COVID-19: ‘India reports first cases of double mutations per sample, their impact not clear yet’
India on Wednesday reported 223 cases of double mutations in the novel coronavirus SARS-CoV-2, as of March 24, 2021. Of them, 206 were in Maharashtra, according to the Union health ministry.
Capital Delhi recorded nine such cases. Maharashtra has consistently led the country’s COVID-19 tally.
The remaining eight cases of double mutations have been found in Punjab, Gujarat, Ladakh, Jammu and Odisha, the ministry said at the weekly press briefing March 24, 2021.
There was no evidence at the moment to suggest the double mutation of the virus was the reason behind the recent surge in COVID-19 cases, especially in Maharashtra, said Sujeet Singh, director, National Centre for Disease Control (NCDC).
He added the double mutation was found in 20 per cent samples in Nagpur. “The populations that had not been exposed earlier are getting infected,” he said.
Kerala reported the N440K variant in 123 samples across 11 districts; Andhra Pradesh reported the variant in 33 per cent samples. The variant is under investigation.
For the first time today, the Union government gave a state-wise break up of cases caused by the United Kingdom, South-African and Brazilian variants. A total of 771 cases of these three variants have been reported in India; the highest being that of the UK variant.
Down To Earth had reported March 24 that India was sequencing less than a per cent of positive samples as against five per cent requirement laid down by the consortium of Indian laboratory in December 2020.
On being asked if the Union government was considering ramping the exercise, Union health secretary Rajesh Bhushan said the genome sequencing of positive COVID-19 samples has already been increased significantly.
“Till December, the total quantum of genome sequencing was hardly 3,000. Since December, it has been increased to 11,000,” he said. He, however, evaded the question when asked whether the number of samples sequenced would go up to 5 per cent of the total positive samples.
DTE had reported how the 10 laboratories that are part of consortium and capable of sequencing more than 30,000 samples per month have so far sequenced only 7,664 samples from January 2021 to March 2021.
NCDC’s Singh defended the number and said the basic objective of mapping variants in the country has been fulfilled but for future, the sequencing would be stepped up.
Indian Council of Medical Research director-general said Indian vaccines work against the UK variant; their effectiveness against the South African variant was being studied.
SF claims thousands of police and military personnel leaving
By Saman Indrajith
Thousands of police and military personnel had left the services recently as they did not want to carry out illegal orders, Field Marshal Sarath Fonseka told Parliament yesterday. According to the war-winning army commander 200 policemen have resigned during the past two months and 25,000 soldiers have left the army during the last two years.
“We urged the law enforcement and military officials not to follow illegal orders. We will reinstate them with back pay,” he said.
Fonseka also urged the President and the government MPs not to take people for fools.
“Sri Lanka owes 55 billion dollars to the world. Ranil’s plan is to borrow another seven billion during the next four years. So, in four years we will owe 62 billion to the world.
Ranil and his ministers ask us what the alternative to borrowing is. These are the people who destroyed the economy and society. They must leave. Then, we will find an alternative and develop the country,” he said, adding that the IMF loans had made crises in other nations worse.
“Ranil says that by 2025, we will have a budget surplus as in Japan, Germany and South Korea. These countries are economic power houses, and this comparison is ludicrous.”
CEB hit by exodus of technical staff
By Shiran Ranasinghe
At least five technical personnel of the Ceylon Electricity Board (CEB) resigned daily for overseas employment, a senior CEB official said.They included electrical engineers, electricians and foremen, he added.
“Most of them are quitting due to the economic crisis while others are simply disillusioned. Trained and experienced technical staff are in high demand in many countries,” he said.
CEB United Trade Union Alliance President Ranjan Jayalal said that the CEB had lost about 2,000 employees in recent times due to the above reasons.
“We had about 24,000 such personnel a few months ago. Now the number has come down to 22,000. A number of people had to retire on 31 December, 2022.
Sajith questions sudden decision to charge Rs. 225,000 from students following NDES
By Saman Indrajith
The government had decided to charge Rs 225,000 from those enrolling at the Institute of Engineering Technology, Katunayake under the National Apprentice and Industrial Training Authority (NAITA), Opposition Leader Sajith Premadasa said yesterday in Parliament.
Premadasa said that the institute awards the National Diploma in Engineering Sciences (NDES) and no fee was charged from students until 2023.The IET awards the National Diploma in Engineering Sciences under the three major fields of civil, electrical and mechanical engineering, and eight sub-fields.
“This is an institute that has created over ten thousand tier two engineers. NDES is a four year programme,” he said.
The opposition leader said that the sudden decision to charge 225,000 rupees from students at a time when the average Sri Lankan family is facing significant economic challenges is unfair.
“This institute offered free tuition. We should continue this tradition. A large number of engineers are leaving the country and we need to ensure that we have a continuous supply of engineers to ensure we can maintain our essential technical services,” he said.
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