TUESDAY READY TO HOST SAARC SUMMIT, INDIA CAN JOIN VIRTUALLY: PAK 04 Pakistan Foreign Minister Shah Mahmood Qureshi said on Monday his country is ready to host the 19th SAARC summit JANUARY, 2022 REGIONAL BLOC DYSFUNCTIONAL SINCE 2016 epaper.morningstandard.in facebook.com/TheMorningStandard twitter.com/TheMornStandard POLL PITCH PM TO LAUNCH PUNJAB CAMPAIGN A CAPITAL VIEW OF NEWS HATE APP MUMBAI COPS DETAIN YOUTH 21-year-old detained from Bengaluru in connection with ‘Bulli Bai’ app while Delhi cops ask Twitter to remove ‘offensive’ contents | P7 UNEMPLOYMENT RATE AT 4-MONTH HIGH IN DEC 2021 S A M I K S H A G O E L @ New Delhi INDIA’s unemployment rate touched a four-month high of 7.91% in December 2021 against 7% in November and 7.75% in October, data released by the Centre for Monitoring Indian Economy (CMIE) on Monday showed. Urban unemployment rate was 9.30% in December while it was 7.28% for rural areas. In November, the figures were 7% and 8.21%, respectively . The last time the unemployment rate soared was in August 2021, at 8.3%. The latest spike seems to be linked to the Omicron-driven Covid surge, according to Yeshab Giri, chief commercial officer — staffing at HR consultancy fir m Randstad India. “Due to rising Omicron cases, many employees have reverse-migrated to their home towns. Restricted attendance in offices could be the cause of stalling in the hiring plans of many companies across sectors,” said Giri, adding that the overall consumer sentiment has also fallen as people prefer to stay at home. Sounding optimistic, he said this is a temporary phase. “Many companies are gearing up to function at pre-pandemic levels and offering greater incentives along with a safe working environment to employees,” he added. J8.00 PAGES 12 2014 THE STORY IN NUMBERS 40,02,782 Adolescents administered Covaxin on Day One 100+ 50% Kolkata doctors in Of Central different govt staff hospitals below under tested secretary positive for level allowed Covid in the to work from last 24 hrs home 66 6.46% FIVE Case positivity rate in Delhi, though only 4.65% of Covid beds in hospitals are occupied 81% Of latest samples that underwent genome sequencing in Delhi test positive for Omicron Poll-bound states asked by EC to step up Covid vaccination drive, deploy only doublejabbed on election duty Of 2,000 people on board Cordelia cruise ship at Goa port test Covid positive A health worker administers COVID-19 vaccine to a teenager in New Delhi on Monday | PARVEEN NEGI Adolescent shots within shelf life: Govt after row RISING HOSPITAL FIGURES NATIONWIDE JAN 2 JAN 3 Fresh cases Recoveries Deaths DELHI JAN 2 JAN 3 Hospitalisation increasing but doctors, officials say that’s because milder cases are yet to be shifted to isolation centres 27,553 33,750 9,249 10,846 284 123 Fresh cases Recoveries Deaths 3,194 4,099 1,156 1,509 01 01 Vaccine mix works, finds new study HYDERABAD: A pilot study by AIG hospital along with Asian Healthcare Foundation has found that mixing of vaccines is not just safe but also effective. The study is in its preprint stage Till Sunday, there were around 8,000 active cases in Delhi and just 3.4 per cent of the total 9,024 Covid beds in the hospitals were occupied. There were around 1,500 to 2,000 patients in the hospitals when Delhi reported an equal number of active cases the last time Satyendar Jain, health minister IN HOME ISOLATION NO OF OXYGEN BEDS OCCUPIED (Data available from Dec 29) OVERALL BED OCCUPANCY (includes suspected patients from Dec 29) 55 66 82 82 94 124 262 189 226 247 307 420 Dec 29 Dec 30 Dec 31 Jan 01 Jan 02 Jan 03 Dec 29 Dec 30 Dec 31 Jan 01 Jan 02 Jan 03 6,288 A major controversy broke out on using vials of Covaxin, which had originally expired, with “revised” expiry dates, for 15-17-yearolds whose Covid vaccination began on Monday forcing the Centre to issue a clarification , and company to consider relabeling them with new dates. For now, Covaxin by Bharat Biotech is the only vaccine being used for the adolescent age group in India and till the time of writing this report, over 40 lakh vaccinations had been done for the 15-17-year-olds. Several people took to social media to claim their teenage children were being administered doses from vials which were showing expiry dates of previous weeks but hospitals, in separate sheets were showing them “revised” expiry dates. These accusations, the health ministry said, were “false and misleading and based on incomplete information”. The Central Drugs Standard Control Organization, had on October 25 last year, in response to an application by Bharat Biotech, had approved the extension of shelf life of Covaxin from 9 months to 12 months, said the government. Similarly, the shelf life of Covishield had been extended by the national regulator from 6 months to 9 months in February last year. “The shelf life of vaccines is extended by the national regulator based on comprehensive analysis and examination of stability study data furnished by the vaccine manufacturers,” the statement further read. Officials in the ministry told this newspaper that the shelf-life extension depended on details such as stability data of the vaccines. “As the Covid19 vaccines are getting older —there could be some revisions — that doesn’t necessarily mean that we are making mistakes but that we are using more information to reach a conclusion,” said a senior official. Officials added that Bharat Biotech may take back the Covaxin stocks from the hospitals and release them again after re-labelling to avoid confusion. “Usually, the shelf life of a vaccine is 1-2 years. Covid vaccines have only been around for a year; evolving data will extend the shelf life. This process will be constantly repeated until we know the max (maximum) period,” wrote Raches Ella, the clinic lead for vaccines at the company on Twitter. P7 4,759 S U M I S U K A N YA D U T TA @ New Delhi 3,248 On August 29, 2020, the Army had offset the tactical balance AMID the continuing Sino-In- in favour of India by occupying dia stand-off at multiple points the Kailash Ranges, which along the Line of Actual Con- brought the Moldo Garrison of trol (LAC) in East Ladakh, it the PLA under direct observahas now emerged that China is tion, making China uneasy . building a bridge to link the This newspaper broke the North and South banks of the story about the Chinese forces Pangong Lake. Both sides dis- clashing with the Indian Army engaged from the lake in Feb- at Finger 4 in May 2020 and moruary last after being locked in bilising their forces in standan eyeball-to-eyeball confronta- off deployment at various tion for months. points. The tensions Over 50,000 “The construction between the two troops on of the bridge is going sides led to a deadly either side on for some time and clash on June 15, 2020 we are well aware of Despite 13 rounds of in which both sides it,” a source con- Corps Commander- lost lives. firmed. It is roughly On February 11, level talks and 25 km ahead of the disengagements at 2021, the two sides LAC on the Chinese a few places, more reached an agreeside where the gap than 50,000 troops ment and disengagebetween the two are still stationed on ment took place on banks of the lake is each side along with both the banks of the around 500 metres, Pangong Lake. The artillery, tanks, the source added. missiles and heavy Indian claim line is The bridge will reat Finger 8 where the machinery duce the cross counChinese troops try distance by 150 km, which moved back after removing all now is around 200 km, and the construction done during slash by one-third the present the stand-off period. Disentravel time of 12 hours. gagement also took place at On the North bank, one end Galwan and Gogra. of the bridge is close to KhurThe mountain spurs descendnak Fort and the other end near ing towards Pangong Lake are the Moldo Garrison on the called Fingers and they are South bank. The Pangong Tso from 1 to 8. is a 135 km long high altitude Both sides continue to hold (around 14,300 ft) lake with talks at the military and the around 45 km on the Indian diplomatic levels to resolve the side of the LAC. stand-off and disengage. M AYA N K S I N G H @ New Delhi 2,284 Aware of construction on the lake, says Army NEW DELHI THE LAST SAARC SUMMIT WAS HELD MORE THAN SEVEN YEARS AGO IN KATHMANDU 1,560 China building a bridge to link Pangong banks 1,068 PAGE 8 Source: Delhi govt health bulletin Will lay foundation stones of development projects in Ferozepur on January 5 SAARC — a regional grouping comprising Afghanistan, Bangladesh, Bhutan, India, Maldives, Nepal, Pakistan and Sri Lanka — has not been very active since 2016. “India has made this forum dysfunctional because of its stubbornness. They are not ready to come to Islamabad,” Qureshi alleged, expressing hope that New Delhi will attend the next meet at least virtually Dec 29 Dec 30 Dec 31 Jan 01 Jan 02 Jan 03 Hospitalisation rate rising in Delhi but doctors say no need to worry A N K I TA U PA D H YAY @ New Delhi DELHI on Monday recorded 4,099 fresh cases of Covid-19, the highest single-day rise since May 18 last year, with positivity rate soaring further to 6.46%. While the uptick in cases is on expected lines in the wake of the Omicron spread, the worrying trend is a steady increase in hospitalisations. The Omicron is being seen as ‘mild’ and the Delhi government has repeatedly assured there was no reason to panic as the number of hospitalisations was low. According to the Delhi government’s daily health bulletin, 420 hospital beds were occupied by Covid-19 patients on Monday — an increase of 113 cases in a day The number of . patients on oxygen beds went up from 94 to 124 within 24 hours while the number of severely ill patients saw also saw a rise from 4 to 7. (See gfx) The hospitalisation rate is increasing despite the claim of doctors and officials that the cases are mild and asymptomatic. A senior health official reiterated that there was no reason to worry as most of the cases were mild. Since many Covid care centers were yet to open, patients were being taken to the currently functional Covid care centres of hospitals, he said. Doctors echoed the same. According to a senior doctor, the hospitalisation rate is increasing as many of the patients are from outside Delhi and were brought from the airport for testing. As they tested positive, they were isolated in hospital wards. The doctor added that patients with mild symptoms were being shifted to hospitals for now and not to Covid care centres at Commonwealth Games Village. “The isolation wards at these centres will be functional in a couple of days and then we will shift the mild cases there,” the doctor added. Another senior doctor working with a government hospital said, “We are still concerned about Delta because it is still a stronger variant than Omicron, but the number of Omicron is much higher than Delta.” P4 Lashkar top commander among two VIOLENCE militants killed in Srinagar gunfights Minister’s son was on the Joblessness in states Among states, Haryana witnessed the highest jobless rate in December at 34.1%, followed by Rajasthan (27.1%), Jharkhand (17.3%, Bihar (16%), J&K (15%), and Tripura (14.7%) December usually sees a slowdown in hiring, as the festive season winds down and picks up somewhat during the last week, pointed out Rituparna Chakraborty , co-founder and executive vice-president at staffing firm TeamLease Services. She, however, does not think that Omicron influenced the jobless rate as it was only in the last week of December the country saw a spike. “Besides a natural winding down, there won’t be any knee jerk downgrade in hiring,” she added. CMIE’s unemployment data is closely watched as the government doesn’t release monthly figures. spot: Kheri charge sheet F AYA Z W A N I @ Srinagar A top commander of Lashkare-Taiba and a Pakistani militant were killed in twin gunfight on the outskirts of Srinagar on Monday while the BSF troops shot dead an intruder along the International Border in Arnia sector of Jammu. A police officer said acting on specific input, a joint combing and search operation was launched in Shalimar area on the outskirts of Srinagar. “The security men plugged off all the escape routes in and around the Shalimar Garden. Top Lashkar commander Saleem Parray was trapped in the garden and fired on the troops. He was killed in the retaliatory firing by the forces,” he said. According to IGP Kashmir Vijay Kumar, the Pakistani militant managed to escape from the area but was chased by the security men. He was encircled in Gasu area of Shalimar and he fired on the security men. They retaliated and in the shootout, he was killed. He was identified as Hafiz alias Hamza of Pakistan affiliated to LeT. The IGP termed the killing NAMI TA BAJ PAI @ Lucknow Security personnel near the encounter site in Srinagar on Monday | ZAHOOR PUNJABI of the two militants as a major success for security forces. “Parray had been active since 2016 and was wanted by troops. He was involved in attacks on security forces and in throatslitting of many civilians in Bandipora. He was providing logistic support to militants to carry out attacks,” he said. “Parray was also involved in reviving LeT in Hajan and its adjoining area in Bandipora.” The IGP said Hafiz was in- volved in killing of two policemen in Bandipora last month. “He shifted to Srinagar due to frequent security operations in Bandipora.” Meanwhile, BSF personnel shot dead an intruder in Jammu. A BSF spokesman said border guards deployed at the International Border in Arnia area saw a suspected movement. “He was challenged but did not pay any heed and was shot dead,” the officer said. THE Special Investigation Team (SIT) of Uttar Pradesh Police probing the Lakhimpur Kheri violence case on Monday submitted its charge sheet against 14 people including Union minister Ajay Mishra Teni’s son Ashish Mishra, who has been arraigned as the main accused. However, the 5,000-page charge sheet does not name Ajay Mishra for the October 3 violence in which eight people, including four farmers and a journalist, died. The charge sheet says there’s ample evidence to prove Ashish Mishra’s presence at the spot when the violence occurred, sources told this newspaper. According to sources, the voluminous charge sheet was brought to the court in a huge trunk secured by two locks on Monday. The proceedings in the case will commence once the court accepts the charge sheet, police sources said. Thirteen out of the 14 people named in the charge sheet have been arrested and are currently in jail. A person named Virendra Kumar Shukla, who is charged with destruction of evidence, has not been arrested. The SIT has issued a notice to him. Shukla, sources said, is Ajay Mishra’s distant relative and a block pramukh. Ashish Mishra’s bail application is pending in the high court while that of others is pending in Lakhimpur Kheri local court. Besides Ashish Mishra, Virendra Shukla and Ankit Das, those who were chargesheeted include Nandan Das Bhist, Satyam Tripathi alias Satya Prakash Tripathi, Lateef alias Kalley, Shekhar Bharti, Sumit Jaiswal, Ashish Pandey, Luvkush, Shishupal, Ullas Kumar Trivedi alias Mohit Trivedi, Rinku Rana and Dharmendra Kumar Banjara. The charges slapped against the accused include murder, attempt to murder and violations under the Arms Act.
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