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 BENGALURU SATURDAY NOVEMBER 27, 2021 `7.00 PAGES 24 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 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 ■ ■ COUNTRIES South Africa Lesotho Botswana Zimbabwe IN FOCUS Mozambique Namibia Eswatini 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 In. dian equity 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 m a rke t we a k n e s s. 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. Recently the US had made a , request to some of the world’s largest oil-consuming nations, including China, India and Japan, to release oil from their strategic reserves to check the skyrocketing prices. India and the US decided to release 5 million and 50 million barrels of oil, respectively, from their stockpile. According to the findings of a panel of experts that advises ministers of the Organisation of the Petroleum Exporting Countries (OPEC), such release is likely to perk up supplies further in the coming months. OPEC and its allies, a group known as OPEC+, 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% Fall in BSE Sensex and NSE Nifty Points shed by Sensex 510 9,119 10,549 10,264 9,868 396 488 KARNATAKA NOV 25 NOV 26 Fresh cases Recoveries Deaths 306 224 2 Fall in London’s benchmark 10% Drop in Brent Crude to trade around $73.34 Shed by Nifty NATIONWIDE NOV 25 NOV 26 Fresh cases Recoveries Deaths 3.3% 402 277 6 a barrel JAB-O-METER TAKE YOUR SHOT November 25 74,59,819 doses November 26 65,23,396 doses TOTAL DOSES 120,96,90,961 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 airbubble 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 category 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, the Ministry of External Affairs and the Ministry of Health and Family Welfare. Resumption of international passenger services wo u l d i m p l y r eve r s i o n 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 according to the bilateral air service agreements. For a country identified as ‘atrisk’ and not having an airbubble agreement, only 50% of bilateral capacity entitlements or 50% of pre-Covid operations, whichever is higher, would be permitted. Bilateral air service agreements are signed between countries to operate scheduled passenger flights. This determines the number of airlines, ports of entries and total flights weekly that can be allowed. 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 aviation ministry said, adding such airlines would restrict their operations to capacity entitlements enter bilateral air service agreements with effect from December 15. Dynastic politics Worrying trend as 4 Covid clusters pop up in state It could be resurgence biggest threat to of virus, warn experts democracy: Modi RA N JA N I M A D H AVA N , A M I T S U PA D H Y E & K A R T H I K K K @Bengaluru, Hubballi, Mysuru PM targets Congress as 14 opposition parties boycott Constitution Day event in Parliament 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 dynastic. Problems arise when a party is run by the same family, generation after generation.” Targeting the Opposition parties that boycotted the event, Modi said the country will not listen to those who turn their back on an important 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, look at every corner of India, the country is moving towards a crisis that should worry every individual who respects the Constitution 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. Modi recalled how he faced resistance when the idea to dedicate a day in the name of the Constitution was ‘Boycott to protest authoritarian govt’ 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 government at the Centre mooted. “I remember when I was addressing the House in 2015 on B R Ambedkar’s 125th anniversary and making this announcement, even then there was resistance. Why are you doing this? What is the need?” the Prime Minister said. Speaking on the occasion, the President Ramnath Kovind said, “All Members of Parliament are defenders of the dignity of Parliament, whether they represent the ruling party P9 or the Opposition.” AT least four Covid clusters have erupted in Karnataka over the last few days — two in Bengaluru, and one each in Dharwad and Mysuru — in a worrying turnaround from a steady decline amid fears of a new SARS-CoV-2 virus variant entering the country . A day after news broke of two Covid clusters in educational institutions in Dharwad and Bengaluru, 12 students of Spurthy College of Nursing in Marsur, Anekal in Bengaluru tested positive on Friday The . other existing cluster was the one detected on Thursday at The International School Bangalore (TISB), a residential educational institution that saw 33 students and one staffer being infected. While Bengaluru’s two clusters have 46 positive cases, Dharwad’s SDM Medical College reported a total of 204 cases, of which 138 were reported on Friday The Mysuru cluster . is from two private nursing colleges — St Joseph’s Nursing College and Cauvery Nursing EXPRESS READ Putin in India on Dec 6 for annual summit New Delhi: Russian President Vladimir Putin will visit India on December 6 for the 21st annual summit. Narendra Modi and Putin are likely to touch upon a number of issues, with specific outcomes expected in expanding ties in the areas of defence, trade and energy. P9 1st Test: Bright start by NZ after Shreyas’ ton Kanpur: New Zealand’s Will Young and Tom Latham put on 129 runs, first century partnership by a visiting team openers since 2016. Young is unbeaten on 75 and Latham 50. Shreyas Iyer completed his century on debut with a knock of 105. P19 Relatives of patients wait outside the gates of SDM Medical College. The entry of visitors was restricted after a Covid outbreak, in Dharwad on Friday | EXPRESS College — where 48 cases have been detected over the last few days, of which 25 were reported on Friday However, most of . the cases are asymptomatic, while those with symptoms have a mild infection. In Bengaluru, a health officer said, “The nursing college students were tested on Thursday and the reports turned out to be positive on Friday None of them had any . travel history All, except one, . are vaccinated.” The lone student who had not received the shot had tested Covid positive previously and did not take the vaccine after that. Nine students are symptomatic with mild symptoms, while three are asymptomatic. The nine have been isolated at a Covid Care P3 Centre in Jigani. ACTIVE CASES CLIMBING There is a sudden spurt in Covid-19 cases in the state. Active cases which were on the decline are on the rise, while recovery rate which was climbing, stayed at 98.50 on Friday. Bengaluru saw its recovery rate falling from 98.29% to 98.28%. STATEWIDE Nov 24 6,412 cases B’LURU Nov 24 5,117 cases Nov 25 6,492 cases (increase of 1.24% ) Nov 25 5,141 cases (increase of 0.46% ) Nov 26 6,611 cases (increase of 1.83% ) Nov 26 5,235 cases (increase of 1.82% ) C H E TA N A B E L A G E R E & RA N JA N I M A D H AVA N @ B e n ga lu r u WITH the increase in clusters, indicating a resurgence of Covid in the State, the health department, along with the Technical Advisory Committee, is stepping up measures to contain the spread. While officials are thinking of changing the testing pattern, the genome sequencing committee is sequencing the samples collected from the clusters to see if it’s the same Delta variant that is increasing the numbers or any new variant or mutation that has surfaced. State Health Commissioner D Randeep said, “Cluster out- breaks are common. We have at least seven such clusters now. But the number of cases in these clusters has taken us by surprise and it calls for reassessing of the Covid situation in the state.” While reasons for outbreaks are closed congregations, hostel stay and travel, at Spurthy College of Nursing in Bengaluru, there was no report of any student travelling or attending any closed-door events. Experts said the number of cases in clusters at Dharwad, Bengaluru’s Bommasandra school and Mysuru is alarming and calls for immediate attention to find the variant behind these clusCONTINUED ON : P3 ters. K’TAKA HEIGHTENS SURVEILLANCE OF INTERNATIONAL TRAVELLERS With the new Covid variant, B.1.1529, detected in Botswana and South Africa, the state government is increasing surveillance of all international travellers. A three-pronged strategy will be followed: Screening and testing of travellers and their contacts, routine sentinel surveillance and surge surveillance, as well as, timely sending of RT-PCR positive samples to designated INSACOG Genomic Sequencing Laboratories. Tech City has no electricity to give this govt school A S H W I N I M S R I PA D @ Bengaluru THE contrast could not be starker. The political power centre and tech capital of the country Bengaluru is home to a government school that runs without electricity for the last seven years. Students attend classes in the open and run into classrooms when it rains. As it is dark inside, the lone teacher for the school lights a candle and continues with classes. The Gover nment Tamil Higher Primary School, which was started in 1930, is situated on Commissariat Road in Ashok Nagar that is just 4 km from Vidhana Soudha. Ten students from classes 1 to 9 attend The 91-year-old Government Tamil Higher Primary school on Commissariat Road in Bengaluru does not have power supply for the last seven years | ASHISHKRISHNA HP the school, while only one teacher is assigned to them. The power connection to the school was cut seven years ago, as it could not afford to pay the electricity bills, said sources from the Department of Public Instruction. Neither the Education Department nor the elected representative has taken interest in reviving the school, said sources from the Department. “The number of students too has been going down over the years. Moreover, the school is situated in a prime commercial area, close to Garuda Mall. Vested interests want it shut so that they can use this piece of land for commercial activities,’’ they added. Official sources confirmed that there is indeed a proposal to demolish the building. That is also one of the reasons why there is no interest in resuming power supply to the school, CONTINUED ON : P7 they said.
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