The Indian Express | 4 days ago | 22-06-2022 | 11:45 am
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.
After repeated fire incidents in hospitals across Maharashtra amid the pandemic, over 500 government hospitals have been audited in the state. For the work related to the fire safety compliance in hospitals, the state government has, for the first time, approved a fund of Rs200 crore.Under the district planning and development committee (DPDC), 25 per cent of the funds have been reserved for the health sector. “Of the funds allocated for the health sector, Rs 200 crore has been sanctioned for ensuring compliance with fire safety measures in hospitals,” N Ramaswamy, commissioner, National Health Mission, Maharashtra, said.The state has already released Rs 19 crore for the purpose of ensuring fire safety in hospitals.Nearly 53 people lost their lives in fire outbreaks in hospitals amid the pandemic in 2021. Majority of the victims were Covid-19 patients. The string of such incidents started with a devastating fire at the Bhandara District Hospital on January 9 that led to the death of ten infants. It was followed by multiple fire incidents in Mumbai.The worst of the incidents took place on November 6, last year when a fire broke out at the ICU of Ahmednagar Civil Hospital, claiming the lives of 14 Covid patients. Preliminary investigation showed that most of the Covid care centers and hospitals in the state lacked adequate fire-fighting equipment.To gauge the violations of fire safety rules, Chief Minister Uddhav Thackeray, in April, instructed all the districts to audit the hospitals. With the audit now concluded, the government has set sights on plugging the holes and ensuring fire safety compliance at hospitals over the next six months.In the last three months, the state audited a total of 511 tertiary-care and peripheral hospitals other than primary health centres for implementation of fire safety rules. The inspection was conducted on the watch of the PWD department.“The fire safety gaps have been analysed for total compliance. Work has been initiated for the implementation of suggestions,” Ramaswamy said, adding, “Along with medical colleges and tertiary-level hospitals, we have also audited primary health care centres.”
Maharashtra COVID Fourth Wave Latest Update: As Maharashtra continues to report rising number of cases, experts are of the opinion that the COVID Fourth Wave may start in the state from next month that is July 2022. On Sunday, Maharashtra reported 6,493 fresh COVID-19 cases, while active caseload went up to 24,608. Over 6213 patients were discharged from hospitals and 77,90,153 COVID-19 patients discharged after full recovery until June 26. However, the recovery rate in the state stands at 97.83%. Five COVID-19 deaths were reported in the state today and the fatality rate in the state stands at 1.85%.Also Read - Chennai Corporation Increases Contact Tracing Due To Surge In Covid Infection In StateIn the meantime, it is being reported that the total tally of BA.4 and BA5 patients in the state has gone up to 54. Of the total new variants, 15 were reported in Pune, 33 in Mumbai, four in Nagpur and two in Thane. As of June 26, there are 24,608 active cases in the state. Also Read - Covid Vaccines Not Working On Newer Omicron Sub-Variants, Finds StudyWith the rising cases of coronavirus in the state, the risks of a possible fourth wave of the coronavirus pandemic is looming large and the experts believe the onset will begin in July, and is estimated to last till October. Also Read - Health Minister Reviews COVID Situation, Asks Officials to Increase Surveillance, Testing Amid Rising CasesThey say that if the daily positivity rate goes above 5%, the virus is considered uncontrollable and the fourth wave is estimated to peak in the month of August.Moreover, Maharashtra Minister Aditya Thackeray said the state could be witnessing the fourth wave of Covid-19. However, he urged all not to panic due to the rising infections.On Friday, Maharashtra reported 4,205 new COVID-19 cases, taking the overall count to 79,54,445, while the death toll increased to 1,47,896 with the addition of three fresh fatalities linked to the infection, the state health department said.On Thursday, the state had logged 5,218 COVID-19 cases and one death. Significantly, the number of active COVID-19 cases surpassed the 25,000-mark, indicating a widening gap between new and recovered coronavirus patients.
Bengaluru residents have not been able to keep calm ever since Swedish home furnishing brand IKEA opened its first store in the Nagasandra area of the IT capital. The store has witnessed overwhelming response from citizens, resulting in long, meandering queues.The footfall increased over the weekend as residents found time to explore and shop at the newly opened store. The waiting time at the store spiked to three hours Saturday and the official Twitter account of IKEA confirmed the same. “Bengaluru, we are overwhelmed by your response❣️ Current wait time at Nagasandra store is 3 hours. Please plan accordingly or shop online.”Videos and photographs documenting long queues at IKEA have flooded social media platforms. Memes poking fun at the crowd have also generated quite a buzz.Harsh Goenka, the chairman of RPG Enterprises, shared a clip and wrote, “It’s not MLAs queuing in Maharashtra to form government, It’s not an immigration queue to enter our country, It’s not a vaccination queue to avoid Covid wave, It’s not pilgrims queueing in Tirupati for darshan, It’s the opening of IKEA store in Bangalore!”It’s not MLAs queuing in Maharashtra to form government,It’s not an immigration queue to enter our country,It’s not a vaccination queue to avoid Covid wave,It’s not pilgrims queueing in Tirupati for darshan,It’s the opening of IKEA store in Bangalore! pic.twitter.com/Qqnd0p9n8v— Harsh Goenka (@hvgoenka) June 26, 2022Crowd waiting to enter new IKEA store in Bangalore, India. Hopefully, not for meat balls! pic.twitter.com/bZSoiUPFjL— Ashok Swain (@ashoswai) June 25, 2022IKEA store opened…People: pic.twitter.com/GlcNNZuKTv— Bengaluru Betala (@gururaj_mj) June 26, 2022IKEA store opens in BangalorePeople: pic.twitter.com/Hx29OE2Ehn— Hemant (@Sportscasmm) June 26, 2022Me entering Nagasandra metro station after shopping from IKEA pic.twitter.com/OAyWqVh3px— JT Meme Store (@kaapi_kudka) June 24, 2022NothingJust Bangalore people going to IKEA pic.twitter.com/qDDk5ibZaz— Anish (@Aniiiiish) June 26, 2022Perhaps, the biggest footfall nagasandra metro station has ever seen in its lifetime has been seen today 😄 courtesy of ikea #ಬೆಂಗಳೂರು #ikeablr #ikea pic.twitter.com/Q27sQG5x0G— Prasanna | ಪ್ರಸನ್ನ (@terminalfix) June 25, 2022IKEA Darshan waiting time 3-4 hours.Haven't gone there, got it from a friend. pic.twitter.com/avS51NDC6z— Dr. Vijay (@Helth_z_Wealth) June 25, 2022Places you can go in three hours from Bengaluru.MysoreChikmagalurHassanShivanasamudra FallsNow IKEA Store also#EIIRHumor #Bengaluru #IKEA pic.twitter.com/FK0eLOEOTb— Pareekh Jain (@pareekhjain) June 26, 2022Karnataka Chief Minister Basavaraj Bommai inaugurated IKEA’s Nagasandra store Wednesday. Spread over 4.6 lakh sq ft, the store is the largest IKEA outlet in the country and is located close to the Nagasandra station of Bengaluru Namma metro.The Bengaluru IKEA store is the Swedish brand’s third outlet in India after the ones in Hyderabad and Mumbai. A company statement claims that the Bengaluru store features “over 7,000 affordable, good quality, sustainable and well-designed home furnishing IKEA products along with inspiring home sets to instill creative ideas to decorate your home.”
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.