BHUBANESWAR l THURSDAY l SEPTEMBER 10, 2020 l `7.00 l PAGES 12 l LATE CITY EDITION OXFORD VACCINE HALTED IN US, UK, S. AFRICA AND BRAZIL AstraZeneca Plc said it has paused global trials of the Covid-19 vaccine due to an unexplained illness in a study participant VOLUNTEER GOT SICK AFTER VACCINE SHOT WATCHDOG STINKER TO SERUM INSTITUTE On Tuesday, a participant in the UK who was administered the vaccine had to be hospitalised after developing transverse myelitis — an inflammatory syndrome that affects the spinal cord and can be caused by viral infections. However, it is not clear whether the syndrome was related to inoculation. It will be confirmed only after a detailed medical review ■ ■ Serum Institute (SII), which has partnered with AstraZeneca to make the vaccine for India, said Indian trials will continue Meanwhile, the Drugs Controller General of India has issued a show-cause notice to SII asking why the permission to conduct trials be not suspended till patient safety is established | P9 1 billion DOSES OF THE VACCINE WILL BE DEVELOPED BY SERUM INSTITUTE 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 SC orders interim stay on Maratha reservation law in Maharashtra E X P R E SS N E WS S E R V I C E @ New Delhi THE Supreme Cour t on Wednesday passed an interim stay on reservation for the Maratha community in government jobs and educational institutions in Maharashtra. A three-judge bench headed by Justice L Nageswara Rao referred the matter to a larger bench, to be set up by Chief Justice of India S A Bobde, for final adjudication. However, the bench said those who have availed the reservation shall not be affected. The SC is seized of a batch of petitions challenging the SEBC Act, which provides for reservation to Marathas. The court heard detailed arguments of senior advocates Kapil Sibal, Mukul Rohatgi and Gopal Sankaranarayanan for various parties. The Maharashtra Assembly had passed the SEBC Act, 2018 granting 16% reservation to Marathas beyond the 50% ceiling imposed in the Supreme Court’s 1992 verdict in the Indra Shawney case. The Bombay High Court had on June 27, 2019 upheld reservation for Marathas in the state but quashed the 16%, terming it “not justifiable”. The high court had ruled that it should not exceed 12% for education and 13% for government jobs as recommended by Maharashtra State Backward Class Commission. The HC had said the 50% cap on total reservations imposed by the SC could be exceeded in exceptional cases. It had accepted the Maharashtra government’s argument that the Maratha community was socially and educationally backward, and the state was duty-bound to take steps for its upliftment. The high court’s decision was challenged before the Supreme Court. EXPRESS READ EPFO to stagger interest payout New Delhi: Retirement fund body EPFO on Wednesday said it will provide 8.5% rate of interest on EPF for 2019-20 as committed earlier. “It would comprise 8.15% from debt income and 0.35% capital gain from the sale of exchange traded funds subject to their redemption by 31st December,” a labour ministry statement read. This means, the EPFO will provide 8.15% interest on EPF soon and 0.35% would be credited into the subscribers’ account by December 31. P10 Harbhajan Singh files plaint against bizman Chennai: Cricketer Harbhajan Singh has filed a complaint with the Chennai police against a businessman G Mahesh from Uthandi, for cheating him of `4 crore. Singh reportedly loaned the money, which was not returned despite multiple appeals. It came to light after Mahesh approached Madras HC seeking anticipatory bail. NAVEEN TALKS TOUGH ON COVID SAFETY ISOLATIONS Concerned about the alarming surge of Covid-19 cases in the Twin City of Cuttack and Bhubaneswar, Chief Minister Naveen Patnaik on Wednesday directed the Health department and civic authorities to ramp up health facilities with more intensive care units (ICUs) | P2 BMC officers demolish ‘illegal alterations’ at Bollywood actor Kangana Ranaut’s bungalow at Bandra, Mumbai on Wednesday | PTI BMC pulls down part of Kangana’s bungalow, Pawar says ‘bad timing’ criticism of the Shiv Sena. Meanwhile, supporters of PART of actress Kangana Ranaut and Shiv Sena hurled Ranaut’s bungalow in Mumbai slogans against each other was demolished by the Shiv while the Sena workers waved Sena-run Brihanmumbai Mu- black flags at the film actor nicipal Corporation (BMC) on shouting at her to go back. Wednesday citing illegal alter, While the BJP in Maharashations in the building. tra supported Ranaut, the NaThe Bombay High Court lat- tionalist Cong ress Par ty er stayed the demolition term- (NCP), which is part of the i n g t h e B M C ’s c o n d u c t coalition government in the “malafide” and “deplorable”. state, expressed displeasure at A division bench of the demolition. Justices S J KathaNCP chief Sharad walla and R I Chagla Pawar said illegal asked why the BMC constructions are gave only 24 hours to not new in Mumbai. Ranaut to respond to “The BMC may have its stop-work notice taken the action as and why it took acper procedure, but tion when she was the timing was not outside the state. right,” he said. Kangana Ranaut Kangana, a threeMaharashtra BJP time National Award president ChandraWinner, tweeted some of the kant Patil said the Sena is unvideos and photos of the demo- necessarily targeting the aclition process. “I am never tor. “Sena is chasing Kangana wrong and my enemies prove like a fox. They should stop again and again this is why my petty politics and concentrate Mumbai is POK now,” she on real issues like Covid-19,” tweeted soon after the demoli- Patil said. tion work began. Leader of the Opposition in The actor, who returned to the Maharashtra Assembly Mumbai on Wednesday after- Devendra Fadnavis said the noon from her home state state of Chhatrapati Shivaji Himachal Pradesh, alleged the Maharaj has not seen such a Maharashtra government was “timid and anti-democracy” targeting her because of her government till now. S U D H I R S U RYAWA N S H I @ Mumbai Luncheon meeting between foreign ministers of Russia, India and China today in Moscow before Sino-Indian talks in the evening; analysts downbeat on outcome of the interactions Trilateral before bilateral in Moscow. Russia being a close ally of both India and China, HOURS before the India-China certainly would like to see a bilateral meeting amid the on- peaceful resolution of the isgoing tension along the Line of sue, therefore Putin urging Actual Control (LAC) in both sides to disengage and deLadakh, the foreign ministers escalate in private cannot be of the two countries — S Jais- ruled out. If the situation aghankar and Wang Yi — will gravates, participating counhold a trilateral luncheon meet tries may opt out the forum,” B with their Russian counterpart R Deepak, Sinologist and Sergey Lavrov on Thursday . Chairperson of the Centre for The announcement of the Chinese and South Asian Studtrilateral was made by the Chi- ies at JNU said. nese foreign ministry on Moscow-based political anaWednesday. Both Jaishankar lyst Andrew Korybko echoed and Wang are already in Mos- Deepak’s view, adding there is cow to attend the SCO foreign nothing Russia can do to bring ministers’ meeting. China and India closer. “In the While the India-Chievent that the Chinese na bilateral is schedand Indian foreign uled to take place at ministers meet on the 5.30 pm IST, given the sidelines of the SCO Pleasure to meet fresh stand-off on the in Moscow, it would be FM Sergey southern bank of the because India did so Pangong Tso and the Lavrov... Excellent out of respect for its talks that reflect shocking firing by the Russian hosts, just our Special and PLA on Monday, the like when their DePrivileged p e rc e p t i o n i s t h e fense Ministers met Strategic meeting could end in a Partnership. Value last week. IN and PRC stalemate. Just last our exchanges on have irreconcilable week, Defence Minis- the international stances on the LAC,” situation ter Rajnath Singh and he said, adding all his Chinese counterMoscow can do is to ofS Jaishankar part Wei Fenghe’s fer a venue. meeting was Korybko was also of inconclusive. the opinion that the meeting Though Moscow had said up- would be overshadowed by the front it would not intervene be- recent gunfire on the LAC. “Intween Beijing and New Delhi, it dia and China have different had urged the two countries to interpretations of what hapuse the SCO to resolve their dif- pened and who is responsible ferences. However, experts are for violating the bilateral not optimistic of any positive agreement that hitherto preoutcome from the bilateral vented any firearm escalation. meeting. “The SCO is a multi- That escalation placed them on lateral forum where no bilat- an irreversible trajectory of soeral issues are brought for dis- called decoupling, with the cussion. However, these are ‘best case’ scenario being that discussed at the sidelines, as it it’s ‘manageable’ whereas the happened between Rajnath Sin- worst case one is a repeat of the gh and his Chinese counterpart 1962 conflict,” he said. P7 P U S H K A R B A N A K A R @ New Delhi Foreign Minister S Jaishankar with his Russian counterpart Sergey Lavrov (left) before their bilateral meeting, in Moscow on Wednesday | TWITTER India on dominating heights in Finger 4 too M AYA N K S I N G H @ New Delhi The Indian Army has positioned its soldiers on higher peaks in the Finger 4 area on the northern bank of Pangong Tso lake and fortified its positions using barbed wire in both the north and south banks of the lake in eastern Ladakh. “We have now repositioned our troops at dominating heights within our area around Finger 4 on the north bank of Pangong Tso,” a senior officer confirmed. The Indian side is now able to observe all Chinese movements in and around Finger 4, which was where the flareup first began in May . “We have placed barbed wires ahead of our positions all along these areas. PLA troops in the south bank tried to remove them on Monday so as to reach our positions. But we warned them sternly of strong ac- tion,” a source said. “When the PLA fired bullets into the air for intimidation, we used megaphones to convey in Mandarin that it will be dealt with sternly Af. ter some time the Chinese went back. At present, they are about 300 metres away from Indian positions on at least three heights in south Pangong,” the source said. The Chinese have now deployed battle tanks in the Spanggur Gap. “They have around 15-20 tanks near Spangur Gap and are trying to intimidate us,” the source said. Also, the Chinese have amassed 5,000-7,000 troops in Moldo, opposite Chushul Sector. According to sources, the top leadership in China is directly in contact with its military and is coordinating all action along the LAC. Meanwhile, the Brigade commanders of both sides met in the Chushul-Moldo area. Five Maoist cadres killed in encounter with Odisha police EXPRESS NEWS SERVICE @ Bhubaneswar AT least five suspected Maoists, four of them women, were killed in an encounter with Odisha Police in Kalahandi-Kandhamal border on Wednesday morning. Following a tip-off about presence of Naxals in the region, two teams of Special Operation Group (SOG) and District Vo l u n t a r y Fo r c e (DVF) reached the spot on Tuesday. At about 11 am on Wednesday, the ultras opened fire at the security forces. The police personnel retaliated and the exchange of fire lasted for at least 30 minutes. During the combing operation, the police per- sonnel recovered the bodies of four Naxals. One SOG personnel was injured in the operation and he was evacuated. “More teams of SOG, DVF and Central Reserve Police Force (CRPF) have been sent to the area for c o m b - ing and search operation,” said a senior police officer. Two SLR and three countrymade rifles were recovered from the spot along with other ammunition and personnel, said Kalahandi SP B Gangadhar. The spot of encounter was near Sikri Ghat along Kalahandi-Kandhmal boarder. During search operation after the encounter, body of a fifth Maoist - a lady - was recovered from jungle. A single barrel country-made gun also recovered from her. In July, four suspected Left Wing Extremists, including two women, were killed in an exchange of fire with the security forces in a forested region of Kandhamal district. A joint team of SOG and DVF had carried out the operation at Sirla forest area within Tumudibandha police limits. Later, a cache of arms and ammunition was recovered from the area where the Maoist group had set up a camp. More teams of SOG, DVF and Central Reserve Police Force (CRPF) have been sent to the area for combing and search operation A senior police officer VACCINE TRIAL HURDLE IN UK; ON IN INDIA Phase 3 clinical trials for a coronavirus vaccine, developed by Oxford University and AstraZeneca, have been put on hold since Tuesday after a volunteer in the UK had a suspected adverse reaction. However, in India, Serum Institute of India (SII) — which has entered into the partnership with the firm — maintained that the ongoing trial will continue | P7 TESTING TIMES Inexplicable: Odisha reduces tests as infections soar HEMANT KUMAR ROUT @ Bhubaneswar AT a time when India is focusing on aggressive testing to effectively track and check the spread of coronavirus, Odisha, curiously seems to be taking a , completely opposite path. While tests across the country have increased substantially, day on day to cross 11 lakh on Tuesday , , the State has been reducing the number of tests at the same pace. From an average 58,728 tests a day in the last half of August to sub 40,000 range this week, the number of both antigen and RT-PCR tests in the State has come down by over 30 per cent (pc). Even as early testing, timely contact tracing followed by isolation and treatment is considered the surest way of containing Covid-19, the fall in numbers has raised serious questions on the State Government’s intent and strategy The action is being . seen as a deliberate ploy to keep the daily number of cases at a considered level to show that the Government is in control, notwithstanding t h e f a s t wo r s e n i n g ground situation not only in Bhubaneswar and Cuttack but also across districts. The Covid sample test was below 10,000 per day till early August and it was enhanced to 50,000 plus only after mid August following demands from various quarters and health experts. While the number of tests went up to 68,906 on August 22, it once again declined to 41,275 on September 7. Around 45,165 tests were conducted on Septem- ber 6 and 41,595 tests on September 8. Not only the total number of tests, the share of RT-PCR tests, considered as the gold standard for accuracy, has also come down considerably From 11,358 . tests on August 20 to 6,047 tests on September 8, the numbers are down by nearly 50 pc. The official decision on reducing tests at all levels is being corroborated by officials at the dis- tricts. They have been reportedly directed to reduce tests so that cases will be in a comfortable zone. In turn, the district authorities have directed the field level officials not to go for more testing irrespective of the level of infections. While the districts mostly depend on antigen tests, the field health workers and periphery hospitals allegedly deny tests citing shortage in antigen test kits. Odisha is now among the topsix states which have been fuelling the new infections in the country The positivity rate that . was below five pc last month, has now soared to 8.5 pc. Among the States having high caseload, Uttar Pradesh is doing highest over 1.2 lakh tests a day , followed by Bihar (over 1 lakh), Maharashtra (over 90,000), Andhra Pradesh and Karnataka (over 70,000 each). P5
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