India’s federal health ministry Sunday morning reported 120 new deaths from COVID-19, and 4987 positive cases since Saturday in the country, taking the number of deaths to 2,872 and total cases to 90,927.
This is the highest one-day spike in COVID-19 cases in the country.
“As on 8:00 a.m. (local time) Sunday, 2,872 deaths related to novel Coronavirus have been recorded in the country,” read information released by the ministry.
On Saturday morning the number of COVID-19 cases in the country was 85,940, and the death toll was 2,752.
According to ministry officials, so far 34,109 people have been discharged from hospitals after showing improvement.
“The number of active cases in the country right now is 53,946,” read the information.
Sunday marks the 54th straight day of the ongoing lockdown across the country announced by the central government to contain the spread of the pandemic.
The lockdown, announced on March 25, was again extended for the second time on May 1 until May 17. The fourth phase is scheduled to begin from Monday.
New rules for the lockdown’s fourth phase are expected to be announced soon.
Court remands man over alleged cultism, possession of Indian hemp in Ekiti
A Magistrates’ Court in Ado-Ekiti, on Wednesday ordered the remand of a suspect, Adetomiwa Ogunleye, 24, over alleged membership of an unlawful society and possession of cannabis sativa (Indian hemp).
The defendant, whose address was not provided, is standing trial on a two-count charge of membership of an unlawful society, Eiye confraternity, and possession of prohibited narcotics.
The Chief Magistrate, Mr Abdulhamid Lawal, who did not take the plea of the defendant, ordered that he be remanded in police custody, pending legal advice from the office of the state Director of Public Prosecution (DPP).
He thereafter adjourned the case until June 3 for mention.
Earlier, the Prosecutor, Insp. Caleb Leranmo, told the court that the defendant committed the offences on May 24 in Ikole-Ekiti.
He said that the defendant confessed to being a member of the secret cult and was arrested while in possession of substance suspected to be Indian hemp.
Leranmo said that the alleged offences contravened Sections 4 (i) of the Secret Cult (Abolition and Prohibition) (Ammendment) Law, 2017, and 5 (b) of the Indian Hemp Act.
The prosecutor said the case file had been duplicated and forwarded to the office of the DPP for advice.
Edited By: Bayo Sekoni/Ejike Obeta (NAN)
India’s COVID-19 cases cross 150,000 mark as pandemic continues to rattle Asia-Pacific region
India’s total number of COVID-19 cases surpassed the 150,000-mark on Wednesday, as the number of infections in the Asia-Pacific region continues to pile up.
India’s federal health ministry said the total number of cases has reached 151,767, while the latest death toll stood at 4,337. As many as 170 new deaths and 6,387 fresh cases were reported during the past 24 hours.
Bangladesh reported 1,541 new COVID-19 cases and 22 more fatalities, bringing the country’s total number of the cases to 38,292 and death toll to 544.
The Malaysian health ministry reported 15 new cases, a dramatic drop from the 187 the day before. Health Ministry Director-General Noor Hisham Abdullah said at a press briefing that the new cases pushed the national total to 7,619 of which 1,421 are active cases.
The cases in Indonesia rose by 686 within one day to 23,851, with the death toll adding by 55 to 1,473, Achmad Yurianto, a health ministry official said at a press conference.
The Philippines reported 380 new cases, bringing the total number of the cases to 15,049 since the highly infectious disease emerged in the country in January.
Thailand’s new daily COVID-19 infections surged from three to nine, all of them Thais who have returned from abroad and in quarantine.
A 30-year-old man in the Australian State of Queensland has become the country’s youngest person to die from the COVID-19, taking the national death toll to 103.
South Korea reported 40 more cases, raising the total number of infections to 11,265. The daily caseload rose above 40 in 49 days. Of the new cases, three were imported, lifting the combined figure to 1,221.
No more death was reported, leaving the death toll at 269. The total fatality rate stood at 2.39 percent.
New Zealand reported no new case for five consecutive days, with the combined total of confirmed and probable cases staying at 1,504, according to the Ministry of Health.
Backgrounder: National security legislation in India
India has developed a strict system of national security laws over the past decades after it gained independence from Britain in 1947.
To safeguard its national security, post-independence India got its first preventive detention rule as the government of then Prime Minister Jawaharlal Nehru enacted the Preventive Detention Act of 1950, which expired in December 1969.
In 1971, the Maintenance of Internal Security Act was enacted. After being repeatedly amended, it was finally repealed in 1977.
In 1980, India’s National Security Act (NSA) came into force.
Early 1980s was marked by militancy in north India, particularly in the state of Punjab, and a group of Sikh militants were demanding independence of Punjab state.
Against this background, the Indira Gandhi government promulgated the NSA on Sept. 23, 1980, which was intended “to provide for preventive detention in certain cases and for matters connected therewith.”
The NSA empowers the central or state governments to detain a person to prevent him or her from acting in any manner prejudicial to national security and detain foreigners to regulate their presence or expel them from India.
The government can also detain a person to prevent them from disrupting public order or the maintenance of supplies and services essential to the community.
The maximum period for which one may be detained is 12 months, but the term can be extended if the government finds fresh evidence.
The strict NSA is described as a law with “no vakil, no appeal, no daleel (no lawyer, no appeal, no argument)” by Indian media.
A person arrested under the NSA could be kept in the dark about the reasons for his arrest for up to five days, and in exceptional circumstances not later than 10 days. Even when providing the grounds for arrest, the government can withhold information which it considers to be against public interest to disclose.
Besides, the arrested person is also not entitled to aid from any legal practitioner in any matter connected with the proceedings before an advisory board, which is constituted by the government for dealing with NSA cases.
After the adoption of the NSA, the Indian government has promulgated some other laws concerning national security, including the Terrorist and Disruptive Activities (Prevention) Act, the Prevention of Terrorism Act, the National Investigation Agency Act and the Unlawful Activities (Prevention) Amendment Act.
Most recently, the NSA was invoked when India’s capital New Delhi was witnessing protests against the Citizenship Amendment Act and the National Register of Citizens.
On Jan. 17, the Lieutenant Governor of Delhi Anil Baijal issued an order to grant the Delhi Police emergency detention power under the NSA for three months from Jan. 19 to April 18. More than 630 people were arrested in the riots which claimed dozens of lives, Indian media reported.
Indian stock exchange relaxes criteria for small companies to tap capital market amid COVID-19
In order to relieve India’s small and medium enterprises (SME) under distress due to two-month nationwide lockdown following COVID-19, Bombay Stock Exchange (BSE) has relaxed the criteria to enable such entities tap the capital market.
A circular issued by the stock exchange to supplement the government’s stimulus announced earlier this month said, “BSE has amended the eligibility criteria from time to time to strengthen the SME Platform through various circulars. Today MSMEs are facing challenging situations due to the pandemic caused by COVID-19.”
Indian SME sector has been starved for debt and equity, with the sector accounting for 48 percent of the country’s export, but access to around 18-20 percent of the bank credit. There are 50 million SMEs in India employing 110 million people that contributes to 30 percent of the GDP in Asia’s third largest economy.
“The disruption caused by COVID-19 in terms of cash flow to the economy has been unprecedented and has led to distress among the SME segment. At a time, when commercial banks are reluctant to lend for fear of NPAs (Non-performing Assets), the relaxation in eligibility norms for SME listing would enable leveraged SMEs to explore the capital market space and survive this critical phase of economic down turn,” said Makarand Joshi, partner, MMJC and Associates LLP – a corporate compliance firm.
As part of a 264 billion U.S. dollars stimulus package offered by the federal government, 6.6 billion U.S. dollars was ear-marked for small and medium enterprises through a fund-of-funds to be set-up separately.
The amendment by BSE has brought down the minimum criteria of net tangible asset for such small companies as also relaxed the positive cash flow requirement from three years track record to any one year, said Sandeep Mandawewala, President, Choice Group – a domestic financial conglomerate, which has helped several companies to raise up to 264 million U.S. dollars so far.
BSE SME platform for listing small companies has so far raised 433 million U.S. dollars for 322 companies of which 79 companies have migrated to the main platform. The total market cap of BSE SME is 2.1 billion U.S. dollars.
Around 200,000 people affected by floods in India’s Assam
Around 200,000 people were affected by floods in India’s northeastern state of Assam, officials said Wednesday.
The floods have hit seven districts in the state, damaging standing crops and disrupting road connectivity.
According to officials, many people have taken shelter inside relief camps at Goalpara and Tinsukia districts.
Authorities have deputed National Disaster Response Force (NDRF) teams in the affected areas to carry out flood relief and rescue works.
“Around two lakh (200,000) people in seven districts have been affected in the first wave of floods in the state’s Dhemaji, Lakhimpur, Darrang, Nalbari, Goalpara, Dibrugarh and Tinsukia districts,” an official at Assam state disaster management authority said. “Our teams are stationed at 40 places with equipment to carry our rescue work.”
“A total of 35 relief camps and relief distribution centres have been opened,” the official said.
Heavy rains continue to lash large parts of the state, including capital city Dispur. According to local meteorological centre, heavy rainfall is predicted in the region over the next four days.
Floods are an annual occurrence in Assam during the monsoon season.
Meanwhile, India Meteorological Department (IMD) has issued a red-colour coded weather alert for Assam and Meghalaya until Thursday, predicting very heavy rainfall in these two northeastern states.
Meanwhile, the adjacent state of Meghalaya has witnessed heavy showers, cyclonic storm and hailstorm in various districts, triggering landslides, floods and washing off roads and bridges.
The rains hit the state following last week’s super cyclone Amphan.
The rainstorm lashed out in different districts in the past 24 hours, damaging farms while uprooting trees and bringing down electric cables in different districts.
India’s total COVID-19 cases surpass 150,000-mark as death toll rises to 4,337
As many as 170 new deaths and 6,387 fresh COVID-19 cases were reported during the past 24 hours, showed the ministry’s data.
“As on 8:00 a.m. (local time) Wednesday, 4,337 deaths related to novel coronavirus have been recorded in the country,” reads information released by the ministry.
On Tuesday morning the number of COVID-19 cases in the country was 145,380, and the death toll was 4,167.
According to ministry officials, so far 64,426 people have been discharged from hospitals after showing improvement.
“The number of active cases in the country right now is 83,004,” reads the information.
Wednesday marks the 64th straight day of an ongoing lockdown across the country announced by the central government to contain the spread of the pandemic.
The lockdown, announced on March 25, was extended for the third time on May 17 till May 31.
India’s total COVID-19 cases surpass 150,000 mark as death toll rises to 4,337
Egyptian President, Indian PM discuss anti-coronavirus efforts
Egyptian President Abdel-Fattah al-Sisi and Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi discussed on Tuesday efforts to combat the spread of the novel coronavirus.
During a phone conversation, both leaders exchanged views about the experiences and the measures in the two countries to fight the virus, Egyptian presidency’s spokesman Bassam Rady said in a statement.
Modi appreciated the prominent political role that Egypt played in a balanced manner at the regional and international levels.
Egypt has so far confirmed 18,756 COVID-19 cases, including 797 deaths and 4,027 recoveries, while India has reported 145,380 cases, including 4,167 deaths and 60,491 recoveries.
ACCI calls for stronger Nigeria-India economic relations
Mr Adetokunbo Kayode, President, Abuja Chamber of Commerce and Industry (ACCI), has called for a refocused and stronger economic ties between Nigeria and India.
Kayode made the call on Tuesday in Abuja while speaking as a panelist at the webinar meeting tagged: “India – Nigeria Business Promotion, Challenges and Opportunities – Post-COVID-19”.
Kayode, an economic expert, noted that in a rejigged relationship, win-win situation should be the watchword.
He said that it had been informally estimated that there would be around 10 billion dollars of investment by Indian companies in Nigeria.
“Maybe very substantial part of that amount has been loaned to Indian companies by Nigerian government owned banks like, Bank of Industry, Nigeria Exim Bank, Development Bank of Nigeria, NIRSAL FUND of the Central Bank of Nigeria as well as commercial banks.
“Some of us attended schools that Indians were teachers. For us to move forward, we need to rejig the already existing obsolete 1973 Trade Agreement between Nigeria and India.
“In doing so, we have to bear in mind that Nigeria has several areas where it can do business with India,” he said.
He recalled that in Great Gujarat gathering in 2019, it was discovered that several Indian companies were rather using Indian firms in Nigeria to carry out activities in a manner that undermined local legislations, particularly in trading in retail and distribution services.
On the challenges in the trade relations, Kayode pointed out that the absence of Indian manufacturing hubs in Africa and Nigeria, in particular, as well as intrusion into local businesses needed to be addressed to strengthen the ties.
In a remark, the Indian High Commissioner to Nigeria, Mr Abbay Thakur, said Nigeria was one of Indian’s biggest trading partners for several years.
Other participants at the event unanimously expressed the desire to actively participate in activities and programmes that would ensure the sustainability of the already existing cordial relationship.
Edited By: Kamal Tayo Oropo/Wale Ojetimi (NAN)
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