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Two-front threat Army chief

Army Chief General M M Naravane addresses an annual press conference at the Manekshaw Centre in New Delhi

Army chief General M M Naravane on Tuesday hoped for an amicable resolution of the military standoff with China in Ladakh through talks based on ‘mutual and equal security’ even as he said India will have to be prepared to deal with a ‘two-front’ threat scenario due to the potent and collusive threat from China and Pakistan.

Gen Naravane at the same time asserted that Indian troops are fully prepared to deal with any eventuality along the Line of Actual Control (LAC) and will hold their ground as long as it takes to achieve the ‘national goals and objectives’.He said through the medium of talks with China, India is trying to reach a solution that is ‘acceptable and not detrimental’ to the national interests, adding ‘if the talks get prolonged, so be it’.

Regarding increasing security challenges at the LAC, he said a need was felt about ‘rebalancing’ of troops along the northern borders and subsequently steps have been taken to put adequate focus on the borders with China.

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1,000 bird deaths

Hundreds of birds were reported dead in different parts of the country on Monday as the raging bird flu spread to 10 states and Union Territories, prompting several control measures and a government assurance that there are no scientific reports of the virus’ transmission to humans.

Delhi, Uttarakhand and Maharashtra on Monday confirmed bird flu cases, adding to the list of seven states — Kerala, Rajasthan, Madhya Pradesh, Himachal Pradesh, Haryana, Gujarat and Uttar Pradesh — which had already reported avian deaths due to the disease.

Fresh bird deaths were reported on Tuesday, including over 900 from Himachal Pradesh and Rajasthan, amid cases of avian influenza in 10 states and union territories, with the Centre saying it has issued advisories on testing and maintaining sufficient stock of PPE kits for culling operations.

Uttarakhand, where nearly 300 birds, mostly crows, have died over the last few days, an high alert has been sounded after samples tested positive for the influenza, while in Maharashtra, a culling exercise was ordered in parts of Latur district.

Till Monday, bird flu outbreak was confirmed in Delhi, Maharashtra, Uttarakhand, Uttar Pradesh, Kerala, Rajasthan, Madhya Pradesh, Himachal Pradesh, Haryana and Gujarat.

‘Till January 12, 2021, additional cases of avian influenza (H5N8) have been confirmed among dead crows in HCL-Khetri Nagar in Jhunjhunu district of Rajasthan,’ the fisheries, animal husbandry and dairying ministry said in a statement.

The avian influenza strain H5N1 has also been confirmed in dead crows and a pelican at the zoological park in Kanpur in Uttar Pradesh as well as in dead crows in Jagnoli and Fatehpur village in Himachal Pradesh’s Kangra district.

The confirmation of H5N1 in poultry samples from Madhya Pradesh’s Jhabua district was received on Tuesday from the National Institute of High Security Animal Diseases (NIHSAD) in Bhopal, it said.

The department of animal husbandry and dairying has issued an advisory on testing protocols to states, encouraging them to undertake screening at the state level ensuring suitable bio secure facilities,’ the statement said.

The ministry said that states have been advised to maintain sufficient stock of personal protective equipment (PPE) kits and accessories required for culling operations.

Reports of over 50 bird deaths were received on a helpline number of the Delhi government’s animal husbandry unit and 18 samples from different parts of the city were sent for avian flu test, officials said.

Report of around 100 samples is yet to arrive, they said.

Testing of samples of crows and ducks had confirmed bird flu cases in the national capital on Monday, prompting the city government to impose a ban on sale of processed and packaged chicken brought from outside the city.

“The report of around 100 samples is still awaited,” Dr Rakesh Singh from the Development Department said.

Teams from the department visited many parks and water bodies at Raj Ghat, Bhalswa and Hauz Khas to collect samples of dead birds and droppings on Tuesday, they said.

Carcasses of 280 more migratory waterbirds of various species were found at the Pong Dam Lake Wildlife Sanctuary in Himachal Pradesh’s Kangra district, officials said.

With this, the death toll of migratory birds in the hill state has risen to 4,637 with some samples taken from the lake area testing positive for the flu last week.

Of the newly found carcasses, 150 were old mortalities, officials said, adding that samples have been sent for testing.

The bird death toll in Rajasthan increased to 3,947 with 626 deaths, amid avian influenza cases in 16 districts, according to a report.

Jaipur has reported the highest number of deaths at 686 birds followed by 433 birds in Jhalawar.

In Jharkhand, a large number of crows, mynas and herons were found dead at a village in Dumka district, officials said.

Forty to fifty birds were found dead at Pokharia village on Monday, District Animal Husbandry Officer Awadhesh Kumar Singh said.

Samples have been collected and sent for examination to Ranchi, he said, adding that the test reports would confirm if it is bird flu or there was any other reason for the deaths.

The administration in Maharashtra’s Latur district has ordered culling of birds in Kendrewadi and Sukni villages after samples collected from these areas were found positive for bird flu.

Latur District Collector Pruthviraj B P has ordered culling of birds in an one-km radius from where birds infected with avian influenza were found in these villages.

Officials said that at least 225 birds have died in Kendrewadi till Monday, while 12 hens have died in Sukni and four in Wanjarwadi of Udgir taluka.

Maharashtra Animal Husbandry Minister Sunil Kedar said the government will soon take steps to ensure that unorganised players engaged in poultry farming get insurance cover.

In Uttar Pradesh, as many as 74 birds, including 51 crows and nine pigeons, were found dead in the last 24 hours in Kanpur, officials said, adding that samples have been sent for testing.

Samples of a couple of dead birds in the Kanpur zoo had tested positive for bird flu earlier.

Some herons and crows were found dead near the Bharua Sumerpur railway station in Hamirpur and samples have been sent for examination.

High alert has been sounded across Uttarakhand with the samples of two dead crows testing positive for bird flu in the state.

Samples of the dead crows sent to NIHSAD tested positive for avian influenza on Monday, forest officials confirmed.

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Covid vaccines in pipeline

Union Health Secretary Rajesh Bhushan said Zydus Cadila, Sputnik V, Biological E and Gennova are other vaccines also in the pipeline which are in advanced clinical trials in India.

“In the coming days you may see some of these vaccines too approaching the drug controller for emergency use authorisation,” Bhushan said.

Elaborating further, Bhushan said Zydus Cadilla completed Phase 2 clinical trials of its coronavirus vaccine in December of last year and has been granted approval for Phase 3.

Similarly, Phase 2 clinical trials of Russia’s Sputnik-V COVID-19 vaccine have also concluded and Phase 3 trials are being carried out by its Indian partner Dr Reddy’s laboratories, he said.

In the case of Biological E, Bhushan said the Phase 1 clinical trials of its vaccine started in December and Phase 2 is expected to begin in March.

Gennova’s RnA-based COVID-19 vaccine is currently in Phase 1 with Phase 2 clinical trials likely to begin in March of this year, he said.

Bhushan said Pfizer-BioNTech is available at Rs 1,431 per dose, Moderna at Rs 2,348 to Rs 2,715 per dose, Sinopharm less that Rs 5,650 per dose, Sinovac Biotech at Rs 1,027 per dose, Novavax at Rs 1,114 per dose, Gamaleya Centre at less than Rs 734 per dose and Johnson and Johnson at Rs 734 per dose.

All these vaccines, except the one by Pfizer, can be stored between 2-8 degrees Celsius. Pfizer needs to be stored at minus 70 degrees Celsius, he added.

India will launch its COVID-19 vaccination drive from January 16 with priority to nearly three crore healthcare and frontline workers.

India had recently granted emergency use authorisation to two vaccines, Oxford’s Covishield being manufactured by Serum Institute of India and Bharat Biotech’s Covaxin.

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Marin: Speed up EU COVID-19 Vaccine

Prime Minister Marin urges EU to speed up COVID-19 vaccine distribution

Government Communications Department  11.1.202121.12PRESS RELEASE

On Monday 11 January, Prime Minister Sanna Marin sent a letter to European Commission President Ursula von der Leyen, in which she thanked the Commission for organising the joint EU procurement of COVID-19 vaccines and urged the EU to take measures to speed up the distribution of vaccines. 

Prime Minister Marin called on the Commission to do its utmost to ensure that pharmaceutical companies are producing vaccines as efficiently as possible and that the vaccines procured jointly by the EU can be distributed to the Member States more quickly than at present. Prime Minister Marin hopes the Commission will provide an update on the vaccine situation at the videoconference of EU leaders taking place next week.

Prime Minister Marin also raised the issue of vaccine availability in her telephone conversation this evening with Prime Minister António Costa of Portugal, which currently holds the Presidency of the EU Council. In addition, the prime ministers discussed the programme of the Portuguese Presidency, the main objectives of which are to accelerate economic recovery through a green and digital transition, to advance the European social pillar and to strengthen Europe’s strategic autonomy

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German Fresh Lockdown

German is battling to get a second coronavirus wave under control. German Officials hope that stricter rules will bring infection rates and the death toll down.

A stricter  coronavirus lockdown restrictionscame into force across all of Germany’s 16 federal states on Monday. Ten states, including the most populous, North Rhine-Westphalia, Bavaria and Baden Württemberg, introduced the new rules as of Monday.

A number of restrictions were introduced on December 16 in a bid to curb a second COVID-19 infection wave. These were originally slated to remain in place until at least January 10 but have had only a moderate impact on caseloads. Some of the measures that were already in place have been extended, while other restrictions have been tightened.

Health Minister Jens Spahn appealed to the public to stay the course.

Following are the restrictions remain in place.
All shops and services deemed nonessential are closed.
Day care centers are closed, but parents can take paid holidays in order to look after their children.
Employers are encouraged to allow employees to work from home if possible.
People are not allowed to drink alcohol in public.
Religious events in churches, synagogues and mosques may take place if they follow hygiene rules. Communal singing is banned.
Schools are largely closed and students are taught through distance learning

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China virus spring Cities

China imposed strict measures on two cities in Hebei province in order to curb a new outbreak of coronavirus. 20 million people are barred from leaving the cities of Shijiazhuang & Xingtai due to the largest #Covid_19 outbreak since Wuhan.

Shijiazhuang, the provincial capital of North China’s Hebei Province has become China’s new hotspot of Coronavirus surge. Of the 82 confirmed COVID-19 cases yesterday, all of which were locally-transmitted, 77 were reported in Shijiazhuang and the other five in the city of Xingtai. Hebei reported 131 COVID positive cases including 49 asymptomatic cases as announced by provincial health commission. Shijiazhuang has begun the second round of citywide nucleic acid testing. In last week, the city reported 369 confirmed COVID-19 cases and asymptomatic cases, all of whom are treated at designated hospitals.

Meanwhile, as per state media reports, medical teams from Tianjin and Hunan are reaching Hebei Province to support COVID-19 control and prevention. The Zhongnan Hospital of Wuhan University sent a vehicle-carried mobile CT scanner to Hebei. By the end of Sunday, there were 267 confirmed cases admitted in hospitals in Hebei. A total of 208 asymptomatic cases are under medical observation.

The Chinese mainland yesterday reported 179 COVID positive cases including 76 asymptomatic cases, the National Health Commission said today. Of the 85 locally transmitted confirmed cases, 82 were reported in north China’s Hebei Province, two in Liaoning Province, and one in Beijing. Beijing also reported four asymptomatic cases. The total number of confirmed COVID-19 cases on the mainland reached 87,536 yesterday, including 673 patients still receiving treatment, 20 of whom were in severe condition.

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IN on Sea Vigil-21

Indian Navy to coordinate largest coastal defence exercise Sea Vigil-21

Indian Navy will coordinate second edition of largest coastal defence exercise Sea Vigil-21 starting today. The inaugural edition of the exercise was conducted in January 2019. The two-day biennial pan-India coastal defence exercise, will be undertaken along the entire 7,516-kilometre long coastline. The exercise will also include Exclusive Economic Zone of the country and will involve all the 13 coastal States and Union Territories along with other maritime stakeholders. It will also include the fishing and coastal communities. The entire coastal security set up was reorganised after the 26/11 Terror attack at Mumbai which was launched via the sea route.

The scale and conceptual expanse of the exercise is unprecedented in terms of the geographical extent, the number of stakeholders involved. The exercise is a build up towards the major Theatre-level exercise TROPEX [Theatre-level Readiness Operational Exercise] which Indian Navy conducts every two years. SEA VIGIL and TROPEX together will cover the entire spectrum of maritime security challenges, including transition from peace to conflict. Assets of the Indian Navy, Coast Guard, Customs and other maritime agencies will participate in SEA VIGIL. The exercise is also being facilitated by the Ministries of Defence, Home Affairs, Shipping, Petroleum and Natural Gas, Fisheries, Customs, State Governments and other agencies of Centre and State.

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Mongolia Quakes

This is the 8th felt #earthquake in Russia-Mongolia Border Region in the last 5 hours

Large quake under a frozen Lake Khövsgöl. An active rift lake and largest body of freshwater in Mongolia.

U.S. Geological Survey (USGS) said the quake’s epicenter early on January 12 was under Lake Khovsgol, the largest freshwater lake in Mongolia, near the border with Russia.

The epicenter was about 200 kms west of the Russian city of Irkutsk near the southern tip of Lake Baikal. The tremor struck at a shallow depth of 10 kilometers. There were no immediate reports of damage or victims in the sparsely populated area.

USGS said there was a low likelihood of casualties and damage because the population of region resides in structures that are largely resistant to earthquake shaking.

Magnitude 6.8
Date-Time
11 Jan 2021 21:32:59 UTC
12 Jan 2021 05:32:59 near epicenter
12 Jan 2021 01:32:59 standard time in your timezone
Location 51.241N 100.443E
Depth 10 km
Distances
33.4 km (20.7 mi) SSW of Turt, Mongolia
179.8 km (111.5 mi) N of M�r�n, Mongolia
222.4 km (137.9 mi) WNW of Zakamensk, Russia
231.6 km (143.6 mi) WSW of Slyudyanka, Russia
259.2 km (160.7 mi) W of Baykal�sk, Russia
Location Uncertainty Horizontal: 7.4 km; Vertical 1.8 km

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SC to hear farmer RD Tractor Rally

Republic day function on January 26 each year has its own constitutional as well as historical significance.

‘The January 26 Republic Day ceremony is not an isolated standalone ceremony rather a grand rehearsal takes place on January 23 where everything which is to happen on January 26 of each year is rehearsed,’ the application said.

‘Any disruption or obstruction in the said functions would not only be against the law and order, public order, public interest but would also be a huge embarrassment for the nation,’ it said while referring to the Republic Day ceremony.

Delhi Police, the Centre has said that it has come to the knowledge of the security agencies that a small group of protesting individuals or organisations have planned to carry out a tractor march on Republic Day.

‘It is submitted that the proposed march is slated to disturb and disrupt the august celebrations of nation on Republic Day and would be bound to create a massive law and order situation,’ the application said.

‘It is submitted that the said proposed march/protest seeks to disrupt and disturb such celebrations which is bound to create a serious law and order situation and will cause an embarrassment to the nation,’ it said.

Centre on Monday moved the Supreme Court seeking an injunction against the proposed tractor or trolley march or any other kind of protest which seeks to disrupt the august gathering and celebrations of the Republic Day on January 26.

It requested the top court to restrain anyone from conducting any protest march either in the form of tractor march, trolley march, vehicle march or any other mode by entering into the National Capital Region Territory of Delhi.

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Aap Somnath Arrested

Aam Aadmi Party leader Somnath Bharti faced an ink attack in Rae Bareli where he had gone to inspect government schools. 

Aam Aadmi Party MLA Somnath Bharti on Monday had ink hurled at him in Rae Bareli and was arrested later for allegedly making objectionable remarks last week.

He was arrested for criminal intimidation and promoting enmity between groups, police said, following remarks two days ago allegedly referring to Uttar Pradesh Chief Minister Yogi Adityanath and the state’s hospitals.

He was remanded to 14 days in judicial custody at Amhat jail in Sultanpur district. His bail plea will be heard Wednesday, a government counsel said.

Minutes before his arrest, a youth hurled ink at the Delhi MLA when he was emerging from a guest house.