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ED issues lookout notice against Byju Raveendran || ED conducting searches at Hiranandani Group's premises || CBI raids Satya Pal Malik's premises || 7th ED summons to Kejriwal || Landslide blocks Jammu-Kashmir highway: one dead || 4 Indians forced to join Russian army || Sensex falls by 1000 points || Indian restaurant manager dies in London road accident || UK's anti-nuclear missile misfires || Eiffel tower shut due to strike || - India Travel Times.Com   [Estd: 1998]       * * *    Travel, More Travel, Travel Means A Million Things     * * *    
India on alert as Omicron sweeps across China: Random testing at airports

A sub-lineage of Omicron variant BA.5, BF.7 was resistant to neutralisation in sera from triple-vaccinated healthcare workers in the UK. And its immune/vaccine-evasive characteristic is the worrying point. True, it has the strongest infection ability, but it is less fatal. It primarily affects the upper respiratory system with flu like symptoms. It becomes severe only in those with weak immunity.

Was the China report fabricated? In a couple of weeks casualties shooting up to 5,000 a day from zero due to BF.7! China says "no new deaths!"

NEW DELHI, Dec 23: India on Saturday begins random testing of samples of passengers arriving at the international airports in the country in order to detect if the new wave of Omicron BF.7 pandemic sweeping China and some other countries like Japan and the UK is entering the country through air travellers.

The random testing of two per cent of air passengers will be done flight-wise and the crew will make the random choice. The Ministry of Civil Aviation has said, "The airport operators would create necessary infrastructure to facilitate random testing of international arriving passengers at their respective airports."

Covid vaccination may be made mandatory for international passengers entering India from affected countries. Those with any symptoms on arrival will be quarantined. All samples testing positive will be sent for genome sequencing. The long-winding, unexplained queues of the last few weeks at the airports are over and the passengers currently are able to maintain social distancing.

India does not find it necessary to order anything mandatory for its citizens as of now. The country considers itself safe with over 90% of the people having been vaccinated fully and with all the infrastructure ready to meet any emergency situation. Besides, the four BF.7 cases detected in India a couple of months ago were treated successfully and the patiensts recovered fully.

Guidelines: Surveillance, Masking, Testing, Social Distancing, Genome- sequencing

Prime Minister Narendra Modi, after holding high level discussions, has asked the States to strengthen the suveillance and urged the countrymen to mask up. He cautioned against complacency.

Especially in view of the festival season with Christmas and New Year round the corner, Union Health Minister Mansukh Mandaviya has asked the State Governments to create awarenesss among the people about the new threat posed by the so-called BF.7 variant of Omicron coronavirus which, some reports claim, is killing around 5,000 people a day in China.

On Friday, the Health Minister directed the States to increase surveillance and testing and ensure copvid-appropriate behaviour. A mock drill for emergency response will be conducted in hospitals across the country on Tuesday.

The States were told to undertake wider samplig for genome sequencing to detect Omicron sub-variant BF.7 and other variants. The Minister told Parliament, "We are keeping an eye on the global covid situation and are taking steps accordingly. States are advised to increase genome- sequencing to timely identify the new variant of covid."

The States have also been asked to consider enforcing mask mandate, use of sanitisers and social distancing, among other things. An advisory is being prepared.

No restrictions as of now; States on high alert

Experts advise to ramp up testing and encourage booster doses. Because of the emergence new Omocron variant, bivalent vaccines are said to more effective. Prefer use of N-95 masks and not others like the cotton masks, they say.

Some of the States have already started taking preventive steps. Tamil Nadu has started insisting on social distancing in public gatherings and adequate bed arrangements have been made. UP calls for stepping up covid testing, booster dose and masking in crowded places as also genome sequencing of cases. Karnataka has made mask mandatory in crowded indoors. Kerala will conduct genome sequencing. There is no mask mandate in Delhi. West Bengal will not impose any new covid curbs. Maharashtra says masks are not mandatory but advisable.

Meanwhile, the IMA has advised citizens to avoid gatherings and international travel.

India logged 163 new coronavirus infections, according to the Union Health Ministry data updated on Friday. The death toll so far stands at 5,30,690 with nine new fatalities. Two deaths were reported from Maharashtra and one from Delhi in the last 24 hours - six of the nine fatalities being old data. The case tally was 4,46,76,678. India's test positivity rate (TPR ) in the week ending on December 22 was 0.14 per cent.

What happened in China?

In China the easing of covid curbs following widespread opposition and protests early this month led to the current surge in infection all over the country. As the infection went up alarmingly, there was rush for antigen kits and medicines for fevers and colds leading to shortages. There are no official figures of the casualties but there are reports that things have gone out of control.

A section of media has reported the casualties reaching an unbelievable figure of 5,000 a day from 0 a couple of weeks ago in China.

However, the Chinese Foreign Ministry said on Friday that epidemic prevention and control situation in China is predictable and controllable. It has stepped up vaccination. And, China continued to report no new deaths on Thursday.

BF.7 more infective

BF.7 is a sub-lineage of the omicron variant BA.5. It has the strongest infection ability out of the omicron subvariants. Although the new covid has the proven ability of infecting three times more people in less time than Omicron (omicron has an average R0 of 5.08) with an RO factor of 18, meaning one infected person can transmit the virus to 18 others, BF.7 is widely believed to be less fatal although it is reported that the virus is playing havoc with the Chinese. BF.7 has a shorter incubation period. It can infect even those who had covid earlier and can also beat the vaccine.

It primarily affects the upper respiratory system. Patients may have a fever, cough, sore throat, runny nose and fatigue, among other symptoms. Gastrointestinal symptoms like vomiting and diarrhoea occur rarely. It becomes severe in those with weak immunity. BF.7 was resistant to neutralisation in sera from triple-vaccinated healthcare workers in the UK. Its immune-evasive characteristic is a worrying point.


SELECTIONS FROM OUR ARCHIVES

The killing of a teacher in France by an Islamic radical last Friday is linked to the Israel-Hamas war in West Asia, say authorities.

Shocking news from the UK: Leading grocers have started bribing policemen with free food and drinks to persuade them to take action against shoplifters.

Shoplifting has risen by about 27 per cent in 10 major cities across the UK this year. The cost of retail crime last year was $2.15 billion. Besides, “We are seeing organised gangs threatening staff with weapons and emptying stores," Helen Dickinson, chief executive of the British Retail Consortium, said. Data shows that the police failed to respond to 73 per cent of serious retail crimes that included assault and abuse of workers, apart from shoplifting.

Isar Mohammad allegedly picked up a banana offered to Ganesh idol on Chaturthi at a makeshift temple in Delhi and consumed it.

Harris said hip-hop is “the ultimate American art form” that “shapes every aspect of American popular culture.” “Hip-hop culture is American culture,” she said in a talk at her official residence at the US Naval Observatory in Washington, D.C.

The social media had mixed reaction. There was much appreciation that she dances better than any VP in American history. But some called her "moves" as “cringe” while others did not like her pink pants - "pink pants don’t look good.” In fact, her ensembles have always been incongruous.

"Let’s see how the (Governor's) Vice-Chancellors are given salary." Mamata's extreme statements will put the Marxist Government in Kerala, which is also facing similar issues, to shame. Has she begun the countdown for a war on the streets?

It's true Mamata has come to see a conspiracy to demolish the established systems across the country, but lacks the ability to foresee what exactly is being pushed.

Brandishing a sword, Mahant Paramhans told reporters on Tuesday he himself will behead MK Stalin's son for his remarks against Sanatan Dharma in case nobody came forward to accept his offer he made in his video. Udhayanidhi reacted to the saint's Monday video, "I will speak more. I am the grandson of the artist who put his head on the rail track for Tamil Nadu."

Somanath elaborated, "I am an explorer. I explore the Moon. I explore the inner space. So it's a part of the journey of my life to explore both science and spirituality. So I visit many temples and I read many scriptures. So try to find the meaning of our existence and our journey in this cosmos. So it's a part of the culture that we are all built to explore, find out the inner self as well as outer self. So for the outer, I do science, for the inner I come to temples." (See videos)

Rao the mathematical legend had fathered the path-breaking Rao-Blackwell theorem, one of the most important theorems in mathematical statistics, at the age of 25. That brought him global fame. He is also famous for his Cramér-Rao Bound inequality theorem relating to quality of estimators in statistics which has had a profound bearing on applications of modern economics and several other diverse fields. Simply put, with the pioneering statistician computation became a tool to analyse even socio-economic challenges of modern times.

The ISRO said on Thursday evening that after rolling out from Vikram lander to the Moon's surface in the previous night, Pragyan's rover mobility operation commenced during the day on Thursday. The exploration has started.

Chairman Somanath said everything is working very well.

The rover will mainly study the mineral composition of the moon, the ions and water ice***, its atmosphere and any seismic activities.

Chandrayaan-3 had successfully landed on the Moon's south pole on Wednesday at 6:03 pm as per schedule, making India the first country ever to touch down on the polar surface.

The alleged incident has received such a flash publicity that a standardised city's hugely middle class population will have second thoughts about eating outside for some time. Now everything on the table looks suspicious!

“All subjects directly connected to the people should be shifted to the State List. Particularly the subject of education. Only if this is done can cruel exams like NEET be abolished,” Stalin said. Education was moved from the State List to the Concurrent List with the 42nd Constitution Amendment made by the Central Government in 1976.

Decentralisation has been at the core of Tamil politics since the times of CN Annadurai. Stalin indicated there will be political changes in the offing.

TAILPIECE: While the Centre and the States are at loggerheads, it takes a different cognitive acumen to know that entrance tests are not the way for students' admission to courses.

A University of Florida Professor, Harrison Hove who was on the flight, posted on social media that the incident was "terrifying." He said, "I've flown a lot. This was scary ... The photos cannot capture the burning smell, loud bang or ear pops ... Something failed midflight and depressurized the cabin."

As recently as Tuesday Craig Robertson had posted on Facebook: "Perhaps Utah will become famous this week as the place a sniper took out Biden the Marxist." Biden was scheduled to make his first visit to Utah as President Wednesday afternoon.

  • Let's Go! The legal immigrants should be allowed the flexibility to change jobs and travel without obstacles. Doing away with the country cap on Green Cards only can do this easily.
  • Bureaucratic delays in the US legal immigration system are also a drag on the country's economy while leaving so many families in limbo, the Congressmen argued.
  • In fact, the country cap was introduced to ensure diversity of immigrants as well as to prevent monopoly by any one country like China leading to distortions in the American culture and politics in course of time.
  • In any which case, it is high time the US straightened its convoluted immigration laws for their own convenience and to allow the immigrants their basic rights!

Maruti is recalling 87,599 S-Presso and Eeco vehicles to inspect and possibly replace parts in the steering system. All reputed companies around the world do recall their products when a defect comes to light.

Meanwhile, a question arises why just in about a year so many accidents have taken place involving Mercedes sent to India while the car has won safety awards abroad? In most cases, the vehicle collided with divider, while manoeuvring a turn. Was there a split second delay in the steering system coming to a grip when at high speed? Did anybody in India bother to study a pattern in several of these accidents that took place one after other?

Former Tata Sons chairman Cyrus Mistry died when his Mercedes-Benz-SUV hit a divider in Gujarat. Cricketer Rishabh Pant's Mercedes-Benz-SUV rammed a divider in Uttarakhand and smashed. It went up in flames but he escaped with injuries. Brother of PM Narendra Modi, Prahlad Modi's Mercedes-Benz-SUV met with a similar accident in Mysuru. And many more.

  • Experts blame violation of the Visual Flying Rules (VFR) for most of the chopper crashes in the mountains as the leading cause. VFR means fly only visually - because of the lack of navigation aids in remote areas or unreliability of GPS-like aids in hilly terrains or a remote manipulation of instruments in cases of sabotage - as the topography plays havoc especially in the monsoon (mid-June to September).
  • Even when VFR is followed, most crashes occur due to CFIT (Controlled Flight into Terrain) - that is, everything else is OK but the aircraft collides with hills or trees hidden by the clouds. This also occurs mostly in the monsoon.
  • On Tueday with Manang, the chopper was brand new, pilot was highly experienced. But it hit an 'invisible' tree and then crashed against a hillside. This CFIT occurred when the pilot tried to dodge patches of clouds even as he was following the VFR.
  • Simply put, everyone knows flying in the hills during the monsoon is risky, but the companies want to make more money in any which case. This type of tragedy is very frequently invited in the Indian hill State of Uttarakhand as well, where pilots are even made to fly without the mandatory rest.

The new offer will enable H-1B speciality occupation visa holders in the US to apply for a Canadian work permit, while also offering study and work permit opportunities for their family members accompanying them.

The selected applicants will be granted an unrestricted work permit for a maximum period of three years. The IRCC will entertain 10,000 applications. The window is open for one year.

  • Curfew was clamped on areas in Paris on Thursday lasting till Monday. The police apprehend an escalation of volence in the coming days. There will be "actions targeted at the forces of order and the symbols of the State", they said.
  • Under present law, the police have brute powers to deal with traffic violators. Young Nahel was shot point-blank by a cop for purported traffic violation and an anticipated crime.

Way back when on June 20 EST after searches were launched, India Travel Times had, on an analysis of the data available, indicated the probability of Titan undergoing a sudden and massive implosion (inward collapse) at great depths. (SEE: Titanic expedition goes missing: A ray of hope from sounds of bang) Now videos taken by a Canadian robot that reached the floor on Thursday evening, June 22, has confirmed it. The fragments are lying scattered. Horizon Arctic's ROV robot found the debris 1600 ft from Titanic bow.

The submersible imploded at 500 metres above sea bed, if we go by our calculations. The water pressure it had to withstand at that point was 2,345 kg per sq inch. The hull was not built to take that, as per the court cases fought by concerned people at the time of building the sub and going by the details revealed in the cancellation of booking by at least one ocean expert.

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