BHUBANESWAR l friday l november 26, 2021 l `7.00 l PAGES 12 l JEYPORE EDITION Virus variant with unusually high mutation count found B.1.1.529 has been found in South Africa, Botswana & Hong Kong; the Centre has asked states to test travellers from these places Unfamiliar mutations spark concern origins in untreated HIV patient? The new coronavirus variant has at least 32 spike mutations, compared to 16 for Delta. It may not just spread more efficiently, but might be able to get around parts of the immune system, said researcher Richard Lessells. Some of the mutations are also unfamiliar to scientists. So far the variant has been seen spreading especially among young people, reports said ■ ■ The variant could have evolved during the chronic infection of a person with compromised immunity, which can prolong infection The variant has also been found in Botswana and Hong Kong among travellers from South Africa, as per authorities. World Health Organization officials have met to discuss B.1.1.529 100 Cases linked to the variant detected in South Africa 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 NEET counselling deferred, `8L EWS cap to be revisited E x p r e s s n e w s s e r v i c e @ New Delhi The Centre on Thursday told the Supreme Court that it is ready to revisit the `8 lakh annual income criteria for the Economically Weaker Sections (EWS) reservation category . The government assured the apex court Bench, led by Justice D Y Chandrachud, that the National Eligibility cum Entrance Test (NEET-PG) counselling would be deferred for four weeks till a decision was taken on the EWS quota. The submission came in a case filed by NEET aspirants challenging a July 29 notification announcing 27% quota for Other Backward Class (OBC) and 10% reservation for EWS in the All India Quota (AIQ) category . Senior Advocate Arvind P Datar, appearing for the petitioners (students), suggested that the implementation of the EWS could be postponed to next academic year, as the admissions for this year are already delayed. The Bench, which also comprised Justices Surya Kant, and Vikram Nath, asked the Solicitor General if the implementation of the constitutional amendment could be pushed to he next academic year. “What happens is that we are at the end of November. Suppose you complete it by the end of De- cember and then implementation etc and then the terms would begin only sometime in February-March. Two months, the students are losing the time. This is something you may want to consider,” Justice DY Chandrachud questioned Mehta. He replied that it might be a difficult proposition as the Government wants to take steps as per the constitutional amendment providing for No potential deferment for OBC quota While a possible deferment of the EWS quota is being discussed, Advocate Shashank Ratnoo, appearing on behalf of some OBC candidates, requested that the application of reservation to OBC students should not be deferred as the Centre is planning to revisit the EWS criteria. The Bench said that it has not said anything on OBC students and is not disposing of the petition Congress becomes pawn in TMC’s pan-India plans Political observers point out that by upstaging the grand old party in Meghalaya, the Trinamool Congress is indirectly helping the BJP P r a s a n ta M a z u m d a r @ Guwahati With 12 of the 17 Congress MLAs in Meghalaya joining the Trinamool Congress (TMC) overnight, the grand old party appears to have become the biggest victim of the Mamata Banerjee-led party’s ambition of becoming a pan-India rival to the Bharatiya Janata Party . After its hard-fought victory in West Bengal early this year, the TMC is on an acquisition spree to draw disgruntled leaders from other parties, mostly Congress. By doing so, it is virtually hijacking the political space hitherto occupied by the grand old party . The TMC had already set its sights on BJP-ruled Tripura and Goa to expand its base outside Bengal. Meghalaya is the latest addition to the list. The late-night coup in Shillong relegated the Congress to a smaller party and effectively made the TMC the state’s main opposition party The de. velopment comes 14 months ahead of the Assembly polls in Meghalaya, which is ruled by a coalition of parties ‘Congress failed as Oppn’ On Thursday, former CM Mukul Sangma justified his decision to switch sides saying the Congress was failing as an opposition party and that TMC could be the pan-India alternative to the BJP. “We looked at available options and reached out to people and friends,” he told reporters headed by the National People’s Party, a BJP ally . Infighting in the Congress, especially after Shillong MP Vincent H Pala took over as the state unit chief two months ago, is said to have triggered the dramatic developments on Wednes- day night. Former chief minister Mukul Sangma was the sole contender for the CM post in case the Congress returns to power in 2023 and he felt threatened by Pala’s appointment a PCC chief. Congress insiders in the state admitted the TMC had dealt a body blow to the party facing a depleting popularity ever since the BJP’s emergence as a powerhouse nationwide in 2014. Political observers, however, pointed out that by targeting the Congress, the TMC is indirectly helping the BJP. As regards Goa, the TMC’s entry would hurt only the Congress as the BJP has its vote bank intact. Similarly , the TMC is trying to make inroads into Tripura at the expense of the Congress and the Left parties. Thursday’s civic election in the state was its launch pad. Mamata’s much-hyped meeting with Prime Minister Narendra Modi on Wednesday and her not calling on Congress chief Sonia Gandhi is to be seen in the above context. ITC begins clinical trial for coronavirus nasal spray ITC has confirmed it is developing a nasal spray for preventing Covid-19 and said it has initiated clinical trials for the product. The spray is meant to halt the virus at the entry point of the nasal cavity NATIONWIDE nov 24 nov 25 Fresh cases 9,283 9,119 Recoveries 10,949 10,264 Deaths 437 396 all set to take off Prime Minister Narendra Modi visits an exhibition on Noida International Airport, for which he laid the foundation stone on Thursday in Jewar. Uttar Pradesh Chief Minister Yogi Adityanath is standing on his left | PTI | P8 odisha nov 24 nov 25 Fresh cases Recoveries Deaths 288 151 03 335 235 02 Jab-o-meter Take your shot November 24 79,65,803 doses November 25 74,59,819 doses Total: 120,17,25,296 health Survey Be aware, hypertension, diabetes have hit the epidemic button in Odisha H e m a n t K u m a r R o u t @ Bhubaneswar Keep aside Covid for a moment, hypertension and diabetes have assumed epidemic proportions in Odisha with long-term impact on health and well-being of the population. The latest National Family Health Survey (NFHS) has revealed alarming statistics on hypertension and diabetes prevalence in the State as one in every four men and one in every five women in Odisha have elevated blood pressure and taking medicine to control it, while almost 17 per cent (pc) men and 14 pc women of 15 years and above have high blood sugar and on medication. The survey found 25.6 pc men and 22.4 pc women aged above 15 years have high BP It is more prevalent in . urban areas with 29.3 pc men and 24.5 women suffering from the disease as compared to 24.9 pc and 21.9 pc respectively in rural pockets. Around 6.1 pc men and 5.6 pc women have severely elevated BP and another 16.8 pc men and 12.9 pc women have mildly elevated blood pressure which may subsequently add to the population having hypertension if not controlled. Similar to hypertension, men have a higher risk of incidence of diabetes when compared with women. While 8.7 pc men and 6.6 pc women have very high blood sugar levels despite being treated, another 7.3 pc men and 6.5 pc women have high sugar level but not taking medicine. Of the 131 key indicators surveyed in the State, hypertension and blood sugar level were included for the first time. The share of population affected with the diseases in Odisha is above the national average as 24 pc men and 21.3 pc women have high BP and 15.6 pc men and 13.5 pc women are highly diabetic in the country . Health experts said noncommunicable diseases (NCDs) like hypertension and diabetes are lifelong illnesses that adversely affect the quality of life. As the State is still unable to control child malnutrition and anaemia, the rise of NCDs will further add to the ecoCONTINUED ON: P5 nomic burden. economic reservation. Justice Kant said, “The EWS quota is a very enabling and progressive kind of reservation and all States should support the Centre in its endeavour”. The Bench said that the only question is that determination of the category should be in a scientific manner and it appreciates that the Centre has taken a decision to revisit the criteria earlier fixed In a previous hearing, the apex court had expressed its annoyance at the government for not filing an affidavit explaining how it reached the `8 lakh figure to identify the EWS category for grant of reservation. After absconding, Mumbai’s ex-top cop surfaces S u d h i r S u r ya w a n s h i @ Mumbai Mumbai’s former police chief Param Bir Singh, who faces at least five charges of extortion and corruption in Maharashtra and had been missing for months, appeared at the city police’s Crime Branch Unit 11 office on Thursday morning. Meanwhile, Maharashtra police DGP Sanjay Pandey has moved a report on suspending Singh, who holds the DG, Home Guard post. The report has been submitted to Chief Minister Uddhav Thackeray . At the Crime Branch office, Singh was grilled for seven hours and his statement was recorded in an extortion case registered against him at the Goregaon police station in Mumbai. “As per direction by the Supreme court, I will extend all co-operation to the investigation agencies,” Singh told re- porters on Thursday after flying in from Chandigarh. On Monday, the Supreme Court granted Singh protection from arrest. Singh has not reported to work since May following his transfer from the post of Mumbai police commissioner and his subsequent allegations of corruption against the then Maharashtra home minister Anil Deshmukh. CONTINUED ON: P5 ‘Param bir destroyed Kasab’s phone’ Retired Assistant Police Commissioner Samsher Khan Pathan claimed in a complaint that Param Bir Singh “destroyed” a mobile phone seized from the 26/11 terror attack convict Mohammed Ajmal Kasab
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