BHUBANESWAR l thursday l december 31, 2020 l `7.00 l PAGES 14 l JEYPORE EDITION Cabinet approves export of Akash missile system The Union Cabinet on Wednesday cleared export of the indigenously-developed surface-to-air missile system Global competence for Indian products Forces to spend $130 bn in next 5 yrs Defence Minister Rajnath Singh said the export version of Akash missiles would be different from the system currently deployed with Indian armed forces. The Akash missile systems have 96% indigenous components. “This decision will help the country improve its defence products and make them globally competitive,” the defence minister said ■ ■ ■ Govt plans to focus on selling high-value defence platforms to achieve a target of $5 billion in arms exports Forces to spend $130 bn in capital procurement in the next 5 yrs The government has set a target of `1.75 lakh crore ($25 billion) turnover in defence manufacturing by 2025 | P9 25 km Akash missile systems can hit targets within this range 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 Oxford vaccine gets UK nod, India seeks more data S u m i S u k a n ya D u t ta @ New Delhi Hours after the UK approved the Oxford-AstraZeneca Covid vaccine for human use on Wednesday, India’s drug regulator met on Wednesday to review the applications by Serum Institute of India and Bharat Biotech. However, the meeting remained inconclusive as the Drugs Controller General of India’s Subject Expert Committee was not satisfied with the appli- cations of either of the companies. The next meeting will be held on January 1. “SII has been asked to submit more data from AstraZeneca trial globally while Bharat Bio, tech will have to submit the interim analysis of phase 3 trial,” said a source. Serum Institute is conducting a bridging phase-three clinical trial of the AstraZeneca vaccine Covishield on 1,700 volunteers in India. Bharat Bio- tech, whose homegrown Covaxin has been developed in collaboration with the ICMR, is being tested on 26,000 people in late-stage trial. Covishield has been found to be 70% effective in multi-country phase-3 trials, while a recent scientific paper published on Covaxin’s phase-1 and phase-2 trials said it could lead to generation of antibodies lasting up to 6-12 months. Pfizer, the first company to apply for its Covid-19 vaccine in India, has sought for more time to submit data for its vaccine’s consideration. The UK’s drug regulator, Medicines and Healthcare products Regulatory Agency said the second dose of the vaccine will be given 12 weeks later as a longer interval between two doses could produce better results. Meanwhile, Chinese vaccine maker Sinopharm has claimed to have 79% efficacy rate. India’s daily number of Covid-19 cases jumped 6.88% to touch 20,021 on Wednesday . Centre extends flight ban from Britain till january 7 E x p r e s s N e w s Se r v i c e @ New Delhi With the number of Indians testing positive for the Covid-19 strain from the UK jumping to 20, the Centre on Wednesday decided to extend the suspension of flights from the island nation till January 7. The Union health ministry also asked states to be vigilant about potential “super spread- er” events such as New Year celebrations. The developments follow the identification of the B117 variant, reported to be highly infectious, in the country . A total of 107 samples from infected persons have been subjected to whole genome sequencing at six designated laboratories in different parts of the country P9 so far. Cinema halls, jatras to reopen from January 1 E x p r e s s N e w s Se r v i c e @ Bhubaneswar Union Agriculture Minister Narendra Singh Tomar, Railway Minister Piyush Goyal and MoS for Commerce Som Prakash have food served by farmers during a snack break at a meeting over new farm laws, at Vigyan Bhawan in New Delhi on Wednesday | PTI Two easy ticks, but farm laws and MSP stay sticky Deal done over power tariff and stiff penalties for stubble burning; seventh round of talks on January 4; unions again defer tractor rally While the government tried to paint the sixth round of talks as positive with Tomar claiming the meetThe sixth round of talks between ing ended on a good note, the farmthe Centre and agitating farm un- ers said the agreement on two ions on Wednesday appeared to have smaller issues can’t be termed a produced a partial breakthrough as breakthrough as they are firm on both sides agreed on two points — their main demands of repeal of the air pollution law and the electricity laws and MSP. amendment bill — but there was no Tomar said the government had meeting ground on the more conten- agreed to “decriminalise” the Comtious issues of the repeal of the farm mission for the Air Quality Managelaws and legal guarantee ment in National Capital Assocham for MSP. Region and Adjoining Arewrites to The improving chemistry as Ordinance, 2020, while Punjab CM the electricity amendment was also exemplified by the fact that Union ministers bill has been put on hold. Assocham on Narendra Tomar, Piyush “The first issue was an Wednesday Goyal and Som Prakash ac- wrote to Punjab ordinance related to the encepted the ‘langar’ food ofvironment. Unions were CM Captain fered by the farmers while Amarinder Singh, apprehensive about farmthe protesters for the first ers being included. Farmexpressing time accepted the tea served ers also feel if reform is inconcern over by the government. Union damage to over troduced in the Electricity leaders had earlier refused Act, they will suffer losses,” 1,600 mobile to eat food served by the Tomar said. towers during government during the pre- farmers’ protest Noting that the governvious round of talks. ment has softened its After the five-hour marathon talks stance, All India Kisan Sabha genon Wednesday, Union agriculture eral secretary Hannan Mollah, who minister Tomar said the next round attended the talks, said, “I don’t call of talks would be held on January 4. it a breakthrough or victory but Sensing a slightly accommodative some advancement from the government and also in view of the deadlock.” agreement on two of their demands, Bharatiya Kisan Union (Rajewal) the farmers decided to put off the president Balbir Singh Rajewal said, tractor rally they had planned for “The government is still adamant on Thursday along the Kundli-Mane- the repeal of the farm laws and MSP. sar-Palwal Expressway just outside We are hopeful the government will P9 agree on them also.” Delhi. E x p r e s s N e w s Se r v i c e @ New Delhi/Chandigarh e x p r e ss r e a d `3,004 crore plan to develop Paradip Port Bhubaneswar: The Union Cabinet on Wednesday approved projects worth `3,004.63 crore for development of Paradip Port | P3 02 THURSDAY BHUBANESWAR SN AGRAGAMI I t was on this day last year, the discussion in the evening editorial meeting here at TNIE Bhubaneswar veered towards a mysterious virus spreading in the Hubei province of China and causing a number of people to fall sick with severe pneumonia. The talk moved to the possibility of a developing contagion and moving out of China to even land in our soil. Most of us scotched the contention, reeling out examples of SARS, MERS, Ebola – how they did not spread to India and how the only pandemic in our recent memory , Swine Flu of 2009, was dealt with and eventually mellowed into a seasonal flu. Today, 365 days later, we realize how wrong we were. The virus from the SARS family itself has become the only story of the year 2020 – one that has ravaged every continent and brought the entire world to its knees. India and Odisha unspared too. Odisha, which saw its first novel coronavirus or Covid-19 case in midMarch, today has 3.29 lakh afflicted with 1,871 deaths and counting. Compare this to the H1N1 Swine Flu pandemic – only 840 persons in the State have been infected and 109 lost their lives in a decade since the virus first struck in 2010. As 2020 comes to the end, we look back at how the year unfolded in Odisha and how the State made its way through one of the worst pandemics that humankind has ever witnessed. 31 12 2020 cus then with several of them testing positive. Then came the next surge fuelled by migrants returning from West Bengal mainly to the districts of Balasore, Bhadrak and Jajpur. Odisha recorded its 100th case on April 24 and touched 500 on May 12, when the return of the migrants was in full flow. There was no respite thereafter and the graph began to shoot vertically reaching 10,000 on July 7 and 50,000 a month after on August 11. With community transmission setting in, the months from July to November saw the rampage of the virus and Covid cases crossed three lakh. The highest single day spike recorded in the State was 4,356 on September 26 during the period when Odisha found its place among the top ten affected states in the country and clocked a test positivity rate of more than 10 per cent. While the case incidence has come down since beginning of December, signaling the end of the first wave, the total number on date stood at 3.29 lakh. The State registered its first death with a 72-year-old man from Bhubaneswar succumbing to the virus on April 6. Since then, as many as 1,871 persons have died of Covid-19. Odisha, though, has among the lowest death rates in the country with around 0.6 per cent mortality rate against the national average of 1.45 per cent. Among districts Khurda, which includes Capital city Bhubaneswar, is the worst affected with 52,643 cases followed by Cuttack at 28,663 cases; Ganjam, the home to most migrants, with 21,800; Sundargarh, mainly Rourkela, at 14,575; and Puri with 13,993 cases. Bhubaneswar accounts for 31,593 cases and 239 deaths while Cuttack has recorded 16,184 cases and 85 deaths as on date. THE VIRUS CURVE As the novel coronavirus began to spread beyond China in January and the knowledge about its highly infectious form along with fatality rate became apparent, Odisha was among the fast movers to announce a Statewide alert. By beginning of March, the State government had issued advisories to all districts and was ready with standard operating procedures (SOPs) including screening of incoming travellers from abroad. The first Covid-19 case detected in the State on March 15 eventually was a Bhubaneswar native staying in Italy who had returned after the Euro, pean country was severely hit by the virus. By April 10, the number touched 50, with all infected persons having travel history to outside Odisha or abroad. The participants of the Tablighi Jamat in Delhi, who had returned from the event were in fo- THE STATE RESPONSE Odisha was among the first states in the country to rise to the threat of the pandemic and started early measures from January itself with focus on ensuring quality healthcare to the afflicted and minimizing deaths. From the beginning, the State government decided to provide free treatment to patients at dedicated facilities and not mix them with general health infrastructure. Odisha was among the first to set up standalone Covid hospitals in the Twin City of Bhubaneswar and Cuttack with a bed strength of 1,000 in the beginning of April. With cases rising, the facilities were expanded to the district level and by October the dedicated hospi- THE PHANTOM grounds of avoiding large congregations in the midst of the pandemic, the Supreme Court gave its nod allowing only 500 persons to pull each chariot all of whom should have tested negative for the virus. Under heavy police bandobast and a 41-hour shutdown in the en- EXPRESS ILLUSTRATION THE PANDEMIC YEAR As 2020 comes to the end, TNIE looks back at how the year unfolded in Odisha and how the State made its way through one of the world’s worst pandemics tals went up to 50 with 8,000 beds, besides 22 Covid care centres which had the capacity to lodge 22,000 patients, with mild symptoms. The government roped-in private hospitals to set up dedicated Covid facilities and ensure that all confirmed patients were accommodated and provided necessary treatment. Starting with only one laboratory for Covid tests at the Regional Medical Research Centre (RMRC) of ICMR, the State now has 54 labs including 35 government facilities. The State has conducted 60 lakh tests by December 1, with the highest nearly 67,000 tests on a day conducted on August 22. Odisha again was the first state in the country to declare lockdown across eight districts and five cities as early as March 21, four days before the national lockdown was announced by PM Narendra Modi on March 23. It also extended the lockdown till April 30 and imposed complete shutdowns in several affected cities and districts to combat the virus. In a bid to ramp up health infra- structure, the Naveen Patnaik government instituted an empowered mechanism to speed up procurement of hospital equipment and protective gear like masks, PPEs, sanitisers. Grassroot level surveillance was intensified with training of field staff including health workers, ANMs, ASHAs, etc., to undertake door-todoor surveys for symptomatic people, contact tracing and isolation of suspected cases. itself, migrant workers began to troop back suffering intolerable hardships by walking hundreds of kilometers to return home. Odisha was no different. More than eight lakh migrants came back to the State between April and May with Ganjam accounting for the , most number. The State government took several measures for bringing back the migrant workers through trains and buses from different parts of the country including Gujarat, Maharashtra, Kerala, Tamil Nadu, Andhra Pradesh and Karnataka, etc. With a plan to segregate them from the society on their advent, so that virus would not be transmitted to the communities, the government made it mandatory for all returnees to be housed at temporary medical camps (TMCs) set up in all blocks. As many as 16,824 TMCs were set up at 6,798 gram panchayats to house the migrants for 14 days before allowing them to mix with the families and communities. In a significant decision, Chief Minister Naveen Patnaik delegated Collector’s power to the sarpanchs for management of the TMCs. They were also empowered to take local-level decisions on checking the spread of corornavirus. However, like even the best laid plans fall apart, this too had its pitfalls. Not willing to accept the 14-day quarantine at TMCs, many migrants not only evaded screening but also escaped from the centres across districts, leading to the inevitable. They fuelled the virus transmission at community-level and from May onwards, Odisha witnessed the steep spiral of Covid-19 cases across districts. RATH YATRA THE RETURN OF MIGRANTS The announcement of the nationwide lockdown in March fuelled a reverse migration of unfathomable proportions across the country From April . The Rath Yatra of 2020 was historic in more ways than one. For the first time, the biggest cultural festival of Odisha was held without participation of devotees and the three majestic chariots were pulled to the Gundicha temple by only sevayats of the Sri Jagannath Temple. After initially staying the annual festival on Test your number crunching skill with our unique puzzle tire district, the Rath Yatra proceedings began and were completed on time. Similar arrangements were put in place for Bahuda Yatra. THE SLIP UPS In its rush to procure protective gear and equipment for healthcare workers and hospitals, the government seemed to have forsaken transparency and was faced with allegations of large-scale irregularities. Truckloads of kits remained stranded at the godown of the State Medical Corporation for over a week as a controversy over the process of procurement erupted. Even as the high-power procurement committee was disbanded in the wake of the allegations, the issue has been taken up by the Lokayukta. Several senior officials are in the dock over the procurement mess. The government too faced flak for low level of testing. The number of tests remained in sub-5,000 level during the crucial months of May June , and July, which is also attributed to have led the surge as many cases were left undetected to continue transmitting the virus in the society Further, . even as tests were raised in subsequent months, the heavy reliance on antigen tests, despite Central government instructions on at least half RTPCR tests. Rapid antigen tests continue to be over 85 per cent of tests in Odisha. The casualty rate shown by the government also raised eyebrows as number of deaths per day continued to be at similar-level for days together. If for a particular period, the death rate was between 7 and 9 per day it extended to 11 to 15 for the next. , Nowadays it hovers around 3 to 4. (with inputs from Bijay Chaki, Hemant Kumar Rout & Diana Sahu) CROSS WORD 2020 Reflections | P2 SU DO KU P E T E R V I DA L 31st December : Venus, planet of love and affection, is connecting with sober, serious, Saturn. If there’s a message for the current moment, it’s that traditional values count for most in relationships. If you are a free spirit, reluctant to be tied down and scornful of convention, then you might have to keep a low profile for a few weeks! ARIES (Mar 21 - Apr. 20) LIBRA (Sept. 24 - Oct. 23) You may look beyond the narrow limits of your own life, and consider getting involved in activities that you might have ignored until now. This is an auspicious moment for taking new initiatives, even if partners have already made a start. You might have some catching up to do. You’re treading an emotional tight-rope, unsure of which way to jump. Problems will only arise if you are so sensitive that you lose your selfconfidence. It would be a shame if you also lost touch with your objectives, yet be assured that you’ll be back on course before long. TAURUS (Apr. 21 - May 21) You may be looking for an escape route, but in reality you probably don’t need one. It may be sufficient just to duck out of an engagement or two, and give yourself enough time to decide whether you want in or out. No doubt impatient people will put pressure on you, but you’ll do your best to resist. GEMINI (May 22 - June 21) SAGITTARIUS (Nov. 23 - Dec. 22) You have made all the right moves recently, and by all accounts you are continuing to do so. You may therefore allow yourself a brief pat on the back! At work realise that your own interests can only be achieved if you depart from the straight and narrow. This is one of those moments when emotional intimacy can flower, apparently out of nowhere. It is therefore a perfect period for making new friendships and deepening old ones, and of course for relishing rare romantic encounters. Plus, an old friend might walk back into your life. HI AND LOIS SCORPIO (Oct. 24 - Nov. 22) A word about your physical well-being would come in handy, for this looks like a useful moment to get yourself in shape. You should tackle bad habits and consider whatever changes in exercise and diet are necessary to tone up. Oh, and keep a loved one informed about your latest plans. CANCER (June 22 - July 23) Please don’t jump to hasty conclusions - and do make sure that you have all the relevant facts at your fingertips. If you base your actions on conjecture or rumour you will go badly off course. Rest assured that colleagues are willing to be persuaded. LEO (July 24 - Aug. 23) The accent is now on travel, CAPRICORN (Dec. 23 - Jan. 20) For some time now you have suspected that if other people aren’t actually undermining you, they’re not giving you the support you deserve. This may be because you over-estimated what could actually be achieved. It might also be up to you to set a better example! AQUARIUS (Jan. 21 - Feb. 19) MEDIUM BEETLE BAILEY Solutions to Yesterday’s puzzle Fill in the grid with digits in such a manner that every row, every column and every 3X3 box accommodates the digits 1 to 9, without repeating any. Each sudoku has a unique solution that can be reached logically without guessing. BLONDIE ACROSS DOWN 1 Drive a camping convertible (8) 5 Become wedged, we hear, in the doorway (4) 9 Sail from port (5) 10 It’s used in composing some music (7) 11 Article one put out after a bill for a rate increase (12) 13 Doubtless one wouldn’t be (6) 14 They also multiply naturally (6) 1 They are engaged in making machines work (4) 2 Threats can seem ridiculous (7) 3 Sportingly these sides don’t accept a paying proposition (7,5) 4 Big cuts she makes in fuel (6) 6 This excuse is out of place (5) 7 Firm action (8) 8 Common drinking companions (3,3,6) Blow to BJP in Haryana local body polls H a r p r ee t B a j w a @ Chandigarh A year after the NDA comprising the BJP and the Jannayak Janata Party came into power in Haryana, it suffered a setback in the civic body elections, as it lost mayoral/ presidential positions in five of the seven municipal bodies that went to polls, the results of which were announced on Wednesday . Coming as it did in the backdrop of the month-long agitation by farmers, analysts sought to read in the outcome the disquiet of the tillers, who constitute a large chunk of the voters. While Nikhil Madaan of the Congress wrested the Sonipat municipal corporation mayor post, Shakti Rani Sharma of the Haryana Jan Chetna Party is the new mayor of Ambala municipal corporation. Sharma is wife of former union minister Vinod Sharma. Independents did remarkably well, wresting presidentships of Uklana, Dharuhera, and Sampla municipal committees. The BJP, however, managed to win the Panchkula mayoral poll and the Rewari Municipal Council’s presidentship. Assam Assembly OKs bill to abolish govt-run madrasas P r a s a n ta M a z u m d a r @ Guwahati The Assam Assembly on Wednesday passed a bill to convert all staterun madrasas into regular schools amidst a walkout by Opposition parties. The Congress and the All India United Democratic Front had demanded that the bill to be sent to the Assembly’s Select Committee for vetting. However, Speaker Hitendra Nath Goswami rejected it and got the bill passed through voice vote. Education Minister Himanta Biswa Sarma said the Assam Repealing Bill, 2020 would repeal the Assam Madrassa Education (Provincialization) Act, 1995 and the Assam Madrassa Education (Provin- I feel this is going to be a gift to the minority community. Students studying in those madrasas will hail the decision after 10 years Himanta Biswa Sarma, Assam education minister cialization of Services of Employees and Re-Organisation of Madrassa Educational Institutions) Act, 2018. He said madrasas would now be converted into upper primary high , and higher secondary schools. Assam has 189 state-run high madrasas and madrasa higher secondary schools that are run under the Board of Secondary Education, Assam and the Assam Higher Secondary Education Council. After a long long wait, cinema halls and theatres will finally open their doors to the audience from January 1. The State government on Wednesday announced the Unlock 8 measures for January allowing reopening of cinema halls and theatres with 50 per cent (pc) capacity. They will have to operate as per the standard operating procedures (SOP) issued by the Central and State governments like maintenance of physical distancing in seating, sanitisation and other measures. “The local authorities can also allow open air theatres, jatras and entertainment subject to compliance of safety protocols,” the advisory stated. Social/religious/sports and other gatherings with a ceiling of 200 persons in strict adherence to the Covid Unlock 8.0 What’s Allowed Cinema halls, theatres with 50% seating capacity Social, religious, sports & other gatherings with a ceiling of 200 persons Funeral and last rites congregations with 100 persons Open air theatres, jatras and entertainment parks safety protocol will also continue through the month. Even as the Chief Minister had recently announced that any decision on reopening of schools and colleges will be taken by his office only, the new guidelines has again entrusted the responsibility on the departments of School and Mass Education, Higher Education, Skill Development and Technical Education. The departments can take a call on reopening of schools and colleges in a graded manner with necessary SOP in January after consulting stakeholders and issuing necessary guidelines. All academic, technical and skill development institutions, except medical colleges, will remain closed until the departments issue guidelines for resuming classes. The closure of institutions, notwithstanding, conduct of examinations, evaluation, training and administrative activities and online lear ning have been CONTINUED ON: P7 permitted.
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