Delhi Eases Curbs, Allows Plumber, Electrician Services

In a relaxation of lockdown restrictions after reviewing the COVID-19 situation, the Delhi Government has allowed veterinarians, plumbers, electricians and repairers of water purifiers to resume their work from Tuesday.

In an order issued on Monday, Delhi Disaster Management Authority (DDMA) has allowed operations of veterinary hospitals, dispensaries, clinics, pathology labs, sale and supply of vaccine and medicine.

The government also allowed operation of homes for children/disabled/mentally challenged/senior citizens/destitute/women/widows.

Movement (inter and intra State, including by air) of all medical and veterinary personnel, scientists, nurses, para-medical staff, lab technicians, mid-wives and other hospital support services including ambulances have been exempted from lockdown restrictions.

Online teaching/distance learning to be encouraged, read the order signed by Delhi Chief Secretary Vijay Dev.

Services provided by self-employed persons – electricians, plumbers and repairing of water purifiers have also been exempted while shops of educational books for students and electric fans will also open.

Earlier, the Ministry of Home Affairs (MHA) said that all standalone shops, neighbourhood shops, and shops in residential complexes are allowed to open in urban areas. Shops in markets, market complexes, and shopping malls will remain closed. However, the relaxations are not applicable in hotspots and containment zones.


Delhi Cops Pay Tribute To Sikhs With Gurdwara ‘Parikrama’

As a mark of respect and gratitude to the role of Sikh community in selflessly helping the needy during pandemic crisis, Delhi Police on Monday performed a ‘parikrama’ of Gurudwara Bangla Sahib.

The rare gesture was hailed by Prime Minister Narendra Modi who posted a video clip of the tribute exercise on social media.

Bangla Sahib Gurdwara has been providing food to around 75,000 people on a daily basis. This is not an exclusive step as the world over, Sikh community has been providing dry rations, food packet, even quarantine facilities to the affected amid Covid-19 crisis.

“Good gesture by the Delhi Police. Our Gurudwaras have been doing exceptional work in serving people. Their compassion is appreciable,” the Prime Minister said.

The Delhi Sikh Gurdwara Management Committee (DSGMC) has also opened its premises to give shelter and food to hundreds of frontline health-workers in various gurdwaras amid the lockdown. This Parikrama was led by DCP, North Delhi, Eish Singhal and the convoy included 35 police vans and 60 motorcycles. DCP Singhal paid obeisance at Gurdwara Sahib and thanked DSGMC for running an incessant langar for the needy and poor while the nation is battling coronavirus and lockdown challenge.

Modi Hold Video Meeting With CMs Over Covid-19 Crisis

Prime Minister Narendra Modi on Monday said the impact of coronavirus will remain visible in the coming months and masks and face covers will be part of life while asserting that the country needs to give importance to the economy as well as continue the fight against COVID -19.

The remarks came during his interaction with Chief Ministers via video conferencing to discuss the emerging situation and plan ahead for tackling the COVID-19 pandemic.

“The country has seen two Lockdowns till now, both different in certain aspects, and now we have to think of the way ahead. As per experts, the impact of coronavirus will remain visible in the coming months,” Modi said, according to an official release.

Reiterating the mantra of ‘do gaz doori’, he said that “masks and face covers will become part of our lives in the days ahead”.

“We have to give importance to the economy as well as continue the fight against COVID -19,” Modi said.

The Prime Minister underlined that the lockdown has yielded positive results as the country has managed to save thousands of lives in the past one and a half months.

“India’s population is comparable to that of the combined population of several countries. The situation in many countries, including India, was almost similar at the start of March. However, due to timely measures, India has been able to protect many people,” he said.

Prime Minister Modi, however, forewarned that the danger of the virus is far from over and constant vigilance is of paramount importance.

“Prime Minister Modi added that under the circumstances, everyone’s aim must be rapid response. He pointed out that many people are self-declaring whether they have cough and cold or symptoms, and that this is a welcome sign,” the release said.

The Prime Minister emphasised on the importance of usage of technology as much as possible and also to utilize time to embrace reform measures and on the significance of ensuring that more people download the AarogyaSetu app to bolster the efforts of the country in the battle against COVID-19.

“We have to be brave and bring in reforms that touch the lives of common citizens. People associated with Universities can be integrated on devising ways to fight the pandemic and strengthen research as well as innovation,” he said.

He also highlighted the importance for states to enforce guidelines strictly in the hotspots i.e. the red zone areas. “The efforts of the states should be directed towards converting the red zones into orange and thereafter to green zones,” he said.

On the issue of getting back Indians who are overseas, the Prime Minister said that this has to be done keeping in mind the fact that they don’t get inconvenienced and their families are not under any risk.

He also urged Chief Ministers to factor in the changes in weather – advent of summer and monsoon – and the illnesses that can potentially come in this season, while strategizing ahead.

Union Home Minister Amit Shah reaffirmed the need to enforce lockdown so that maximum lives are saved.

“The Chief Ministers praised the leadership of the Prime Minister during this period of crisis, and also highlighted the efforts undertaken by them in containing the virus. They spoke about the need to keep a close vigil on international borders, and also on addressing the economic challenge and ways to further boost health infrastructure. The leaders expressed gratitude towards the police force and medical staff for the exemplary work done by them in the fight against COVID-19,” read the release.

This was the fourth such interaction of the Prime Minister with the Chief Ministers, the earlier ones had been held on March 20, April 2, and April 11.

Today’s meeting comes just a week ahead of the scheduled ending of the nationwide lockdown. On March 24, the Prime Minister had announced a 21-day lockdown as a precautionary measure to contain the spread of COVID-19. The lockdown was later extended till May 3. (ANI)

Chinese Test Kit Order Revoked, Not A Rupee Lost: Govt

The Union Ministry of Health and Family Welfare on Monday said that not a single rupee was lost on rapid antibody test procurement.

“After receipt of some supplies, the ICMR has again conducted quality checks on these kits in field conditions. Based on the scientific assessment of their performance, the order in question (Wondfo) along with the order in respect of another make found under-performing have been cancelled.

It needs to be stressed that ICMR has not made any payment whatsoever in respect of these supplies. Because of the due process followed (not going for procurement with 100 per cent advance amount), the Government of India does not stand to lose a single rupee,” said a press release from the Ministry of Health and Family Welfare.

The press release added: “First of all, it is important to understand the background in which the procurement decisions are made by the ICMR. Testing is one of the most crucial weapons to fight COVID-19 and the ICMR is doing everything it can to ramp up testing.

This requires the procurement of kits and supplying them to states. This procurement is being undertaken when globally there is a huge demand for these test kits and various countries are applying their full might, monetary and diplomatic, to acquire them.”

ICMR’S first attempt to procure these kits did not elicit any response from the suppliers. Its second attempt got adequate responses. Of these responses, taking sensitivity and specificity in mind, kits of two companies — Biomedemics and Wondfo — were identified for procurement. Both had the requisite international certifications.

The press release further said: “For Wondfo, the evaluation committee got four bids and the corresponding quotes received were Rs 1,204, Rs 1,200, Rs 844 and Rs 600. Accordingly, the bid offer of Rs 600 was considered as L-1.”

“In the meanwhile, the ICMR also tried to procure the kits directly from Wondfo company in China through CGI. However, the quotation received from direct procurement had the following issues: Quotation was FOB (Free on Board) without any commitment to logistics issues. The quotation was on the basis of 100 per cent direct advance without any guarantees. There was no commitment to timelines. Rates were communicated in the US dollars without any clause for accounting for fluctuations in prices.

Hence, it was decided to go for Wondfo’s exclusive distributor for India for the kit, who quoted an all-inclusive price for FOB (logistics) without any clause for advance. It needs to be also remembered that this was the first-ever effort by any Indian agency to procure such kits and the rate quoted by the bidders was the only reference point,” the release adds.


India’s Coronavirus Tally Crosses 28,000-Mark

With 1,396 more COVID-19 cases reported in the last 24 hours, India’s count of coronavirus cases has crossed 28,000, said Ministry of Health and Family Welfare on Monday.

Out of these, 20,835 patients are active cases and 6185 cases have been cured, discharged, or migrated. The death toll stands at 872, with as many as 48 deaths reported in the last 24 hours.

According to the ministry, Maharashtra continues to be the worst-hit State with 8,068 cases of which 1,076 patients have recovered and 342 patients have died.

Gujarat now stands in the second spot with 3,301 cases, of which 313 have recovered and 151 people have died. Meanwhile, Delhi’s count stands at 2918 of which 877 patients have recovered, while 54 patients have lost their lives.

Tamil Nadu’s COVID-19 figure stands at 1,885 with 1,020 patients recovered and 24 fatalities. Rajasthan has reported 2,185 cases of which 518 have recovered and 33 patients are dead.

Madhya Pradesh has reported 2,096 positive cases so far of which 302 patients have recovered and 103 patients have lost their lives due to the virus. In Uttar Pradesh, as many as 1,868 people have COVID-19, of which 289 recovered and 29 people have succumbed to it.

In Kerala, which reported the country’s first COVID-19 case, 458 people have been detected positive for coronavirus. (ANI)

Punjab Cop Whose Hand Was Cut Off Recovering: CM

Punjab Chief Minister Captain Amarinder Singh on Monday said Sub-Inspector Harjeet Singh, whose hand was chopped off by Nihangs in Patiala on April 12, is ‘recovering well.’

“It has been two weeks since SI Harjeet Singh’s hand was operated upon in PGI. I am extremely happy to share that he is recovering well & that his hand has started to regain movement,” tweeted Chief Minister Singh.

On April 12, Harjeet’s hand was chopped off and a few others were injured when a group of Nihangs — an armed order of the Sikh community — allegedly attacked them at a vegetable market in Punjab’s Patiala city.

The incident took place when restrictions were in place in the State due to coronavirus lockdown. (ANI)

80% Of Grain Markets Functional: Home Ministry

The Home Ministry on Monday said that farmers have been facilitated with the ‘Kisan Rath App’ and 80 per cent of grain markets — mandis — have started their operations.

Addressing a press conference here, Punya Salila Srivastava, Ministry of Home Affairs spokesperson, said: “The government is ensuring the strict implementation of lockdown. KisanRath App has facilitated farmers. 80 per cent of mandis have started operations.”

She said that two crore labourers have been provided with employment under the MGNREGA scheme.

“Two crore labourers are working under the MNREGA scheme. Pune’s COVID-19 doubling rate is 7. Lockdown in Jaipur has been enforced strictly,” the spokesperson said.

More than 60 per cent of food processing units have started operations and workers are getting employment again in rural areas, she said. (ANI)

Job Loss In Covid-19 lockdown

‘I Got Fired. Don’t Know How I’ll Pay EMIs, Kids Fee’

Bikash Tripathy, an IT professional, sees unimaginable miseries for him in store after he lost his job along with a dozen other colleagues amid Coronavirus crisis

I was employed as a vice-president at Canvas IT Solutions, an information & technology group in Noida which works for US-based projects. I was living happily with my family in Ghaziabad, Uttar Pradesh. I recently bought a flat at Crossings Republic, the loan instalments of which are quiet hefty.

In the last week of March, when the lockdown was imposed, most employees in our company were asked to work from home. The management initially decided to send many employees on unpaid leave. Since I was part of the policy decision-making team, in my capacity as the vice-president, I resisted such a move. Little did I realise that such a step would cost me my own job.

It first appeared that the company has resolved the matter, as I, like most other employees, was asked to work from home. I was confident that we would be able to generate business for the company. However, on April 10, I received an email from my office, about termination of my contract. A dozen other employees had received a similar notice. I tried to contact the company management through calls, messages and emails but all in vain. The management is still not reachable to us.

ALSO READ: How Coronavirus Will Change Our Lives

In the termination letter, the company stated that I will get the salary for one month. I was ready for salary deduction, but my requests heeded no attention. After this month, I don’t know how I will manage my expense.

I have a house loan, a personal loan and I have to pay the school fee for my only daughter. My elderly parents are stuck in my hometown in Odisha since the lockdown and I am not able to help them. Eighty five per cent of my earnings are spent on liabilities. So frankly, I have no idea how I will manage these liabilities. My job was the only source of income for my family.

In the lockdown, no company is hiring. So there are few chances of my finding suitable occupation. I cannot sleep in the nights since then. I am locked inside my apartment and can do nothing much.

ALSO READ: ‘Lockdown Has Turned Me Into A Beggar

I understand that staying inside will save us from the Coronavirus pandemic but what will happen to people like us if there is no support from the government. With no earnings, the savings will not last for long. I am requesting the government to help people like me, but I have little hope.

The lockdown crisis and pandemic would be a matter of months; hence a salary deduction for all employees would have saved many jobs. But the company did not think that way. The rules for employees safeguard are tilted in favour of employers in India. I such difficult times for the entire world, the most disheartening thing is to lose one’s job without any prior notice.

Don’t Lower Your Guard: PM On Combating Coronavirus

Prime Minister Narendra Modi on Sunday urged citizens of areas which have not been affected by COVID-19 to not get caught in the “trap of over-confidence” and follow all precautions to keep the disease at bay.

“To my countrymen, I urge, let us not at all get caught in the trap of over-confidence, let us not harbour a feeling that if corona has not yet reached our city, our village, our street or our office, it is not going to reach now. Never make such a mistake,” Modi said during his monthly “Mann ki Baat” programme.

“The experience of the world is narrating a lot to us. And, here in our country, we are always reminded again and again – ‘saavdhani hati, durghatna ghati’,” he said.

The Prime Minister stressed on “no negligence” at the local level or elsewhere.

“In over-enthusiasm, there should be no negligence at the local level or elsewhere. We will always have to remain cautious. And, I will reiterate, always maintain a safe distance and keep yourself healthy,” said the Prime Minister.

He also said he feels proud when world leaders thanks India and its people for providing help during the testing times of COVID-19 crisis.

“We took it upon ourselves to supply medicines to the needy across the world and made this humanitarian work happen. Today, when world leaders tell me- Thank you India, thank you people of India, I feel very proud,” said the Prime Minister in his address to the nation.

India, the major producer of hydroxychloroquine, has promised to supply the drug to 55 countries, including Bhutan, Bangladesh, Maldives, Sri Lanka, and Myanmar as well. The medication which is being used in COVID-19 therapy has already reached the United States, Afghanistan, Mauritius, Kazakhstan, Brazil, and Seychelles.

India has already supplied medicines to countries, including Nepal, Sri Lanka and Afghanistan. (ANI)