kochi l monday l january 24, 2022 l `9.00 l PAGES 12 l late city EDITION NZ pm calls off wedding AMID OMICRON OUTBREAK Decision after DETECTION OF COVID CLUSTER Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern said on Sunday her own wedding plans stand cancelled as she announced fresh Covid curbs Good Track record of Managing Covid Ardern’s marriage with TV host Clarke Gayford was scheduled for next weekend. The couple had got engaged in 2019 and they have a two-year-old daughter. The decision to call off the wedding follows discovery of nine Omicron cases in a family that travelled to Auckland. Following this, it was decided that the entire country be placed under the highest level of Covid curbs ■ ■ ■ The fresh restrictions include a cap of 100 vaccinated people at events and mask wearing in shops and on public transport New Zealand has operated under strict Covid rules since the start of the pandemic, allowing it to keep deaths to a minimum It managed the Delta variant, with an average of 20 daily cases 93% New Zealanders over 12 years are fully vaccinated; 52% have got booster shots CHENNAI ■ MADURAI ■ VIJAYAWADA ■ BENGALURU ■ KOCHI ■ HYDERABAD ■ VISAKHAPATNAM ■ COIMBATORE ■ KOZHIKODE ■ THIRUVANANTHAPURAM ■ BELAGAVI ■ BHUBANESWAR ■ SHIVAMOgGA ■ MANGALURU ■ TIRUPATI ■ TIRUCHY ■ TIRUNELVELI ■ SAMBALPUR ■ HUBBALLI ■ DHARMAPURI ■ KOTTAYAM ■ KANNUR ■ VILLUPURAM ■ KOLLAM ■ TADEPALLIGUDEM ■ NAGAPATTINAM ■ THRISSUR ■ KALABURAGI Govt accepts community transmission Further spread of Omicron is expected to happen internally and not from abroad EX P RE S S NEW S S ER V ICE @ New Delhi The Omicron variant of the coronavirus has reached the community transmission stage in India and has become dominant in multiple metros where new cases have been rising exponentially, the Indian SARS-CoV-2 Consortium on Genomics (INSACOG) said in its latest bulletin on Sunday . The two-page bulletin of January 10, released on Sunday added that while most Omi, cron cases so far are asymptomatic or mild, hospitalisations and ICU cases are increasing in the current wave. It also said an infectious sub-variant of Omicron, BA.2, has been detected in a considerable fraction in India. “BA.2 lineage is a substantial fraction in India and S-gene dropout-based screening is thus likely to give high false negatives. Tests suitable for PCR based screening applicable to all Omicron lineages have been approved for use,” it said. As for the recently reported B.1.640.2 lineage, it is being monitored. “There is no evidence of rapid spread and while it has features of immune escape, it is currently not a variant of concern. So far, no case has been detected in India,” the bulletin added. India reported 3,33,533 new Covid-19 cases in the last 24 hours, taking the active caseload to 21,87,205. While the daily positivity rate and weekly positivity rate stand at 17.78% and 16.87% respectively, the recovery rate is 93.18%. “Further spread of Omicron in India is now expected to be through internal transmission, not foreign travellers, and a revised sampling and sequencing strategy of INSACOG is being worked out to address genomic surveillance objectives in the wake of dynamic changing scenario of virus infection,” the bulletin added. INSACOG is a consortium of 38 laboratories under the Union Ministry of Health and Family Welfare that monitor the genomic variations in Covid-19. national Peak in 14 days? With the sudden surge in Covid cases and more people developing symptoms, selftesting kits have become the most sought-after item during the third wave. It is estimated that around six lakh people have used the kits in the past two weeks across the state. The kits are helping families go for self-isolation if tested positive, and also end the quarantine if the results are negative, without having to go to a lab for testing. “Covid self-testing kits and paracetamol tablets were the most sold items in the past one week. A case of fever, sore throat and cough in the neighbourhood is enough for people to keep a self-testing kit ready . Ex p r ess N ews S e rv i c e @ New Delhi Whether or not the Ukraine situation is amicably resolved between the US-led NATO and Russia, it left the German navy chief jobless. Vice admiral KayAchim Schoenbach, who was in India last week, had to resign after coming under fire for siding with Russian president Vladmir Putin during his speech at the Manohar Parrikar Institute for Defence Studies and Analyses, New Delhi. Delivering his controversial address on Friday Schoenbach Ukraine summoned German , said the idea that Russia would Ambassador Anka Feldhusen invade Ukraine was “non- to express its displeasure. sense” and wondered While Germany diswhy would a big countanced itself from its try want a tiny strip of navy chief ’s com Ukraine to integrate ments, Schoenbach adinto it. He said Putin mitted his remarks only wants respect. were somewhat “rash” “Putin is probably and tendered his resputting pressure beignation saying he cause he knows he can wanted to prevent furSchoenbach do it and he knows that ther damage to Germait splits the European Union,” ny and its military . Schoenbach said. Later, the German navy put Furious over the remarks, out a statement saying Defence E x p r e ss N e w s S e r v i c e @T’Puram R-value is the number of people a Covid+ person can infect. It’s no longer a pandemic if R-value drops below 1 India’s R-value in in the Jan 14-21 week dropped to 1.57 R-value was 2.2 in Jan 7-13 week, 4 in Jan 1-6 and 2.9 in Dec 25-31 The R-value of Mumbai was 0.67, Delhi 0.98, Chennai 1.2 and Kolkata 0.56 in the hot seat Actor Dileep arrives at the crime branch office at Kalamassery in Kochi on Sunday for questioning in the case related to the alleged conspiracy to harm the officers investigating the 2017 actor abduction case. The questioning lasted nearly 11 hours | A Sanesh | P4 Missing Arunachal teen found by PLA? P r a s a n ta M a z um d a r @ Guwahati NATIONWIDE Jan 22 Jan 23 Fresh cases 3,37,704 3,33,533 Recoveries 2,42,676 2,59,168 Deaths 488 525 statewide jan 22 jan 23 Fresh cases 45,136 45,449 Recoveries 21,324 27,961 Deaths 70 38 We have sent multiple orders to meet the demand,” said the owner of a phar macy in Thiruvananthapuram. The kits were introduced in the market in June last year and it became an instant hit among the people in cities. Later, the sale picked up in the rural areas, as the state continued to witness a large number of cases after the peak of the second wave in May last year. “The sale of test kits had declined to 50,000 in D e c e m b e r. H o w e v e r, around 4 lakh kits were sold in January, especially in the past two weeks. The demand first picked up in Thiruvananthapuram from January 10,” said Antony Tharian of Trust Pharmaceutical Group, a major distributor of self test kits ● More on P2 in the state. The controversy surrounding the alleged abduction of an Indian boy by the People’s Liberation Army of China could soon end, as the PLA claims to have found a missing boy from Arunachal Pradesh. “The PLA has informed the Indian Army that they have found a missing boy Since only one . person (Miram Taron) is missing, we believe it is he,” a senior Army officer said. Due procedure will be followed before the boy is handed over. The family of the 17-year-old Miram, who hails from Upper Siang, was overjoyed when this correspondent broke the news over the phone. “Thank you so much, sir. I cannot express in words how happy I am. I pray that the boy they found is Miram,” his father Opang said. “He will be received by our entire Zido village when he arrives home.” Miram has never been to that forest before and the father said he would not allow the minor to go to the place again. His mother, Kutjit, said, “I am feeling very good.” She had been experiencing hypertension ever since Miram’s disappearance. The incident occurred on January 18 when Miram and his friend, Jhonny Yaying, had ventured into a forest at the fuzzy India-China border to hunt wild animals and collect herbs. While Miram was nabbed by the PLA, Jhonny fled. Both youngsters are from the same village. Covid ends India’s asian cup campaign A Covid outbreak in the Indian women’s team meant they couldn’t put together XI players on the field for their match against Chinese Taipei in the Asian Cup in Mumbai | P11 wine & liquor Brewing own fruit punch, Kerala aims high M S V i d ya n a n d a n @ T’Puram Kerala may soon have its own liquor and wines, made from local fruits. The state government has set in motion efforts for the production of fruitbased liquor and wines, a programme that would revolutionise farming and tourism sectors. The project is expected to begin in the upcoming financial year. As the government drafts its new liquor policy, Excise Minister M V Govindan said the proposal for commercial production of wine and liquor from agricultural produce is under active consideration of the government. “Beverages with low or high alcoholic content can be manufactured from different crops which are available in the state in surplus. For instance, Feni or beverages with lesser alcohol content can be made from cashew apple. The Beverages Corporation can handle this. It is a viable plan and the government Minister Christine Lambrecht had accepted the resignation and appointed his deputy as interim naval chief. Germany has insisted that it stands united with its NATO allies on the issue of Russia’s military threat to Ukraine, warning that Moscow will pay a high price if it makes any military moves against its neighbour. But unlike many other NATO countries, Berlin says it won’t supply Ukraine with lethal P9 weapons. Pinarayi urges Modi to drop proposal to amend IAS cadre rules National peak expected in the next fortnight, a preliminary analysis by IIT-M’s Dept of Maths and Centre of Excellence for Computational Maths and Data Science said Demand for self-test kits soars, 6L sold in 2 weeks U n n i k r i s h n a n S @T’Puram German navy chief in Ukraine mess resigns is yet to take a final call,” he told TNIE. He said the programme will have a big impact on the farming sector. “The cooperative sector can be engaged in the procurement of fruits. Large cold storage facilities have to be built to procure the seasonal fruits in large quantities. Ensuring fair price for farmers is the highlight of the programme,” he said, adding that the Keralamade products will have a glo● More on P4 bal market. Wineries in private sector It is learnt that the government will allow fruitbased wineries in the private sector as well. Units based on fruits like cashew apple, pineapple and plantain will be encouraged. Chief Minister Pinarayi Vijayan has urged Prime Minister Narendra Modi to drop the proposal to amend IAS (Cadre) Rules, saying “it will weaken the very root of cooperative federalism”. In his letter, Pinarayi wrote the proposed amendments will induce a ‘fear psychosis’ and an attitude of hesitancy among All India Service officers to implement policies of a state government. He said “the current deputation rules themselves are loaded in favour of the Union’’ and bringing in further stringency will weaken cooperative ● More on P4 federalism. express read Hologram statue of Netaji unveiled New Delhi: Taking a swipe at the previous governments, Prime Minister Narendra Modi said on Sunday that attempts were made after Independence to erase contributions of many personalities as well as India’s culture and values. He was speaking during the unveiling of a hologram statue of Netaji Subhas Chandra Bose on the 125th birth anniversary of the freedom fighter. P7 Banks reluctant to disburse edu loans Kochi: Banks in Kerala seem to be avoiding education loans — a major source of funding for students from lower-income strata to pursue higher studies in India and abroad — despite a decline in defaults in repayments. P4
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