PUNE: The additional director-general of Indian Council of Medical Research, Dr Samiran Panda, told TOI on Saturday that the next four to six weeks would be crucial to understand the disease transmission dynamics better, against the backdrop of the current uptick in Covid-19 cases. “The spike in certain districts in some states was observed from mid-June and we have to keep a close watch on them to understand the contributory factors. So far, the disease severity is not high and there is no indication of a fourth wave. The hospitalisation rate is not high, either,” he said. While Maharashtra and Kerala have 60% of total active cases in India, the Centre has expressed concern over rapidly increasing infections in states like Delhi, Tamil Nadu, West Bengal, Uttar Pradesh and Haryana. The spike in daily cases over the last fortnight is more than double in some states, according to reports. Dr Panda said rise in cases in certain clusters was expected because of local-level determinants even as India was currently in the endemic phase. The top scientist of Indian Council of Medical Research (ICMR) said it was important to ensure that immunocompromised individuals and those with comorbidities did not contract the virus and the current goal of all states should be to protect such vulnerable groups. He said if cases would rise in July or if there would be a fourth wave would hinge on the emergence of any new variants. “The mathematical models may have cited such forecasts, but practically it would have to be seen after studying the present transmission dynamics in depth,” he said. Dr Panda iterated the importance of masks as a protective tool not just against Covid, but for all other respiratory infections and even air pollution-related issues. Epidemiologist Chandrakant Lahariya told TOI that it was time that one stopped thinking in terms of binaries of wave and no wave, and pandemic and endemic. “Virus is now with us and it is very likely that cases would rise and fall. Instead of focusing on daily new cases and test positivity rate, we should focus on high-risk individuals in settings where cases are rising and there is a need for such a vulnerable population to voluntarily use face masks,” he said. Senior advisor at Ashoka University and former senior deputy director-general and former head of epidemiology department at ICMR Dr Lalit Kant told TOI, “If the current spread is due to Omicron BA.1 and BA.2 sub- lineage like BA4 and/or BA5, it is unlikely that a wave-like condition would be produced, as a large proportion of the population has been vaccinated.”
PUNE: Sixteen districts in Maharashtra continue to bank on Rapid Antigen Test (RAT) kits more than the RT-PCR tests despite the recent rise in Covid-19 cases and the weekly positivity rate touching 11%. The government had mandated that the RT-PCR kits should be used more for Covid tests. Unless the RT-PCR tests are conducted, the positive samples cannot be sent for genome sequencing. A state health official said genome sequencing was critical at the current situation when the Covid cases ware slowly and steadily rising. Though the spike in cases is largely restricted to Mumbai, Pune, Raigad, Palghar and Thane, all other districts of Maharashtra have been directed to step up testing to find out if the Omicron sub-variants were detected in samples from those districts. The official said data revealed that districts such as Ahmednagar, Nashik, Satara and Jalgaon were carrying out more RAT than RT-PCR tests this week (See graphic). Ahmednagar collector RB Bhosale told TOI that the district had “enough laboratories” to carry out RT-PCR tests. “Many citizens on their own are using the RAT test kits. We have directed officials and also the laboratories to ensure that citizens opt for RT-PCR tests if they have Covid symptoms,” he said. The official said people found Covid positive following the RAT tests should also carry out the RT-PCR tests. A periodic analysis of the cases was necessary with respect to time, location and person to help the authorities formulate localised action plans. “Geographical distribution of the cases is important to find out the clusters,” state surveillance expert Dr Pradip Awate said. State additional chief secretary health Dr Pradeep Vyas has sent out a letter to the districts to increase testing and follow the WHO mandate of 140 tests per million or 980 tests per million each week. Districts such as Amravati carried out 833 tests out in a week, while Nandurbar was way behind at 409. A Nandurbar official said the administration had sent out teams to vaccinate people and check for any Covid symptoms in them.
Mumbai: A ‘technical glitch’ kept Maharashtra’s daily Covid tally low on Saturday even as the latest genome sequencing report of 364 Covid-positive samples from Mumbai revealed that Omicron’s BA.2 and its offspring BA.2.38 are dominant (90%) variants in the city. State surveillance officer Dr Pradip Awate said Covid data could not be uploaded on the ICMR website due to technical glitches. Maharashtra, which recorded 4,000-5,000 cases a day, had 1,728 cases, including 840 in Mumbai. Experts held BA.2.38 sublineage responsible for the present Covid surge in the state. The survey also found 23 cases of the newer BA.4 and BA.5 variants of Omicron in Mumbai. With this, Mumbai’s tally of BA.4 and BA.5 cases has increased to 28, followed by Pune (15), Nagpur (4) and Thane (2). “BA.2.38 has been detected in other Indian cities as well,”' said BMC executive health officer Dr Mangala Gomare. “As these variants have an Omicron lineage, the new infections are milder,”' she said. When BA.2.38 was found in Pune, experts had said that it’s leading the surge. BMC doctors said as their clinical analysis of BA.2.38 samples is not complete, they cannot say if it’s responsible for the surge.State Covid task force member Dr Rahul Pandit said the surge was also the result of people’s failure to wear face masks and dropping Covid antibody levels almost six months after the third Omicron wave in January.tnn
PUNE: Covid-19 hospitalisations have gone up in some parts of the state (including Pune and Mumbai), but data shows numbers are still well below levels from December last year, when the third wave began. According to the state health department, there were 1,141 hospital admissions till June 20 this year. But last year, towards December-end, the state had 4,380 Covid patients in hospitals. This number surged to 29,110 by around January 10, 2022, nearly 20 days into the third wave. The recent surge also began around 20 days ago. And a comparison of the two surges shows current hospitalisation are much lower, even though the state has more than twice the number of active cases it had by December-end. In fact, only about 4.6% of the active cases are currently in hospitals, compared to the 38% hospitalised by end of December. The number of severe cases in hospitals in Maharashtra is also nearly 20 times less than January 10, 2022. Till June 20 this year, the state had 274 patients with severe Covid symptoms. On January 10, the number was 5,775. Health officials said the data suggests milder Omicron variants are still circulating in the state. "Transmission of BA.4 or BA.5 has not been as intense as seen in countries like South Africa. These two Omicron subvariants appear to replicate better in lung cells than the original Omicron variants. But the percentage of the two still isn't that much in Maharashtra," said a health official, adding that most infections seem to be a result of BA.2 and BA.2.38. "Also, BA.4/5 don't seem to have replaced BA.2 in the state, one of the reasons why the share of hospitalisations and severe cases is still quite low," the official added. BA.4 and BA.5 surges have varied from country to country. In South Africa, where the two subvariants were first detected, doctors saw only a small rise in hospitalisations and deaths despite a widespread surge. In Portugal, however, BA.4 and BA.5 saw more significant impact - hospitalisations were similar to levels seen during its first Omicron wave. Scientists said this difference was largely because of a more elderly population. Trends observed by officials indicate Maharashtra too may be seeing an impact on its elderly population. Dr Avinash Supe, head of the state Covid death audit committee said, "Nearly 25 Covid patients have died in Maharashtra in June so far. Most of them were the elderly, with comorbidities." He added that cause of death (in most of these cases) did not include serious symptoms such as drop in oxygen levels or pneumonia. "Most were incidental Covid admissions, in hospital for other reasons. So the majority of these deaths were incidental Covid mortalities." Dr Supe said Maharashtra's low number of deaths in the recent surge suggests most of the new patients are experiencing mild disease. "Covid-related oxygen saturation is also very low," he said. Dr Jitendra Oswal, deputy medical director at Bharati Hospital, said, "Most Covid patients admitted are manifesting mild disease and rarely need oxygen support. Many are coming in with non-serious illness and are being given treatment at the OPD, without need for admission." Dr Mahesh Kumar Manohar Lakhe, an internal medicine specialist at Manipal Hospital, said, "We are seeing clusters of Covid-19 cases in families, but infection severity is not much, not like the Delta wave we had. Covid vaccination may have had a role to play in reduction of hospitalisations and severity. An unvaccinated patient who was admitted here recently, did go on to develop severe illness."
WHY? Dr Lancelot Pinto is a proponent of collaborative self-management for chronic respiratory diseases and works toward empowering patients to best manage their illnesses in collaboration with their physicians. He believes strongly in preventive medicine, and reducing the need for hospitalisations in chronic respiratory illnesses is a focus of his practice of respiratory medicine. He specialises in the treatment of sleep apnea, insomnia, and other sleep-related disorders, with the aim of preventing complications such as high blood pressure and heart disease, that are often a consequence of such disorders. He also specialises in the management of chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD).Maharashtra has been witnessing a daily upward spiral of Covid-19 cases. On Thursday, the state reported 5,218 cases—the highest one-day count since February. The active cases in the state stood at 25,317 — 27.58 per cent of India’s total tally. Although the severity of the infection is mild with 95 per cent of the patients mostly asymptomatic, public health officials are anticipating a further rise in cases, indicative of a “fourth wave.”We are seeing a fresh surge in Covid-19 cases in several urban centres. Is this being fuelled by a new sub-variant of Omicron? What does the data show?Altogether 99.6 per cent of the samples uploaded from India to the GISAID registry over the past four weeks have been of the Omicron variant, including its sub-lineages. BA.2, referred to as “stealth Omicron” (lacks the deletion at position 69/70 in the S protein) appeared to be replacing the existing strains, and INSACOG reported this to be the dominant strain across the country. The BA.2.38 sub-variant has now been reported from Mumbai and Pune to be the dominant strain based on sampling and is hypothesised to be the strain driving the present surge. Newer sub-lineages and possible variants were always expected, based on our understanding of viral transmission and evolution dynamics, and this comes as no surprise. What is reassuring is that none of these newer sub-variants appears to be more virulent.Data from Maharashtra shows that BA.2.38 has become the prevailing sub-variant of the Omicron strain in Mumbai. What are the characteristics of this sub-variant?The sub-variant, similar to other Omicron strains, appears to evade immunity offered by vaccinations and past infections. This is why we are witnessing a significant proportion of breakthrough infections and reinfections. There is data to suggest that the sub-variant may be more transmissible, explaining the present surge. However, vaccination and prior infection do appear to continue to protect against moderate and severe disease, and this is reassuring.What are the clinical symptoms of the new sub-variants?Fever, sore throat (often severe), nasal congestion, body ache, loss of taste and a mild cough are the predominant symptoms that are being reported. Diarrhoea is also occasionally reported, but seems less common than the frequency with which it was reported with earlier Omicron strains. For most-individuals, symptoms appear to get better in four days, with fatigue and a mild cough often persisting longer.We are seeing several cases of reinfection in the present surge. Does this indicate that the immunity offered by previous variants and vaccination is not protection enough?Immunity can be defined as the body’s ability to contain an infection and not allow it to cause major damage. If you use this definition, previous infections and vaccinations do appear to be offering individuals with a robust immunity against Covid-19. However, prior infection and/or vaccination may not always protect an individual from getting infected, as variants such as Omicron are known to be “escape variants” that can evade the first line of defence against infection.The hospitalisation rates are very low in the present surge. Does this show that the new variants of Covid-19 are becoming more transmissible and less virulent?This fortunately does appear to be the case. However, we must not ignore the role that vaccination has played, and the “lesser virulence” could be a combination of the virus being milder and the immune response being a lot stronger. In a high-risk, unvaccinated individual with no prior exposure to the virus, even mild strains could potentially cause severe disease and we must, therefore, strive to vaccinate everyone.People who have been administered boosters are getting reinfected. International data also shows high breakthrough infections. How robust is the protection offered by the current vaccines?We need to constantly remind ourselves that vaccines are designed to create an immune response that prevents severe disease, and the present vaccines and boosters appear to be doing an excellent job. We should revisit the role of boosters among individuals, who have a normal immune system and do not have comorbidities, as frequent boosters in such individuals may not be necessary. Studies clearly show benefit among individuals who are immunocompromised, and all our future efforts should be targeted to this group.What is the current hospitalisation trend in Mumbai?A significant proportion of hospitalisations seems to be of individuals who are admitted with Covid-19, and not because of it. The primary respiratory manifestation of Covid-19 does not seem to be warranting hospitalisation in the majority. However, as with any other viral infection, individuals with underlying comorbidities are manifesting conditions related to worsening of their comorbidities, which result in them being hospitalised. Despite this, the overall number of hospitalised individuals seems to be a fraction of the peak that was witnessed last year.
MUMBAI: While Covid-19 cases dipped in Maharashtra on Friday, chief minister Uddhav Thackeray appealed to lakhs of warkaris walking towards Pandharpur during Ashadhi Wari to use face masks to minimise the risk of Covid-19 transmission. The state had registered its highest single-day tally in this surge on Thursday at 5,218, but cases dropped by 20% to 4,205 on Friday. Mumbai saw a 24% drop, with 1,898 cases registered on Friday. "We had a problem updating our data on the ICMR website for a couple of days and that led to a bunching up of cases on Thursday. But the data is now updated and Mumbai is back to reporting less than 2,000 cases a day," said BMC executive health officer Dr Mangala Gomare. Two nonagenarians with chronic conditions succumbed to Covid-related complications in Mumbai while the neighbouring Thane city registered a death. Daily hospitalisations which had gone past 100 dropped on Friday to 96. The daily test positivity rate which had increased to 20% a few days back was 12% for the second consecutive day. Dr Gomare said that cases should start plateauing soon. Dr Gautam Bhansali, who is a member of the state Covid task force, said that despite the surge, patients are recovering with minimum medication within a few days. "There is no need to panic at all,'' he said. The surge has been limited to five districts-Mumbai, Thane, Pune, Palghar and Raigad-but the state administration is worried about the Pandharpur yatra. Of the 4,205 cases on Thursday, 3,354 (80%) were detected in the Mumbai Metropolitan Region. A state official said, "Active cases in the state have crossed 25,000 as compared to 626 a couple of months back. In this backdrop, the chief minister held a video-conference instructing district collectors, municipal commissioners and district police superintendents to take steps to reduce the risk of transmission of Covid-19.'' Meanwhile, another patient of BA.5 variant has been detected in Nagpur. State surveillance officer Dr Pradip Awate said a fully vaccinated 27-year-old female tested Covid-positive on June 19. "She was mildly symptomatic initially but has since become asymptomatic and is stable and in home isolation,'' he added. The total tally of BA.4 and BA.5 variant cases in the state has increased to 26-15 in Pune, five in Mumbai, four in Nagpur and two in Thane.
PUNE: With Covid cases rising in the state, especially in Mumbai, Pune, Thane, Palghar and Raigad, the state health department has directed chemists' associations to maintain records of buyers of self-test kits or rapid antigen kits so that they can be shared with local authorities. "Considering the sudden rise in Covid cases, we have directed manufacturers, chemists/pharmacists supplying and selling home antigen testing kits to provide information to us. There may be some cases that have been tested with home test kits but not reported on the ICMR portal. In such cases, we cannot track the patient and it becomes difficult for us to contain the spread of the virus," said a state public health official. Anil Belkar, secretary, chemists' association, Pune district, said that they have circulated the message to all retail medical stores to ensure that details of the buyers are noted down so that they can be shared with the local health officials, if required. The health department had directed chemists to maintain records of buyers of self-testing kits during the third wave, too. Now, again with cases rising in mainly five districts, chemists have been directed to ensure that details are noted down diligently. Association members of the state chemists and druggists' association said that many people are buying the testing kits from online sites, which also needs to be monitored. Chemists have also been told to educate buyers of self-testing kits about the application they need to download. Through the app, the test data is connected with the ICMR portal and citizens have to ensure that it is uploaded within the given time frame. State surveillance expert Dr Pradip Awate told TOI that if self-testing kits are used then the data should be uploaded. "With cases increasing in clusters, we need to stress more on RT-PCR tests than RAT tests," he said. Those detected positive with RAT have to follow it up with RT-PCR tests as samples have to be sent for genome sequencing," he said. Dr Awate said that while the daily cases in the state are hovering around 4,000-5,000, severity of cases continues to be low.
With Daily Covid cases crossing the 5000-mark in Maharashtra and considering the possibility of increased transmission of the infection during the Ashadhi Wari, which sees lakhs of devotees heading out of Pune towards Pandharpur, Chief Minister Uddhav Thackeray has instructed key officials to stay alert and undertake measures to avert major outbreaks.Dr Pradeep Awate, Maharashtra surveillance officer, told The Indian Express that the CM had conducted a meeting via video conferencing with all District Collectors, Municipal Commissioners and District Police Superintendents on Friday. “The concern is that that the Ashadi Wari may enhance transmission as residents of cities like Mumbai, Pune, Thane, Raigad and Palghar, where the Covid weekly positivity rate is high, may participate in the wari. We cannot rule out the possibility of this infection then spreading to areas where there are very few active cases,” Dr Awate said.Active cases in the state have reached 25,000 compared to 626 a couple of months back. Around 4,205 new cases were detected in the state on Friday while the case fatality rate stood at 1.85 per cent.Newsletter | Click to get the day’s best explainers in your inboxThe Chief Minister, during the meeting, said that even though mask use is not mandatory in the state, those participating in the Ashadhi Wari, and even others, should wear masks regularly.Meanwhile, according to the latest report of National Environmental Engineering Research Institute (NEERI), Nagpur, a patient of BA.5 variant has been reported from the district. The patient is a 27-year-old fully vaccinated woman who tested positive for Covid-19 on June 19. “Initially, she was mildly symptomatic. At present, she is asymptomatic, stable and in home isolation,” Dr Awate said.With this, the total tally of BA.4 and BA.5 variant cases found in state has gone up to 26. Pune has reported 15 cases so far followed by Mumbai (5), Nagpur (4) and Thane (2).
Maharashtra COVID-19: On Friday, the state recorded 4,205 new COVID-19 cases.Mumbai: Maharashtra Chief Minister Uddhav Thackeray on Friday discussed the COVID-19 situation with senior government officials and explored the possibility of making face masks mandatory again in Mumbai suburban trains in view of the rising cases.An official statement issued by the Chief Minister's Office (CMO) said Mr Thackeray reviewed the prevailing COVID-19 situation in the state, which has been recording a steady rise in new infections, especially in Mumbai and some other big cities.The chief minister, at a virtual meeting with senior bureaucrats, also discussed the possibility of making face masks mandatory for suburban train commuters, the statement said.The mask mandate option was discussed as a measure to curb growing cases of the novel coronavirus infection in the Mumbai Metropolitan Region (MMR), it said.Maharashtra withdrew its mandatory mask rule in early April and made it optional in view of a sharp drop in daily cases."Coronavirus cases are on the rise in the state, chiefly in Mumbai, Thane, Pune, Raigad and Palghar districts. People should follow COVID-19-appropriate behaviour on their own," the CM was quoted as saying in the statement.Maharashtra recorded 4,205 new COVID-19 cases on Friday, a day after breaching the 5,000-mark. Of the new cases, Mumbai alone reported 1,898 infections.PromotedListen to the latest songs, only on JioSaavn.comThe number of active cases has gone past 25,000, indicating a widening gap between new patients and those recovering from the infection.(Except for the headline, this story has not been edited by NDTV staff and is published from a syndicated feed.)
With the daily Covid-19 cases crossing 5,000 in Maharashtra, Chief Minister Uddhav Thackeray, during a review meeting has instructed key officers to stay alert and take adequate measures considering the possibility of increased transmission of the infection during the Ashadhi Wari. Lakhs of devotees have moved out of Pune and are headed towards Pandharpur.In a virtual meeting with all district collectors, municipal commissioners and district police superintendents held Friday, the CM said that all those participating in the Ashadhi Wari and even others should wear masks regularly.Dr Pradeep Awate, Maharashtra surveillance officer, told The Indian Express, that the major concern is that the Ashadhi Wari may enhance the transmission rate of Covid-19 as devotees from Mumbai, Pune, Thane, Raigad and Palghar where the weekly positivity rate is high are likely to participate in the ‘Wari’. “We cannot rule out the possibility of the infection spreading to areas where there are very few active cases,” Dr Awate said.4,205 new cases in MaharashtraAround 4,205 new cases were detected in Maharashtra Friday taking the total number of active cases in the state to 25,000. The case fatality rate in the state is 1.85 %.According to the latest report of the National Environmental Engineering Research Institute (NEERI), Nagpur, one patient – a 27-year-old fully vaccinated woman from Nagpur – has been diagnosed with the BA.5 variant. The patient tested positive on June 19. “Initially she was mildly symptomatic but at present, she is asymptomatic, stable and in home isolation,” Dr Awate said.With this, the total tally of BA.4 & BA.5 variant cases in Maharashtra has gone up to 26. Pune has reported 15 cases so far followed by Mumbai 5, Nagpur 4 and Thane 2.
Amid the ongoing political crisis in Maharashtra, Mumbai Police Commissioner Sanjay Pandey on Friday sent out a message informing that the annual function of the city police, known as ‘Umang’, has been postponed. Although the commissioner cited the rising Covid-19 cases in the city as the reason for pushing back the annual event, many police officers said it was rescheduled in view of the prevailing crisis that has gripped the Maha Vikas Aghadi (MVA) government.Pandey posted a message on his Facebook page early on Friday saying, “Due to the increasing number of corona cases, we have decided to postpone ‘Umang’. Everyone will be informed about the next date. We are thankful to each and every police constable and officers who were actively involved in organising the event.”‘Umang’ was scheduled to take place in the Jio Garden at BKC on Sunday and around 12,000 people, including politicians, celebrities, bureaucrats and police personnel, were invited.According to police historian Deepak Rao, the programme is organised for the welfare of the junior-ranked police officers and constables.“The department started holding ‘Umang’ in the early 2000s in order to keep their junior-ranked officers and families happy,” he said.The idea behind organising ‘Umang’ was to give lower-ranked police officers, who are often seen giving security cover to politicians and celebrities, a chance to brush their shoulders with them.“These constabulary rank officers also get to perform with these Bollywood superstars which helps in boosting their morale,” an IPS officer said.Rao said, “These IPS officers and their families often meet high profile people in some function or the other. So one of these IPS officers and his wife had decided to come up with the idea of organising ‘Umang’. The idea was encouraged and it has now grown to become an annual event.”However, ‘Umang’ was conceived to be organised around Diwali and many were amazed when it was announced in the rainy season.“Diwali is a joyous occasion and it was to be celebrated during that time. Since it is a holiday season for schools and colleges, it was thought that the children of these lower-ranked officers would also get a chance to enjoy,” Rao said.However, with Pandey set to retire on June 30, he decided to hold the annual event on Sunday, June 26. Accordingly, celebrities were informed and requested to perform while invitations and entry passes were also printed and distributed.“The preparation for the programme was started weeks ago and several high-profile people were invited. However we started having second thoughts after the political crisis erupted as there is fear of a law-and-order problem cropping up and it is necessary to have as many personnel on the ground as possible,” the officer said.Another police officer said the police department cannot organise a grand event when the government is in crisis and, hence, it has been rescheduled.However, the reason cited by the commissioner for putting off the event has created resentment among the junior-ranked police personnel, with many saying that offices and schools in the state are running at full capacity. “Citing the prevailing Covid situation in the state for postponing the event does not appear convincing as government and political events, wedding ceremonies as well as other events are taking place without restrictions,” a police constable said.
A new study of the Indian Council of Medical Research (ICMR) has indicated the spread of the Zika virus to several states of India and calls for an urgent need to strengthen its surveillance. Researchers have said in the report that the retrospective surveillance for ZIKV demonstrates the silent spread of this virus to almost all parts of India with a predominance of the more recent 2018 Rajasthan ZIKV strain.Zika virus (ZIKV), a vector-borne flavivirus transmitted by the bite of infected aedes mosquitoes, mainly aedes aegypti and aedes albopictus. Dr Nivedita Gupta, Head, Division of Epidemiology and Communicable Diseases, when contacted, told The Indian Express that outbreaks of Zika had been reported from Kerala, Uttar Pradesh and Maharashtra during the second wave of Covid pandemic in 2021. “We wanted to determine the presence of the virus from different geographical regions and hence researchers from the National Institute of Virology Pune and other ICMR institutes screened clinical samples of 1,475 patients from May-Oct 2021 and re-tested them for dengue, Chikungunya and Zika,” Dr Gupta said.The positivity observed for Zika stood at 67, Dengue at 121 and Chikungunya at 10 among the screened cases. The co-infections of Dengue/Chikungunya, Dengue/Zika and Dengue/Chikungunya/Zika were also observed. All Zika cases were symptomatic with fever (84%) and rash (78%) as major presenting symptoms. Of them, four patients had respiratory distress, one presented with seizures, and one with suspected microcephaly at birth. The Asian Lineage of Zika and all four serotypes of Dengue were found in circulation as per the study `Zika a Vector Borne Disease Detected in Newer States of India Amidst the COVID-19 Pandemic’ published in June this year in Frontiers in Microbiology journal.“Our results indicated the need for continuous and enhanced surveillance for ZIKV along with DENV and CHIKV with emphasis on the ante-natal ZIKV screening. It is also critical to strengthen linkages of ZIKV surveillance sites with the existing newborn birth defect screening sites in the country to understand the spectrum of ZVD in babies born to ZIKV infected mothers,” the researchers said.The report has described the results of this retrospective analysis, which revealed the circulation of ZIKV in Delhi, Jharkhand, Rajasthan, Punjab and Telangana states of India in 2021 in addition to Kerala, Maharashtra, and Uttar Pradesh. Co-infection of Zika and dengue and chikungunya were another concern in many places.The ZIKV positive samples detected during retrospective testing at ICMR-NIV, Pune revealed the presence of ZIKV in Amritsar, Punjab (1/120); New Delhi (1/64); Aligarh, UP (2/288); Jodhpur, Rajasthan (1/120); Ranchi, Jharkhand (1/120); Hyderabad, Telangana (1/60), and Thiruvananthapuram, Kerala (60/120), during 2021. Among the 67 ZIKV positive cases, 13.43% were hospitalised while 86.56% (58) of the cases were managed on an outpatient basis.Here it may be recalled that India initiated a sentinel surveillance of Zika Virus Disease in March 2016 through its network of virus research and diagnostic laboratories (VRDLs) by the ICMR across the country. The sentinel ZIKV surveillance was initiated with 10 laboratories in 2016, the VRDLs were up-scaled to 56 in 2018 and 132 by 2021. The trained VRDLs were advised to test at least 10 dengue virus (DENV) and chikungunya virus (CHIKV) negative samples for ZIKV, throughout the year.Through this surveillance, sporadic cases were first picked up in the state of Gujarat (2016−2017) and Tamil Nadu (2017). Following this, outbreaks of ZIKV were detected in Rajasthan and Madhya Pradesh in 2018. After 2020, the public health surveillance of ZIKV could not be continued with the same vigor due to the involvement of all VRDLs in Covid-19 diagnostics considering the subsequent waves of the pandemic. All these VRDLs were advised to store the DENV/CHIKV negative samples for ZIKV testing in the future, Dr Gupta said.
Pune: A total of 3.14 lakh adolescents in the 12-18 age group have been given a Covid shot (of either Covaxin or Corbevax) as part of the central government's Har Ghar Dastak campaign that started in Maharashtra on June 1. The drive will go on till July-end.The state has an estimated one crore citizens in the 12-18 age group. Of them, a total 38.34 lakh have not yet received a single dose of a Covid vaccine. But the coverage is showing signs of improvement.“Every day in the state, around 15,000 adolescents (12-18 years) are receiving a Covid shot at their doorstep,” state immunisation officer Dr Sachin Desai said. Of the 3.14 lakh adolescents who got a Covid shot in the last 22 days, 1.41 lakh were those who were given the first dose and 1.73 lakh were those given the second dose.As many as 12,904 medical teams have been pressed into service to carry out the doorstep vaccination campaign in Maharashtra.Each team has four members, including vaccinators.Dr Desai said, “In the last 20 days, we have been giving about 1 lakh doses in the state every day. This includes doses being administered at vaccination centres and as part of the doorstep drive.”He added that the percentage of Har Ghar Dastak vaccinations is almost 60% of the day's overall one lakh doses in the state. “The doorstep vaccination programme not only provides shots to those in 12-18 years but also covers those in the 18-59 age group. Additionally, the drive provides Covid booster shots to those over 60 years of age,” he said.
Mumbai: The state recorded the highest single-day tally (5,218) in the current surge of Covid cases, with Mumbai accounting for nearly half of the cases (2,479) on Thursday.Mumbai recorded another death, adding up to 23 fatalities in June so far against the combined toll of 11 deaths in March, April and May. Navi Mumbai also recorded its first Covid death after 4 months when a 30-year-old congenital heart patient died due to Covid-related complications on Thursday.However, health officials are not worried about Thursday's spike that they attributed to the inclusion of some backdated cases. "The ICMR portal was not functional for over 24 hours and the BMC data team was unable to update the tally. Thursday's Covid update includes some old cases as a result," said state surveillance officer Dr Pradip Awate.The Thursday spike followed a dip in cases in both state and city for the last few days. On Wednesday, Maharashtra's caseload was 60% lower at 3,260 cases while Mumbai's tally was 50% lower at 1,648 cases. Daily hospitalisation increased to 109 after hovering between 85 and 95 for a few days.A civic official said the daily rise and dips don't hold significance, only weekly trends and deaths should be considered while deciding upon the severity of any Covid surge. "If at the end of the week, we have a lower tally than last week's caseload, it can be said that the present surge is plateauing," he added.On the positive side, the daily test positive rate dropped from 20% on Wednesday to 12% on Thursday.The lone death in the state on Thursday occurred in Mumbai when a 42-year-old kidney failure patient passed away due to Covid-related complications. Since June 14, the city has recorded a death every day.Meanwhile, the Navi Mumbai Municipal Corporation (NMMC) area reported its first Covid-related death on Thursday after almost four months of zero casualties. The last Covid death was reported on February 26.NMMC's overall toll since the pandemic began is now 2,050. NMMC medical officer Dr Pramod Patil said the 30-year-old victim had congenital heart problems. Like Mumbai, NMMC too witnessed the highest single-day cases (389) on Thursday.The total number of active cases increased to 1,934 which was just 18 early last month. Over 4,000 new cases have been reported in the last fortnight and most of them are asymptomatic or having mild symptoms. But a large number among the affected patients are in home isolation.
NEW DELHI: Union health minister Mansukh Mandaviya will on Thursday chair a high-level review meeting with the core team of experts over increasing cases of Covid-19 in the country, official sources said. India has been witnessing an increase in coronavirus infections over the last couple of weeks. As on date, ten states -- Maharashtra, Kerala, Delhi, Karnataka, Tamil Nadu, Haryana, Uttar Pradesh, Telangana, West Bengal and Gujarat -- have over 1,000 active cases. India saw a single-day rise of 13,313 new coronavirus infections, taking the infection tally to 4,33,44,958, while the active cases have increased to 83,990, according to the Union health ministry data updated on Thursday. The death toll has climbed to 5,24,941 with 38 new fatalities, the data updated at 8 am stated. In a review meeting of INSACOG held last week, states/UTs were asked to submit "larger number" of samples for whole genome sequencing from districts and areas which have seen a surge in COVID-19 cases over a period of seven days. The direction was issued to check the possibility of any new emerging variant or sub-variant and ascertain the reasons behind the breakthrough infections, sources had said. According to the Indian SARS-CoV-2 Genomics Consortium (INSACOG) experts, Omicron and its sublineages, primarily BA. 2 and BA.2.38, as of now, seem to be behind the current rise in Covid cases, an official source had said. The BA.2 and its sublineages constitute over 85 per cent of the cases with BA.2.38 being found in around 33 per cent of the samples. The percentage of BA.4 and BA.5 is found in less than 10 per cent samples, they had said. Forty-three districts in India, including 11 from Kerala, six from Mizoram and five from Maharashtra, are reporting a weekly Covid positivity rate of more than 10 per cent. In 42 districts, including eight from Rajasthan, five from Delhi and four from Tamil Nadu, the weekly positivity is between 5 and 10 per cent, sources said.
Good morning, Battling to save the Maha Vikas Aghadi government, CM Uddhav Thackeray left his official residence, which turned into a late-night show of strength. In an emotional speech, Uddhav said he is willing to resign if the MLAs and Sainiks tell him to his face that they do not want him to continue. Here’s what you should know about the deepening political crisis in Maharashtra:🔴 Sources told The Indian Express that the decision to fly out the rebel Shiv Sena and Independent MLAs from Surat to Guwahati, both in BJP-ruled states, was taken after it was learnt that at least two Sena MLAs were not on the same page as rebel leader Eknath Shinde — and that Surat was “too close to Maharashtra”, which might lead to the revolt failing.🔴 The Indian Express has also learnt that since 2015, Eknath Shinde and BJP chief Devendra Fadnavis moved from being just Cabinet colleagues to close friends. So much so, the sources said, that “in 2019, had the Shiv Sena and BJP contested the assembly elections separately, Shinde would have been BJP’s candidate from Thane constituency.”Yashwant Sinha, the Opposition’s consensus candidate for the July 18 presidential polls, speaks to The Indian Express about the election being an ideological battle, Droupadi Murmu’s candidature, and why it is too early to conclude that he does not have the numbers to win.Sentiments of pride and hope echo across the streets and villages of Rairangpur municipality in Odisha’s Mayurbhanj district, the home of NDA nominee Droupadi Murmu, who, in all likelihood, will become India’s first tribal woman President. Her daughter, Itishree, says, “Tribal people fear going to a police station or court… When they see a tribal person at the top post, they will have some faith. Glass ceilings will be broken.”Denying allegations of illegal demolition of private properties in the state following violent protests over remarks on the Prophet, the Uttar Pradesh government has told the Supreme Court that action was “carried out by the Kanpur Development Authority and Prayagraj Development Authority strictly in accordance with the Uttar Pradesh Urban Planning and Development Act, 1972”, and “had no relation to the riots”.With coaching centres across Aligarh under scrutiny after protests against the Centre’s Agnipath scheme took a violent turn, many such centres are now closed. On Wednesday, all centres in and around Tappal, a little over 100 km from Delhi, had their shutters down. Across Aligarh district, 76 people have been arrested and 68 taken into preventive custody, of whom at least 11 are operators of coaching centres. Most of the arrests of coaching centre operators were from the Tappal region.In our opinion section today, Suhas Palshikar writes on what school textbook deletions tell us about the ruling establishment’s idea of democracy and its understanding of social sciences: “In purely tactical terms, this could be a calculated deletion to keep the Congress quiet by an unstated quid pro quo: We delete what we don’t want but we also delete what you may not want. It will be interesting to see how the Congress responds to this and whether, after more than four decades, it has the courage to make course corrections on this issue and admit its mistake.”Mumbai witnessed a six-fold rise in deaths due to heart attack in the first six month of 2021 when the city was under the grip of the second wave of Covid-19. In the period between January-June 2021, nearly 3,000 people lost their lives to heart attacks every month which was around 500 in 2020. The information was revealed through an RTI filed by an activist Chetan Kothari.What caused the surge: Dr Avinash Supe, in-charge of the Covid-19 death committee, sees three major reasons for the surge in deaths related to heart attack – possibility of development of thrombosis among the Covid-19 recovered patients, delay in diagnosis of patients amid the pandemic and better recording of data.Does lifestyle change due to Covid have anything to do with it? Other than the critical risk factors, the prolonged lifestyle changes in the pandemic added to the risk of developing heart attacks, experts say.Doctors have witnessed an increase in the prevalence of diabetes, hypertension, smoking, alcohol use and an unhealthy lifestyle in the last two years.Shubman Gill is coming straight from a rich vein of form in the IPL. It was not just his most successful one (483 runs at 34) but also the one he has been most influential, one wherein he found the formula of batting in T20 cricket without tampering with his fundamental game. His tour of England will test some of his traits — the slow weight transfer to the front foot and the tendency to flick around the front pad. Can the talented youngster course-correct his stop-start Test career?In today’s episode of the ‘3 things’ podcast: Central banks raise interest rates to tackle inflation, CBI arrests five in Biocon Biologics bribery case, and the dangers of bird strikes on aircraft.Until tomorrow,Rahel Philipose and Sonal Gupta
With his party rebel MLAs not backing down and the numbers clearly not on his side, Maharashtra Chief Minister and Shiv Sena chief Uddhav Thackeray, battling to save the Maha Vikas Aghadi coalition government, left the CM residence for his family home Wednesday evening, shortly after an emotional speech in which he said he is willing to resign if the MLAs and Sainiks tell him to his face that they do not want him to continue.Uddhav was seen leaving Varsha, the official residence of the CM, with wife Rashmi and sons Aaditya and Tejas. He left with personal belongings, and was accompanied by Shiv Sainiks all the way to Matoshree, the Thackeray family home.Earlier, in an address which was more an appeal to the Sena continued after rebel minister Eknath Shinde moved from Surat to Guwahati with his flock, Uddhav, who tested positive for Covid Wednesday, said, “If my own people are saying they do not want me, then shouldn’t they have come before me to say it instead of going to Surat and speaking there? They should have come here and said ‘Uddhavji, you are useless… forget the praise (for work done) during Covid… We don’t want you’. I would have resigned from the post of CM even if one MLA had said this to me.”“If you do not believe this, then I will immediately move to Matoshree from Varsha. I have no greed. I am not going to stick to the chair… I am the son of Balasaheb. But come here, say whatever you have to in front of me,” he said.This was Uddhav’s first public remarks after the revolt in his party. On Wednesday, Eknath Shinde claimed that he now had support of 34 MLAs, 30 of them from the Shiv Sena which has a strength of 55 in the Maharashtra Assembly.Late in the evening, Shinde, in a Twitter post, said, “Over the last two years under the MVA government, only the coalition partners benefitted while the Shiv Sainik was left frustrated. While our allies gained strength the Shiv Sena and Sainiks were deliberately weakened. For ensuring the survival of the party and Sainiks, it is necessary to step out of this unnatural alliance. For the greater good of Maharashtra, it is time to take a decision.”More MLAs are said to be on their way to join the Shinde camp. The revolt, hours after the Legislative Council elections Monday in which the MVA suffered a setback following cross-voting by MLAs, has put a question mark on the future of the coalition.In the House of 288 which is currently at 287 owing to the death of Sena MLA Ramesh Latke last month, the MVA needs at least 144 MLAs. Before the revolt, its strength in the House was 152 — Sena 55, NCP 53, Congress 44. The BJP strength is 106 while Others account for the remaining 29.Hoping to return to power and not willing to reveal its cards yet, the BJP, party sources said, is waiting for Shinde to rustle up the numbers that he needs to beat the anti-defection law.“More Shiv Sena MLAs are expected to join Shinde by Thursday, and it will no longer be a numbers game. Uddhav will be left with only a handful of MLAs. He has lost his pillar of strength… the shock of this development will make it easier for the BJP.”Once the picture is clear, the BJP hopes to make its move and get Devendra Fadnavis to stake claim with the backing of the Sena rebels, sources said, maintaining that the chain of events so far has been on expected lines.The rebel MLAs made public a resolution, appointing Shinde as leader of the Shiv Sena legislature party, saying “there is enormous discontent” in the party cadre “for forming the government with NCP and Indian National Congress who are ideologically opposed to our party”.The rebel list of 34 MLAs has signatures of 30 Sena MLAs – two MLAs are from the Prahar Janshakti Party and two are independents. More smaller parties are rallying behind Shinde who needs to have the support of 37 party legislators to avoid disqualification under the anti-defection law and form a separate group.The resolution of the rebels stated: “There has been compromise on the principles of our party Shiv Sena, which has been a party with a fierce ideological base, and was formed for fighting for the rights of local Marathi people. For the last two-and-a-half years, our party and its leadership have compromised party principles by aligning with contrasting ideologies for the sake of achieving power in the state of Maharashtra.”“The ideology of our party’s leader, Late Balasaheb Thackeray, was to give a clean and honest government to the people of Maharashtra… without compromising on the principle of Hindutva which was defeated the first day itself by aligning with opposing ideologies,” it stated.The resolution said party members were unhappy about “corruption” in the government and administration regarding police postings and referred to former “Home Minister Anil Deshmukh (who is in jail), and sitting Minority Minister Nawab Malik (also in jail).”“Our party cadre faced tremendous harassment and distress on political as well as personal grounds from the opposition ideological parties, who are now a part of the government, and were using their office and power to undermine the base and foundation of our Shiv Sena cadre,” the resolution stated.It said the Sena decision to sever ties with the BJP in spite of having a pre-poll alliance had a negative impact on the cadre of the party.“There was continuous hue and cry towards the party leadership for the act of aligning with the opposing parties. Ignoring this, the party leadership went ahead and formed a Maha Vikas Aghadi government. For the last two-and-a-half years, we, the Shiv Sena Legislative Party members, were facing tremendous pressure from their electorates/voters,” it stated.The resolution also stated that Bharat Gogavale had been elected and appointed Chief Whip of the Shiv Sena legislature party, and that the appointment of Sunil Prabhu had been cancelled with immediate effect.Earlier in the day, Sunil Prabhu had issued a letter asking all Sena MLAs to be present for a meeting in Mumbai. The letter warned that if anyone remained absent, it would be considered that the MLA had decided to quit the party voluntarily. The meeting did not, however, take place.In Guwahati, Shinde and the rebel MLAs were received at the airport by BJP MP Pallab Lochan Das and MLA Sushanta Borgohain.Speaking to reporters, Shinde said he and those with him were “committed” to Balasaheb Thackeray’s ideology of Hindutva. “We want to take it forward,” he said, “I have 40 Shiv Sena MLAs with me. I cannot comment on anybody.”Borgohain told reporters that he was at the airport to “receive friends”.“Two-three friends called me, so I came to receive them…They have not disclosed what programme they have,” he said.Assam Chief Minister Himanta Biswa Sarma told reporters that he was not privy to much information on the developments. “I am busy with flood relief work. Right now I am heading to Kampur (Nagaon)… tomorrow I will head to Silchar,” he said, adding that there were some “legislator friends” and he may meet them for “five to ten minutes”.Sarma said it was “positive” that people were visiting the state despite the floods. “Since we are inundated, all hotel rooms are empty and the state is facing financial difficulties. Now if tourists from across the country come and stay in a hotel, it will only benefit us,” he said.BJP Rajya Sabha MP Pabitra Margherita said “all people” were “welcome” in Assam.The rebel MLAs were taken to a luxury hotel in Guwahati in three buses amid heavy police protection.Sushmita Dev, TMC MP from Silchar which has been submerged in water for the last 72 hours, said the BJP government had its priorities wrong.“There is a crisis in Silchar — there is no drinking water, no electricity, no boats for rescue … people are living on roofs… in the middle of all this, the Chief Minister of Assam is busy poaching MLAs, and putting them up in five-star hotels. This is really bad,” she said.
MUMBAI: Soon after addressing people over social media in the wake of the rebellion led by Eknath Shinde, CM Uddhav Thackeray vacated the CM's official residence, Varsha, in south Mumbai and shifted to his private residence, Matoshree, in Bandra. "I am not hungry for power. I will resign if a Shiv Sena legislator comes and tells me to quit. I am vacating the Varsha bungalow right now and shifting to Matoshree,'' said Thackeray in his speech. Immediately afterwards, Thackeray set off for Bandra. As he reached Matoshree, hundreds of Shiv Sena activists welcomed him. Thackeray took the oath of office in November 2019, but shifted to Varsha almost a year later in October 2020 during Diwali. A week ago, when PM Narendra Modi was inaugurating Jal Bhushan, the official residence of the governor in Raj Bhavan, Thackeray remarked that the bungalow is huge and well decorated. "Your bungalow is tastefully decorated. Will you exchange it for Varsha?" Thackeray had said with a smile to governor Bhagat Singh Koshyari.
Uddhav Thackeray Facebook Live: Maharashtra Chief Minister Uddhav Thackeray on Wednesday addressed the state via Facebook Live. The address comes amid reports of Uddhav’s resignation as CM of Maharashtra. “Chief Minister Uddhav Balasaheb Thackeray will interact with the people through Facebook Live this evening at 5.00 pm and give his feedback on current affairs,” CMO Maharashtra tweeted earlier.Also Read - Maharashtra Political Crisis: Rebel Shiv Sena Leader Eknath Shinde to Address Media ShortlyThe Shiv Sena had earlier issued an ultimatum to all its MLAs, directing them to attend a meeting in Mumbai by 5 pm or face action. The letter also warned that if someone remains absent from the meeting without proper reason and prior information, they should keep in mind that action will be initiated to cancel their membership as per constitutional provisions. Also Read - Posts Will Come and Go: Uddhav Thackeray Drops Big Hint Amid Resignation Buzz | Top QuotesLive| Uddhav Thackeray Facebook Live: I am keeping my resignation letter ready, come and tell me if you don’t want me as chief minister: Uddhav ThackerayI am ready to resign as chief minister and Shiv Sena head, says Uddhav ThackerayAny of the rebel MLAs should come and tell me in the face that they don’t want me as chief minister. I will quit immediately, says CM UddhavIf NCP or Congress didn’t want me to be a CM, then it would have been okay. But with Shiv Sena leaders doing this is upsetting. I consider them as my own, it’s not likewise: CM Uddhav ThackerayWe opposed NCP and Congress for 25-30 years; Sharad Pawar insisted I should come on board, says Maharashtra CM Uddhav ThackerayMaharashtra CM Uddhav Thackeray said that he had no experience of administration, but worked hard and got good result. He said because of state work, he was selected as top chief minister in country.Shiv Sena and Hindutva are synonymous. They cannot be separated. Aaditya Thackeray, Eknath Shinde and several ministers visited Ayodhya: Uddhav ThackerayWe have 63 MLAs in Maharashtra, says Uddhav ThackerayShiv Sena can’t be separated from Hindutva, says Uddhav Thackeray“I’ve tested positive for COVID. I was one of the top 5 Chief Ministers in the country to deal with the COVID wave”: Uddhav Thackeray
MUMBAI: The state cabinet on Wednesday decided to drop civil and criminal charges against students and youths for not following prohibitory norms during two years of Covid lockdowns. However, those charged with attacks on frontline workers or damaging public property worth over Rs 50,000 will not be spared. Similar relief will be given to those facing charges for political and social stirs which did not see any death or damage to public property.
MUMBAI: On a politically charged day, Maharashtra governor Bhagat Singh Koshyari and chief minister Uddhav Thackeray tested positive for Covid-19. Eighty-year-old Koshyari, who announced his diagnosis on Twitter early on Wednesday, is in hospital as a precautionary measure. “I have been tested positive for COVID-19 with mild symptoms. However I have been admitted to a hospital as a precautionary measure,” he tweeted. Meanwhile, Thackeray’s Covid-positive status was announced by the All-India Congress Committee (AICC)’s appointed observer in the state, Kamal Nath. He told reporters that he had been unable to meet Thackeray who had tested positive for the infection. Koshyari is admitted to Sir H N Reliance Hospital, Girgaum. Senior hospital officials said the governor is stable but refused to make further comments, citing patient confidentiality. A statement from Raj Bhavan said the governor could be contacted via video-conferencing. "Governor has Covid symptoms. Which is why he is admitted to the hospital. He is stable and there are no such talks of handing over his charge to the other Governor. If anyone wants to get in contact with the Governor, can do it via video-conference," said the statement.
Maharashtra Governor Bhagat Singh Koshyari tested positive for Covid-19 on Wednesday, and was admitted to the HN Reliance Foundation Hospital in south Mumbai for treatment. The 80-year-old, who has been seen wearing a face mask at public events, said his symptoms were mild and he has been admitted in hospital as a precautionary measure.“I have been tested positive for Covid-19. There are only mild symptoms. However I have been admitted to a Hospital as a precautionary measure,” he tweeted.Koshyari’s illness comes at a time when the state is in the midst of a political crisis. The ruling Maha Vikas Aghadi government is facing the threat of being toppled after Shiv Sena leader Eknath Khadse and 40 other rebel MLAs have left the state, and are currently camping in Assam’s Guwahati.Shinde and his loyalists went missing after reports claimed that cross-voting in the MLC polls benefited the BJP, which ultimately registered a victory. Shinde and the other MLAs stayed at a luxury hotel in Surat yesterday and flew to Guwahati this morning.The Governor’s role comes to the fore at the times of political crises, when decisions pertaining to convening emergency sessions of the Assembly, conducting floor tests and taking decisions about forming and dissolving governments are to be taken.
Amid the political storm facing the Maha Vikas Agadhi (MVA) government in Maharashtra, Shiv Sena leader and Chief Minister Uddhav Thackeray Wednesday tested positive for Covid-19.This comes shortly after Maharashtra Governor Bhagat Singh Koshyari was admitted to the HN Reliance Foundation Hospital in south Mumbai as he tested positive for the infection.The All India Congress Committee (AICC)’s appointed observer in the state, Kamal Nath, told reporters that he could not meet with Thackeray as the CM had tested positive for the infection. He also stated that of the 44 Congress MLAs in the House, 41 had attended the party meeting, while three were on their way. Nath is scheduled to hold a meeting with NCP leader Sharad Pawar next, he said.#WATCH | Mumbai: “Maharashtra CM Uddhav Thackeray has tested positive for #COVID19,” says Congress Observer for the state, Kamal Nath. pic.twitter.com/wl22yJkXXt— ANI (@ANI) June 22, 2022The future of the MVA alliance-led government in Maharashtra hangs in the balance with Shiv Sena leader Eknath Shinde along with at least 40 MLAs, as he claims, camping in Guwahati, after they were shifted from a resort in Surat early Wednesday morning.On Tuesday afternoon, Thackeray hosted a meeting of Sena MLAs at his official residence, Varsha, where only 18 of his party’s 55 MLAs showed up.
MUMBAI: Maharashtra chief minister Uddhav Thackeray on Wednesday tested positive for Covid-19. The development comes amid ongoing crisis in Maha Vikas Aghadi due to the rebellion by senior party leader and minister Eknath Shinde. Maharashtra Congress' Observer for the state Kamal Nath and party leader Nana Patole informed about Thackeray testing positive for the virus. Meanwhile, Maharashtra governor Bhagat Singh Koshyari was admitted to a private hospital in south Mumbai after testing Coronavirus positive, an official said. "I have been tested positive for COVID -19. There are only mild symptoms. However I have been admitted to a Hospital as a precautionary measure," Koshyari tweeted. Koshyari (80) has been admitted to the Reliance Foundation Hospital, the official said.
Mumbai: Maharashtra governor Bhagat Singh Koshyari tested positive for Covid-19 on Wednesday. According to news agency ANI, he is admitted to HN Reliance Foundation hospital, Mumbai today for COVID19 treatment. Taking to his official twitter handle, the governor said, “I have been tested positive for COVID -19. There are only mild symptoms. However I have been admitted to a Hospital as a precautionary measure.” The news comes amid Shiv Sena rebel minister Eknath Shinde was expected to meet Governor Koshyari with a claim that there are 40 party legislators with him.Also Read - Two Shiv Sena MLAs Return From Eknath Shinde Camp, To Support Uddhav: ReportsI have been tested positive for COVID -19. There are only mild symptoms. However I have been admitted to a Hospital as a precautionary measure.— Governor of Maharashtra (@maha_governor) June 22, 2022 Also Read - Uddhav Thackeray to Quit? Here's What's at Stake & How Numbers Stack Up in Maharashtra Assembly | EXPLAINEDMaharashtra is currently witnessing political turmoil as rebel Shiv Sena leader and Maharashtra Cabinet Minister Eknath Shinde, along with several other MLAs went incommunicado on Wednesday and appeared to have rebelled against the party. Also Read - As Shinde Ditches Uddhav, MVA Looks Upto Sharad Pawar-Kamal Nath Meet | LIVE Updates33 Shiv Sena and 7 independent MLAs, led by Eknath Shinde arrived at a luxury hotel in Guwahati in BJP-ruled Assam on Wednesday. The revolt in the Shiv Sena has given rise to speculations that Shinde along with other MLAs might join the BJP in a bid to topple the Maha Vikas Aghadi (MVA) government.The Shiv Sena MLAs are now staying at Radisson Blu Hotel in the city.“A total of 40 MLAs are present here. We will carry Balasaheb Thackeray’s Hindutva,” said Shinde after arriving in Guwahati. The Shiv Sena MLAs were received by BJP MLA Sushanta Borgohain and BJP MP Pallab Lochan Das at Guwahati airport.
MUMBAI: Maharashtra governor Bhagat Singh Koshyari tested positive for Covid-19 on Wednesday. "He was admitted to a private hospital in south Mumbai after testing positive for the virus," said an official. The official added that Koshyari (80), who was always seen wearing face masks at public events, has been admitted to the Reliance Foundation Hospital in Mumbai. (With inputs from PTI)
Amid the apprehension of a possible fourth wave of Covid-19, there has been a 76 per cent increase in the number of precautionary or booster doses being administered in the 18-59 age group in 15 days of June across Maharashtra.Official figures show that between June 6 and June 20, 2,37,814 people in the 18-59 age group had taken booster shots, pushing up the administration of third shots to 5,50,006 from 3,12,192 in 15 days.During this period, the state also witnessed a surge of 15 per cent in the demand of booster doses for senior citizens. On June 6, 16,85,955 beneficiaries took the booster and within 15 days, the figure surged to 19,36,535.This sudden demand for boosters coincided with a six-fold rise in daily Covid-19 cases across Maharashtra. “…Amid the blip or you can say a surge in cases, the demand for boosters has naturally gone up, especially among the elderly and with comorbidities,” said Dr Vasant Nagvekar, co-director, Infectious Diseases, Sir H N Reliance Foundation Hospital.The state has been pushing to increase vaccination coverage among the elderly through the Har Ghar Dastak 2.0 campaign that began earlier this month.“Despite the arrival of monsoon, our health workers are trying to reach far-off corners in the districts to vaccinate people with the third dose. With the flattening of the pandemic curve, the villagers were hesitant earlier but now, they are showing eagerness to get the booster dose,” said Dr Govind Chaudhari, district health officer of Nandurbar, which has the lowest vaccine coverage rate in the state.However, there are still around 1.37 crore people who haven’t taken their scheduled second jab in the state. Pune tops the chart with 13 lakh such beneficiaries, followed by Thane (9.28 lakh) and Mumbai (8.95 lakh).“Many people have still not taken their booster shots, which is why we need to get the message across that vaccines can save lives. There is enough data to prove that vaccines are one of the most important strategies to prevent severe illness and mortality. We need to understand their importance and convince people to take precautionary doses so that the virus can be controlled,” said Dr Rahul Pandit, a member of the Covid-19 task force.Doctors have observed that though vaccination doesn’t provide protection against infection but it does help in containing the severity, lowering the mortality rate.
MUMBAI: Students and youths who are facing civil or criminal charges for not following the then prohibitory norms issued by the government during two years of Covid lockdowns will be spared. However, those involved in the attacks on front line workers or have damaged public property worth over Rs 50,000, will not be considered for such a relief. Similarly, those facing civil or criminal proceedings for political and social agitations, which did not see any death or damage to public property worth over Rs 5 lakh, will also be absolved of the charges. The cases in which FIR has been registered till December 31, 2021 will only be considered for such a relief. However, while implementing the decision the agitational cases involving existing or former parliamentarians or legislators, cannot be withdrawn unless the approval by the high court as ruled by the supreme court over a writ petition (civil case no 699/2016) filed by Ashwinikumar against the Union of India and others, said a government release. These decisions were taken at the state cabinet on Wednesday amid the ongoing turmoil within the ruling Shiv Sena-led Maha Vikas Aghadi. The cabinet, led by chief minister Uddhav Thackeray, who chaired it online, directed the regional committees for scrutinising and withdrawing such cases to go ahead with the decision. During the period between March 21, 2020 till March 31, 2022 when Covid prohibitions were imposed under the disaster management Act, the police and other civic and security agencies filed thousands of cases against youths and students under various penal codes and sections for flouting Covid protocols. These cases, according to the CMO release, created difficulties for several educated unemployed youths in their job prospects as well as while getting the passport for which the police or criminal record of a candidate are scrutinised. Eventually the cases had affected the character of a candidate which is considered on priority by the employers while recruiting them. Considering the adversities for the students and the youths, and also for those facing cases for political and social agitations, the regional committees led by collectors and police commissioners have been allowed to go ahead with the withdrawal of cases against them.
India’s financial capital Mumbai witnessed a six-fold rise in deaths related to heart attack in the first six month of 2021 when the city was under the grip of the second wave of Covid-19.In the period between January-June 2021, nearly 3,000 people lost their lives to heart attacks every month which was around 500 in 2020.Nearly 23.8 per cent (17,880) of the total 75,165 deaths recorded till June last year in Mumbai were attributed to heart attacks. This information was revealed through an RTI filed by an activist Chetan Kothari.The figures have raised several questions about the sudden, unprecedented surge in deaths related to heart attacks. Medical officials have attributed several factors behind the staggering spike – post-Covid development of thrombosis, delay in diagnosis in heart-related ailment amid the second wave, better recording of heart-attack cases, major lifestyle changes and additional distress noticed in the second wave.Data provided by the Brihanmumbai Municipal Corporation (BMC) showed that in 2019, a total of 5,849 patients lost their lives to heart attack in Mumbai. This dropped slightly by 3.6 per cent when in 2020, 5,633 patients succumbed to the disease. But, to everyone’s surprise, in the the period between Jan-June 2021, a total of 17,880 succumbed to heart attacks in Mumbai with a surge of 217 per cent, compared to the previous year, as per the RTI.Dr Avinash Supe, in-charge of the Covid-19 death committee, sees three major reasons for the surge in deaths related to heart attack – possibility of development of thrombosis among the Covid-19 recovered patients, delay in diagnosis of patients amid the pandemic and better recording of data.“Globally, it has been witnessed that heart attack related deaths increased in the pandemic, so it is not a new phenomenon that has only been observed in Mumbai. Secondly, since the start of the pandemic, the medical practitioners are more conscious in segregation and bifurcation of types of deaths, so it has possibly helped to maintain better data related to heart attacks,” said Dr Supe.Also, during the second wave, many patients avoided hospitals due to fear of contracting Covid-19, which further delayed life-saving treatment.Dr Prafulla Kerkar, interventional cardiologist and chairman of Guidelines Committee of Cardiological Society of India (CSI), said, “The pandemic has been blamed for people with heart attack symptoms reaching hospital late, which pushed up the mortality rate. Reperfusion therapies like Thrombolytic therapy (that dissolve clots) and timely interventions like angioplasty were delayed.”He also said there is a possibility that patients who died of pre-existing heart conditions like decompensated heart disease or heart failure (the heart doesn’t pump blood as well as it should) were categorised as heart attacks without necessary investigation at a time the health system was overwhelmed with Covid-19.“A patient with heart failure is not identified as having a heart attack until it is shown in the ECG and cardiac enzyme levels are elevated. So, there is a possibility that the data also includes cases of heart failure,” he said.Covid restrictions led to a more sedentary lifestyle. Can this lifestyle change have a correlation with heart attacks?Other than the critical risk factors, the prolonged lifestyle changes in the pandemic added to the risk of developing heart attacks.“Life has become more sedentary with less options of socialisation and physical activities. The sugar and cholesterol levels are going haywire along with weight gain. Along with that, during the second wave, a lot of people were under stress – all these can also be contributing to the rise in heart attacks,” said Dr Supe.Doctors have witnessed an increase in the prevalence of diabetes, hypertension, smoking, alcohol use and an unhealthy lifestyle in the last two years.“Besides the rise in these risk factors, Indians have a genetic predisposition, smaller coronary arteries, a diet pattern with excessive consumption of trans fats and a sedentary lifestyle that puts them in a high-risk category for heart attacks,” said Dr Sanjith Saseedharan, consultant and head of Critical Care, SL Raheja Hospital, Mahim.Is there a clinical explanation behind linking Covid-19 with higher risk of heart attacks?Since the start of the pandemic, it has been observed that SARS-Cov-2 damages the heart and blood vessels in infected patients which leads to the development of clots, heart inflammation, arrhythmias, and heart failure. The Lancet – a science journal in August 2021 published that in the week after a diagnosis with Covid-19, the risk of a first heart attack increased by three to eight times.Dr Kedar Todaskar, Director of Critical Care at Wockhardt Hospital and member of Maharashtra Covid-19 task force, said that though no clear-cut cause and effect relationship has been proven, data does suggest that Covid-19 infection was a risk factor for thrombosis – not only arterial but venous thrombosis which included deep vein thrombosis and pulmonary thromboembolism too apart from acute coronary syndromes.“This is related to the virus interacting with the ACE2 receptors in the host body. So, all the organs with a predominance of ACE2 receptors are involved which includes the endothelium. The endothelium is the inner lining of all the vascular structures in the body which includes the arterial & the venous system. Covid-19 typically causes inflammation of the endothelium which is termed as Covid Endotheliitis. This endotheliitis is the cause of increased thrombotic events thereby leading to the increase in the cardiac mortality and morbidity seen in the second wave,” he said.Dr Saseedharan further explained that Covid-19 is an inflammatory disease which has the potential to destabilize plaques in the coronaries, which can lead to myocardial infarction. The severe affection of the lungs can also cause oxygen supply and demand mismatch, which also causes increased heart attacks. “This means that Covid-19 can also cause microvascular damages, which may have also contributed to heart ailments,” he added.Some medical experts also raised voices about unscientifically certifying deaths without proper post-mortem or other apparent methods like an angiography proven coronary occlusion in the second wave.“There is a distinct possibility that many of these patients died at home and thus ‘certified’ like heart attacks by the local general practitioner. Many of them might have not even visited the hospital due to the fear of relatives contracting Covid,” said Dr Saseedharan.Do we need better multi-centred studies in India for more scientific analysis of this trend?Dr Abdul Samad Ansari, Director, Critical Care Services, Nanavati Max Hospital, said that many patients have suffered from Acute Cardiac Events during the pandemic due to the thrombotic state created by the infection.But he also raised the need for better investigation by involving population dynamic or demographic statistics, past history of Covid-19 infection, vaccination status and existing medication routine.“If these patients had no history of past or present Covid infection and died purely due to cardiac complications then the causes could be major lifestyle changes, additional distress or any new clinical anomaly, yet to be analysed. It’s advisable to read the data in conjunction with associated risk factors for cardiac complications,” he said.Dr Shashank Joshi, member of the state Covid-19 task force, also laid emphasis on proper audit and scientific analysis.
Mumbai witnessed an over six-fold rise in monthly deaths related to heart attack in the first six months of 2021 compared to previous years. Between January and June 2021, as many as 3,000 people lost their lives to heart attacks every month in the city, compared to 500 in 2020.According to data provided by the Brihanmumbai Municipal Corporation (BMC), a total of 5,849 patients lost their lives to heart attacks in Mumbai in 2019. This dropped by 3.6 per cent when 5,633 patients succumbed to the disease in 2020. But between January and June 2021, a total of 17,880 succumbed to heart attacks in the city — a surge of 217 per cent over the previous year, according to a reply to an RTI request filed by activist Chetan Kothari.“Pre-pandemic, cancer was the biggest killer. But last year, although deaths due to cancer subsided, heart attacks surged significantly,” said a civic official.Dr Avinash Supe, in-charge of the Covid-19 death committee, said there are three major reasons for the surge in deaths related to heart attack — possibility of development of thrombosis among recovered Covid-19 patients, delay in diagnosis of patients during the pandemic and better recording of data.“Globally it has been witnessed that heart attack-related deaths increased during the pandemic, so it is not a new phenomenon that has only been observed in Mumbai. Secondly, since the start of the pandemic, medical practitioners are more conscious of segregation and bifurcation of types of deaths, so it has possibly helped maintain better data pertaining to heart attacks,” said Supe.It has been observed that SARS-Cov-2 injures the heart and blood vessels in infected patients, which leads to the development of clots, heart inflammation, arrhythmias and heart failure. In August 2021, The Lancet reported that the risk of a first heart attack increased by three to eight times in the week after a Covid-19 diagnosis.Dr Kedar Todaskar, director of critical care at Wockhardt Hospital and member of Maharashtra Covid-19 Task Force, said though there is no proven cause and effect relationship, the data suggests that Covid-19 infection was a risk factor for thrombosis, not only arterial but venous thrombosis, which included deep vein thrombosis and pulmonary thromboembolism, too, apart from acute coronary syndromes.“This is related to the virus interacting with the ACE2 receptors in the host body. So, all the organs with a predominance of ACE2 receptors are involved, which includes the endothelium. The endothelium is the inner lining of all vascular structures in the body, which includes the arterial and venous system. Covid-19 typically causes inflammation of the endothelium, which is coined as Covid endotheliitis. This endotheliitis is the cause of increased thrombotic events, thereby leading to increase in the cardiac mortality and morbidity seen in the second wave,” he said.Also during the second wave, many patients avoided hospitals due to fear of contracting Covid-19, which further delayed life-saving treatment. Dr Prafulla Kerkar, interventional cardiologist, chairman of Guidelines Committee of Cardiological Society of India (CSI), said, “It has been blamed on the pandemic when people with heart attack symptoms reached hospital late, which pushed up the mortality rate. reperfusion therapies like Thrombolytic therapy (that dissolve clots) and timely interventions like angioplasty.”He also said there is a possibility that patients who died of preexisting heart conditions like decompensated heart disease or heart failure (the heart doesn’t pump blood as well as it should) were categorised as heart attacks without necessary investigation at a time the health system was overwhelmed with Covid-19. “A patient with heart failure is not identified as having a heart attack until it is shown in the ECG and and cardiac enzyme levels are elevated. So, there is a possibility that the data also includes cases of heart failure,” he said.To better understand the trend, doctors say there is a need for better investigation into the deaths and verbal autopsy of the deceased patients. “But if these patients had no history of past or present Covid-19 infection and died of cardiac complications, then the causes could be major lifestyle changes, additional distress or any new clinical anomaly yet to be analysed. So, it’s advisable to read the data in conjunction with associated risk factors for cardiac complications,” said Dr Abdul Samad Ansari, director, Critical Care Services, Nanavati Hospital.
As college admissions have begun for undergraduate and postgraduate courses, outstation students, who stayed away from the city for the last two years owing to the Covid-19 pandemic and are set to return to campus life once again, now face a huge challenge; the rising living costs.From shutting down of a few budget hostels to higher rent at paying-guest (PG) flats to mess facilities becoming costlier to more out-of-pocket expenses, the living budgets of outstation students have shot up considerably after the pandemic.Nagpur resident Srishti Wahie, a third-year student pursuing BCom Honours from Brihan Maharashtra College of Commerce, lives within the college hostel and eats meals there. Before the pandemic, the monthly hostel and mess fees were Rs 6,670 and Rs 2,500 respectively, which have now been revised to Rs 7,100 and Rs 3,000. “It may seem nominal (the rise) but actually all other costs have gone up. After the pandemic, even eating one meal outside in a restaurant is so expensive. Travelling by cab or auto is costly. Earlier, I used to manage on a monthly allowance of Rs 3,000, now my parents have to send Rs 4,500 to manage the same expenses.”Shruti Surve, a B Tech (computer science) student who graduated in 2022 from MKSSS Cummins College for Women, said: “Our hostel stopped providing breakfast after the pandemic, hence I had to go outside every day. Outside, breakfasts cost Rs 20 per day. The cost of my personal expenses also increased.”Latur resident Isha Ayachit, who graduated in B Tech (IT) from MKSSS Cummins College for Women, Karve Road, said: “Before Covid-19, it was relatively easy for us to manage monthly expenses. But things changed for the worse after the pandemic broke out because a lot of families faced financial losses. At the same time, small businesses like street food joints faced major losses too. They increased their prices. For example, snacks which used to cost Rs 15 now cost Rs 20. It may seem like a minor increase, but after Covid-19, many people lost their parents. It was hard for them to ask for money from their families. Especially the third and fourth-year students, who now faced the pressure to work hard and support their families. The college fees were not reduced for us. People who were already struggling to pay fees found it extremely hard to manage the increased living costs.”Meanwhile, business owners said that they have no choice but to pass on the burden of rising costs to the students. Ashutosh Pandey, the owner of Prince Premium which has three hostels located at Senapati Bapat Road, Fergusson College and Deccan, said: “Everything was shut during the pandemic. We were paying out of our own pockets to save our rented property. There has been no real change in cost currently, in fact, we reduced the security deposit of two months to that of one month or not taken at all if the parents could not pay. Earlier, the cost/head used to start from Rs 5,000, and go up to a maximum of Rs 10,000 depending on the room. But as per our rental agreement, a 10-15 per cent increase in the rent is due. Hence, for the upcoming academic year starting in July, students will be charged higher to meet the higher rent expenses. Yet, parents are apprehensive about paying upfront since they believe if the Covid cases rise again, they will have to vacate the rooms. Hence the market has not been the same as before the pandemic yet.”At Kadiri mess on Paud Road, a popular monthly mess facility opted by students, the establishment delivers tiffins to students at Rs 65 per tiffin. Owner Rahul Kadiri said: “The establishment is 20 years old. Till February 2020, one unlimited thali used to cost Rs 50, but after we reopened in 2021, with the relaxation of the lockdown, the rate was increased to Rs 65 per thali. Because of inflation in the last two years, charging Rs 65 is the same as Rs 50. If we take into account the labour and cost of groceries used, we can maintain a barely 20 per cent margin which we otherwise would not have if we kept the price the same. Before the pandemic, we would not take into account the operational costs and profits in strict numbers, since business was good. But, now we have to since business is tougher now.”At the Sahastrabuddhe mess, where the monthly cost for one is Rs 1,300, up from Rs 1,100-1,200 last year.
NEW DELHI: While Delhi has mostly reported around 1,500 new Covid-19 cases every day in the last one week, the test positivity rate has seen a major spike. In the last one week, four revenue districts — East, Central, South and North West — have entered the “Red zone” with average weekly positivity rate of above 10%. South district has consistently seen the highest positivity rate, while last week East district witnessed a massive jump in the weekly positivity rate, which stands at 13.11%. Compared with the weekly positivity rate of 5.25%, in the second week of June the district recorded an increase of 7.86 percentage points, the highest in the city. TimesViewIn the past few weeks, the city’s Covid positivity rate has shot up. However, there is no reason to panic. The percentage of patients being hospitalized is still extremely low. Nonetheless, Covid appropriate behaviour must continue.The average weekly positivity rate for Delhi was 8.49% in the last seven days, compared with 3.79% in the second week of June and 2.17% in the first week. The average in the last one week has increased by 4.7 percentage points compared with the second week of June and by 6.32 percentage points when compared with the first week. During the first week of June, all districts were in the “Green zone” with an average weekly positivity rate of below 5%. However, South, East, Central, and North West districts entered the “Orange zone” with average weekly positivity rates above 5% between June 8 and 14. Even as four districts have recorded an average positivity rate of more than 10%, South West (9.46%) is close to sliding from the Orange to the Red zone. Apart from East, four other districts have seen an increase in the average weekly positivity rate by more than 5 percentage points. These include Central (6.55), South (5.88), North West (5.32), and Shahdara (5.08). Those that have seen an increase of close to 5 percentage points are New Delhi (4.9), South West (4.59) and West (4.48). North East district, which has consistently recorded the lowest positivity rate, has seen the lowest increase of 1.31 percentage points. However, the district has also recorded an average weekly positivity rate of more than 1% after a long period. However, it has the lowest share of more reliable RT-PCR tests (38%) than any other district. The overall average weekly positivity rate of 8.49% has come from 32% Rapid Antigen Tests and 68% RT-PCR tests. The share of RT-PCR tests has increased in the last one week compared with 36.5% RAT and 63.5% RT-PCR tests the previous week.
At 11:17 pm on Monday, the Maharashtra urban development and public works minister and influential Shiv Sena leader, Eknath Shinde, put out a tweet expressing happiness over the election of two Sena nominees in the Legislative Council elections. A couple of hours later, Shinde along with around 20 Sena MLAs, went “incommunicado”, dealing a severe blow to the Maharashtra Vikas Aghadi (MVA) alliance government as well as its lead player, the Sena, which might be heading for an imminent split now.While Shinde has always sworn allegiance to the Sena and Thackerays, there have been murmurs in recent months that he was “unhappy” over the way the party was being run and the treatment being meted out to old Sainiks like him. Over the past two years, as the Sena underwent a generational change in its leadership which saw the sidelining of its many senior leaders and the emergence of a new guard led by Aditya Thackeray, the son of party president and Chief Minister Uddhav Thackeray.While Shinde has been in charge of two key portfolios and was the next most important Sena minister after the Thackerays, there had been a buzz that he was not getting a free run in running his departments as all their decisions were purportedly vetted by the Thackerays and their inner coterie.A top state official said Shinde was “upset” as he was marginalised in the urban development department. As its minister, he is the chairperson of the Mumbai Metropolitan Region Development Authority (MMRDA). However, the environment minister, Aaditya Thackeray, often attended the MMRDA meetings involving its commissioner, hence Shinde did not take much interest in its affairs.The emergence of Aaditya, who is also the Yuva Sena president, and his bid to groom the party’s youth wing leaders like Varun Sardesai also upset Shinde. Once deemed to be the tallest leader in the party after the Thackerays, the rise of younger leaders in its ranks is said to have rankled Shinde.Over the last two years, especially since the outbreak of the Covid pandemic, Shinde’s access to Matoshree, the residence of the Thackerays, was also restricted, with an impression gaining ground that the latter were not seeking his counsel like they used to earlier.Shinde, who has been a proponent of the Sena-BJP alliance, was said to be especially upset with Uddav’s decision to join hands with the NCP and the Congress to form the MVA government. He also felt that over the last two years the party’s allies, especially the Sharad Pawar-led NCP, were hurting the Sena’s prospects.Some MVA government officials say that there were instances in the last one year that pointed to things not being smooth between Uddhav and Shinde, who is now believed to be holed up at a hotel in Surat in the BJP-ruled Gujarat along with about 20 party MLAs.Sources say that matters like the security cover enjoyed by Shinde and his say in police transfers were some of the factors that reflected his diminishing influence over the Uddhav-led government.An official said Shinde enjoys “Z” category security on paper while he was keen to get “Z plus” security cover being given to the likes of Uddhav and Pawar. “However, the State Intelligence Department (SID) that takes orders from the CM provided him ‘Z’ security, a level below ‘Z plus’. It was a subtle way of pointing out the power hierarchy to him,” a source said. It was believed that Shinde was miffed over it.Another reason for Shinde’s resentment was that he had to struggle to have a say in police postings in Thane, his home turf. Recently, the transfers of five IPS officers in and around Thane had to be stayed after the NCP minister-headed home department issued the transfer list. “While eventually Shinde’s demands were accommodated and the transfers were put on hold, the question was, why were his recommendations not taken into consideration in the first place given that he had a direct line to the CM,” the source said, adding that “While these are small issues, it did show that Shinde did not have an easy run and had to struggle within his own party.”🚨 Limited Time Offer | Express Premium with ad-lite for just Rs 2/ day 👉🏽 Click here to subscribe 🚨Sources also said that over the last one year, Uddhav hardly met any party leaders, mainly due to his health condition. “Earlier when the CM visited Mantralaya, leaders would come to meet him as everyone is allowed inside. Now with him functioning mainly from Varsha, the CM bungalow, where access is limited, not many could meet him,” the source said. “Even during Covid, citing health reasons, some bureaucrats had ensured that the CM did not meet many other leaders from the party, thereby increasing his dependancy on these bureaucrats.”Amid simmering discontent in a Sena section against the party’s functioning for some time, Shinde was said to be in waiting and gauging public sentiments, worried that a declaration of no-confidence in the Thackerays could lead to a backlash from their party loyalists in the state.The back-to-back setbacks suffered by the MVA in the Rajya Sabha and the Legislative Council elections in the state in just ten days proved to be the final straw that led to Shinde mounting a bid for engineering a split in the party.(With inputs from Yogesh Naik)
The BJP’s announcement that the party-led Centre’s Agnipath scheme for short-term recruitment of soldiers in armed forces will not be rolled back despite widespread youth protests has a parallel, whose echo might still be ringing in the corridors of power.In December 2020, when a long winter of discontent was just beginning to set in over Delhi’s borders with thousands of farmers from Punjab and Haryana reaching there in protest against the three contentious farm laws passed by Parliament in September 2020, the BJP dispensation had categorically ruled out any possibility of repealing these laws.Eleven months later, in November 2021, Prime Minister Narendra Modi announced the withdrawal of the farm laws, describing it as a decision taken in the “interest of the nation”.The period stretching from June 2020, when farm laws were first promulgated as ordinances, to their abrupt withdrawal one-and-a-half years later, marked by unprecedented protests and its staunch rejection by the saffron party, exposed the vulnerabilities of a numerically intimidating government in pushing through such reforms with wide-ranging social ramifications.In the cases of both farm laws as well as the implementation of the Citizenship Amendment Act (CAA)-National Register of Citizens (NRC) which is also virtually in limbo, the Opposition-ruled states along with some of the BJP’s own allies mounted a major pushback, which is being mirrored by the Agnipath fallout now with the scheme running into stiff resistance from the BJP’s biggest ally JD(U) and states like Kerala, Tamil Nadu, West Bengal, Punjab, Jharkhand, Maharashtra and Telangana.In the Congress-ruled Rajasthan, the Ashok Gehlot Cabinet passed a resolution last Saturday urging the Centre to withdraw the Agnipath scheme “keeping in mind the larger public interest and the sentiments of the youth”.The Bharatiya Kisan Union (BKU) leader, Rakesh Tikait, who was the face of the year-long farmer agitation at the Delhi borders, has come out openly against the Agnipath scheme, announcing Monday that the Samyukt Kisan Morcha – which spearheaded the farm stir – will hold protests against Agnipath in district headquarters across the country on June 24.On the farm laws, Punjab, which was the epicentre of the unrest, was the first state to raise the banner of revolt. The state, then ruled by the Congress, passed bills on October 20, 2020, seeking to negate the Centre’s three agriculture legislations. On November 11, the Punjab Assembly also passed a resolution against the laws.The BJP’s oldest ally, Shiromani Akali Dal, which had a minister in the Union Cabinet when the farm ordinances were promulgated, also walked out of the NDA in September 2020 in protest after quitting the government.After Punjab’s move, Chhattisgarh and Rajasthan, also Congress-ruled states, followed suit, passing bills to negate the central farm legislations on October 27 and November 2 respectively. In the Left-ruled Kerala, the state Assembly passed a resolution against the laws on December 31, followed by the TMC-ruled West Bengal on January 28, 2021.However, even in the face of such massive opposition, the Centre sought to project a defiant face, with PM Modi declaring a section of anti-farm laws protesters as “andolanjeevis” during his reply to the President’s address in the Rajya Sabha. Some BJP leaders targeted the protesters as “khalistanis”, adding fuel to the firestorm.There was no let-up in clamour for the repeal of the laws though, with more resolutions being passed against it, including by the AAP-governed Delhi on July 30, 2021, and the DMK-ruled Tamil Nadu on August 28. Eventually, on November 20, the decision to rescind the laws was announced by Modi.The CAA, which was passed by Parliament in December 2019, has also not been implemented so far, with the government not notifying its rules so far. The CAA had first sparked violent protests in the BJP-ruled Assam.Later, the anti-CAA-NRC protests spread to other parts of the country – including Delhi, which saw an over three-month-long agitation at Shaheen Bagh and in February 2020, the worst communal violence since the 1984 anti-Sikh riots.Ahead of the Bengal Assembly polls last year, Union Home Minister Amit Shah had promised that the CAA’s implementation will be the “first decision of the state cabinet” if the BJP forms the government. Later, he said it would be rolled out after the end of the Covid-19 vaccination drive.Meanwhile, the Assemblies in Opposition-ruled states started passing resolutions against the CAA one after another: Kerala (December 31, 2019), Punjab (January 17, 2020), Rajasthan (January 25, 2020), West Bengal (January 27, 2020), Puducherry (February 12, 2020), Bihar (February 25, 2020) and Telangana (March 16, 2020). In Tamil Nadu, where the DMK unseated the NDA partner AIADMK from power last year, an anti-CAA resolution was passed by the Assembly on September 8, 2021.While the BJP government continues to claim that the CAA’s implementation remains high on the priority list, its deadline has been repeatedly extended. Last month, Shah said the law, which seeks to fast-track citizenship to persecuted non-Muslim religious minorities from Pakistan, Afghanistan and Bangladesh who came to India before December 2014, will be implemented “after Covid ends”.