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COVID-19: ‘Variants Of Concern’ from Brazil, UK, S.A and a novel variant found in 18 states, says Centre

(Asian News Hub) – As the country struggles with the highest single-day tally of new infections and deaths, another concern has emerged as the government on Wednesday informed that a new ‘double mutant variant’ of the coronavirus had been detected in India in addition to many other variants of concern (VOCs) also found abroad.

A total of 771 VOCs have been detected in a total of 10,787 positive samples shared by the states and union territories, the Health Ministry informed.

These include 736 samples positive for viruses of the UK (B.1.1.7) lineage, 34 samples of the South African (B.1.351) lineage and one sample of the Brazilian (P.1) lineage.

“Though VOCs and a new double mutant variant have been found in India, these have not been detected in numbers sufficient to either establish or direct relationship or explain the rapid increase in cases in some states,” the Health Ministry said.

These variants were found in 18 states, the government added.
Genomic variants of various viruses are a natural phenomenon and are found in almost all countries, the Ministry added.

Genome sequencing and analysis have been carried out on samples from arriving international travellers, contacts of those positive for VOC and community samples from most of the states at INSACOG partner laboratories which are 10 in number.

Such mutations confer immune escape and increased infectivity.

These mutations have been found in about 15-20 per cent of samples and do not match any previously catalogued VOCs.

Meanwhile, India reported 47,262 new coronavirus infections on Wednesday over the previous 24-hour period, the highest since early November, taking its overall tally to 11.7 million. Only the United States and Brazil have higher caseloads.

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Incessant rain leaves 135 dead in Maharashtra

(Asian News Hub) – Last week, heavy rains in Maharashtra and Karnataka have caused massive damage to the people living near the coastal areas in both states.

Incessant rains causing landslides and floods left over 140 dead and thousands displaced. The destruction seems irreversible in cities, districts and villages.

While districts like Raigad and Ratnagiri were among the worst-hit areas of Maharashtra, parts of the coastal, Malenadu and the north-interior region of Karnataka were battered by torrential rains.

Since the rains began, 135 people are dead in Maharashtra and nine have been killed in Karnataka in incidents like floods, landslides etc. Over 1,35,313 people have been shifted to safer places, including 78,111 in Sangli district, followed by 40,882 in Kolhapur district of Maharashtra. At the same time, in Karnataka, 31,360 people have been evacuated from low-lying areas, while 22,417 people are taking shelter in 237 relief camps.

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BSF, Pak Rangers resolve to maintain peace on border in first meeting after Ceasefire

Meeting held on Islamabad’s request, lodged strong protest over Drone activities: BSF

(Asian News Hub) – Border guards of India and Pakistan on Saturday resolved to remain committed to each other to maintain peace and harmony at International Border in Jammu.

Border Security Forces (BSF) said that Sector Command level meeting, first after New Delhi and Islamabad decided on steadfast holding of ceasefire, was held on request of Pakistan Rangers on International Border in Suchetgarh area of the Jammu.

The BSF delegation was led by Surjit Singh, DIG, Border Security Force and Pakistan Rangers delegation was led by Brig Murad Hussain, sector commander Pakistan Rangers, Sialkot Sector , S P S Sandhu (DIG), a spokesman of the BSF, said in a statement cited by GNS.

“It was the first Sector Commander level meeting between two border guarding Forces, after declaration of cease fire agreement by DGMOs.”

“During meeting, Commanders of both the border guarding Forces, discussed various issues with main emphasis by BSF delegation on Pak Drone activities, (militant) activities by Pakistan from across the border, digging of tunnels by Pakistan and other issues related to Border management,” the spokesman said, adding, “A very strong protest was lodged by BSF delegates regarding drone activities by Pakistan authorities in Jammu area.”

The spokesman said both the forces “decided to re-energize instant communication between field Commanders, whenever required, to resolve the ops matters.”

“ Meeting was held in a cordial, positive and constructive atmosphere and both side agreed for expeditious implementation of the decisions taken in the earlier DG level talks and committed to each other to maintain peace and harmony at International Border,” he added.

GNS

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Raj Kundra made erotica, not porn: Shilpa Shetty to police

(Asian News Hub) – Actor Shilpa Shetty has claimed she has nothing to do with ‘Hotshots’ – the mobile app involving Raj Kundra, and claimed that her husband used to make erotica, not porn.

“Shilpa Shetty has said her husband is innocent and that erotica is different from pornography. Her husband Raj Kundra wasn’t involved in producing porn content,” according to ANI.

Shilpa Shetty said that Pradeep Bakshi, the London-based wanted accused and Raj Kundra’s brother-in-law, was involved with the app and its functioning, the officials told ANI.

Kundra, 45, was arrested by the crime branch on Monday night in a case, which it said, related to alleged creation of pornographic films and publishing them through some apps.

According to the police, there were several WhatsApp chats that revealed that Kundra was involved in the financial dealings of an app and its contents.

The police also said three women have come forward with complaints in the case, saying they were “forced to act in pornographic movies”.

The accused persons took advantage of struggling models, actors and other workers and made them work in these movies, the police added.

Kundra was taken into custody on Monday night by the city police”s crime branch after being booked under relevant sections of the Indian Penal Code and the Information Technology Act.

On Friday, Shilpa Shetty urged to her fans to watch her latest comedy “Hungama 2” and not let the film “suffer” in the wake of her husband, businessman Raj Kundra, was arrested in a porn films case.

Shetty, whose comeback film “Hungama 2” released on the steaming platform Disney + Hotstar on Friday, said the Priyadarshan-directed comedy is a result of “relentless” hard work of the entire team and should not suffer.

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