kochi l tuesday l december 22, 2020 l `7.00 l PAGES 18 l late city EDITION $ U.S. lawmakers reach deal on $900bn stimulus package Top Capitol Hill negotiators have sealed a $900-billion Covid-19 economic relief package for businesses as well as individuals Direct Benefits transfer to americans More stimulus measures on the cards The agreement, announced by Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell on Sunday, would establish a temporary $300 per week supplemental jobless benefit and a $600 direct stimulus payment to most Americans, along with a new round of subsidies for hard-hit businesses and money for schools, health care providers and renters facing eviction ■ ■ ■ The agreement came after months of battling and posturing Delays in finalising the pact prompted the House to pass a oneday stopgap spending bill to prevent a govt shutdown on Sunday “In 31 days, when Joe Biden enters the White House, more help will be on the way,” said House Speaker Nancy Pelosi | P11 2nd largest Stimulus package after the $2.3-tn pact announced in March 2020 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 India too imposes U.K. flight ban Curbs from Tuesday midnight till Dec 31 as new Covid strain found 70% more transmissible than original one India on Monday joined a slew of nations that temporarily barred flights from the UK to firewall themselves from a highly infectious strain of Covid-19 that was recently detected in Britain. The variant, called N501Y, is 70% more transmissible than the original Covid strain, and has already been found elsewhere, including Denmark, the Netherlands and Australia. The suspension of flights comes into effect from Tuesday midnight and will continue till December 31. The decision was taken following recommendations by the Covid-19 joint monitoring group and the Covid-19 national task force whose emergency meetings were held on Monday . As a measure of abundant caution, passengers arriving from the UK in all transit flights (flights that have taken off or those that will reach before the ban comes into effect) will be mandatorily subjected to RTPCR tests on arrival to detect Covid-19 cases. Those testing positive will be under mandatory institutional quarantine. States have been advised to also monitor those who test negative; they need to remain in isolation for at least seven days at home. For his part, Union health minister Harsh Vardhan said there is no need to panic yet. New variant upsets NRKs’ plans: p6 Mutated virus footprint First found in Kent in the UK on Sept 20, later in Wales and London. Also in Scotland in Greater Glasgow Flight stats E x p r e s s N e w s Se r v i c e @ New Delhi S u m i S u k a n ya D u t ta & C h e ta n a B e l a g e r e l 9 cases in Denmark l 1 each in the Netherlands and Italy l 4 in Belgium l 2 in Australia 60+ New strain cannot dodge vaccines, claim experts Weekly flights operated by Air India and other airlines, including Vistara, British Airways and Virgin Atlantic between India and the UK. MAR K ETS SPOO K ED The S&P 500 Index headed to its worst drop in almost eight weeks, shedding 1.5%, while the Nasdaq Composite fell 1.5%. Indian bourses witnessed bloodbath with Sensex plunging 1,406 points and Nifty going below 13,350 pts @ New Delhi / Bengaluru Just as we thought the end of pandemic was in sight, a new mutation of SARS CoV 2 — detected in the UK — has brought fresh concerns. The discovery has also put a question mark over the Covid vaccines in the works. Will the vaccines be effective against the new strain? However, experts say the vaccines will be effective against Bars to resume serving liquor from Court asks cops to arraign today following Covid guidelines Vellappally, son and aide Mahesan death E XPR E SS N E WS S E RVIC E @ Alappuzha The First Class Magistrate court here on Monday ordered the police to arraign SNDP Union general secretary Vellappally Natesan, his son Thushar Vellappally and their aide K L Ashokan in the death of Kanichukulangara SNDP union secretary K K Mahesan. The order was issued while considering a petition filed by Mahesan’s wife P Usha Devi. A close aide of Natesan and the treasurer of SNDP micro-finance project, Mahesan was found dead at the union office on June 24. He had left behind a suicide note which read, “I am sacrificing my life for all union leaders who have been and are being tortured by Vellappally Natesan and my friend K L Ashokan.” Though the accused were interrogated, the probe team did not find any evidence to incriminate them. “The legal battle will continue till we get justice,” said Usha. C D Anil, counsel of Usha, said the court asked Mararikulam police to register a case and file an FIR against the accused. “The complainant approached the court after the police refrained from registering a case, despite the suicide note clearly mentioning their names,” he said. Mahesan ended his life when a Crime Branch investigation into a microfinance fraud case in Mavelikkara SNDP union was under way. Crime Branch had summoned Mahesan many a time with regard to the case in May and June. A letter written by Mahesan — accusing the CB of deliberately trying to arraign him in the case — was then circulated in WhatsApp groups of SNDP. He had also called out Natesan in the letter. ● More on P5 E x p r e s s N e w s Se r v i c e @ T’Puram THE dine-in service at the bars in Kerala will resume on Tuesday The . state chief secretary issued the order on Monday after the Excise Department submitted a proposal to the state government. As per the order, bars, clubs, beerwine parlours, airport launch bars and toddy shops in the state will resume dine-in service from Tuesday strictly in compliance with Covid-19 protocol. LIQUOR OUTLETS 265 36 576 291 outlets under Bevco under Consumerfed bar hotels beer & wine parlours The bars were closed nine months ago following a spike in Covid cases. Reducing the number of chairs and maintaining social distancing inside the bars were two of the key suggestions in the proposal. A detailed advisory regarding the norms to be followed will be issued soon. The government has also decided to allow normal functioning of outlets managed by Kerala State Beverages Corporation/Consumerfed from 10am to 9pm. The retail sale of liquor in bars will be stopped. The proposal also contains suggestions to limit the use of BevQ app, introduced by Bevco to manage virtual queue system in the time of the pandemic. express read Wife joins TMC, BJP MP to divorce her Actor abuse: Police to go ahead with case Nat’l agency to attach Swapna’s bank lockers Kolkata: Sujata Mondal Khan, wife of BJP MP Saumitra Khan, switched over to the Trinamool Congress from the saffron camp, claiming she did not get her due recognition. Incensed by his wife’s action, Khan said he will send a divorce notice to Sujata | P10 Kochi: Despite the young actor accepting the apology of the two youths who were arrested for allegedly molesting her at a shopping mall in Kochi, the police will go ahead with case. Adhil and Ramshad were produced before the court on Monday | P6 Kochi: Probing the money trail in the diplomatic baggage gold smuggling case, the Enforcement Directorate is set to temporarily attach key accused Swapna Suresh’s bank lockers from which gold weighing 983 grams and cash worth I1 crore were seized | P7 the new strain as well. Virologists point out that viruses mutate all the time; while there is no need for panic, there is no room for complacency either. “Though the mutation is said to have caused havoc in the UK, we don’t have to panic,” said Dr T Jacob John, virologist and exprofessor at Christian Medical College, Vellore. “However, we may have to buy a couple of weeks to not let the virus enter and spread fast and burden our healthcare,” he added. Sr Abhaya case verdict today E x p r e s s N e w s Se r v i c e @ T’Puram THE CBI special court here will pronounce its much-awaited verdict on the sensational Sister Abhaya case on Tuesday, 29 years after she was found dead in the well of Pius X Convent in Kottayam. The 19-year-old Knanaya Catholic nun, a member of the St Joseph’s Congregation, was a pre-degree student at BCM College in Kottayam when the incident happened. The local police and the Crime Branch had termed the incident as suicide and it took four CBI probes and a series of judicial interventions to cast away their theory The probe headed by then CBI Kochi unit . DySP Nandakumar Nair concluded that Abhaya’s was a cold-blooded murder committed by two priests and a nun to cover-up their illicit relationship. The CBI finding was that Abhaya had gone to the kitchen of the convent for fetching water and happened to see Fr Thomas Kottoor, Fr Jose Poothrikkayil and Sister Sephy in a compromising position. Fearing for their reputation, Sephy bludgeoned Abhaya with an axe and threw her into the well with the help of the two priests. ● More on P6 18 pages, including 4 pages of kochi Express
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