Category Archive : Top Stories

WHO warns of ‘second peak’ in areas where Covid-19 is declining

GENEVA: Countries where coronavirus infections are declining could still face an “immediate second peak” if they let up too soon on measures to halt the outbreak, the World Health Organization said on Monday.
The world is still in the middle of the first wave of the coronavirus outbreak, WHO emergencies head Dr Mike Ryan told an online briefing, noting that while cases are declining in many countries they are still increasing in Central and South America, South Asia and Africa.
Ryan said epidemics often come in waves, which means that outbreaks could come back later this year in places where the first wave has subsided. There was also a chance that infection rates could rise again more quickly if measures to halt the first wave were lifted too soon.
“When we speak about a second wave classically what we often mean is there will be a first wave of the disease by itself, and then it recurs months later. And that may be a reality for many countries in a number of months’ time,” Ryan said.
“But we need also to be cognizant of the fact that the disease can jump up at any time. We cannot make assumptions that just because the disease is on the way down now it is going to keep going down and we are get a number of months to get ready for a second wave. We may get a second peak in this wave.”
He said countries in Europe and North America should “continue to put in place the public health and social measures, the surveillance measures, the testing measures and a comprehensive strategy to ensure that we continue on a downwards trajectory and we don’t have an immediate second peak.”
Many European countries and US states have taken steps in recent weeks to lift lockdown measures that curbed the spread of the disease but caused severe harm to economies.

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WHO suspends trial of hydroxychloroquine as Covid-19 treatment over safety concerns

GENEVA: The World Health Organization said Monday that it had “temporarily” suspended clinical trials of hydroxychloriquine as a potential treatment for COVID-19 being carried out across a range of countries as a precautionary measure.
The decision came after the publication last week of a study in the Lancet indicating that the using the drug on COVID-19 patients could increase their likelihood of dying, WHO chief Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus told a virtual press conference, adding that the WHO-backed trials had been “suspended while the safety is reviewed.”

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Armies of India, China appear heading towards biggest face-off after Doklam | India News

NEW DELHI: Indian and Chinese troops remained engaged in an eyeball-to-eyeball situation in several disputed areas along the Line of Actual Control in Eastern Ladakh, signalling that the confrontation could become the biggest military face-off after the Doklam episode in 2017.
Top military sources said India has further increased its strength in Pangong Tso and Galwan Valley – the two contentious areas where Chinese army is learnt to have been deploying around 2,000 to 2,500 troops besides gradually enhancing temporary infrastructure.
“The strength of the Indian Army in the area is much better than our adversary,” said a top military official on the condition of anonymity.
The biggest concern for Indian military has been the presence of Chinese troops around several key points including Indian Post KM120 along the Darbuk-Shayok-Daulat Beg Oldie road in Galwan Valley.
“It is serious. It is not a normal kind of transgression,” former Northern Army commander Lt Gen (Retd) DS Hooda told PTI.
He particularly emphasised that Chinese transgression into areas like Galwan was worrying as there was no dispute between the two sides in the area.
Strategic affairs expert ambassador Ashok K Kantha too agreed with Lt General Hooda.
“There have been multiple incursions (by Chinese troops). This is something which causes concern. It is not a routine standoff. This is a disturbing situation,” Kantha said.
Sources said diplomatic efforts must be ramped up to resolve the escalating tension between the two armies and that both sides are eyeball-to-eyeball in several areas including Pangong Tso, Demchok and Daulat Beg Oldie.
The Chinese side has particularly strengthened its presence in the Galwan Valley, erecting around 100 tents in the last two weeks and bringing in heavy equipment for construction of bunkers.
The sources said Indian troops are resorting to “aggressive patrolling” in several sensitive areas including Demchok and Daulat Beg Oldi.
The situation in Eastern Ladakh deteriorated after around 250 Chinese and Indian soldiers were engaged in a violent face-off on the evening of May 5 which spilled over to the next day before the two sides agreed to “disengage” following a meeting at the level of local commanders.
Over 100 Indian and Chinese soldiers were injured in the violence.
The incident in Pangong Tso was followed by a similar incident in North Sikkim on May 9.
India last week said the Chinese military was hindering normal patrolling by its troops and asserted that India has always taken a very responsible approach towards border management.
At a media briefing, external affairs ministry spokesperson, Anurag Srivastava also strongly refuted China’s contention that the tension was triggered due to trespassing by Indian forces on the Chinese side.
India’s response came two days after China accused the Indian Army of trespassing into its territory, claiming that it was an “attempt to unilaterally change the status” of the LAC in Sikkim and Ladakh.
On May 5, the Indian and Chinese army personnel clashed with iron rods, sticks, and even resorted to stone-pelting in the Pangong Tso lake area in which soldiers on both sides sustained injuries.
In a separate incident, nearly 150 Indian and Chinese military personnel were engaged in a face-off near Naku La Pass in the Sikkim sector on May 9. At least 10 soldiers from both sides sustained injuries.
The troops of India and China were engaged in a 73-day stand-off in Doklam tri-junction in 2017 which even triggered fears of a war between the two nuclear-armed neighbours.
The India-China border dispute covers the 3,488-km-long LAC. China claims Arunachal Pradesh as part of southern Tibet while India contests it.
Both sides have been asserting that pending the final resolution of the boundary issue, it is necessary to maintain peace and tranquility in the border areas.
China has been critical of India’s reorganisation of Jammu and Kashmir, and has particularly criticised New Delhi for making Ladakh a union territory. China lays claim over several parts of Ladakh.
Prime Minister Narendra Modi and Chinese President Xi Jinping held their first informal summit in April 2018 in the Chinese city of Wuhan, months after the Doklam standoff.
In the summit, the two leaders decided to issue “strategic guidance” to their militaries to strengthen communications so that they can build trust and understanding.
PM Modi and Xi held their second informal summit in Mamallapuram near Chennai in October last year with a focus on further broadening bilateral ties.

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Eid celebrations hit by coronavirus pandemic; no major congregational prayers amid lockdown | India News

NEW DELHI: Eid-ul-Fitr was celebrated in India on Monday in the shadow of the coronavirus pandemic with no traditional congregational prayers in mosques and idgahs or community gatherings due to the lockdown restrictions and the need to maintain social distancing.
Prime Minister Narendra Modi, Congress chief Sonia Gandhi, various chief ministers and other leaders extended greetings on the festival, hoping that the special occasion furthers the spirit of compassion and harmony.
The vast premises of the historic Jama Masjid and Fatehpuri Masjid in the national capital, where thousands offer the Eid namaz, looked desolate as only the Shahi Imams and mosque staff attended the traditional prayers.
The scenes were no different in other parts of the country as religious places remained closed due to the lockdown restrictions, reflecting how the coronavirus pandemic which has infected over 1.3 lakh people in India has upended the lives of the people.
At some places notices were pasted at the gates of mosques asking the people to offer prayers at home because of the pandemic.
Police personnel in large numbers were deployed around major mosques in many areas and traffic movement was restricted.
Prominent clerics and religious organisations had also appealed to people to adhere to social distancing and lockdown guidelines of the government and pray at home.
Online gatherings replaced family and community get-togethers on Eid as people prayed at home and avoided customary visits on the occasion, while many could not travel to join their families due to the coronavirus lockdown since March 25.
“People should serve those in need, including the ones affected by the disease. The virus can be defeated by people through precautions like social distancing,” the Shahi Imam of the Jama Masjid, Syed Ahmed Bukhari, said in his Eid message.
Forced to stay indoors due to the coronavirus threat, Shafique Alam, a school teacher and resident of Jamia Nagar, said, “I offered namaz at home along with my two brothers and our children.”
“But the Eid Namaz at a local mosque was immensely missed as it used to be an occasion to meet friends and neighbours, hug them and revive the bonds of togetherness,” he said.
The usual hustle and bustle associated with the festival was missing from the markets and other public places where people venture out to celebrate.
In riot-affected northeast Delhi, several families were still trying to get their lives back on track.
Furkan, along with four brothers, had been running a sweet shop in Old Mustafabad for nearly 20 years. Usually, they were so overburdened that they ended up doing six months’ work to meet the demands of customers during the holy month of Ramzan, he said.
He opened his shop for the first time after nearly three months on Eid with the hope of making some money.
“This year, due to the riots and then the lockdown, shops were closed and we have hardly earned anything in the last three months. How do we celebrate Eid when we hardly have money to purchase essentials?” he said.
The sight, smell and sounds of Eid were also missing from Zakaria street and other areas in Kolkata which don a festive look every year with numerous food stalls and gift shops.
State minister and Kolkata Municipal Corporation administrator Firhad Hakim offered namaz at his Chetla residence in south Kolkata along with wife and daughters.
“Our combined prayers to the Almighty to defeat coronavirus and end misery of people struck by cyclone Amphan,” Hakim told reporters.
Irfan, a rickshaw-puller in Phoolbagan area of Kamarhati, on the northern fringes of the West Bengal capital, said he and his family visited a neighbour and offered thanksgiving prayers together.
“This year, we could not visit Kamarhati Badi Masjid compound, as the imam had asked us to stay at home. My wife has prepared sevai for us on the occasion, and I can’t wait to taste it,” he said.
Chairman of Bengal Imams Association Mohammed Yahia said all 26,000 mosque committees in the state have asked the faithfuls to offer Eid namaz with their families at home.
“This ground had witnessed large crowds on Eid and Bakrid every year but the seriousness of the situation today has to be taken into account,” a prominent Muslim cleric of Lucknow, Maulana Khalid Rashid Farangi Mahali, said after leading a prayer by a handful of people, who wore masks and maintained social distancing, at the Idgah.
The celebrations were subdued in Hyderabad and other places in Telangana as well, in contrast to the festivities witnessed every year, especially in the old city.
SK Muddin, national convenor of the RSS-affiliated Muslim Rasthriya Manch, said Muslims followed the lockdown norms strictly.
“The Muslim community which has clung to virtues like patience since the beginning of Ramzan (the holy month of fasting that culminates with EID) maintained and manifested it today,” he said.
In Jaipur, woman police personnel offered chocolates and gifts to children in the walled city area where public movement is restricted.
Though lockdown restrictions, imposed to curb the coronavirus spread, had been eased outside Covid-19 hotspots after May 17, people mostly stayed indoors.
In Rajkot, Gujarat, police officials staged a march in some Muslim-dominated areas and urged people to maintain social distancing while celebrating Eid.
In Ahmedabad, the worst coronavirus-hit district in Gujarat, the festival passed off peacefully, according to the police.
“The Muslim community in Ahmedabad followed our instructions and remained indoors while celebrating Eid today. There was no gathering for namaz in open areas or in mosques.
“There was not a single incident of any unrest. The festival was celebrated peacefully and by following social distancing norms,” said Deputy Commissioner of Police, Control, Vijay Patel.
Guwahati-based entrepreneur Atiqur Rahman Barbhuiya said his family did not go for shopping and distributed money to the poor people, who are suffering most in this lockdown period.
He termed this year’s Eid amid the lockdown as a “blessing in disguise” as women, who usually do not perform namaz at mosques, were able to offer the special prayers with other male family members at home.
“I offered my Eid namaz with my daughter and son at home,” he said.
Maulana Maqsood Imran, the Khateeb-O-Imam, Jama Masjid, Bengaluru, said: “Coronavirus is spreading very rapidly in our country. If we don’t follow the guidelines, it will not only cause trouble to us but also to the doctors and the government. It will be the biggest celebration if we abide by the norms.”
Eid, which marks the end of the fasting month of Ramzan, was celebrated on Sunday in Kerala and Jammu and Kashmir.

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Karan Johar confirms two members of household staff test positive for COVID-19, says ‘rest of us are safe’ | Hindi Movie News

Ace filmmaker Karan Johar, who is celebrating his birthday today, took to his social media account to confirm that two members from his household staff have tested positive for COVID-19. He shared the official statement on his Twitter account.

In the statement, he even mentioned that they all have taken the swab test today in the morning and have tested negative for the same. Karan said that the whole family will stay in quarantine for 14 days as a precautionary measure.

A part of his statement read, “I’d like to inform you that two members of our household staff have tested positive for COVID 19. As soon the symptoms were detected they were put under quarantine in a section of our building. The BMC was informed immediately and the building has been fumigated and sterilised by them as per the norms. The rest of us in the family and staff are all safe and display no symptoms. We all have taken the swan test in the morning and have tested negative, but we will remain in self isolation for next 14 days for the safety of everyone around us. We stand by our commitment to safeguard everyone and have ensured that all measures prescribed by the authorities have been strictly adhered to.” Check out his statement below:

Meanwhile, Karan also shared the video from his birthday celebration featuring his kids Roohi, Yash and his mother Hiroo Johar. In the video, his kids didn’t even allow him to eat his own birthday cake as they felt he will become fat. Check out the hilarious video below:

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India and Israel join forces to develop rapid testing system to fight Coronavirus | India News

NEW DELHI: India and Israel have decided to join forces to develop rapid testing systems that can conduct Covid-19 tests at under a minute, in the highest level of R&D cooperation between the two countries. Officials said the process had started and they hoped to be able to come out with a test that would allow people to safely step out and resume normal life.
Announcing the new project, the Israel embassy in India tweeted on Monday, “Discussed joint R&D for rapid diagnosis based on big data and AI technology, to enable a rapid return to routine. This is part of the vision of @IsraeliPM and @PMOIndia for wide-ranging scientific cooperation between India and Israel.”
PM Narendra Modi and Israel PM Benjamin Netanyahu have already spoken a couple of times since the pandemic outbreak.
The interesting bit about the cooperation is that the premier defence research organisations on both sides will be involved. Indian institutions like the defence research and development organisation (Drdo) and the council for scientific and industrial research (CSIR) are likely to partner Israel’s directorate of R&D in the ministry of defence for the purpose.
Another tweet by the embassy spokesperson, Avigail Spira said, “@kvijayraghavan, @DRDO_India, & @CSIR_IND held discussions with Head of Israel’s Directorate of R&D in @Israel_MOD, Dr. Dani Gold, Amb. @DrRonMalka & Amb. Sanjeev Singla @Indemtel about high-level scientific cooperation between India & Israel to address #COVID19.” Gold is well known for his work on the development of Israel’s famous Iron Dome rocket interception system.
Earlier this month, Israel’s defence minister announced that Israel’s institute for biological research institute (IIBRI) had developed a potential treatment for the coronavirus disease, by identifying an monoclonal antibody that neutralizes SARS-CoV-2 in vitro or outside of a living organism.

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Day 1: Chaos, disappointment and relief as domestic flights resume | India News

NEW DELHI: It was a day of mixed emotions as domestic passenger flights finally took off after a gap of nearly two months amid the coronavirus-induced lockdown. While some passengers were relieved that they were able to travel home, several others were left in the lurch as many flights got cancelled.
Here’s how Day 1 of resumption of flights unfolded:
States reluctant to open up airports
States like Maharashtra, West Bengal and Tamil Nadu, which are home to some of the busiest airports in the country, were reluctant to allow domestic flight services from their airports, citing swelling cases of the coronavirus infection.
The West Bengal government did not relent to a request by the civil aviation ministry to allow flight services.
According to aviation industry sources, around 630 domestic flights were cancelled as a result.

Airlines were jittery in resuming services as multiple states have put in place separate norms and conditions for quarantining passengers arriving there by domestic flights.
Karnataka, Tamil Nadu, Kerala, Bihar, Punjab, Assam and Andhra Pradesh, among others, have announced their own quarantine measures for passengers arriving at their airports. Some states have decided to put passengers in institutional quarantine while several others have talked about putting them in home quarantine.

“The problem for passengers began with states rolling out their separate guidelines on operationality of airports and post-travel quarantine. With only a fraction of flights allowed to operate from some of the busiest airports, cancellations spiked leaving travellers uncertain about their travel,” Nishant Pitti, CEO and co-founder of EaseMyTrip.com, told IANS.
Chaos and confusion at airports
Many passengers reached the airports only to be told by the airline staff that their flights have been cancelled, leading to chaos and confusion.
At Mumbai airport, social distancing was forgotten as irate passengers harangued staff after their flights were cancelled at the last minute.
At New Delhi airport, hundreds of people anxious to get home but apprehensive about the risks queued from before dawn – all wearing masks and standing at least one metre (three feet) apart.
More on Covid-19

Passengers of an Air India Bengaluru-Hyderabad flight said their flight was cancelled without prior notice from the airline. “Only when our boarding passes were scanned at the airport entry we were told that boarding has been cancelled. We don’t know what to do now,” said an irate flyer.
Similarly, a passenger at Mumbai’s Chhatrapati Shivaji International airport said that her Air India flight to Delhi was cancelled without any prior information from the airline.
Nervousness and uncertainty
Meanwhile, confusion about quarantine rules and risk of infection prompted jitters among passengers and staff.
“While I’m looking forward (to flying home), the idea of flying is really scary,” student Gladia Laipubam told AFP as she stood in line.
“Anything can happen. It’s very risky. I don’t really know when I’ll be able to come back to Delhi now. There is no clarity from the university too at this time,” she said.
One female airline employee wearing gloves, a mask and a protective face shield said she and many other colleagues felt “very nervous” about starting work again.
“Dealing with so many people at this time is so risky. I must have interacted with at least 200 people since this morning,” she told AFP, not wishing to be named.
“There is no clarity on whether I need to go into home quarantine for 14 days after returning to my base or show up for duty on Monday,” one pilot told PTI.
Subham Dey, an engineer travelling to Assam, said: “Flying to meet my family almost feels like I am entering a war zone, it’s the mask and gloves that add to the stress.”
Flyers disappointed after last-minute cancellations
With people travelling long distances to the airport, flight cancellations left many disappointed.
Naik Satish Kumar’s Kolkata-bound flight got cancelled as the state decided not to resume operations till May 28.
“I travelled all the way from Ambala (in Haryana) on a bus to take a 6 am flight to Kolkata. When I reached here, I got to know the flight had been cancelled. I am returning home now,” he said.
Excited to meet his two-year-old daughter, Santu Mandal, a resident of West Bengal’s Bardhaman district, reached the airport along with his brother, Nasiruddin Mandal, at 1 am, unaware that the flight to Kolkata had been cancelled.
The Mandal brothers, who are engaged in hand embroidery, spent Rs 12,000 to book the tickets “because we could not get a confirmed train ticket”.
19-year-old Raibul Sheikh and his two friends, who had not been paid by their employer in Delhi since the lockdown began on March 25, decided to return to their loved ones back home in West Bengal on Eid.
Their joy, too, was short-lived as barely five km away from the Delhi airport, they received a message from the airline informing them that their flight had been cancelled.
Another woman who was waiting at the Hyderabad airport after her flight was cancelled said, “I have to go to Assam, the flight was booked at 7 pm yesterday, as it is curfew time, we reached airport yesterday afternoon. We had to stay the whole night in the lounge, with no food, and now they have cancelled the flight and asked us to select another date. Now the authorities are not allowing us inside. We have left our room and we have nowhere to live till then.”
‘Sweet homecoming’
While several flyers were left disappointed, there was relief for some, especially those who were finally able to reunite with their families.
It was a sweet homecoming for five-year-old Vihaan Sharma who flew back to Bengaluru alone on Monday from Delhi and was received by his mother.
The boy was among those who arrived from Delhi as domestic air services resumed after two months of Covid-19 lockdown.
His mother told reporters that he was coming to Bengaluru after three months.
Sandeep Singh, 19, spent Rs 5,500 to reach Delhi from Dehradun where he studies. “I remained stuck in my PG (pay guest accommodation). Mummy and papa were worried. I am taking the first flight home,” he said.
Aamir Afzal, a mechanical engineer, who had come to Delhi on an official visit on May 23, was among those who took an early morning flight to reach Patna to celebrate Eid with family and friends.
“I had been staying in a hotel in Mahipalpur with my co-worker. The hotel charged us Rs 900 per day. We could not get a confirmed ticket on a train back home,” he said.
(With inputs from agencies)

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Crashed PIA plane’s pilot ignored 3 warnings to lower altitude: Report

A plume of smoke is seen after the crash of a PIA aircraft in Karachi on May 22, 2020. (Reuters Photo)

KARACHI: The pilot of the crashed Pakistan International Airlines plane ignored three warnings from the air traffic controllers about the aircraft’s altitude and speed before the landing, according to media reports on Monday.
The crash of the national flag carrier’s flight PK-8303 on Friday, in which 97 people were killed and two miraculously survived, is one of the most catastrophic aviation disasters in Pakistan’s aviation history.
The Airbus A-320 aircraft from Lahore to Karachi was 15 nautical miles from the Jinnah International Airport in Karachi, flying at an altitude of 10,000 feet above the ground instead of 7,000 when the Air Traffic Control (ATC) issued its first warning to lower the plane’s altitude, Geo News quoted an ATC report as saying.
Instead of lowering the altitude, the pilot responded by saying that he was satisfied. When only 10 nautical miles were left till the airport, the plane was at an altitude of 7,000 feet instead of 3,000 feet, it said.
The ATC issued a second warning to the pilot to lower the plane’s altitude. However, the pilot responded again by stating that he was satisfied and would handle the situation, saying he was ready for landing, the report said.
The report said that the plane had enough fuel to fly for two hours and 34 minutes, while its total flying time was recorded at one hour and 33 minutes.
Pakistani investigators are trying to find out if the crash is attributable to a pilot error or a technical glitch.
According to a report prepared by the country’s Civil Aviation Authority (CAA), the plane’s engines had scraped the runway thrice on the pilot’s first attempt to land, causing friction and sparks recorded by the experts.
When the aircraft scraped the ground on the first failed attempt at landing, the engine’s oil tank and fuel pump may have been damaged and started to leak, preventing the pilot from achieving the required thrust and speed to raise the aircraft to safety, the report said.
The pilot made a decision “on his own” to undertake a “go-around” after he failed to land the first time. It was only during the go-around that the ATC was informed that landing gear was not deploying, it said.
“The pilot was directed by the air traffic controller to take the aircraft to 3,000 feet, but he managed only 1,800 feet. When the cockpit was reminded to go for the 3,000 feet level, the first officer said ‘we are trying’,” the report said.
Soon afterwards the pilot reported loss of both engines and said he was “proceeding direct” meaning that he was going for a crash landing, Dawn newspaper reported.
Though the controller cleared the PIA flight to land with both runways (25L and 25R) available, the pilot could be heard giving distress signal “May Day, May Day, May Day”.
Experts said the failure to achieve the directed height indicates that the engines were not responding. The aircraft, thereafter, tilted and crashed suddenly.
The flight crashed at the Jinnah Garden area near Model Colony in Malir on Friday afternoon, minutes before its landing in Karachi’s Jinnah International Airport. Eleven people on the ground were injured.
“My pilots were qualified, their checks and balances, and medical tests were complete. My cabin crew was also qualified and my plane’s inspection was also complete,” CEO of PIA Air Marshal Arshad Malik said soon after the crash.
The probe team, headed by Air Commodore Muhammad Usman Ghani, President of the Aircraft Accident and Investigation Board, is expected to submit a full report in about three months.
According to the PIA’s engineering and maintenance department, the last check of the plane was done on March 21 this year and it had flown from Muscat to Lahore a day before the crash.
The investigators would have to see what caused both engines to stop working. It could be a bird hit or the pilot accidentally shutting off the wrong engine. It is rare for both engines to shut down simultaneously, the Dawn report noted.
Meanwhile, representatives of pilots’ association and aviation experts have expressed concern over the handling of the investigation into the crash of the PIA aircraft by the air force-dominated probe team appointed by the government.
Pakistan Airlines’ Pilots Association (PALPA) Secretary Capt Imran Narejo, while talking to Dawn newspaper, said the “investigation team was not balanced”, because it lacked the representation of commercial pilots.
Commercial pilots better understood the accidents involving commercial jetliners, he explained.
The government appointed a four-member investigation team comprising three officials of the Aircraft Accident Investigation Board, two of whom are Air Force officers, and the fourth member has been co-opted from Pakistan Air Force‘s safety board. There is no commercial pilot in the team, which has been asked to submit its findings “within the shortest possible time”.
Another PALPA official, who did not want to be named, said it was crucial for any incident investigation to include a “rated pilot” for the type of the aircraft (Airbus A-320) involved in the accident.
In the wake of the COVID-19 pandemic, the Pakistan government had allowed the limited domestic flight operations from five major airports – Islamabad, Karachi, Lahore, Peshawar and Quetta – from May 16.
After the plane tragedy, the PIA has called off its domestic operations.

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To focus on floods now, Assam wants to close home-bound movements by June 30 | Guwahati News

GUWAHATI: Assam government wants to wrap up the process of receiving the home-bound people of the state from outside and of their subsequent quarantine by June 30 so that from July it can shift its entire focus on managing the floods, which has already affected over than 30,000 people and displaced nearly 9,000 of them to relief camps.
State health minister Himanta Biswa Sarma said, “Lingering with this process will make things difficult for us. We want to close this chapter (coming of people) by June 30 because from July we have to prepare for managing the floods.”
To hasten up, Sarma asked the people wanting to return home to reach the state in the next 15 days and gave green signals to airlines companies to fly in as many as possible, if they want to.
“From Assam’s point of view we want the people, whoever is planning to return, to come by June 10. Thereafter there are 14 days quarantine period and by June 30 we are able to close this entire exercise,” Sarma said.
“If the airlines carriers want to fly in more people to Assam, they can, provided they give us prior information. We do not want to impose any rationing now,” he added.
Sarma said that the frequency of flights are likely to increase to 32 in next four to five days after Kolkata airport starts operating. “There are also about 8000 people travelling by trains but have been stranded at different locations due to the Ampahn cyclone and they are expected to arrive soon,” Sarma said.
From May 5 inter-state movement was allowed by the ministry of home affairs and so far over 65,000 people have reached the state till Monday. Assam’s SOP for all incoming people either by train, air or road requires everyone to be compulsorily quarantined and tested for Covid-19. According to an estimate of the health department, another 10 lakh people might be planning to return.
The state is now facing a dual challenge of managing the post-return process of every individual right from screening, testing samples to quarantining to providing treatment to those who have tested positive for Covid-19 together with deteriorating flood situation.
The first wave of the annual flood, which struck the state on May 22 has affected over 30,000 people in five districts (Dibrugarh, Dhemaji, Lakhimpur, Darrang and Goalpara) and it is worsening. According to Assam State Disaster Management Authority, 8,941 people, including 2281 children of Goalpara district have been displaced and have taken shelter in 33 relief camps. Over 11,000 animals have also been affected and over 570 hectare of standing crop area has been destroyed so far.

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Heatwave intensifies in northern India, Churu hottest at 47.5 deg C | India News

NEW DELHI: Heatwave conditions intensified in most of the northern states of India on Monday, with Churu in Rajasthan scorching at 47.5 degrees Celsius and the mercury breaching the 46-degree mark in parts of the national capital.
While the daytime temperatures in most of Rajasthan were around 45-47 degrees Celsius, Punjab and Haryana too sizzled, with Narnaul recording the highest of 45.8 degrees Celsius. Allahabad was the hottest in Uttar Pradesh at 46.3 degrees Celsius.
The India Meteorological Department (IMD), which had issued a red colour-coded alert for north India for May 25-26 when the prevailing heatwave conditions are expected to peak, said dust and thunderstorms are likely to bring some relief on May 29-30.
The heatwave continued to sweep the national capital, with the weather office issuing an “orange” warning for parts of Delhi on Tuesday.
The Safdarjung Observatory, which provides representative figures for the city, recorded a high of 44 degrees Celsius, four notches more than normal.
Kuldeep Srivastava, the head of the regional forecasting centre of the IMD, said some respite from the stifling heat is expected on May 28 due to a fresh western disturbance and easterly winds at lower levels.
In Rajasthan, Chief Minister Ashok Gehlot appealed to the people to stay indoors and drink as much water as possible.
Intense heat wave conditions were likely at some places in Jodhpur, Bikaner, Jaipur, Ajmer, Bharatpur and Kota divisions, the weather office in Jaipur said.
Due to the activation of the western disturbance, light rains are expected in Jodhpur, Bikaner, Jaipur and Bharatpur on Friday and Saturday, it added.
Stifling heat gripped Punjab and neighbouring Haryana.
In Haryana, Hisar sizzled at 45 degrees Celsius, four notches above normal limits while Bhiwani recorded a high of 43.1 degrees Celsius.
Karnal, too, braved intense heat at 43 degrees Celsius, up five notches against normal limits.
In Punjab, Patiala recorded a high of 43.6 degrees Celsius, up by five degrees. Amritsar and Ludhiana too recorded above-normal maximums of 42.8 degrees Celsius and 43.1 degrees Celsius, respectively.
Chandigarh, the common capital of the two states, also experienced a hot day at 42 degrees Celsius, four notches above normal limits.
In Uttar Pradesh, day temperatures rose appreciably over Varanasi, Faizabad, and Lucknow divisions as blistering heat gripped many parts of the state.
The weatherman has forecast dry conditions in the state and warned of heatwave at isolated places over the next few days.
The weather office said rain and thunderstorm were “very likely” at isolated places over eastern Uttar Pradesh on Wednesday.
Heat wave conditions are also likely in isolated pockets over Punjab, Chhattisgarh, interior Odisha, Gujarat, Madhya Maharashtra, Marathawada, interior Andhra Pradesh, Telangana, Bihar and Jharkhand during the next two-three days, the IMD said.
In large areas, a heat wave is declared when the maximum temperature is 45 degrees Celsius for two consecutive days and a severe heat wave is when the mercury touches the 47-degree Celsius mark for two days on the trot.
In small areas, like Delhi, heat wave is declared if the temperature soars to 45 degrees Celsius even for a day, according to the IMD.

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