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Ghaziabad man tests positive; States asked to form rapid response teams

Preventive measure: NGO members distributing protective masks in Hyderabad on Thursday. Nagara Gopal The Hindu

Owing to the recent global COVID-19 outbreak, Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s visit to Brussels has been rescheduled, the Ministry of External Affairs said on Thursday. This development came as India reported another confirmed novel coronavirus case from Ghaziabad, taking the total to 30.

To prevent the spread of the virus, the Delhi government has now ordered the immediate closure of primary schools in the capital till March 31. “All Delhi government, aided, private and schools run by civic bodies will remain shut,” said Deputy Chief Minister Manish Sisodia. Delhi has also suspended biometric attendance.

Responding to questions about the India-EU summit, MEA spokesperson Raveesh Kumar told journalists that it was decided that delegates should not travel to each other’s countries.

Mr. Kumar said the summit would be rescheduled to a mutually convenient date, which is yet to be decided. The summit was expected to take place at the EU office in Brussels on March 13. On Wednesday, 10 new cases of coronavirus were reported from Brussels, taking the total number of cases in Belgium to 23.

Mr. Kumar also said no case of any Indian being affected by the virus had emerged in Iran, and embassies across the world were on the job to help Indians.

Steps suggested

The Union Health Ministry on Thursday confirmed that India had a total number of 30 positive cases of COVID-19. “A man from Ghaziabad, with recent travel history to Iran, has tested positive for the virus, taking the total number to 30. We have now asked the States to form rapid response teams at district, block and village levels to contain the spread,” said a release by the Health Ministry.

Traces of formalin, a chemical widely used as tissue preservative, was found in 70 kg of fish in a surprise check jointly conducted by the Food Safety and Standards Authority of India (FSSAI) and the Fisheries Department at the wholesale and retail fish markets at Ukkadam here on Thursday.

Both FSSAI and Fisheries Department issued warning to traders not to sell fish added with the preservative. They also seized 430 kg of stale fish from the markets which was destroyed along with the 70 kg of fish found with traces of formalin, exposure to which is associated with certain types of cancer. Simultaneous raids were conducted by two teams led by food safety officers S. Vijayaraja and N. Kumaragurubaran at the two markets on Thursday morning. Inspector of Fisheries Padmaja was also part of the raids.

Speaking to The Hindu, Mr. Vijayaraja said that traces of formalin in fish was found in a rapid test conducted using a testing kit provided by the Government. “For the test, we rub a tissue provided in the kit against suspected fish. Then a drop of reagent is dipped on the tissue. The tissue turns blue if the fish contains formalin. It becomes light to dark blue based on the level of formalin contained in the fish,” he explained.

According to him, fish brought from Kerala and Andhra Pradesh were found with traces of formalin, which traders in those places added to the consignments before they were transported to Coimbatore.

K. Tamilselvan, designated officer of FSSAI in Coimbatore, said that similar surprise raids will be conducted in future too.

Raid in Tiruppur

In Tiruppur, officials from the FSSAI and Fisheries Department inspected fish market in Thennampalayam, Palladam Road.

FSSAI Designated Officer (Tiruppur) B. Vijayalalithambigai said that no fish laced with formalin was found during the inspection. However, officials seized and destroyed nearly 20 kg of rotten fish.

It tells parliamentary panel that date and place of birth of parents will complete data for all households

Mandated by law: People waiting to enrol their biometric details for the National Population Register, 2013. File Photo K_Ananthan

The Union Home Ministry has informed a parliamentary panel that it proposes to collect details on additional questions such as “date and place of birth of parents” in the National Population Register (NPR) to “facilitate back-end data processing and making the data items of date and place of birth complete for all household[s]”.

The Ministry said there was a need to update the NPR to “incorporate the changes due to birth, death and migration”. “Aadhaar is individual data, whereas NPR contains family-wise data,” it said.

“Various welfare schemes of the State and Central governments are generally family-based, for which NPR data may be used,” it said.

Though the final NPR form for 2020 has not been made public, on February 18, Ministry officials informed the panel that “during the update of NPR 2020, it is proposed to collect data on some additional items like place of last residence, mother tongue, Aadhaar number (voluntary), mobile number, passport (Indian passport holder), voter ID card, driving licence number, date and place of birth of father and mother”.

The submission was made in response to a question by parliamentary committee members on the new questions in the form.

West Bengal, Punjab, Madhya Pradesh, Chhattisgarh, Puducherry, Odisha, Andhra Pradesh, Telangana, Rajasthan, Bihar, Tamil Nadu, Kerala and Delhi have demanded that either the NPR be scrapped or the update be done using the 2010 form.

The Centre has proposed that the next phase of NPR will be conducted along with the house listing and house census exercise between April and September.

Ministry officials said, “The date and place of birth of parents were collected in NPR 2010 as well for all parents who were enumerated within the household. For parents living elsewhere or expired at the time of enumeration, only the names were collected...”

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