THURSDAY BRITISH PM BORIS JOHNSON TO CUT SHORT INDIA VISIT 15 APRIL, 2021 DEFENCE, SECURITY PACTS LIKELY TO BE INKED epaper.morningstandard.in facebook.com/TheMorningStandard 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 twitter.com/TheMornStandard SOUR FLOUR OVER 400 IN HOSPITAL People fall ill in Kalyanpuri after eating buckwheat flour at Navaratri dinner PAGE 5 “The PM has made the decision to reduce the length of the visit,” Johnson’s spokesman said. The highlight of the trip will be high-level discussions with the Indian government A CAPITAL VIEW OF NEWS NEW DELHI J8.00 PAGES 12 1ST MAJOR VISIT BY UK PM AFTER BREXIT Johnson was expected to be the chief guest at the Republic Day parade. However, the visit was called off due to the pandemic. This will be the UK PM’s first major foreign visit after Brexit `5.31 LAKH CR Covid cancels CBSE X boards, XII call in June Delhi’s Covid tally surge double of previous peak SOMRITA GHOSH @ 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 examinations 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 amid a pandemic. 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. Gateway of India wears a deserted look after the Maharashtra government-enforced 15-day curfew to contain the surge of Covid-19 came into effect 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, Professional education State’s responsibility: SC EXPRESS READ Former election commissioner dead New Delhi: Former Election Commissioner GVG Krishnamurty passed away on Wednesday after prolonged illness. He was 86. He is survived by wife Padma Murty, son and senior Supreme Court advocate GV Rao, and daughter Radha Bodapati. Chief Election Commissioner Sushil Chandra recalled that Krishnamurty “made exemplary contribution during his tenure in the Commission”. TMC leader called by ED for questioning Kolkata: TMC leader and West Bengal Education Minister Partha Chatterjee has been summoned by the Enforcement Directorate (ED) for questioning in connection with its probe into the ICore chit fund scam. An ED official related to the probe said: “The agency has called Chatterjee for questioning next week.” Earlier, the CBI had also recorded the statement of Chatterjee on March 23 in connection with this. THE government has an affirmative obligation to facilitate access to professional education, the Supreme Court said on Wednesday . “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 top court was hearing petitions by two students for directions to facilitate them to get admission at Delhi’s Lady Hardinge Medical College and the Maulana Azad Medical Col- 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 whopP7 ping 28.6%. NATIONWIDE Fresh cases Recoveries Deaths APRIL 13 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 DELHI saw an alarming 17,282 fresh cases of Covid-19 on Wednesday registering a surge , of nearly 4,000 in a day and more than double the figure of the third peak recorded on November 11, when 8,593 cases were reported. In just 15 days, the national capital has recorded 98,624 cases and the cumulative figure now stands at 7,67,438. The positivity rate on April 1 was 4.11%, which on Wednesday soared to 15.92%. The fatality count, at 104, too, was the highest this year. A total of 11,540 people have succumbed to the infection so far in the city . In another record spike, active cases were logged at 50,736 on Wednesday, against the 43,510 recorded a day earlier. To evaluate the ground situation, Health Minister Satyendar Jain visited LNJP Hospital to meet the patients and their family members, take their feedback, review the facilities available and motivate the staff and doctors. He directed the management to ensure that the admission process was speeded up. The gover nment had on Tuesday announced measures to augment medical facilities. On Wednesday it released a list , of banquet halls, schools and sports complexes attached with hospitals in order to enhance P4 the bed capacity . DELHI COVID WATCH APRIL 13 Positive cases Recovery Active cases Deaths Containment zones Tests Positivity rate APRIL 14 13,468 7,972 43,510 81 6,852 1,02,460 13.14% 17,282 9,952 50,736 104 7,598 1,08,534 15.92% Mamata and BJP in Rahul’s firing line RIGHT TO STUDY EXPRESS NEWS SERVICE @ New Delhi MARKET VALUE OF THE U.K.’S FDI IN INDIA AS OF MARCH 2020, ACCORDING TO RBI DATA EXPRESS NEWS SERVICE @ Kolkata lege, respectively, as per the central government’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 court 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. 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 Rahul Gandhi (centre) at an election rally in Darjeeling on Wednesday | PTI I am not scared of them (BJP). 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 —Rahul Gandhi, Congress leader vote for the Congress-Left Front-Indian 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 Congress-mukt Bharat but he never said TMC-mukt Bharat. “The TMC is fine for them (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 BenP8 gal’s future,’’ he said. STEP-MOTHERLY TREATMENT Patient dies as hospital gets busy with minister’s visit R A J E S H K U M A R T H A K U R @ Patna A Covid-19 patient — a retired army man — died on Tuesday following lack of emergency care, his family alleged, even as the staff of Nalanda Medical College & Hospital was busy attending the visiting state health minister Mangal Pandey . VK Singh (60), hailing from Lakhisarai, was brought to Patna in an ambulance by his family members, including his son Abhimanyu Kumar, for admission to NMCH. The family members were seen hysterically requesting for emergency medical care with the minister who was leav- ing the hospital after an official inspection. The patient reportedly died in the ambulance parked outside NMCH’s Covid ward complex as his family members waited for treatment. Doctor refutes family’s allegation DR Vinod Kumar Singh is the Superintendent of NMCH, where the patient was brought. He said three medical officers were with the minister and the rest were doing their duty. He added that the patient had alreday died when he was brought to NMCH. Abhimanyu later told the media that since a minister was visiting the hospital, his father was denied admission. Earlier, the retired army man was taken to AIIMS-Patna where the hospital cited a shortage of beds and refused to admit him. His family members then took him to NMCH. Dr Vinod Kumar Singh, Superintendent of NMCH, denied the charges of negligence. He said the patient was “brought dead”. He also denied that the staff was busy with the minister. “Only three medical officers were with the minister who wanted to oversee the arrangements in the hospital. It is not right to make such allegations. Everyone is admitted here,” the superintendent said. Calling the death unfortunate, Health Minister Pandey, while speaking to a local TV channel, said beds were being increased in all hospitals. 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