KOCHI l friday l may 21, 2021 l `7.00 l PAGES 16 l LATE city EDITION daily covid test capacity to reach 20L by month-end home test kits to be available in 3-4 days Stating that the kits would be on the market in 3-4 days, ICMR director general Balram Bhargava said three more firms would soon get the approval. India has reached 16-20 lakh daily test capacity as on Thursday. It would be ramped up to 20 lakh by the month-end and scaled up to 45 lakh by July. A record 20.55 lakh tests were conducted in the past 24 hours Thursday’s announcement came after a home-based rapid antigen testing (RAT) kit by a Pune firm was given the nod results delivered to your phone ■ ■ ■ For home testing, one must buy a kit from a chemist, download a mobile app, register and conduct the test as per the manual After the test, click a photo of the report, upload it to the app and get the result on your phone. This will ensure confidentiality The results will be stored on a server linked with ICMR database 105 Kit companies validated by the ICMR so far, 41 approved 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 1 Eradication of acute poverty from the state over the next five years 2 Legislation to stop eviction of people from homes due to revenue recovery 3 Smart Kitchen project to reduce load of women engaged in domestic work 4 K-DISC to prepare report on creation of 20 lakh jobs for educated people 5 Massive project to deliver all govt services online at people’s doorsteps Pinarayi’s 2nd innings begins with word to wipe out poverty Local-self govt dept to undertake survey to realise the objective Implementation of e-office & e-file systems a priority First assembly session on Monday and Tuesday Express News Service @ T’Puram IDENTIFYING eradication of acute poverty as one of the major tasks of the LDF government in its second term, the newly sworn-in cabinet led by Chief Minister Pinarayi Vijayan, in its first meeting, decided to task local self-government department to undertake a comprehensive survey as a first step towards realising this objective. “Over the next five years, acute poverty will be eradicated from the state. Each destitute person and family suffering from poverty will be identified. Through local and domestic projects, they will be brought above the poverty line,” the chief minister said after the cabinet meeting on Thursday . Governor Arif Mohammed Khan administered oath of office and secrecy to Pinarayi Vijayan and 20 ministers at the Central Stadium. The cabinet also decided to enact a strong legislation to prevent people from being evicted from their homes due to revenue recovery proceedings by financial institutions. A committee comprising the additional chief secretary (Finance), additional chief secretary (Planning) and a few expert lawyers have been entrusted with the task of preparing a detailed report by July 15. Aimed at reducing the workload of women engaged in domestic work, a ‘Smart Kitchen’ project will be rolled out. The cabinet has assigned the chief secretary and secretaries of LSG and women and child development departments to devise the project. Pinarayi said the LDF had promised in its election manifesto that it would provide assistance to women engaged in household work. The chief minister said Kerala Development and Innovation Strategic Council (K-DISC) had evolved guidelines for creation of jobs for 20 lakh educated ● More on P4 people. Governor Arif Mohammad Khan presents a bouquet to Pinarayi Vijayan after the latter took oath of office on Thursday. RED-LETTER DAY Governor Arif Mohammed Khan administers oath of office and secrecy to Pinarayi Vijayan and 20 ministers A video album, titled Nava Kerala Geethanjali, featuring 52 leading singers and musicians, was played on the 140-foot-wide video wall before the start of the ceremony Function held adhering to Covid protocol Speaker election on Tuesday 16 ministers take the oath of solemn allegiance while five including Veena George do it in the name of God UDF legislators abstain from the function in view of the rising Covid cases Will V D Satheesan become the new Opposition leader in the state assembly? Reports coming in from New Delhi indicate the Congress high command will name the Paravoor MLA as its new legislative party leader, hoping that it would pave the way for a generation al shift. Congress president Sonia Gandhi is expected to announce the decision latest by Friday afternoon. K Sudhakaran and P T Thomas are likely to become the Congress state chief and UDF convener, respectively . Central observers Mallikarjun Kharge and V Vaithilingam, who held meetings with the 21 Congress MLAs, submitted their report to Sonia on Thursday evening. Sonia will discuss the matter with working committee leaders A K Ant o n y, O o m m e n Kunnamangalam MLA P T A Rahim will be the protem speaker of the 15th Kerala Legislative Assembly, the cabinet has decided K Gopalakrishna Kurup to be new advocate-general K K Ragesh to be private secretary to the CM, Puthalath Dineshan to be political secy EDIT: New team, bigger challenges for Pinarayi 2.0 | P6 We’ll feel pinch if petroleum, liquor brought under GST, says Balagopal R a j e s h A b r a h a m @ Kochi Having assumed office as the new finance minister of Kerala, K N Balagopal said the state economy would be strained further if petroleum and liquor are brought under GST. “The state is getting very little support from the Centre. Going forward, we also face the likelihood of petrole- Oppn leader: Satheesan on pole, decision today C y n t h i a C h a n d r a n @ T’Puram CM, ministers designate and speaker candidate visit the PunnapraVayalar martyrs’ memorial in Alappuzha P T A Rahim named protem speaker Chandy and K C Venugopal. While Chandy has rallied behind Ramesh Chennithala to continue in the post, Antony’s stand is not yet clear. Venugopal, who is also the national general secretary (organisation), has been based in state capital since the party suffered the setback in the assembly polls and he has not made his stance clear either. The Chennithala camp is still confident that the national leadership will continue to repose faith in a seasoned leader like him, particularly after doing an excellent job as the Opposition leader during last term. “The views of three CWC leaders will be decisive. Even though the announcement was expected to be made on Thursday, it was deferred to Friday considering the swearing-in ceremony of the Pinarayi 2.0 government,” a senior leader ● More on P4 told TNIE. um and liquor too being brought under GST, which means tightening the state’s finances further,” Balagopal told TNIE. Unemployment is increasing and the prices of agricultural goods are plummeting because of Covid, he pointed out. “Because of Covid, markets outside the state -- both in other parts of the country and overseas -- have become inac- Court criticises U’khand govt for Char Dham V i n e e t U pa d h yay @ Dehradun The Uttarakhand High Court on Thursday hauled the state government over the coals after perusing videos of priests massing at the Char Dhaam sites without following Covid protocol. Citing the aftereffects of the Maha Kumbh, a bench comprising Chief Justice RS Chauhan and Justice A K Verma asked why there was no crowd control mechanism in place and wondered why the administration had not learnt from its mistakes. “First we make the mistake of Kumbh Mela, then there is Char Dham. Why do we repeatedly cause embarrassment to ourselves?” the Chief Justice asked. “In Kedarnath & Badrinath, I‘ve seen videos that social distancing is not being followed by priests,” he added. 16 pages, including 4 pages of KOCHI Express cessible for farmers, resulting in price decline,” he said. The focus will now be on helping people who have lost their livelihoods and to support farmers, he added. Meanwhile, Union Finance Minister Nirmala Sitharaman called up Balagopal after the oath to congratulate him. Shaky finances, depleting revenues welcome new FM | P10 Gold pledging on the rise as stress hits households AN U R ADHA SH U K L A @ New Delhi WITH businesses shut, jobs lost and salaries slashed, many people are pledging their household gold savings to borrow money to meet their essential expenditure as well as emergency medical requirements, show official data from the Reserve Bank of India. According to the latest RBI data, loans against gold have jumped a whopping 82% since March 2020. At the same time, consumer durables and education loans are down by 21.4% and 3%, respectively showing , how people affected by the economic stress induced by the coronavirus pandemic are prioritising their spending. T he outstanding loans against gold went up from `33,303 crore in March 2020 to `60,464 crore in March this year, pushing the overall personal loan portfolio of finanSTATEWIDE MAY 19 Fresh cases Recoveries Deaths MAY 20 32,762 48,413 112 30,491 44,369 128 Black fungus: sos for drug but volume low; need to import more The Centre asks states to notify mucormycosis or black fungus under the epidemic Act Black fungus has already killed 90 in Maharashtra, where 1,500 such cases have been detected; 850 are under treatment in hospitals Maharashtra tells PM it needs 1.50-2 lakh vials of Amphotericin B to treat the fungus, but has received only 16,000 from the Centre so far Six Indian firms are manufacturing Amphotericin B. Five more companies have approval to produce it Some companies have so far placed orders to import 5-6 lakh vials of the shot “You have to get the medicine from wherever in the world. You have to take steps right now,” Delhi HC tells Centre NATIONWIDE MAY 19 Fresh cases Recoveries Deaths MAY 20 2,67,334 2,76,110 3,89,851 3,69,077 4,529 4,146 Express News Service @ Kolkata/New Delhi Mamata calls modi meeting with CMs super flop launching a blistering attack on Prime Minister Narendra Modi for first time since she came to power for the straight third term, West Bengal Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee described his online meeting with district magistrates (DMs) on the Covid situation on Thursday as a ‘super flop’ event that ‘humili- cial institutions up by 10.02%. One of the main reasons for the spike in gold loan is the increase in emergency spending due to the second Covid wave, loss of income, and reluctance of banks to give unsecured personal loans, forcing people to pull out gold ornaments and rush to banks to raise money . According to bankers, the trend is likely to continue. “The surge in gold loans is likely to go up further. While demand for gold loan was already high even last year, we saw fresh demand from April onwards. One out of every three loan queries is about gold loan. In fact, low income and lack of collateral have forced many people to opt for that,” said a senior official with State Bank of India. Getting personal loans has also become tough with banks becoming more cautious about unsecured loans. Borrowing trends Break-up of loans across categories Consumer Durables I9,299 Cr I7,307 Cr -21.4% housing loans advance against fixed deposits Advances to Individuals against share & bonds Credit Card Outstanding Education loans Vehicle Loans Loan against gold jewellery Other Personal Loans I13,37,899 Cr I14,59,066 Cr 9.1% Total I25,53,650 Cr I28,13,514 Cr 10.2% I79,494 Cr I71,544 Cr -10.0% I5,334 Cr I4,570 Cr -14.3% I1,08,097 Cr I1,16,537 Cr 7.8% I65,744 Cr I63,805 Cr -3.0% I2,20,610 Cr I2,41,657 Cr 9.5% I33,303 Cr I60,464 Cr 81.6% I6,93,870 Cr I7,88,564 Cr 13.6% Mar 2020 Mar 2021 Growth 2021 (%) Hindu doc recites Islamic prayer to sinking patient ears. I could see her taking a few deep breaths and then she flatlined,” said Dr Rekha. Praises and blessings are “My act was not planned. It pouring in for a Hindu woman happened at the spur of the doctor who recited the Islamic moment. I was bor n and prayer for a Muslim patient on brought up in Dubai and I the latter’s deathbed at a pri- knew the customs and practicvate hospital in Pattambi in es followed by Muslims,” she Palakkad. said. The patient, who was sufferThe doctor said she only reing from Covid pneuturned the respect and monia, was on venticonsideration she got lator for more than in the Gulf. two weeks and her rel“I was never disatives were not alcriminated against belowed in the ICU. “The cause of my faith patient was taken out when I was in the Gulf of the ventilator on and I returned the reMay 17 as her condispect when I got a Dr Rekha Krishna tion worsened. As chance. I was brought doctors felt that there up in a surrounding was very little they could do in where every faith is respectsuch a condition, we informed ed,” Dr Rekha said. the situation to the relatives,” “I don’t think mine is a reliDr Rekha Krishna, who is gious gesture; it is a humane working at Sevana Hospital act. A major problem with Covand Research Centre, said. id patients is that they feel “As I approached her, I felt lonely and isolated. Health that she was having some prob- workers are the single point of lems in leaving the earthly contact for them without their abode. Then, I slowly recited family around and we should Kalima (La Ilaha Illalla, Mu- do all we can to help the pa● More on P2 hammadur Rasululla) in her tients,” she said. Express News Service @ Kozhikode ated’ the participant CMs as none of them was allowed to speak. The BJP swiftly gave it back, saying her behaviour was not appropriate and against team spirit. Mamata allegedly interrupted when the turn of 24 Parganas DM came during the event. The district has been reporting a high Covid caseload. “The kind of behaviour shown by her wasn’t desira- ble,” Union minister Ravi Shankar Prasad said. The sharp rift surfaced at a time when the CBI has arrested three TMC MLAs, including two ministers. “None of the CMs was allowed to speak for a second. Armed with documents, we were prepared to place our demands. All the CMs were sitting like puppet. We are not bonded labourers,” Mamata raged. GRIT & DETERMINATION Chennaiite, 83, with comorbidities beats Covid S V KRISHNA CHAITANYA @ Chennai WHEN 83-year-old T D Nandagopal, a resident Chennai suburb Kattupakkam, contracted coronavirus in February, his family was deeply worried. For, infected patients in his age group had little chance of survival. To boot, the octogenarian had comorbidities such as hypertension and diabetes. He had also undergone a heart surgery a few years ago, making him a high-risk patient. However, Nandagopal battled it out and returned to his normal lifestyle. “I had all the typical Covid symptoms. I lost appetite and had severe cough, tiredness, and body pain. I immediately got tested and found to be Covid positive. I did not panic. I was lucky to get a bed at King’s Institute, the best in class for Covid treatment in Chennai,” he told TNIE. Nandagopal recovered fully after 10 days of hospitalisation. A former employee of FCI, he says more than the virus, it’s the panic that is claiming lives. The hospitalisation days were not easy, though. “I could see patients in my adjacent beds panicking and even succumbing to the disease. One patient from Andhra, with whom I used to regularly interact, died. But I still did not lose hope,” he said. Think +ve Nandagopal was given 8-10 injections a day. “The doctors and nurses were supportive and advised me to think positive. I did basic exercises like walking and meditated a bit to keep myself calm,” he told TNIE
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