New variant and old fears Many European countries have pressed the panic button even as the WHO is yet to make its assessment of the variant with high number of mutations public Variant: B.1.1.529 Found in: Botswana and Hong Kong (in travellers from South Africa) Risk factor: Under assessment WHO meeting: Friday’s emergency discussions focus on variant’s possible effects and giving it a Greek alphabet denomination vijayawada l SATURday l NOVEMBER 27, 2021 l `7.00 l PAGES 12 l late city EDITION Why’s Europe worried? 1 Cases have leapfrogged 11% over the past week 2 WHO’s grim prediction that the winter toll may cross 7,00,000 3 Belgium has become the first EU country to detect a case Countries South Africa Lesotho Botswana Zimbabwe in focus Mozambique Namibia Eswatini Jab-o-meter Take your shot Nov 25 74,59,819 doses Nov 26 65,23,396 doses Total doses 120,96,90,961 NATIONWIDE Nov 25 nov 26 Fresh cases Recoveries Deaths statewide Fresh cases Recoveries Deaths Samples tested 9,119 10,264 396 10,549 9,868 488 Nov 25 nov 26 183 163 1 39,863 184 214 1 29,731 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 Uncertainty returns as new mutant spreads Equity markets crash, oil prices tumble Arshad Khan & Rakesh K u m a r @ New Delhi Reports of a heavily mutated Covid-19 variant on Friday sent global and domestic equity markets into a tizzy Indian eq. uity markets saw `4.5 lakh crore worth of investors’ wealth getting eroded as both the benchmark indices – BSE Sensex and NSE Nifty – fell by around 3%. US stocks opened lower while London’s benchmark fell by 3.3% at the opening. Tokyo, Shanghai, Frankfurt and Hong Kong also fell. The tremors were also felt in the global oil market as well, as Brent Crude shed over 10% to trade around $73.34 a barrel on Friday. India’s equity market saw its biggest single day fall in recent times on Friday. The Sensex shed 1,688 points or 2.87% to close at 57,107, and the Nifty was down 510 points or 2.91% to 17,027. Friday’s bloodbath was caused by discovery of a new mutation of coronavirus in Africa (B.1.1.529), which poses another set of challenges to global economic recovery . Amit Gupta, fund manager, portfolio management services at ICICI Securities said, “Nervousness on the new variant and expectations of US increasing the pace of tapering have led to recent market weakness. This trend may take some time to recover as the WHO meeting on the new mutant variant impact and hospitalisation rates in US and Europe will be watched by the market very closely .” Other than the discovery of the new Covid variant, the release of crude oil reserves by the US and other countries leading to an increase in global supply also caused the 10% drop in oil prices. India and the US have decided to release 5 million and 50 million barrels of oil, respectively, from their stockpile, to perk up supplies. OPEC and its allies are set to meet on December 2 to weigh their options. FLIGHT PLAN Category Capacity At risk with bubble agreement At risk without bubble agreement 75% of pre-Covid operations 50% bilateral capacity arrangements Full capacity under bilateral agreements Not at risk Bloodbath in markets `4.5 lakh cr Investors’ wealth eroded 1,688 3% Points shed by Sensex 510 Fall in BSE Sensex and Shed by Nifty NSE Nifty Dynastic politics threat to democracy: Modi Express News Service @ New Delhi With 14 opposition parties including the Congress, the TMC, the DMK and the Left parties boycotting the Constitution Day event in the Central Hall of Parliament on Friday Prime , Minister Narendra Modi tore into family-run parties calling them a danger to democracy . Noting that dynastic parties are a matter of concern to people committed to the Constitution, Modi said, “More than one person from a family joining the party on the basis of merit does not make the party audit report CAG red-flags State’s fiscal deficit, debt Express News Service @ Vijayawada The Comptroller and Auditor General of India (CAG) has pointed out lapses, both constitutional and procedural, in financial management by the State government. The audit report for the financial year 2019-20 was tabled in the State Legislature on Friday . Some of the prominent issues red flagged by the CAG are: a) non-disclosure of offbudget borrowings running up to `26,096.98 crore in budget documents; b) transfer of `1,100 crore related to the State Disaster Relief Fund to personal deposit account in violation of rules; c) 80% of borrowings utilised to balance revenue accounts affecting asset creation; d) “unacceptable” argument to amend the Fiscal Responsibility and Budgetary Management Act in December 2020 to reset targets relating to the five-year period from 201516 to 2019-20; and e) effective capital expenditure amounted to just 0.72% of the GSDP and finally unsustainable level of , P4 debt to GSDP ratio. dynastic. Problems arise when a party is run by the same fami l y, g e n e r a t i o n a f t e r generation.” Targeting the Opposition parties that boycotted the event, Modi said the country will not listen to those who turn their back on an event to respect the Constitution, which has the name of Babasaheb Ambedkar attached to it. “When a political party loses its own democratic character, how can it protect democracy? Today from Kashmir to Kanya, kumari, the country is moving towards a crisis that should worry all who respects the Con- stitution and that comes from dynastic parties. This is against the principles of the Constitution,” the PM said. Elaborating on the spirit behind celebrating the Constitution Day Modi said it was initi, ated in 2015. He recalled the resistance he faced when the idea to dedicate a day in the name of the Constitution was mooted. Speaking on the occasion, President Ramnath Kovind said, “All Members of Parliament are defenders of the dignity of Parliament, whether they represent the ruling party P7 or the Opposition.” Congress justifies decision Justifying its decision to boycott the Constitution Day event in Parliament, the Congress said it was to register its protest against the authoritarian functioning of the Narendra Modi-led govt at the Centre Abnormal rainfall triggered floods, priority to relief: CM senior officials advised him against it as it could hamper relief and rescue operations. Chief Minister YS Jagan Mo“For me, every village is imhan Reddy said unprecedented portant, and Kadapa, being my heavy rains from November 16, native district, is even more. led to flooding and devastation However, to ensure that relief of Chittoor, Kadapa, Anantameasures continue without a pur and Nellore districts. hitch and the official machinMaking a statement on the ery does not shift its focus due torrential rains and the extent to my visit, I have postponed of devastation in the my visit to the floodState Assembly on affected areas,” he Friday he said 44 peo, explained. ple died and 16 went Unlike Naidu, who What is more missing in floods. As exploited every opporimportant? many as 1,990 villages Immediate rescue tunity for publicity in 199 mandals of the even at the cost of oband relief four districts were operations in flood- struction to relief and badly affected. affected districts or rescue operations durmy visit to those Lambasting Oppoing Hudhud and Titli sition Leader N Chan- places? As the first cyclones, Jagan said drababu Naidu for is most important, he restrained himself we have focused criticising him for not from visiting the on it visiting the flood-afflood-affected places fected areas, Jagan YS Jagan Mohan Reddy, in Rayalaseema. said he has been close“Have you ever Chief Minister ly monitoring relief seen Naveen Patnaik, operations after conducting an Chief Minister of Odisha, aerial survey of the rain-hit which faces cyclones and floods districts. “What is more imporfrequently, rushing to the catant? Immediate rescue and relamity-hit areas? He does not, lief operations in flood affected so as to allow officials to effecdistricts or my visit to those tively implement rescue and places? As the first is most imrelief operations,” he portant, we have focused on it,” observed. he asserted. The Chief Minister also exJagan said though he wanted plained the reasons that led to to visit the affected districts, the flooding in Rajampet. P4 Express News Service @ Vijayawada CM trains guns on TDP chief TDP chief’s remark, “the CM will come in the air, and go in the air”, was not a sensible one to be made by a leader with vast experience, Jagan said Pincha got extremely high inflow The inflow into the Pincha dam increased exponentially during the 12 hours from 8.30 am on Nov 18, flooding 15 mandals in Kadapa district 3.3% Fall in London’s benchmark 10% Drop in Brent Crude to trade around $73.34 a barrel Regular int’l flights to resume on Dec 15 K u m a r V i k r a m @ New Delhi The Ministry of civil Aviation on Friday announced the resumption of scheduled international flights to and from India from December 15. The ministry, however, said certain restrictions would apply to countries based on their risk assessment and air-bubble deals. Countries categorised as at-risk and having air bubble agreement with India would resume 75% of pre-Covid scheduled international flights or a minimum of seven frequencies a week, whichever is higher. Countries under the at-risk cat- egory include the UK, South Africa, Brazil, Bangladesh, Botswana, China, Mauritius, New Zealand, Zimbabwe, Singapore and Hong Kong. An order issued by the civil aviation ministry said the decision was taken after consultations with the Ministry of Home Affairs, Ministry of External Affairs and Ministry of Health and Family Welfare. Resumption of international passenger services would imply reversion to bilaterally-agreed capacity and termination of the air bubble arrangements. Countries identified as not ‘at-risk’ by the Health Ministry would get full capacity entitlements. For a country identified as ‘at-risk’ and not having an air-bubble agreement, only 50% of bilateral capacity entitlements or 50% of pre-Covid operations, whichever is higher, would be permitted. Under air bubble agreements, airlines of two countries operate special flights under certain restrictions. “The seats under air bubble arrangement that have already been sold by airlines, which are more than the capacity entitlements under bilateral air service agreements, will be allowed to be operated till December 14, 2021,” the Ministry of Civil Aviation said.
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