HYDERABAD THURSDAY APRIL 15, 2021 `7.00 PAGES 16 LATE CITY EDITION BRITISH PM BORIS JOHNSON TO CUT SHORT INDIA VISIT British Prime Minister Boris Johnson has reduced the length of his trip to India later this month because of the Covid situation in the country DEFENCE, SECURITY PACTS LIKELY TO BE INKED 1ST MAJOR VISIT BY U.K. P.M. AFTER BREXIT “The PM has made the decision to reduce the length of the visit,” Johnson’s spokesman told reporters on Wednesday. The highlight of the trip will be high-level discussions with the Indian government and business leaders, he said, adding that bulk of the programme would now take place on April 26. Some defence and security pacts are likely to be finalised during the visit ■ ■ Johnson was expected to be the chief guest at the Republic Day parade this year. However, the visit was called off as the UK went through one of its worst pandemic phases This will be the UK prime minister’s first major foreign visit after Britain’s exit from the European Union `5.31 lakh cr MARKET VALUE OF THE U.K.’S FDI IN INDIA AS OF MARCH 2020, ACCORDING TO RBI DATA CHENNAI ■ MADURAI ■ VIJAYAWADA ■ BENGALURU ■ KOCHI ■ HYDERABAD ■ VISAKHAPATNAM ■ COIMBATORE ■ KOZHIKODE ■ THIRUVANANTHAPURAM ■ BELAGAVI ■ BHUBANESWAR ■ SHIVAMOGGA ■ MANGALURU ■ TIRUPATI ■ TIRUCHY ■ TIRUNELVELI ■ SAMBALPUR ■ HUBBALLI ■ DHARMAPURI ■ KOTTAYAM ■ KANNUR ■ VILLUPURAM ■ KOLLAM ■ WARANGAL ■ TADEPALLIGUDEM ■ NAGAPATTINAM ■ THRISSUR ■ KALABURAGI Covid cancels CBSE X boards, XII call in June Giving access to professional education is govt’s duty: SC EXPRESS NEWS SERVICE @ New Delhi Decision taken at meeting chaired by Modi; exams were scheduled to begin on May 4 EXPRESS NEWS SERVICE @ New Delhi IN view of the soaring Covid-19 cases across the country, the Central Board of Secondary Education (CBSE) on Wednesday cancelled Class 10 exams and postponed Class 12 exams. The decision was taken at a high-level meeting chaired by Prime Minister Narendra Modi and attended by Union education minister Ramesh Pokhariyal Nishank and other senior officials on Wednesday The ex. aminations were scheduled to begin on May 4 but students, parents and many state governments were demanding the tests be deferred in view of the raging pandemic. “The results of Class Xth Board will be prepared on the basis of an objective criterion to be developed by the Board,” education ministry said in a statement shortly after the meeting was over. “Any candidate who is not satisfied with the marks allocated to him or her on this basis will be given an opportunity to sit in an exam as and when the conditions are conducive to hold the exams.” As for the Class 12 exams, the government will review the situation on June 1 to decide fresh dates and make an announcement at least 15 days before the start of the exam. The decision comes after around two lakh students signed petitions urging the gov- ernment to either cancel the board exams scheduled to be held in May or conduct them in online mode. The hashtag “cancelboardexams” was trending on Twitter for a week. Officials, however, have made it clear that given the nature of the tests, it may not be possible to hold the class XII examination in online mode and it will be more practical to organise it when the Covid situation is under control. Many state governments had also supported students’ demand to cancel the exams. On Tuesday Delhi Chief , Minister Arvind Kejriwal urged the Centre to reconsider the exam schedule. A few days ago, Maharashtra had made a similar demand. Congress leaders Rahul Gandhi and Priyanka Gandhi Vadra, too, had appealed to minister Nishank to intervene and direct the CBSE to reconsider its decision to go ahead with the board examinations in May despite the “massive and uncontrolled” rise in Covid-19 cases. In her letter to the education minister, Priyanka said lakhs of students and their parents have expressed “fears and apprehensions” about assembling at examination centres. Last year, the board exams had to be postponed mid-way in March. They were later cancelled and results announced on the basis of an alternative assessment scheme. TELANGANA MAY DEFER CLASS X & INTERMEDIATE EXAMS | P3 (Above) Ambulances carrying bodies of people who died of Covid-19 parked outside the Jahagirpura Crematorium for their last rites in Surat, Gujarat, on Wednesday; (right) A police personnel on a Segway near the Gateway of India area, before the start of the 15-day janta curfew at Colaba in Mumbai on Wednesday | PTI Hospitals struggle, oxygen a pain point EXPRESS NEWS SERVICE @ Mumbai/Bhopal/Lucknow/Raipur IMAGES of a long, snaking queue of ambulances with Covid-19 patients waiting for admission at the Civil Hospital in Ahmedabad and another long line of vehicles with Covid fatalities outside the Jahagirpura Crematorium in Surat captured the grim overall situation in Gujarat on Wednesday . While the state government sought to explain away the recurring ambulence queue outside the hospital over the past week, attributing it to following the pandemic protocol, the fact Gujarat reported 6,690 fresh cases and 67 fatalities in a day showed the disease burden it is grappling with. Surat is now the Covid epicentre in Gujarat. While the state health department claimed 22 fatalities in Surat on Wednesday local offi, cials and sources said the actual number was higher. Maharashtra stayed on top of the national chart, registering 60,212 fresh positive cases and 281 deaths, which is why it began its fortnight long janta curfew at 8 pm. Chief Minister Uddhav Thackeray asked government officials to focus on setting up jumbo Covid-19 treatment centre, scale up oxygen production and break the chain of the virus to flatten the curve. Except for essential services, all activities will stay shut till May 1. Madhya Pradesh recorded 8,998 fresh cases in a day with 28 of its 52 districts logging in three-digit single-day spikes. Chief Minister Shivraj Singh Chouhan said the Remdesivir situation was comfortable as 31,000 vials have already been procured, while 12,000 more will arrive by Thursday. Remdesivir is administered to severely ill patients, but its efficacy is uncertain. A state helicopter has been placed on standby to fly injections to all needy districts, Chouhan said, while admitting that the supply of oxygen is a big challenge. He has sought Railway minister Piyush Goyal’s to help to transport oxygen from Bhilai and Rourkela. As for Uttar Pradesh’s graph, it kept climbing with 17,963 fresh cases, including that of Chief Minister Yogi Adityanath. Four districts — Lucknow, Prayagraj, Varanasi and Kanpur City — accounted for over 45% of all new cases. Chhattisgarh was third on the national table with 15,121 new infections in a day and a case positivity rate of a whopping 28.6% NATIONWIDE APRIL 13 Fresh cases Recoveries Deaths 1,61,736 76,481 879 APRIL 14 1,84,372 82,339 1,027 GUJARAT: Ambulances queue up with Covid patients outside civil hospital in Ahmedabad, as state struggles to manage inflow MADHYA PRADESH: Crematoriums and burial grounds in Bhopal find it tough to manage as Covid deaths mount. Space crunch adds to hassle UTTAR PRADESH: Chief Minister Yogi Adityanath tests positive; had taken first dose of Covaxin on April 5 RAJASTHAN: State education board suspends exams for classes 10 & 12 DELHI: Top coaches among 21 test +ve at women's natl boxing camp UTTARAKHAND: Lakhs ignore Covid worries to take holy dip at Har ki Pauri in Haridwar during the third Shahi Snan of the Kumbh Mela THE government has an affirmative obligation to facilitate access to professional education, the Supreme Court said. “While the right to pursue higher (professional) education has not been spelt out as a fundamental right in the Constitution... access to professional education is not a governmental largesse. Instead, the State has an affirmative obligation to facilitate access to education, at all levels,” a bench headed by Justice D Y Chandrachud said. The SC was hearing petitions by two students for directions to facilitate them to be admitted at Delhi’s Lady Hardinge Medical College and the Maulana Azad Medical College, respectively, as per the Centre’s policy on allocation of Ladakh Central Pool Seats in MBBS/BDS courses for 2020-21. The court directed that the petitioners be granted admission to the respective colleges and admission formalities be completed within a week. The SC also recommended the appointment of a nodal officer who will ensure that students who are duly nominated under the central pool seats are in fact admitted in their chosen course of study . “Financial hardship should not prevent students from getting admission in terms of the allocation which has been made in their favour legitimately under the central pool seats,” the bench remarked. If we don’t act now, Telangana will go Maha way, warns DPH EXPRESS NEWS SERVICE @ Hyderabad IN what can be seen as a strict warning for the upcoming days of the pandemic, the topmost health official of Telangana stated that “if we don’t act now, Telangana will soon see what Maharashtra is experiencing now — lack of beds, death and unending rise of Covid-19 cases”. Director of Public Health (DPH) Dr G Srinivasa Rao released a video message on Wednesday as the State recorded 25,459 active cases, putting an immense burden on health machinery. At present, 8,567 individuals are undergoing treatment in hos- INSIDE VAX SHORTAGE: TELANGANA ADMINISTERS JUST 33,583 JABS IN A DAY I P5 PRE-POLL PROMISE TS WITNESSES 71% JUMP IN HOSPITALISATION OF COVID PATIENTS I P5 Chief Minister K Chandrasekhar Rao waves at the crowd during a public meeting held ahead of Nagarjuna Sagar bypoll, in Halia village of Nalgonda district on Wednesday. The CM promised to resolve all problems related to podu lands in the State | P4 Rahul enters Bengal poll scene, attacks Didi & BJP E X P R E S S N E W S S E R V I C E @ Kolkata DEBUTING his campaign in Bengal on Wednesday Congress , leader Rahul Gandhi tore into TMC and BJP Taking potshots . at TMC chief Mamata Banerjee, he claimed the Congress has never compromised on its ideology to gain power but the state’s ruling party has a history of joining hands with the saffron camp. “Has the Congress party ever compromised with the BJP? Has it ever allied with the BJP? No. But Mamataji has done so,” Rahul said, adding that for his party the fight with the BJP is , ideological, not just political. “Their (BJP’s) ideology murdered our biggest leader Gandhiji. We will die but not back down against this ideology But . for Mamataji, it is just a political battle,” said Gandhi, while addressing a rally at Goalpokhar in North Dinajpur. He urged the electorates to vote for the Congress-Left FrontIndian Secular Force alliance as neither the BJP nor the TMC can be trusted. Referring to the TMC’s previous alliance with the BJP, the former Congress president said Prime Minister Narendra Modi often talked about a Congressmukt Bharat but he never said TMC-mukt Bharat. “The TMC i s f i n e fo r t h e m (BJP),” he noted. “Their (BJP’s) battle is with the Congress’s ideology They . know Rahul Gandhi will never back down. I am not scared of them. In fact, they are scared of Rahul Gandhi. This is a fight for the future of Bengal. To save Bengal, you have to stop BJP’s advent.” Hitting out at Mamata’s governance, Rahul alleged that it is the only state where the poor people have to pay ‘cut money’ to get jobs. Taking a jibe at the Khela Hobe (Game On) slogan coined by Mamata, he said: “You are talking about a game on the street. I am talking about a game (students’ politics) in university and college campuses which you will not allow,’’ said Rahul. Accusing the BJP of trying to divide Bengal, he said the saffron party wants to implement the same practice that they followed in Assam and Tamil Nadu. ‘’I have come here not to give a political speech. I have come here to save Bengal’s future,’’ he said. TS sees 2 cases of SA variant V N I L E S H @ Hyderabad AS Telangana and Andhra Pradesh witness a surge in Covid-19 cases, it has come to light that the two Telugu states are harbouring variants of concern (VOC) of the Coronavirus. While the South African variant, B.1.351 has been reported from Telangana, the ‘double mutant’ variant, B.1.617 has been reported from AP . Genome sequencing of two Covid-19 positive samples each from the Telugu states revealed presence of the VOCs. CONTINUED ON P5 TELANGANA Fresh cases Recoveries Deaths APRIL 12 APRIL 13 3,052 778 7 2,157 821 8 pitals across the State. “For the last four weeks, Covid-19 cases in Telangana have been high. It will remain so for the next four weeks. But if we don’t take precautions and don’t act well, Telangana will see what Maharashtra is experiencing now,” Dr Rao said. He further implied that the only reason lockdown was not implemented was to ensure livelihoods of people are not affected and the State’s economy doesn’t take a hit, but the actual situation warranted the same. “It is not that situation is not bad in Telangana. It is bad. The State government is not looking at restrictions, curfew or lockdown only because the livelihood of the people should not be affected,” he said. He also admitted that the availability of beds is already low and if there is no drop in cases, it is likely to lead to acute shortage of beds. “Everyone must be vigilant and wear masks to ensure that we don’t face shortage of beds. We are seeing that if a person gets Covid, within hours or two days the whole family is getting affected. We can assume that the virus is in the air. One must wear masks at home as well,” the health chief said. Panic as Remdesivir stocks dry up in Hyd pvt hospitals D O N I TA J O S E @ Hyderabad A panic-like situation has set in across Hyderabad following a sharp rise in Covid-19 patients requiring critical care. The situation is further worsened as a majority of these patients in private hospitals require Remdesivir drug, which is suddenly in short supply across major hospitals. With hospitals running out of stocks, the patients are being asked to procure the drug from their own sources. It is learnt that people are being forced to pay anywhere between `1,000 to `2,000 more for each vial of the drug, which costs around `4,500 to `5,000 depending on the brand. A patient on an average needs about six to 12 vials. “We had to contact phar macies which have no stock left. Ultimately we found a hospital , which provided us with vials a few weeks short of expiry and charged an additional sum for it,” said a resident of Vijay Nagar. CONTINUED ON P5
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