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Unpredictable Third Wave puzzles Tollywood


After the restrictions are lifted in the country, the film industry reopened and the shoots are happening at a fast pace. Almost all the actors resumed the shoots of their upcoming projects. But there is no clarity about the reopening of the theatres though the governments of the Telugu states granted permission to screen films. A series of discussions are currently happening in Hyderabad between the producers and the distributors. Top producers of Telugu cinema met recently about the same. Some more meetings are planned this week.

What’s worrying so much is the third wave of coronavirus after the experts predicted that it may hit the country by the mid of August. Some of the distributors and exhibitors are not in a mood to reopen the theatres if there is a possible third wave. Screening films at this time will leave the makers in huge losses. Some of them say that the audience will not rush to theatres during these tense situations. The second wave of pandemic too is yet to calm down completely. For now, the discussions are going on and things will be finalized before this weekend.

Some of the filmmakers are keen to release the completed films as the interests are heaping up. More details awaited.

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AP records 2,930 more Covid infections, tally 18.9 lakh


Andhra Pradesh on Saturday logged 2,930 new Covid cases, pushing the state’s overall tally beyond 18.9 lakh, even as its active caseload dropped to 35,871.

As many as 4,346 persons recovered from the disease in the past 24 hours, raising the state’s total number of recoveries over 18.5 lakh.

East Godavari district reported the highest number of cases at 591, followed by Chittoor (443), Prakasam (363), West Godavari (338), Guntur (236), Krishna (204), Nellore (185), Kurnool (119), Kadapa (117), Srikakulam (105), Anantapur (100), Visakhapatnam (70) and Vizianagaram (59).

Except for Vizianagaram, all the other districts of Andhra Pradesh have now reported more than 1 lakh Covid cases, though Vizianagaram is also drawing closer towards that mark, just shy of 20,000 cases.

East Godavari tops the chart with more than 2.6 lakh cases, followed by Chittoor with 2.2 lakh cases.

Meanwhile, 36 more persons succumbed to the virus in the past 24 hours, raising the state’s overall Covid death toll to 12,815.

With 90,532 more tests conducted in the past 24 hours, the total number of tests carried out in Andhra Pradesh so far has crossed the 2.21 crore-mark.

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Need to fast-track genome sequencing of new coronavirus variants: VP


Vice President M. Venkaiah Naidu on Friday said that there is a need to fast-track genome sequencing of new variants of SARS-CoV-2 to speed up development of suitable vaccines and drugs.

He stressed the need to intensify international collaborations by research institutions and to study feasibility of developing a universal vaccine that can neutralise various variants.

“Specialised research focusing on sequencing would help in timely interventions during the ongoing pandemic. Sequencing, as an adjunctive tool, plays a critical role in identifying the emergence of new viral mutations and thus, helps combat the spread of Covid-19,” he said while addressing scientists at CCMB’s LaCONES (Laboratory for the Conservation of Endangered Species) facility.

“With SARS-CoV-2 mutating frequently, we are seeing the emergence of new variants that are causing faster transmissibility. This is a cause for concern and calls for stepped up efforts from scientists to neutralise its ability to spread rapidly,” he said.

Naidu said the need for genome sequencing of new variants becomes crucial in the light of reports of big cats contracting Covid-19 in a few zoos in the country. Species jump of a virus – from humans to animals or vice versa – can lead to new variants and pose fresh challenges in the ongoing fight against the pandemic, he added.

He opined that LaCones is rightly positioned to make these linkages at both national and international levels, to understand the emergence of infectious diseases, and prevent such pandemics in the future.

He noted that LaCONES is one of the four centres in the country that can test animal samples for Covid-19 infection. It recently released guidelines in collaboration with the Central Zoo Authority and Ministry of Environment, Forests, and Climate Change for the zoo frontline workers on Covid-19 investigation for captive animals.

He complimented the CCMB for its contribution to the cause of Covid-19 mitigation that includes the establishment of rapid diagnostics, genome sequencing and surveillance. “Research done at the CCMB has also shown that coronavirus spreads through air and that it can be detected in sewage and wild animals. The easy transmission of this virus poses many challenges, and the way in which it might infect new hosts or other species will be an important area of research. This is where the CCMB can take a lead and shed some valuable light,” he added.

He said that it is now imperative that India pays greater attention to zoonotic diseases that impact both animals and humans. There are many reports that connect climate change to emerging infectious diseases. He hoped the CCMB, the LaCONES, and other research institutes and public health organisations in India would expand their facilities to perform surveillance using rapid genome sequencing platforms.

Naidu also appealed to people to shed vaccine hesitancy and take the required doses of the vaccine. The need of the hour is to create awareness among people that vaccines would provide a high degree of protection and even if infected, the disease will be less severe, he said.

At the same time, people should not lower their guard. Everyone should follow Covid-19 appropriate behaviour by avoiding large gatherings, maintaining social distancing, wearing masks, and remaining in well-ventilated areas, he added.

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Preparing for 3rd wave, Telangana sets up Covid Command Centre


The Telangana government has set up a state of the art Covid Command Centre as part of its preparedness to fight the potential third wave of the pandemic.

The facility is equipped with Artificial Intelligence (AI) and Machine Learning (ML)-based insights on Covid cases, and vaccination data among others.

Information Technology and Industry Ministry K. T. Rama Rao on Friday inaugurated the centre at the Indian Institute of Health and Family Welfare (IIHFW) in Hyderabad.

He stated that the control room would enable the administration in taking complete control of the situation by aggregating and handling all the data related to Covid-19. It will also provide citizens a reliable forum where they can air their apprehensions and seek medical guidance.

The officials briefed the minister about the executive dashboard which can provide an overview of all the key metrics to track.

The facility has data analytics and artificial intelligence driven system which can help the officials in taking decisions regarding all Covid related demand, supply status and optimal allocation mechanisms.

Officials said this control room consist of a command centre, call centre and telemedicine.

Later, the minister also inaugurated the call centre set up in the same premises. Citizens can dial 1905 and get information about all the Covid related services like testing and vaccination centres, ambulance services, hospitalisation requirements etc. He congratulated the service providers and the staff manning the call centre for their support.

Chief Secretary Somesh Kumar, Principal Secretary Industries Jayesh Ranjan, Health Secretary S.A.M. Rizvi, Secretary Disaster Management Rahul Bojja, IIHFW Director Alugu Varshini and other officials were present on the occasion.

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Indian Cinema worried about the Third wave of coronavirus


The second wave calmed down in the country and the states issued relaxations. Some of the states granted permissions to reopen and screen films in theatres. The shoots of several Indian movies resumed and the shoots are happening at a fast pace. Tollywood is reopened completely and the shoots are happening at a faster pace. But none of the filmmakers are yet to announce the release dates of the completed projects. Several experts are warning of the third wave of coronavirus and there are predictions that the wave may hit the country in October. Several cases of the Delta Plus variant are reported in some of the states of India.

All these are worrying the filmmakers who are in plans to release their completed films at the earliest. As of now, the entire Indian cinema is puzzled about the releases. With the warnings of the third wave, most of the filmmakers will now wait for weeks before announcing the films. There are predictions that some of the completed films may hit the screens during August. The September and October releases will be finalized based on the situation and the third wave of coronavirus. As of now, Indian cinema is scared about the third wave of coronavirus.

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Producer Suresh Babu cheated by man promising Covid vax


Leading Telugu filmmaker D. Suresh Babu has been cheated by a man, who collected Rs 1 lakh from him for promising to arrange Covid-19 vaccination for employees of his production house.

The producer, who is actor Rana’s father, through his aide, registered a complaint in Jubilee Hills police station on Monday against one Nagarjuna Reddy, who has already been arrested by the police for duping a television channel.

The man called up the producer and offered to arrange 500 Covid vaccine doses for people working in his Suresh Productions. The accused asked Suresh Babu to transfer Rs 1 lakh to bank account of his wife. After withdrawing the amount, Nagarjuna Reddy switched off his mobile phone.

After realizing that he has been cheated, he lodged a complaint with the police through his aide.

Hyderabad Cybercrime police had arrested Nagarjuna Reddy on June 14 on charges of cheating a TV channel in the guise of providing vaccination to its employees at a cheaper rate.

Reddy called the entertainment TV channel and identified himself as a personal assistant of Telangana minister K.T. Rama Rao and offered to arrange Covid-19 vaccines for its staff members at Rs 100 per dose.

The channel paid Rs 1.5 lakh for the vaccination drive for 1,500 employees. However, after receiving the money, Reddy stopped responding to the calls.

The Cybercrime police booked a case on a complaint from the channel management and arrested him. He was remanded to judicial custody.

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Parents of kids need not fear Covid third wave: experts


Amid wide-spread concerns that the Covid third wave will chiefly affect people below the age of 18 years, here is a good news. The sero-prevalence, which determines the anti-bodies to any disease is more among the children and those below 18 years of age. This means they would be more resistant and would be able to effectively fight off the virus.

According to a study by the All India Institute of Medical Sciences, which has collected samples from various hospitals across the country, the children can combat the virus better than the adults. The study says that the children would be mainly under attack in the third wave is a myth. Studies have also shown that the children were already infected in the first and second waves and were asymptomatic carriers of the Covid 10 virus They already have the bodily and physiological resistance to the virus, the scientists say

There were fears that the children would be attacked in the third wave as those below 18 have not been vaccinated. But studies have shown that the anti-bodies already present in the children’s bodies will help them fight off the virus.

Experts hope that a vaccine that works on children above two years of age would soon be available. This will help protect them from a possible viral attack. As of now, the clinical tests on the presently available vaccines have shown that they are not effective on children. Hence, the doctors and community medicine experts suggest that children should be very careful and should take all necessary precautions while going to parties, community gatherings etc. They claim that this age group is vulnerable as they tend to hang out mainly in public spaces and suffer from inherent disadvantages The parents should ensure that the children have adopted covid appropriate behaviour.

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Andhra announces Rs 25L ex-gratia for doctors falling prey to Covid


The principal secretary of Andhra Pradesh’s health and family welfare department, Anil Kumar Singhal, on Monday issued an order sanctioning an ex-gratia of Rs 25 lakh to all the regularly employed doctors in the event they succumb to Coronavirus while discharging Covid duties.

“The government after careful examination hereby accords permission to the district collectors in the state for the sanction of an ex-gratia of Rs 25 lakh to the immediate dependents of the deceased regular employees who were drafted to Covid duties and were exposed to Covid,” said Singhal.

The government adjudged an ex-gratia of Rs 25 lakh for the doctors, Rs 20 lakh for the staff nurses, and Rs 10 lakh for male and female nurse orders (MNO/FNO) and other staff.

Set to benefit the dependents of the employees, this ex-gratia will be in addition to the benefit under the Pradhan Mantri Garib Kalyan Package insurance scheme.

“The dependents receiving any benefit under any other scheme are also eligible for the ex-gratia,” he said.

However, the deceased employee should have succumbed to Covid while discharging Covid duties inside a Covid hospital, Covid Care Centre or while visiting the home of an infected person.

Likewise, a Covid positive certificate and death certificate stating that the death was due to Covid are mandatory.

According to Singhal, dependents of the employees awaiting declaration of their probation are also eligible for the ex-gratia.

“This ex-gratia is in addition to any other benefit from insurance companies, organisations and institutions and other statutory payments by the Central/state government,” Singhal noted.

Respective district collectors have been entrusted with the responsibility of verifying the relevant documents before sanctioning the ex-gratia.

In less than a week after Andhra Pradesh Health Minister Alla Kali Krishna Srinivas assured the state’s junior doctors of meeting their demands, Singhal issued the order on ex-gratia.

However, there is no clarity if Kandikatla Rosy, a house surgeon at Eluru’s Ashram Hospital who succumbed to Covid while discharging Covid duties, emerged as the first beneficiary of this benefit, as was demanded by the junior doctors.

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Single dose sufficient for those already infected by Covid: Study


A single dose of vaccine is sufficient for those already infected by Covid-19, revealed a study by Hyderabad’s AIG Hospitals.

The hospital announced on Monday that it conducted a study on 260 healthcare workers who got vaccinated between January 16 and February 5 to assess the immunological memory response in all those patients. All patients were given the Covishield vaccine.

Two significant observations came out of the study, which has been published in the International Journal of Infectious Diseases, a peer-reviewed journal.

The previously infected group (people who got infected with Covid-19) showed a greater antibody response to a single dose of vaccine compared with those who had no prior infection.

It also revealed that Memory T-cell responses elicited by a single dose of vaccine were significantly higher in the previously infected group compared with those who had no prior infection.

It was concluded that higher memory T and B-cell responses in addition to higher antibody response with a single dose of vaccine given at 3-6 months after recovery from Covid-19 may be considered at par with two doses of vaccine for individuals already infected with Covid-19.

“The results show that people who got infected with COVID-19 need not take two doses of vaccine yet with a single dose can develop robust antibody and memory cell response at par with two-doses for those who didn’t get the infection. This will significantly help at a time when there’s a shortage of vaccine in the country and more people can be covered using the saved doses,” said Dr. D Nageshwar Reddy, Chairman, AIG Hospitals, and one of the co-authors in the study.

“Once we attain the requisite number of people vaccinated for achieving herd immunity, these patients who got infected and received only one dose can take the second dose of the vaccine. At this point, all our strategies should be directed at the widespread distribution of available vaccines and to include the maximum number of people at least with a single dose,” he added.

During the second Covid wave when cases were growing exponentially; the vaccination rate took a downturn. As of April 27, when the growth rate of active infection was 5%, the growth of vaccinated people was just 1.4 per cent.

“We need to modify vaccination strategy based on scientific evidence and with the objective that a larger set of the population can be covered in the shortest duration,” he said.

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Why Covid is a boon for digital money transfers?


Prime Minister Modi made a pitch for it and actively propagated the idea. Yet, there weren’t many takers. But, then Covid happened and Modi’s digital pitch is now gaining traction by each passing day. Modi rooted for digitization of monetary transactions. Thanks to Covid, digital money transfers are growing by leaps and bounds.

Latest government statistics reveal that the unified payment interface (UPI) or digital money transfers have gone up by 1200 times. During 2020-21, the total number of digital money transfers stands at 2233.1 crore. The total value of these transfers is Rs 45 lakh crore. Despite the government’s active promotion, digital money transfers did not become popular all these years. Now, thanks to Covid, the people are afraid of hard currency transfers and are opting for digital transfers.

Most interestingly, the UPI is being used more for small transactions involving street vendors, small traders and the retail market. This means the digital footprint is expanding. This is a heartening development, say government sources.

Digital transactions were introduced in 2016-17. The year recorded 1.8 crore transactions worth Rs 70000 crore. The next year actually saw a slump in digital transactions. There was some recovery by 2018-19 when the total number of transactions had gone up to 535 crore. Last year the number of transactions went up exponentially. The biggest gain is among the lowest strata in terms of economics.

Government sources feel that Covid was a godsend opportunity in promoting digital transactions. Fears that Covid could be contacted through currency notes as Indians in rural areas smear saliva while counting the notes, have prompted more and more people to go in for digital transactions.

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Consortium of 4 cities to enhance coronavirus genome surveillance


A consortium of four Indian city clusters has been established to upscale coronavirus genomic surveillance, complementing national efforts led by the INSACOG.

The consortium comprising Bengaluru, Hyderabad, New Delhi, and Pune is established with generous support and seed funding from Rockefeller Foundation. The new effort will track the emergence of viral variants correlated to epidemiological dynamics and clinical outcomes, said CSIR-Centre for Cellular and Molecular Biology (CSIR-CCMB), Hyderabad, which is leading the consortium.

The consortium currently includes different partners in three other cities: NCBS-TIFR, InStem-DBT, and NIMHANS in Bengaluru; the CSIR-IGIB in New Delhi; and the Pune Knowledge Cluster, IISER-Pune, and CSIR-NCL in Pune.

The consortium aims to develop targeted sampling strategies based on granular epidemiological and clinical data. Coupled with intense environmental surveillance and advanced computational techniques, the consortium would also focus on building capabilities for real-time surveillance and epidemiology.

It will work closely with local governments, hospitals and clinicians. In collaboration with the INSACOG, the consortium aims to eventually make this a national effort by expanding to other strategic locations in India.

Dr Rakesh Mishra, Advisor at the CSIR-CCMB, will lead these efforts along with Prof Satyajit Mayor of the NCBS, Prof L.s. Shashidhara of the Pune Knowledge Cluster, and Dr Anurag Agrawal, of the CSIR-IGIB.

“Our aim is to develop strategies and capabilities to identify Variants of Concern before they spread widely and cause outbreaks. This will also help correlate with clinical symptoms and disease severity, potentially associated with emerging variants,” said the team.

“All the partner institutes have been fighting COVID-19 since its very beginning in the country. This much-needed collaboration will bring all their strengths together in a structured fashion,” CSIR-CCMB Director, Dr Vinay Nandicoori, said.

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O2 plants, financial support to Kannada & Telugu cine workers by Hombale


One of south India’s top production houses, Hombale Films has stepped up for the relief works to combat the pandemic. With second wave hitting many lives, there occurred a short supply of essential oxygen, O2 beds and claimed jobs of cine workers.

In order to make the contribution from their end, Hombale has set up oxygen plant in Karnataka’s Mandya along with a 20 bed facility. This can be used to induct patients who are in urgent need.

Then Hombale provided Rs 5000 as financial assistance to the crew of ‘Salaar’ and also a token amount of Rs 35 Lakh is donated to the associations in Telugu Film Chamber.

During the first wave, Hombale helped cine workers of Kannada for two months and they are carrying out the same initiative during the second wave too.

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Telangana Congress seeks free treatment for Covid


Opposition Congress party in Telangana demanded that the state government provide free treatment for Covid-19 and black fungus for the families living below poverty line.

The party, which organised ‘Satyagrah’ to press for its demands on Monday, reiterated that the government include treatment of Covid and black fungus in Rajiv Aarogyasri, a scheme under which BPL families are provided free treatment for various ailments.

Party’s state unit chief N. Uttam Kumar Reddy led ‘Satyagraha’ at Gandhi Bhavan, the party headquarters here.

The Congress leader said many people infected with Covid and black fungus were forced to sell their property to pay for the treatment. He demanded that the state government regulate Covid treatment charges in private hospitals.

He said the government should take steps to ensure reimbursement to patients who were overcharged by the private hospitals. “The government should act on the orders passed by the high court,” he said.

The Congress party also demanded universal free vaccination against Covid-19. Its leaders said it was the responsibility of the Central and state government to ensure that every citizen is vaccinated free of cost.

They alleged that both the central and state government have failed to check the spread of Covid-19

Congress Legislature Party (CLP) leader Mallu Bhatti Vikramarka blamed Chief Minister K. Chandrasekhar Rao for deaths due to Covid in the state.

He said it was unfortunate that the state government has still not included Covid treatment in Rajiv Aarogyasri scheme.

Member of Parliamnet Komatireddy Venkat Reddy recalled that the Chief Minister had announced in the State Assembly that treatment of Covid will be covered under Aarogyasri but he has not yet implemented this.

Senior leaders and former ministers Ponnala Lakshmaiah, Mohammed Ali Shabbir, Jeevan Reddy, former MLA M. Sashidhar Reddy, Sravan Dasoju, Vasmhichand Reddy and others participated in the ‘Satyagrah’ at Gandhi Bhavan.

Similar protest was organised at party offices in the district headquarters.

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Mega vaccination drive held at Hitex, Hyderabad


A mega vaccination drive was held on Sunday at Hitex, Hyderabad. Concerned about the spike in cases in the past 60 to 70 days that caused loss of lives, Medicover Hospitals, in association with the Cyberabad Police Commissionerate & The Society for Cyberabad Security Council (SCSC), planned this initiative to combat Covid-19.

The place was filled with people looking to get vaccinated since 8 a.m. when the drive began and it was slated to continue till 9 p.m. With over 500 counters for no waiting, different time slots were allocated all through the day.

Nursing stations for lactating mothers, emergency ward with 5 beds in each hangar and tea, coffee and biscuits were provided for guests who come for the vaccination.

The objective of this drive was to inoculate the maximum number of people in the tri-city. This drive was being held in the safest environment strictly observing Covid appropriate behaviour and protocols. This would not only set a trend but motivate more people to organise such drives to vaccinate the maximum population in the least possible time to fight impending waves, if any.

While many are flocking to vaccine centres, because of the increased awareness due to the second wave, still a large section of people are hesitating to get the vaccine jab. This drive will also motivate those who are still in dilemma. Camps like this will send a strong message and will also give them confidence that it is safe to take the vaccine.

All necessary arrangements are made to follow strict protocols to ensure proper hygiene and safety of the participants.

Cyberabad Police Commissioner V.C.Sajjanar said: “It is important to take all steps to prevent the surge of the pandemic. This vaccination drive will help us to control the surge as well as prevent the possible third wave.”

SCSC General Secretary Krishna Yedula said: “We are very happy to be associated with this drive as we believe vaccination is the only solution under the current circumstances. We hope maximum people take benefit out of this drive.”

Medicover Group of Hospitals India Executive Director Hari Krishna said: “Vaccination has proven to be effective in combating the pandemic in many countries. Since we are hugely populated, it is necessary to conduct such mass vaccination drives to cover the maximum population.”

Cyberabad Police, and the SCSC are known for many mega drives like this.

Among the dignitaries who attended the vaccination drive were Director of Public Health, Dr G. Srinivas Rao, Sajjanar, Director of Medical and Health, Dr Swarajya Lakshmi directorate of Medical and Health, Sherlingampally MLA Arekapudi Gandhi, Medicoover Hospitals India Chairman and Managing Director Dr Anil Krishna, Director, Clinical Services, Dr Sharat Reddy, Director, Dr Krishna Prasad, Hari Krishna, Telangana superspeciality hospital Secretary Govinda Hari, DCP, Madhapur, Venkateswarlu, Medicover Hospitals Chief Business Officer Mahesh Degloorkar, and Vice President Neeraj Lal.

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Andhra hospital treats newborn for rare Covid multi-system inflammatory syndrome


In what is believed to be the world’s first reported case, a newborn diagnosed with Covid multi-system inflammatory syndrome (MISC) with abnormal skin lesions, has been successfully treated by a team of doctors at the Andhra Hospitals here.

PV Rama Rao, chief of the children’s services at Andhra Hospitals, said: “The condition was diagnosed as neonatal ‘Purpura fulminans’, a very rare condition symptomised by extensive skin lesions during the new born period. However this newborn baby was suffering from the rare skin condition, in combination with neonatal MIS-C is presumably the first reported case in the world, as extensive literature search showed no reported cases till now.”

The seven-day old infant was admitted to Andhra Hospitals, neonatal intensive care unit on May 21, with a history of skin manifestations and fever. The child was afflicted with black, red, and bluish-tinged skin lesions on back of the abdomen, buttocks and legs at 16 hours of life and the condition worsened over the next three to four days.

With the mother not reporting any significant health problems or fever during pregnancy and the entire pregnancy was uneventful, doctors feel she had possibly been covid asymptomatic.

However, while both mother and child had a negative RT-PCR test, Covid IgG antibodies were positive in both of them, suggestive of transplacental transmission of antibodies from mother to the child.

Transplacental vertical transmission of Covid antibodies from mother to baby is very rarely described in literature. There are very few reported cases in the world, presented with clinical manifestations suggestive of neonatal multisystem inflammatory syndrome in children (MISC).

Blood investigations in the baby showed high white blood cell count, rise in inflammatory markers like C-reactive protein, other markers showed marked rise such as ferritin, D-dimer, LDH, NT – ProBNP, IL6 & low protein C level.

NT pro BNP increase suggested some cardiac dysfunction such as cardiac failure.

A team comprising Dr Bhoojata, Dr Revanth, Dr Krishnaprasad, Dr Meghana and Dr Balakrishna helped treat the newborn with Immunoglobulins, steroids & blood thinners such as heparin, following which the fever has subsided, and the child is feeding well.

The paediatric surgeon performed surgical debridement of the skin lesions which have started healing.

Rama Rao said that they are submitting their findings to Lancet, the peer-reviewed medical journal.

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AP website to sell Anandayya medicine triggers row


The ruling YSRCP and the opposition Telugu Desam are now locked in a heated political battle on the issue of online sale of Anandayya ayurvedic medicine. The TDP is saying that the YCP leaders are trying to make fast money in the name of online sale of ayurvedic medicine. Whereas, the YCP has begun filing cases against the TDP leaders who have made these allegations against the ruling party.

The controversy erupted after one Narmada Reddy started Sresita website to sell Anandayya medicine. This was started just a few days after the YCP MLA said that online sale of this medicine would begin soon. The TDP was questioning why a private operated the website and whether it was started without the permission of the YCP MLA.

On its part, the Government simply accused the TDP leaders of spreading false rumours. Hence, cases were filed against some TDP leaders in the Nellore district.
However, till now, there was no clarification from the Government side on whether it had a role in running the website or not. It remained a mystery whether Mr. Narmada Reddy had got necessary permissions or not. Obviously, the District Collector and the SP were staying away from this row considering how the local YCP MLA had taken all things into his hands from the beginning.

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KTR urges Centre to import unused Covid vaccine stocks

Telangana’s Information Technology and Industry Minister K.T. Rama Rao on Friday targeted the Centre again for its “bungling” on Covid-19 vaccination and demanded that it immediately import vaccines from countries that are sitting on a huge stockpile of unused doses.

He said the Centre should use Rs 35,000 crore it allocated in the Union Budget for 2021-22 to procure vaccines wherever available in the world and provide them free of cost to all the states to speed up the vaccination.

The minister was talking to reporters on the sidelines of the inauguration of a 150-bed ICU facility for Covid patients at the Telangana Institute of Medical Sciences (TIMS), Gachibowli.

KTR, as the minister is popularly known, said the Centre should come forward and take the initiative as the vaccination is the only permanent solution to the pandemic. He demanded that the Centre announce a uniform pricing and distribution policy for Covid vaccines to ensure universal vaccination.

But for “some wrong decisions taken by the Centre”, the vaccination should have been completed by now or at least progressed with brisk pace, he said.

“When we should have procured the vaccines, we did not procure. Instead, we exported to other countries,” he said.

KTR, who is son of Chief Minister K. Chandrasekhara Rao, pointed out that a country of 132 crore population required 264 crore doses but it did not even have a quarter of this. “Though they (Centre) knew that there are no vaccines available, they announced that people in the 18-44 age group will be vaccinated,” he said.

He said at least now the Centre should procure vaccines from countries sitting on huge stockpiles of unused doses. “My information is that there are 50 crore doses of AstraZeneca vaccine available in the United States and other countries. There are 25 crore doses in the US and another 25 crore in countries like Norway, Denmark and Canada,” he said, demanding Prime Minister Narendra Modi should talk to his counterparts in those countries and procure vaccines.

Referring to the pressure on Bharat Biotech and Serum Institute, he said the Centre was using 85 per cent of the doses they were manufacturing while from the remaining 15 per cent, they were supplying to the state governments and private hospitals.

He said Telangana called tenders to procure vaccines and the response would be known later. “Some states called tenders but there no response. Some states spoke to companies like Pfizer and Moderna but they said they were dealing with the government of India.”

Referring to Covid situation in Telangana, he said the state was in much better situation compared to its neighbours and exuded confidence that the number of new positive cases will further come down over next one week.

He claimed that the state government’s strategy of conducting door to door fever survey to identify people with Covid symptoms and distributing medicine kits among them yielded good results and the Centre was replicating this.

KTR said the state focused on expanding health infrastructure and also on creating awareness among people to tackle the pandemic

The minister thanked the IT companies which contributed Rs 15 crore under corporate social responsibility for ICU at TIMS.

Microsoft, Qualcomm, Franklin Templeton, Cognizant, and WellsFargo contributed the money through the Hyderabad Software Enterprises Association (HYSEA) for the purpose.

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Telangana to vaccinate students going abroad from June 5


The Telangana government will roll out Covid-19 vaccination from June 5 for students going abroad for higher education.

A separate facility for vaccination of students going abroad for higher education is proposed to be launched in the Institute of Preventive Medicine (IPM), Narayanguda, Hyderabad.

An online slot booking system for the convenience of these students is being developed and will be rolled out on June 4. Link for this facility will be made available at https://www.health.telangana.gov.in Vaccination will commence and slots will be available from June 5.

The state cabinet, at its meeting on May 31, had decided to start vaccinating students going abroad for the higher studies.

It was announced that these students will be vaccinated on a priority based on their admission letters.

Yocket, India’s largest platform for study abroad aspirants, has welcomed the decision by the Telangana government to vaccinate students going abroad for higher studies.

Co-founder and Higher Education Expert, Sumeet Jain, said that this is a welcome step. “This move will bring in a lot of positivity among the students that the people in power do care about them. This is a welcome move and it will give a lot of students to travel with confidence,” he said.

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Hyd airport handles largest consignment of Sputnik V


GMR Hyderabad Air Cargo (GHAC) on Tuesday handled largest shipment of Russian made Sputnik V vaccines.

The vaccine consignment arrived from Russia on a specially chartered freighter RU-9450 which touched down Hyderabad Airport at 03.43 hours.

While GHAC has already handled several import shipments of vaccines prior to this, Tuesday’s shipment of 56.6 tonnes of vaccines is the single largest import shipment of Covid-19 vaccines handled in India till date. This shipment completed all processes and was dispatched in less than 90 minutes, GHAC said.

The Sputnik V vaccine requires specialised handling and storage, requiring to be kept at a temperature of -20o C. GHAC has been working closely with the experts from the customer’s supply chain team, officials from customs department and other relevant stakeholders over an extended period of time to ensure that the necessary infrastructure and handling processes are fully in place at the Air Cargo Terminal for smooth handling of the vaccine shipments.

With the smooth handling of this large vaccine import consignment, GHAC has further cemented its position as the largest vaccine import hub for India.

Major pharma companies based in and around Hyderabad are expected to produce or import over 3.5 billion doses of different varieties of Covid vaccines over the next couple of years and GHAC has been gearing up on all fronts to handle the surge in vaccine shipments.

Key elements of the temperature controlled infrastructure at GHAC are all being expanded in terms of both capacities as well as capabilities. Among other measures, GHAC has expanded the capacity of ‘Pharma Zone’, which is India’s first dedicated pharma cargo export terminal and introduced a unique temperature-controlled ‘Cool Dolly’ to safely transport shipments from terminal to the aircraft.

Together, these initiatives enable GHAC to offer an unparalleled and truly unbroken cold chain for vaccines and pharmaceuticals from truck offloading point till aircraft loading, it said.

GHAC has also convened a special task force comprising of Customs authorities, airlines, freight forwarders and other stakeholders to ensure priority handling and speedy clearances for vaccines and other Covid relief materials such as medicines, oxygen concentrators etc.

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Telangana discusses preventive measures for possible third wave


Top officials of the Telangana government on Tuesday discussed preventive measures for a possible third wave of Covid-19.

Finance Minister T.Harish Rao, who is looking after Medical and Health Department related matters on behalf of Chief Minister K. Chandrasekhar Rao, and Chief Secretary Somesh Kumar held a meeting at State Secretariat.

This comes a day after the state cabinet directed the officials concerned to be alert in view of reports that there is a possibility of a third wave, and asked them to prepare proper action plan.

Harish Rao reviewed with the officials the procurement of medical equipment, oxygen supply and storage units.

The meeting decided that all drivers of Telangana State Road Transport Corporation, auto-rickshaw and cab drivers will be provided Covid-19 vaccines from June 3 across the state.

Every day, 10,000 drivers will be vaccinated in Greater Hyderabad Municipal Corporation (GHMC) area and other district headquarters. The minister has also reviewed the stock availability of vaccine and allotment of vaccine quota by the Centre, and instructed the officials concerned to pursue and make efforts with the Centre on more allocation of vaccine doses to the state.

Special Chief Secretary, Transport, Roads and Buildings Sunil Sharma, Principal Secretary, Information Technology, Electronics and Communications Jayesh Ranjan, Health Secretary S.A.M. Rizvi, Transport Commissioner M.R.M. Rao, Director, Medical Education, Dr Ramesh Reddy, Director, Public Health, Dr Srinivas Rao, and other officials attended the meeting.

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