MONDAY TAUKTAE POUNDS WEST COAST, GUJARAT LANDFALL ON MAY 18 MAY, 2021 It has intensiﬁed into a very severe cyclonic storm, with wind speed reaching 175 kmph. Orange alert in three Kerala dists 17 epaper.morningstandard.in KERALA DAMS OPENED, EVACUATIONS IN K’TAKA facebook.com/TheMorningStandard twitter.com/TheMornStandard Union Home Minister Amit Shah on Sunday virtually met chief ministers of states on the west coast to discuss preparedness. Faced with copious inflow, Kerala opened floodgates of dams, while downpour in Karnataka, where four deaths were reported in rainrelated incidents, prompted large scale evacuations. Response teams on the Maharashtra coast on high alert CYCLONE TAUKTAE MAHARASHTRA ON ALERT CM orders officials to remain vigilant for any exigency related to Covid hospitals A CAPITAL VIEW OF NEWS PAGE 8 NEW DELHI J8.00 PAGES 12 A dredger bearing the brunt of high waves due to cyclone Tauktae at Surathkal Beach near Mangaluru on Sunday | PTI Slow off the starting blocks for Covaxin mass production Except capital, NATIONWIDE MAY 15 Fresh cases Recoveries Deaths MAY 16 3,26,098 3,11,170 3,53,299 3,62,437 3,890 4,077 May 15 TAKE 17,14,247 doses YOUR May 16 SHOT 17,33,232 doses TOTAL DOSES: 18,22,20,164 JAB-O-METER Chief of Centre’s Covid advisory group resigns Shahid Jameel was critical of govt’s Covid response during the ongoing second wave S U M I S U K A N YA D U T TA @ New Delhi ter concerns over B117 variant, first detected in the UK, having SENIOR virologist Shahid reached India. Jameel on Sunday resigned as Under the consortium, 10 nathe chair of the scientific advi- tional laboratories equipped to sory group of Indian SARS- study virus variants were CoV-2 Genomics Consortium brought under the aegis of the (INSACOG), a forum estab- National Centre for Disease lished by the Centre in Decem- Control. The regional genome ber last. It was set up for lab sequencing labs, which are part and epidemiological surveil- of the project, include CSIR Inlance of strains of stitute of Genomics the Covid-19 virus and Integrative Biolcirculating in India. ogy in Delhi, CSIR It is not clear why Centre for Cellular Jameel, who is the and Molecular Bioldirector of the Triveogy in Hyderabad, di School of BioDBT National Instisciences at Ashoka tute of Biomedical University, stepped Genomics near Kolkdown as the chief adata, DBT- Institute of ‘Stubborn visor to the forum, Life Sciences in Bhuresponse’ but sources pointed b a n e s w a r, D B T out that he had been Jameel was critical NCBS in Bengaluru, critical of the Cov- of the government’s DBT-Centre for DNA id-19 policies of the Covid policies. Most Fingerprinting and recently, he had government. Jameel, Diagnostics in written a piece in formerly the CEO of Hyderabad. the Wellcome Trust the New York Times, It also includes DBT India Alliance saying scientists in NIV and DBT NaIndia were facing and known for his retional Centre for Cell search on hepatitis E “stubborn response Science in Pune, Nato evidence-based virus, confirmed to tional Centre for Dispolicy making”. this newspaper his ease Control in Delhi decision, but refused and the National Into comment further. No re- stitute of Mental Health and sponse was received to a request Neuro-Sciences in Bengaluru. for comment from health secre- The forum has been marred by tary Rajesh Bhushan either. severe fund crunch since the INSACOG was set up by the beginning as a result of which Centre less than five months the work it was tasked to do has ago, mainly to detect genomic progressed on a much lesser variants of the SARS CoV 2 af- speed than projected. senior Bharat Biotech official. Sudhanshu Vrati, a viroloUK confident vaccines can gist, told TNIE, “The govern-against shield India variant ment laboratories we have at present across India is only meant for research and are not designed for production. Even if a pharma company starts work to set up a BSL 3 lab, it Cuba home-grown will take at least three to six rolls outin trial phase Unusual heart study sheds light on best aspirin dose vaccines still ALL YOU NEED TO months to do so, after which it KNOW ON BIOSAFETY will require certification.” “Even if we assume that govSTANDARDS Space weather mystery solved 5 ernment does the certification 2 PAGE 12 in a week’s time, vaccine proMONDAY NEW DELHI epaper.morningstandard in 17 05 2021 WHY IS THIS IMPORTANT? FILE For any laboratory that is carrying research on pathogens, containment is top priority. Scientists are wrapped up in protective equipment and use battery-powered, air-purifying respirators in their suits. They also have several layers of materials between them and the virus while working HEALTH HOW VIRUSES ARE CONTAINED IN LABS Regular checks is carried out in BSL 3 and 4 labs to ensure the facilties are functioning properly. No objectthat is brought into the lab from the outside world returns to it again, particularly clothes and jewellery The inactivated version of the coronavirus that is used in the Covaxin shots needs to be processed in laboratories that have a Biosafety level 3 (BSL-3) classifcation, said Niti Aayog member Dr VK Paul, recently. Dr Paul, who heads the national task force on Covid, also said "none of the other companies in India" have BSL 3 standards right now, making the technology transfer of Covaxin (to increase vaccine production) difficult. We look at what these biosafety levels are INFRASTRUCTURE REQUIREMENTS BIOSAFETY RISK SCALE The pyramid shows the risk group associated with the biosafety level of a lab 4 HIG H RIS K MIC ROB L BS Isolation of laboratory Room sealable for decontamination Ventilation: Inward airflow Controlled ventilating system HEPA filtered air exhaust Double door entry Airlock Airlock with shower Anteroom Anteroom with shower Effluent treatment Autoclave (heated container): On site In laboratory room Double-ended Biological safety cabinets Personnel safety monitoring capability*** A pathogen that usually causes serious human or animal disease and can be readily transmitted from one individual to another, directly or indirectly. Effective treatment and preventive measures are not usually available A pathogen that usually causes serious human or animal disease but does not ordinarily spread from one infected individual to another. Effective treatment is available L BS 3 A pathogen that can cause human or animal disease but is unlikely to be a serious hazard. Though lab exposures can cause serious infection, the risk of spread is limited. Effective treatment is available L BS ES 2 ROB LONDON: Britain is confident that existing vaccines will provide protection from a more transmissible Indian coronavirus variant now spreading across the country, Heath Secretary Matt Hancock said on Sunday . Hancock told Sky News the government had a “high degree of confidence” that vaccines would stand up to the B1.617.2 variant, following new early data from Oxford University . Britain, one of the countries the worst hit by in the world with over 1.2 lakh deaths, has also seen a rapid deployment of vaccines with nearly 20 million people fully vaccinated. According to government data the case numbers of the Indian variant have risen from 520 to 1,313 this week. Hancock warned because of the high transmission of the Indian variant it could “spread like wildfire amongst the unvaccinated groups” and because of this the government “need to get as many people vaccinated as possible”. ES MEDICINE L BS 1 A microorganism that is unlikely to cause human or animal disease BIOSAFETY LEVEL (BSL) 1 LABORATORY TYPE 4 Yes Yes No No No No No No No No No Desirable Desirable No No No No No No No Yes Yes Yes/No Yes No No Yes Yes/No** Yes/No** Yes Yes Yes Yes Yes Yes No Yes No No No No No Desirable No No Desirable No Yes Desirable Desirable Yes Desirable Yes Yes Yes Yes Yes Source: Text largely based on guidelines from India’s National Centre for Disease Control and the WHO’s Laboratory Biosafety Manual, third edition LABORATORY PRACTICES SAFETY EQUIPMENT BSL 1 Basic teaching, research BSL 2 Primary health services, diagnostic services, research GMT, protective clothing and biohazard sign BSL 3 Special diagnostic services, research Level 2 plus special clothing, controlled access, directional airflow BSC and/or primary devices for all activities 4 BSL 4 Dangerous pathogen units Level 3 plus airlock entry, shower exit, special waste disposal Class III BSC, or positive pressure suits in conjunction with Class II BSCs, double ended autoclave (through the wall), filtered air World is closely watching the only Latin American nation to develop own Covid vaccines, which could do much to ease global shortages Calling its own shots If any of Cuba’s vaccines get the final green light, it will be the first Covid vaccine developed in Latin America Good microbiological techniques (GMT) WASHINGTON: An unusual study that had thousands of heart disease patients enroll themselves and track their health online as they took lowor regular-strength aspirin concludes that both doses seem equally safe and effective for preventing additional heart problems and strokes. But there’s a big caveat: People had such a strong preference for the lower dose that it’s unclear if the results can es- None, open bench work Open bench plus Biological Safety Cabinet (BSC) for potential aerosols tablish that the treatments are truly equivalent, some independent experts said. Half who were told to take the higher dose took the lower one instead or quit using aspirin altogether. “Patients basically decided for themselves” what they wanted to take because they bought the aspirin on their own, said Dr. Salim Virani, a cardiologist at Baylor College of Medicine in Houston who had no role in the study . Still, the results show there’s little reason to take the higher dose, 325 mg, which many doctors assumed would work better than 81-mg Results were published on Saturday by the New England Journal of Medicine. Aspirin helps prevent blood clots, but it’s not recommended for healthy people who have not yet developed heart disease because it carries a risk of bleeding. Its benefits are clear, though, for folks who already have had a heart attack, bypass surgery or clogged arteries re- CORONAVIRUS VACCINES CUBA IS WORKING ON People wait to be vaccinated in a socially-distanced queue in Havana, Cuba | AP HAVANA: Hundreds of thousands of Cubans have begun receiving new, locally produced vaccines against COVID-19 in the past few days as the socialist government has ramped up an inoculation campaign — even before releasing formal Phase III data on the vaccines’ effectiveness and safety . The island’s health minister, José Angel Portal Miranda, announced on May 7 that officials are still processing information from the large Phase III trials of the two vaccine candidates (see right sidebar). But he said that beginning mass vaccines now “has more benefits than risks. ... The number of sick and deceased is going to decrease.” The vaccines are a point of pride for a small and relatively poor nation of 11 million people that has prioritised its medical sector and has long boasted of exporting its own pharmaceuticals across the globe. Officials say they pushed forward wide-scale inoculations 3 Yes Yes 3 2 RESEARCH MEDICINE 2 No No **Depending on agents ***Glass windows, closed circuit television, two-way communication BSL=BIOSAFETY LEVEL RISK GROUP BIOSAFETY LEVEL 1 No No due to early evidence that the vaccines are safe and work and because of a recent upsurge in coronavirus infections. Cuba has a long tradition of making its own vaccines, dating back to the 1980s. Change in plan Initially, the government had planned to roll out its vaccine program to the public in June, after authorization. “If it were not for this epidemical situation, (the authorities) would have waited longer,” said molecular biologist and researcher Amilcar Perez-Riverol of the Sao Paulo University re, ferring to the infection surge. Portal said between 1.7 million of the 2.1 million inhabitants of Havana, the epicentre of the outbreak, will be vaccinated between now and August. Of the island’s total population, 22.6% should have received both shots by June, 33.5% by July and 70% by Aug, he said. , “We have had very few adverse events. Some patients experience a little tiredness,” said Dr. Naicy Guzmán, director of quiring a stent. But the best dose isn’t known, and the study aimed to compare them in a real-world setting. About 15,000 people received invitations to join through the mail, email or a phone call and enrolled on a website where they returned every three to six months for follow-up. A network of participating health centers supplied medical infor mation on participants from their electronic records and insurance claims. RESEARCH candidates — Abdala & Soberana 2 — have either completed Phase 3 trials or are soon to complete them 4 lakh people covered by the Phase 3 trials — an unusually large number 3 doses LONDON: Scientists have long questioned why the bursts of hot gas from the sun do not cool down as fast as expected, and have now used a supercomputer to find out. When the solar wind hits the Earth, it is almost 10 times hotter than expected, with a temperature of about 100,000 to 200,000 degrees Celsius. The outer atmosphere of the sun, where the solar wind originates, is typically a million degrees Celsius. Using these simulations, the team, led by University College London (UCL) researchers, deduced that the solar wind stays hot for longer because of smallscale magnetic reconnection that forms in the turbulence of the solar wind. This phenomenon occurs when two opposing magnetic field lines break and reconnect with each other, releasing huge amounts of energy This is the . same process that triggers large flares erupting from the sun’s outer atmosphere. “Magnetic reconnection occurs almost spontaneously and all the time in the turbulent solar wind,” said lead author Jeffersson Agudelo of UCL. a clinic in Havana’s Habana del Este neighborhood. “All this is moving for me,” she said. The clinic uses the Abdala vaccine, Guzmán said. “My people, my brothers, my community will be vaccinated against this disease that has really shaken us. It has been a long and intense fight.” VOLCANO TOURISTS People venture dangerously close to a lava eruption of the Fagradalsfjall volcano on the Reykjanes Peninsula in Iceland | AP New booster shots needed in 2022: German expert MEDICINE THE head of Germany’s independent vaccine advisory panel says it’s likely that everyone will have to get vaccinated a g ain next year a g ainst Covid-19. Thomas Mertens told the Funke newspaper group in comments published Sunday that there isn’t yet enough data to say when exactly booster shots will be needed, and officials will have to wait a few months to see whether protection against the coronavirus weakens in some groups. But he stressed that “the virus won’t leave us again” and so the vaccinations currently under way won’t be the last. He added: “In principle, we have to prepare for everyone possibly having to refresh their vaccine protection next year.” Nearly 30.4 million people in Germany or 36.5% of the popu, lation, had received at least one vaccine shot by Friday. More than 9 million, or 10.9% of the population, had been fully vaccinated. HUNTING VARIANTS India’s neighbours scramble to sequence genomes amid sharp increases in Covid cases SCIENCE RESEARCHERS in South Asia are racing to scale up their limited genome sequencing abilities to find out whether India’s coronavirus wave is spilling over into their countries. The news section of the prestigious Nature journal reported that the researchers are also working to identify which variants are in circulation. Neelika Malavige, who runs Sri Lanka’s only lab that sequences coronavirus genomes, found in the middle of April EXPRESS NEWS SERVICE @ New Delhi DELHI Chief Minister Arvind Kejriwal on Sunday said that his government has decided to extend the ongoing lockdown in the national capital for another week, till May 24. The lockdown imposed on April 19 has been extended for the fourth time. It was scheduled to end at 5 am on May 17. The Delhi Disaster Management Authority (DDMA) in an order issued on Sunday stated that the lockdown has been extended till 5 am on May 24 to contain the spread of the coronavirus and to break its chain of transmission. “The number of Covid cases is decreasing in Delhi and the recovery has increased but we do not want to lose this gain, therefore, lockdown is extended. In the past 24 hours Delhi has reported around 6,500 cases and the positivity rate has that 66 out of 78 Covid-19 swab samples sequenced by her team had the highly transmissible B.1.1.7 variant — the strain first detected in UK and classified as a variant of concern by the WHO. Malavige warns that the “situation in Sri Lanka is looking very grim”, with hospitals filling up fast, Nature reported. “It’s important to ramp up our sequencing to make sure we detect these variants in the community as soon as possible,” Malavige was quoted as saying. She is doubling the av- erage number of samples sequenced every month from May to nearly 200. In Bangladesh, too, scientists are worried about variants. “We all have the question of why is it happening? Why is this wave now? And why is it so bad?” asks Senjuti Saha, a molecular geneticist in Dhaka. Labs in the country are increasingly getting involved in sequencing genomes, though Bangladesh’s coronavirus cases have fallen from their midApril peak of 7,000 a day, Nature reported. % of cases sequenced & shared through GISAID, a database of genomes India Bangladesh Sri Lanka Nepal 0.05% 0.19% 0.27% 0.005% Even as India reels under a massive surge of cases, its neighbours are experiencing their largest outbreaks yet Gavin Smith, a viral evolutionary biologist at Duke–NUS Medical School in Singapore, told the outlet: “Sequencing has always been important, but it is critical now, because we are getting to a stage where more and more new variants are cropping up.” “We need sequence data to see what is going on.” Bangladesh’s coronavirus surge has been linked to broad detection of the B.1.351 variant, which was first found in South Africa and has been known to reduce the effective- ness of the Covishield vaccine. This is particularly worrying for Bangladesh because most of its vaccine stock is Covishield. Nature reported that researchers in Bangladesh and Sri Lanka have not yet found the Indian variant, B.1.617, in their countries, though the strain may be circulating undetected due to limited lab infrastructure for genome sequencing. But Nepal has reported at least 11 cases of B.1.617 variant, suggesting that it is in cir- culation in the country . Genome sequencing is not easy and takes time to process. Malavige’s lab uses a shortcut by employing RT-PCR tests that “detect three widely circulating variants of concern: B.1.1.7, B.1.351 and P But kits .1. that detect B.1.617 have only just been developed and they cannot identify newly emerging variants,” Nature said. “We are at a critical point where we need to keep sequencing to identify anything as soon as possible,” Malavige was quoted as saying. DELHI COVID WATCH MAY 15 MAY 16 Positive cases 6,430 6,456 Recovery 11,592 9,706 Active cases 66,295 62,783 Deaths 337 262 Containment zones 57,179 57,309 Tests 56,811 62059 Positivity rate 11.32% 10.40% come down to 10 per cent from 11 per cent,” said Kejriwal, who visited the GTB Hospital to review the progress of works and the video-calling facility for Covid patients with their family members. “The lockdown was imposed till tomorrow morning 5 am. We don’t want to lose the gains we already made. Rather than tomorrow 5 am, the lockdown in Delhi is being extended till 5 am on May 24,” he said in his media briefing. The chief minister said that by next week, he is hoping for AMONG the umpteen facilities one may expect at a Covid care centre, the last would be a library. And that’s what makes this facility in Navi Mumbai unique. A full-fledged library for Covid patients, who otherwise get confined to their bed for almost two weeks without having any scope for entertainment, has been set up by the Navi Mumbai Municipal Corporation (NMMC). With their movement restricted due to health issues and protocols, the inmates of this facility are now hooked onto books to pass time. Abhijeet Bangar, chief of NMMC, told this newspaper that the aim of setting up a library in the Covid care centre is to divert the patients’ attention from negativity and engage them in reading. “Patients stay for more than ten days, so they more recovery and that Delhi is slowly coming back on track. The restrictions imposed under the lockdown, including suspension of metro train services, will remain in force till May 24 morning. “The lockdown is to continue and no concessions will be given. Regarding Covaxin and Covishield vaccines, we have written to both the Central government and the two manufacturing companies (Punebased Serum Institute of India and Hyderabad-based Bharat Biotech) to provide us with necessary doses of vaccines. ” the chief minister further said. “However, there is no indication of these vaccines being given to us.” The Delhi government will take all necessary precautions and measures to deal with ‘Black Fungus’ infections reported in Covid patients, the chief minister added. lockdown didn’t give quick results P U S H K A R B A N A K A R @ New Delhi AN analysis of the partial or full lockdowns imposed to combat the Covid second wave by various states since last month shows that apart from Delhi, most states have not seen a progressive reduction of fresh cases in the initial weeks despite the curbs. The graph began tapering only after May 9. For instance, while Maharashtra had around 60,000 daily cases from April 15 to 26, which dropped to 48,700 on April 27, the count subsequently climbed to the 55,00060,000 range. It’s only after May 9 that there has been a progressive reduction of cases. Maharashtra health minister Rajesh Tope said the lockdown helped bring down positive cases from the peak of 69,000 per day to below 40,000. “People should follow the lockdown restrictions strictly because it helps break the virus chain and reduce the burden on hospitals. However, in a rural area, positive cases are still rising. Selfdiscipline is very important to defeat the virus,” he said. Tope added that the state needed more restrictions to contain the virus. He was hopeful that by the end of May the , situation in Maharashtra will be much better. The positivity Oxygen concentrator: Kalra in police net New Delhi: The Delhi Police arrested businessman Navneet Kalra on Sunday night for alleged black marketing and hoarding of oxygen concentrators. The businessman had been on the run for over a week since the seizure of more than 500 oncentrators from three of his restaurants. P4 @ Vijaywada GURDWARA BAILS OUT THE SICK India foundation. “It is possible that some patients may lose hope while fighting the deadly virus. The impact can be worse when they are away from family The books . can give them solace and divert their thoughts,” said Prafulla Wankhede from Let’s India Read foundation. “We have got an excellent collection of books in Marathi, Hindi and English NEW CHAPTER Kedarnath temple is all decked up as its portals reopen today. Strict rules are in place in view of the pandemic | PTI for Covid patients.” Sachin Jadhav, who is part of the NMMC team that supervises the care centre, said they got the idea while interacting with some patients. “While talking to patients, we found that some of them had brought books from home. This was a thoughtprovoking moment.” Bangar said he is confident that many inmates would continue to enjoy books even after returning home. “When they leave this place, we want the ‘reading virus’ to be imbibed in them,” said Bangar who plans to start similar initiatives in the other Covid care centres. Patients stay for more than ten days, so they can read as many as books. Also, this will reduce the time they spend on smart phones The idea is to wean away patients from mobiles during recovery period | EXPRESS CONTINUED ON P7 SISTLA DAKSHINA MURTHY HOPE Gurdwara Rakab Ganj is taking care of Covid patients with the spirit of selfless services, reports Ritwika Mitra | P5 rate also declined from around 26% on April 15 to 16% on May 14. Dr D C S Reddy former head , of the department at the Institute of Medical Sciences at BHU, said to accurately analyse the data, a seven-day moving average is a better parameter as the number of cases tested and confirmed on a daily basis depends on various other factors and hence there are fluctuations in numbers. “In terms of lockdown, it was taken to ensure that transmission is slowed down both intra-state and inter-state. Also, to get a better picture of the decline, we need to wait a little longer. The rate of decline is slow in the initial phases but speeds up with time. So, we will get a clearer picture in the coming weeks.” Delhi, on the other hand, saw a progressive decline in the case count and the positivity rate. While the number of cases hovered in the 20,000-25,000 range till May 2, it fell to just over 8,500 on May 14. Positivity rates dropped from 16% on April 19 to 12.2% on May 14. In Haryana, the number of cases since the imposition of the lockdown on May 2 is hovering around 13,000-15,000 per day with the lowest being just over 10,600 cases. The positivity rate also saw a dip from around 26.5% to 16%. Andhra village shows the way to keep corona virus at bay EXPRESS READ Library helps patients go back to books can read as many as books. Also, this will reduce the time they otherwise spend on watching random things in smart phone,” he said adding that they have put a variety of titles at the library . A first-of-its-kind initiative, the temporary library at the Covid centre at the CIDCO Exhibition ground has been set up with the support of Let’s Read CONTINUED ON P8 Positivity rate at 10% but Kejriwal takes no chances, extends lockdown for a week While most other vaccines have relied upon a two-dose regime, Abdala requires three doses to be applied at 14-day intervals, news reports indicated RECOVERY S U D H I R S U R YA W A N S H I @ Mumbai duction and hitting the market will take more than 6 months.” Eminent virologist Dr Jacob John concurred. He said even if the Centre ropes in additional labs to produce vaccines, it may take from three to six months for the vaccine to be produced.“By that time, the pandemic itself would be over. We must have done this by October 2020, so that there was enough vaccine by January this year,” Dr John said. Dementia and Alzheimer’s disease were the most common medical conditions linked with all Covid-19 deaths reported in 2020 in Canada. The brain disorders were the most common comorbidity among women (41%), while among men, it was the second most common comorbidity at 31%, CTVnews.ca said, citing a new report from Statistics Canada. 12 K MIC INDIA got off the blocks slowly to make Bharat Biotech’s Covaxin an open source vaccine within the country for its mass production, as any company that participates in it would need at least six months for the assembly line to start rolling. For, jabs such as Covaxin need highly sophisticated Biosafety Level 3 (BSL-3) labs, which is only available with Bharat Biotech at the moment. BSL-3 labs work with agents that could cause serious or potentially lethal disease through inhalation to the personnel, and may contaminate the environment, hence the high safety parameters. While India has just over a dozen such labs at present, most of them are with academic institutions for testing and research. Upgrading existing BSL-3 labs to produce Covaxin is a long term process, says a RIS @ New Delhi LOW EXPRESS NEWS SERVICE Abhijeet Bangar, NMMC chief Khattar faces anger of farmers, 70 hurt in melee EXPRESS NEWS SERVICE @ Chandigarh ABOUT 50 farmers and 20 police personnel were injured on Sunday in clashes at Hisar where Haryana Chief Minister Manohar Lal Khattar had gone to inaugurate a new Covid-19 hospital. The farmers were protesting the Centre’s farm laws. Khattar had left the venue after inaugurating the 500-bed hospital by the time the farmers reached there. The police had tried to stop them outside Hisar, but they managed to break the barricades and proceed to where the CM was going. As they neared the venue, the police first fired tear gas shells, and then, resorted to lathi-charge. In retaliation, the farmers pelted stones at the police. The clashes continued for about two hours. The police have detained a few people, including women. Chief Minister Khattar appealed to the agitating farmers to cooperate with the government in its fight against Covid-19. He said understanding the need of the hour, the farmers who are protesting against the new farm laws, should immediately call of f their stir so as to ensure that the chain of the virus is broken. The Samyukta Kisan Morcha (SKM) condemned the ‘brutal assault’ on the protesters. But, a police source said as many as 20 police personnel were injured and two of them are undergoing treatment at a local hospital. Earlier, before proceeding to the venue, the farmers also attacked DSP Abhimanyu Lohan. EVEN as Covid-19 has been widespread across the country , here is a village in Andhra Pradesh, which has remained unaffected by the virus so far. Duggiralapadu in G Konduru mandal of Krishna district is probably the only village in the entire State with the distinction of not recording even a single Covid case so far. The village adjacent to neighbouring Telangana has a population of 1,000. Majority of people are dependent on agriculture for their livelihood. The villagers have taken all necessary precautions since the outbreak of pandemic to protect themselves. Curbs have been imposed on entry of outsiders, with entry points to the village being barricaded. G Mallikharjuna Rao (54), a resident of Duggiralapadu, attributes non-emergence of even a single Covid case in the village to strict adherence to Covid guidelines by all. “No one in the village ventures out without wearing a mask and carrying sanitiser,” he says. Sanitation workers carry out fogging operations and spraying of sodium hypochlorite solution in the village twice a week. Drains in the village are cleaned on alternate days. “We have eight provision stores in our village. People of one ward are allowed to purchase essential commodities on a particular day to avoid crowding,” says A Nagalakshmi, another resident of the village. The people have unanimously decided not to conduct any festival, fair or other ritual in the village to avoid public gathering. No one in Duggiralapadu attends functions in relatives’ houses in neighbouring villages during these Covid times.
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