visakhapatnam l thursday l december 2, 2021 l `7.00 l PAGES 12 l late city EDITION Heavy rainfall TO CONTINUE in southern states till Feb The India Meteorological Department has forecast above-normal rainfall between December and February in most southern states WARMER WINTER LIKELY IN nORTH iNDIA La nina conditions may play out: IMD The weather department said coastal Andhra Pradesh, Rayalaseema, south interior Karnataka, inner Puducherry, Tamil Nadu and Kerala will continue to get abundant showers. In its winter forecast released on Wednesday, the IMD predicted normal or above normal (warmer) minimum temperature over north Indian states during the 3-month period ■ ■ However, below normal minimum temperature is most likely over some parts of north-interior peninsula that comprises north Karnataka, parts of Telangana and Marathwada, the IMD said La Nina conditions are likely to strengthen and peak to moderate conditions during the upcoming winter season, it added 169% Excess rains in andhra, Tamil nadu, Kerala & interior k’taka in november 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 Check malicious propaganda on OTS scheme: CM E x p r e s s N e w s Se r v i c e @ Vijayawada Chief Minister YS Jagan Mohan Reddy has directed officials to take strict action against those who are spreading malicious propaganda on the Jagananna Sampoorna Gruha Hakku (One-Time Settlement) Scheme. At a meeting with the CMO officials on Wednesday, he instructed them to clarify beneficiaries’ doubts over the OTS scheme and clearly explain its benefits, including details of their loans, and interest, which are being waived off through registration of documents. The scheme will benefit lakhs of poor people in the State by providing them legal rights on their properties, he said. This comes a day after a panchayat secretary was placed under suspension for issuing a circular directing village volunteers to withhold the social security pension to beneficiaries, who have not paid `10,000 under the OTS scheme. Addressing a press conference later in the day, Special Chief Secretary (Housing) Ajay Jain said the government is going to waive close to `10,000 crore of beneficiaries availing the OTS scheme. He said there are about 39 lakh people who constructed houses after getting loans from the housing corporation. Their original documents are with the corporation as they were not able to repay the loans. “As a result, they are not able to sell, mortgage or gift Jagan to tour flood-hit districts from today Chief Minister YS Jagan Mohan Reddy will tour the flood-hit areas in Kadapa, Chittoor and Nellore districts for two-days from Thursday. He will first visit Mandapalle village in Kadapa district. From there, Jagan will proceed to Pulapattur village and inspect the severely damaged houses and other properties in Cheyyeru deluge. He will also visit relief centres and interact with the flood-affected people. Later, he will go to Chittoor district their properties,’’ he said. In the interest of a large number of beneficiaries, the government has come up with the OTS scheme under which the beneficiaries can clear their outstanding loans by paying a nominal amount and get a registered title deed. After getting the registration document, they can sell, mortgage, gift and lease their properties, he said. Further, there will be no burden on the beneficiaries as the government has waived off registration fee, stamp duty P4 and user charges. Suspended since March ’20 to deal with second Covid wave; special flights, however, operating since July last year International flights back on hold to handle Omicron K u m a r V i k r a m @ New Delhi Arriving passengers leave a terminal at the Chhatrapati Shivaji Maharaj International Airport in Mumbai on Wednesday | AFP Covid-19 patients are airlifted to get them to ICUs in Germany amid a surge in cases 16 02 12 2021 Thursday vellore l l Mapping the oMicron footprint HealtH india Positive cases Where cases of the variaNt have beeN fouNd, either detected iN a traveller or locally traNsmitted Sweden Germany Canada Italy Britain Belguim Israel Portugal Spain extreme measures T478K Japan S Ara S Korea bia Nigeria Hong kong Oman Ghana Japan, Israel and Morocco have suspended all foreign travel in a desperate bid to stop Omicron, despite the WHO and health experts warning against such bans. In fact, Japan told airlines to not take reservations until the end of December Brazil Botswana australia Reunion 209 Confirmed cases of Omicron reported globally thus far South Africa L452R E484A S477N spiKe protein 156-157 R158G T547K T478K K417N Q493R T19R P681R D950N N764K N856K Q954H 3-D renderings show the positions of mutations (red) delta researchers need about two weeks time G4965 Q498R Y505H G4465 N501Y N440K S375F S373P S371L G339D To know how Omicron attacks cells, researchers need to build an arsenal of spike proteins G142D/143-145 L981F N969K 69-70 A67V T95| ins214EPE 211/L212| D614G H655Y P681H N679K D796Y omiCron FACT OF THE MATTER Source: Covid-19 Genomics UK consortium With prior variants such as Delta, mutations were few, hence scientists had to make only a handful of changes to a previously-built spike version Omicron has about 30 mutations (Delta has nine) in its spike alone (see images on left). So, a lab has to start from scratch to make the gene in a DNA synthesis machine Compiled by: aravindakshan s understanding new guidelines What kind of rT-PCr tests 1 have been approved by ICMr for use at airports? Open system RTPCR; TrueNat; GeneXpert; RTLAMP; CRISPR/ TATAMD CHECK/FELUDA; Abbott ID Now; Accula by Thermofisher; Rapid RTPCR; CoviDx DirectPlex (airports to facilitate testing) should travellers 2 excluding from those countries “at risk”* need to wait at airports till their postarrival test result is declared? Travellers may give the sample and leave. Random sampling, self-paid, would be limited to 2%. Airlines may check with state govt officials to select the passengers If travellers from countries 3 excluding those “at risk” are transiting through airports of countries “at risk”, but staying within airports, can they be exempted from the post-arrival testing? Yes after submission of sample for post-arrival test at the point of arrival, travellers will be required to wait for results before taking a connecting flight? 4 After negative results are in, the passengers can take connecting flights to reach their destinations Source: Ministry of Civil Aviation w US FDA nod for Merck pill expected Fliers from “at risk”* countries should carry negative RT-PCR test reports and they will be tested again upon arrival at an Indian airport. Passengers who tested negative will have to undergo home isolation for seven days, followed by repeat testing on the eight day of arrival, followed by seven days of selfmonitoring. For fliers from not “at risk” countries, two per cent of passengers in each flight will be tested randomly CHina The Chinese mainland is not imposing any new travel curbs, but Hong Kong has barred foreigners who have been in eight African nations, Japan, Portugal and Sweden for the past 22 days. Hong Kong residents travelling from those countries will have a 7-day quarantine at a government facility with daily testing and monitoring by health professionals. After seven days, they will be quarantined for 14 days in a hotel Britain Ban on foreigners travelling from six southern African nations. Ten-day quarantine and testing for citizens united states Restrictions on foreigners travelling from eight southern African nations australia Flights from nine African nations suspended for at least 14 days and foreigners with a travel history to those locations barred from entering. Two-week quarantine still in place uae Restrictions on travel for fliers from or transiting through eight African nations saudi araBia Flights from seven southern African nations banned, as is anyone who has been in those countries in the last 14 days. Five-day quarantine for citizens returning from that region Kuwait Commercial flights from nine southern African nations suspended. Seven-day quarantine for citizens travelling from those countries, while non-Kuwaitis would be barred from entering within 14 days of visiting the countries oman Flights from seven southern African nations suspended, ban on entry for anyone who has been there singapore Tight restrictions on travel from seven southern African nations. No entry or transit through for non-nationals who have been in that region. Ten-day quarantine for citizens and residents Canada Any foreigner who has been in seven southern African nations barred from entering. Canadian citizens need to test prior to departure and post-arrival, followed by 14-day home quarantine sri lanKa Ban on foreigners who have been in six southern African nations in the last 14 days. Two-week quarantine for citizens returning from those countries indonesia Ban on any foreigner who has been in eight southern African nations in the last 14 days. Two-week quarantine for citizens flying in from those countries maldives Tourists who travelled to or transited for more than 12 hours through seven southern African nations within 14 days will be denied entry paKistan Travel banned from five southern African nations and Hong Kong. Citizens returning from those countries need to negative for Covid-19 and be vaccinated russia Ban on non-Russians travelling from nine southern African nations. Citizens only need to undergo testing argentina Fliers who have been anywhere in Africa in last 14 days to be quarantined after landing. Full vaccination proof and negative RT-PCR test needed, as well as an antigen test, upon arrival *At-risk nations are European countries, the UK, South Africa, Brazil, Botswana, China, Mauritius, New Zealand, Zimbabwe, Singapore, Hong Kong and Israel New species of snail named afr Djokovic An easy guide to track Omicron spread and how countries are tackling it How fungi can Endangered rhinos shifted s researCH mediCine WASHINGTON: A panel of US health experts have voted to recommend Merck’s Covid pill for high-risk adults -- a new form of treatment that is easy to administer and could prove better able to withstand variants, including Omicron. Molnupiravir, already author- ized in Britain, has been shown to reduce the rate of hospitalizations and deaths among people at high risk of developing severe Covid, when it is taken within five days of symptom onset. The Food and Drug Administration (FDA), which convened Tuesday’s meeting, is now expected to grant an emergency use authorization for the treatment. The independent scientists appointed by the FDA voted 13 in favor and 10 against authorization -- a narrow win that reflected some concerns over a recent downgrading of the treatment’s efficacy results, as well as misgivings over potential side-effects. Conservation S T cientists from the United States and Europe announced plans Tuesday to create the biggest map of underground fungal networks, arguing they are an important but overlooked piece in the puzzle of how to tackle climate change. By working with local communities around the world the researchers said they will collect 10,000 DNA samples to determine how the vast networks that fungi create in the soil are changing as a result of human activity — including global warming. “Fungi are invisible ecosystem engineers, and their loss has gone largely unnoticed by the public,” said Toby Kiers, a professor of evolutionary biology at Amsterdam’s Free University and cofounder of the non-profit Society for Protection of Underground Networks. hirty endangered white rhinos ar rived in Rwanda on Monday after a long journey from South Africa in a Boeing 747, conservationists said, hailing it as the largest single transfer of the species ever undertaken. The majestic animals, which can weigh up to two tonnes, travelled some 3,400 km from South Africa’s Phinda Private Game Reserve as part of a programme to replenish the species’ population, decimated by poaching since the 1970s. Once plentiful across sub-Saharan Africa, white rhino suffered first from hunting by European settlers, and later a poaching epidemic which largely wiped them out. The rhinos began their 40-hour journey to Akagera National Park in eastern Rwanda following months of preparation. Renewable energy and net zero Climate G lobal growth in renewable electricity production is set to accelerate but needs to speed up even more to meet targets to reach net zero carbon emission targets, the IEA said on Wednesday. In its latest report on the sector, the International Energy Agency said that the installation of new renewable electricity generation capacity is expected to hit a record 290 gigawatts (GW) this year. Over the next five years, renewable capacity is expected to be added at a rate 50 percent higher than in the 2015-2020 period. In five years time global renewable electricity capacity is expected to have increased by 60 percent from 2020 levels to 4,800 GW, the IEA said. For comparison, this is the equivalent to the current total global 2% random sampling travel restrictions to check omicron spread broken down by country Norms for travellers vary widely around the world. We list the new rules, many of which went into effect on Wednesday, for select countries. Governments could of course change these rules at a moment’s notice File Just when the world was getting comfortable with managing the Covid-19 outbreak, a completely new variant called Omicron emerged out of nowhere and disturbed ambitious plans of opening up economies and learning to live with the virus. Just a few days after first cropping up on the radar of South African scientists, the variant has now been detected in travellers in at least 20 countries (see map). Here’s an overview of how countries are trying to protect themselves from the variant. We also present a list of frequently asked questions to clear some doubts on new guidelines for fliers travelling to India Page 12 Colour-Coded Fest A reveller covered in turmeric powder rejoicing the festivities during the Bisket Jatra Festival at Thimi in Bhaktapur district on the outskirts of Kathmandu in Nepal on Thursday | afp oddity CANBERRA: A cutomer thought he was watching a huge wor m writhing in plasticwrapped lettuce he’d just brought home from a Sydney supermarket — until a snake tongue flicked. “I kind of completely freaked out when I saw this little tongue come out of its mouth and start flicking around,” Alex White said on Thursday It was a ven. omous pale-headed snake that authorities say made an 870-km journey to Sydney from a packing plant in the Australian city of Toowoomba wrapped in plastic with lettuce. The refrigerated supermarket supply chain likely lulled the cold-blooded juvenile into a stupor until White bought the lettuce at an innercity AlDI supermarket on Monday. White phoned the WIRES rescue organization and a snake handler took the snake away that night. Investigations are underway to find out how a snake could have found its way to supermarket.stigations are underway to find outtion and a snake handler took the snake away that night. Investigations are underway to find out how a snake could have found its way to supermarket.stigationd let- tuce he’d just brought home from a Sydney supermarket — until a snake tongue flicked. “I kind of completely freaked out when I saw this little tongue come out of its mouth and start flicking around,” Alex White said on Thursday It was a ven. omous pale-headed snake that authorities say made an 870-km journey to Sydney from a packing plant in the Australian city of Toowoomba wrapped in plastic with lettuce. The refrigerated supermarket supply chain likely lulled the cold-blooded juvenile into a stupor until White bought the lettuce at an innercity AlDI supermarket on Monday. White phoned the WIRES rescue organization and a snake handler took the snake away that night. Investigations are underway to find out how a snake could have found its way to supermarket.stigations are underway to find outtion and a snake handler took th Never seeN before Coolest dino ever? Critter fought off predators with bladed tail palaeontology FOSSIlS found in Chile are from a strange-looking dogsized dinosaur species that had a unique slashing tail weapon, scientists reported. Some dinosaurs had spiked tails they could use as stabbing weapons and others had tails with clubs. The new species, described in a study in the journal Nature, has something never seen before on any animal: seven pairs of “blades” laid out sideways like a slicing weapon used by ancient Aztec warriors, said lead author Alex Vargas. “It’s a really unusual weapon,” said Vargas, a University of Chile paleontologist. “Books on prehistoric animals for kids need to update and put this weird tail in there. ... It just looks crazy .” The plant-eating critter had a combination of traits from different species that initially sent paleontologists down the wrong path. The back end, including its tail weapon, seemed similar to a stegosaurus, so the researchers named it stegouros elengassen. After Vargas and his team examined the pieces of skull and Jab-o-meter did five different DNA analyses, they concluded it was only distantly related to the stegosaurus. Instead, it was a rare southern hemisphere member of the tank-like ankylosaur family of dinosaurs. (Though the stegouros name stuck and can be easily confused with the well-known stegosaurus.) Vargas called it “the lost family branch of the ankylosaur.” The fossil is from about 72 million to 75 million years ago and appears to be an adult based on the way bones are fused, Vargas said. It was found with its front end flat on its belly and Take your shot Nov 30 72,49,189 doses Dec 01 71,55,049 doses Total: 1,24,86,09,652 Further revising its advisory, the Ministry of Civil Aviation on Wednesday said only 2% of passengers from non ‘at-risk’ countries will be subject to random sampling for Covid as against 5% earlier All such passengers will be permitted to leave the airport after giving the samples, the ministry explained in a set of Frequently Asked Questions | P12 the back end angled down to a lower level, almost as if caught in quicksand, Vargas said. From bird-like snout to tail tip, stegouros stretched six feet but would only come up to the thighs of humans. The tail was probably for defense against large predators, which were also likely turned off by armor-like bones jutting out that made ste gouros “chewy,” Vargas said. Not only is this “a really bizarre tail,” but it is from far southern Chile, a region that hasn’t yielded these types of animals before, an expert said. NATIONWIDE nov 30 dec 1 statewide nov 30 dec 1 Fresh cases Recoveries Deaths Fresh cases 184 184 Recoveries 134 183 Deaths 3 1 Samples tested 25,925 29,595 6,990 8,954 10,116 10,204 190 267 Days after announcing resumption of international commercial flights from December 15, the Centre on Wednesday indefinitely put it off in the wake of concerns over the spread of the newly detected Omicron strain of Covid globally . “In view of the evolving global scenario with the emergence of new variants of concern, the situation is being watched closely in consultation with all stakeholders and an appropriate decision indicating the effective date of resumption of scheduled commercial international passenger services shall be notified in due course,” the Directorate General of Civil Aviation (DGCA) said. The decision came days after Prime Minister Narendra Modi asked officials to review plans to ease international travel restrictions by factoring in the Omicron outbreak in countries labeled at-risk. The at-risk na- tions are: Europe, UK, South Africa, Brazil, Botswana, China, Mauritius, New Zealand, Zimbabwe, Singapore, Hong Kong and Israel. International commercial flights have been suspended for as many as 21 months since March 2020. However, special passenger flights have been operating since July last year under air bubble arrangements with around 28 countries. Many state gover nments have already urged Modi not to resume flights from ‘at risk’ countries for now. Maharash- Six positive cases from at-risk countries Six Covid-positive cases were reported on Wednesday after screening 3,476 passengers from 11 flights that arrived in India from ‘at-risk’ countries. Their samples have been sent for genomic sequencing, the health ministry said Now, book RTC ticket 60 days in advance Vijayawada: The APSRTC has increased the advance reservation period to book tickets in long distance bus services to 60 days from 30 with effect from December 2. The RTC has taken a decision in this regard keeping in view the rush in the ensuing festive season E x p r e s s N e w s Se r v i c e @ Tirumala Govt to bear treatment cost of Sirivennela Vijayawada: The AP government has decided to bear the medical treatment cost of lyricist Sirivennela Seetharama Sastry, who died in a private hospital in Hyderabad on Tuesday. Chief Minister YS Jagan Mohan Reddy directed officials to extend support to Sirivennela’s family Vijayawada: Leaders of the AP JAC and AP JAC Amaravati met Chief Secretary Sameer Sharma on Wednesday and served a notice on the State government mentioning their plan of action demanding redressal of their outstanding issues, including implementation of the PRC | P4 GST collections zoom to `1.31L cr in November New Delhi: Signalling India’s gradual economic recovery, GST collections grew 25% year-onyear to `1,31,526 crore in November, surpassing October’s `1.30 lakh crore mop-up. Tax collections from import of goods also contributed to the numbers, which were 43% higher | P10 UPA is over, says Mamata after meeting Pawar S u d h i r S u r ya w a n s h i @ Mumbai West Bengal chief minister and Trinamool Congress supremo Mamata Banerjee, who is aggressively pushing the idea of a non-Congress opposition front against the BJP said on Wednesday that , regional parties must come together as the Congress-led UPA is defunct. “There is no UPA now,” she told reporters after meeting NCP chief Sharad Pawar at residence in Mumbai on Wednesday. “UPA is over. Now, the regional parties who are opposed to the BJP must come together and put up a joint fight,” she added. Earlier in the day Mamata , held a meeting with activists and civil society members. Taking a swipe at Congress leader Rahul Gandhi, she said one can’t do politics in India by staying in a foreign country. “If a person wants to stay in a foreign country most of the time, how will it work in politics? If you are not on the ground, the BJP will defeat you,” she said. While extending support to Mamata, Pawar asked NCP ministers to meet her to boost their fight against the BJP in Maharashtra. On who will lead the anti-BJP front, Pawar said it will be sorted out after the polls through consensus. Meanwhile, the Congress pooh-poohed Mamata’s political moves. “Thinking that anybody can defeat the BJP without the Congress is merely a dream,” said party General Secretary K C Venugopal. Maharashtra PCC chief Nana Patole said only the Congress can give a strong alternative to BJP . On Tuesday, Mamata had met Shiv Sena leader Sanjay Raut and Maharashtra environment minister Aaditya Thackeray. She could not meet Chief Minister Uddhav Thackeray as he was hospitalised for a surgery . Massive landslide on Tirumala ghat road, IIT-Delhi experts to examine damage express read JACs of employees serve notice on govt tra went much further and directed all international arrivals to take mandatory RT-PCR tests and 14 days of home quarantine, even if they are not from at-risk nations, prompting a rebuke from the Centre. It directed the Uddhav government to align itself with the guidelines already issued by the Union health ministry . Maharashtra had also made it mandatory for those from at risk countries to be placed in institutional quarantine of seven days, during which they had to take three RT-PCR tests (on the second, fourth and seventh days after arrival). A positive test during this period would land them in hospital. Union Health Secretary Rajesh Bhushan’s missive said the state’s order is in divergence with the Cnetre’s SoPs. “I would, therefore, urge you to align the orders issued by the state with the guidelines issued by the Ministry of Health, Government of India,” he said. NCP president Sharad Pawar with West Bengal Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee after their meeting at his residence in Mumbai on Wednesday | PTI The ghat road leading to Tirumala damaged in a massive landslide on Wednesday | madhav k Sudha granted default bail in Bhima Koregaon case E x p r e s s N e w s Se r v i c e @ Mumbai The Bombay High Court on Wednesday granted default bail to lawyer and activist Sudha Bharadwaj who has been under arrest in the Bhima Koregaon case since August 2018.However, it refused bail to eight other accused in the case. She will be produced before the Special Court, NIA, Mumbai on December 6. A default bail is granted when the probe agency fails to file its chargesheet within 90 days of arrest of the accused. The eight other accused who sought bail were Surendra Gadling, Varavara Rao, Sudhir Dhawale, Shoma Sen, Rona Wilson, Mahesh Raut, Ver non Gonsalves and Ar un Ferreira. Bharadwaj had argued that two additional sessions judges of the Pune sessions court, who remanded them in custody, had not been designated as special judges and therefore, could not have taken cognisance of their case under the UAPA. A massive landslide badly damaged the ghat road leading to Tirumala at four places, forcing the Tirumala Tirupati Devasthanams (TTD) to close the road on Wednesday . However, no casualties were reported as an alert RTC bus driver stopped the vehicle just a few minutes before the landslide after noticing boulders rolling down. The landslide occurred at the 14.9 km milestone of the 16-km up ghat road. The second turning, where the incident happened, is popularly known as Bhashyakarla Sannidhi. Though pilgrims are being allowed to proceed to Tirumala by road, the TTD urged those who booked their darshan tickets, not to visit the hill shrine in the next three days, promising to provide them alternative slots if they postpone their pilgrimage. At present, vehicular traffic to Tirumala is being allowed The retaining walls and the ghat road were severely damaged at four places due to landslide. The alert RTC bus driver stopped the vehicle at the right time and averted a mishap YV Subba Reddy, TTD Chairman via the ghat road (down) leading to Tirupati. After inspecting the ghat road, TTD Chairman YV Subba Reddy said, “The retaining walls and the ghat road were severely damaged at four places due to the landslide at 5.40 am. The alert RTC bus driver stopped the vehicle at the right time and averted a mishap.” He attributed the landslides on the ghat road in recent weeks due to the unprecedented rainfall on Tirumala Hills. The road was damaged at five to six places. An expert team from IIT Delhi will examine the damage and suggest measures to strengthen the ghat roads at vulnerable places, he said. P5 new kid on block Vizag girl ranks 2nd in world U-10 chess ratings E x p r e s s N e w s Se r v i c e @ Visakhapatnam Child prodigy from Vizag Alana Meenakshi became the world top 2 in Under 10 girls chess as per the FIDE ratings which were announced on Monday She achieved the mile. stone with an Elo rating of 1829. Incidentally, Alana was the only player from India figured among 10 top rankings in the U-10 girls’ chess category . Aparna Dhruv, the mother of Alana, told TNIE that Alana was now qualified to play against higher-rated players. She is two titles away to be- Alana Meenakshi come IM (international master). Her immediate goal will be FM (Fide master) which will be given if she could get an Elo rating of 2400. Alana will be in pursuit of this and has been making efforts to reach the goal, she said. Alana started playing international chess when she was 7-year-old in 2018. She won gold in Asian schools U-7 championship. Earlier, she won gold in the Indian nationals U-10 girls championship conducted by AICF (All India Chess Federation) in July. She emerged as the winner among 334 girls who took part in the event.
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02-12-2021 of The New Indian Express-Vishakapatnam