testing. Though the gover nment claims that the health department had convened a meeting on June 19 with all private labs conducting Covid tests before rate revision, the Kerala Medical Laboratory Owners’ Association (KMLOA) has come out saying none of its representatives was invited to the meeting. It said the rate revision was im- n RT-PCR - L2,750 (open system) and L2,500 (Sample referred by the government) n XpertNAT Test- L3,000 n TrueNAT Test step I - L1,500 n TrueNAT Test step II (only for those who test positive in step I) - L1,500 practical for most of the labs. “The revised rates may not be feasible for all. The government says that the price of test kits has come down. But that’s not true. Companies that supply reagents for RT-PCR are yet to slash the price,” said KMLOA president Balachandran. “Take the case of RTPCR, which is the gold standard in diagnosing Covid-19. The state government has now reduced its rate to `2,750 (open system) and `2,500 (if referred by the government to private labs). A price reduction of this kind is unacceptable,” said a representative of KMLOA. “With the revised rate, labs won’t be able to meet the expenses for the machinery manpower , to carry out the procedure and the precautionary measures needed for the same,” the repre● More on P4 sentative said. KERALA CASE DIARY BUFFALO INTERRUPTED Perturbed by the chatter, a buffalo tries to scare away children, who were making the most of their free time fishing with a bath towel in an abandoned paddy field, at Kovoor near Varkala in Thiruvananthapuram | B P DEEPU SURVIVING COVID CRISIS Chefs in cruise ships now run wayside eatery B I J U E PA U L @ Alappuzha The experience in international hotels and ships has helped us in starting the new venture. We used to work with many foreigners. The lesson we learnt from foreign countries is that every job has its own dignity K B Bibosh THE worldwide lockdown created by the pandemic could not dampen the spirit of two youths of Kanichukulangara near Cherthala, who were working as chefs in cruise ships in the US and Canada. As the wait to rejoin their jobs was getting delayed inordinately , they decided to try something different to beat the crisis. They have opened a temporary food court at Kanichukulangara junction on the National Highway 66 and it is now doing brisk business. K B Bibosh and Sonu Soman are running the shop to make Bibosh (wearing cap) and Sonu at their wayside eatery at Kanichukulangara ends meet. Bibosh, son of Babu, Kaduthanathu, Kanichukulangara, was a senior chef in Princes Cruise headquartered in the US for the past six years. He had come home in January for annual leave. However, with the flight operations remaining cancelled due to worldwide lockdown, he could not leave for the US. “The delay in restarting flight services affected my plans. Financial problems also began to crop up. So I decided to start a makeshift tea shop (thattukada). My friend Sonu, who was working as chef on a cruise ship in Canada, was also facing similar problems. We decided to join hands to run the shop and it was started a week ago. Many people come to the shop and we serve food following the Covid protocol,” Bibosh said. 240 3,048 2,129 cases reported on Saturday recovered 5,204 under treatment cases have been confirmed so far 25 DEATHS Two expats test +ve again; is reinfection new threat? A B H I L A S H C H A N D R A N @Kottayam EVEN as community transmission of the novel coronavirus looms large over Kerala, the state is facing another possible threat — reinfection. Over the past three days, two overseas returnees — one from Sharjah and the other from Abu Dhabi — have tested positive in the state after they had recovered from Covid-19 abroad. While there are no medical documents available to verify the details of their treatment overseas, health experts suggest two possibilities for the development. They could be cases of either viral remnants or re- infections. “Viral remnant is a situation where the virus remains dormant even after recovery, but it won’t be dangerous as there is little infectivity power,” said Dr Vyas Sukumaran, district project manager, National Health Mission, Kottayam. “In most cases, this will be a dead virus. We had some cases here earlier where persons tested positive 40 or 50 days after returning from abroad or other states. To confirm reinfection, a detailed study—including culturing of the virus — is required. If it is a live virus, it will have infectivity power,” Dr ● More on P4 Vyas said.
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