India trying in vain to put lid on term ‘India variant’ for COVID 19

Indian variant has spread among US and 18 other countries: WSJ


Islamabad, May 24 (KMS): The Modi-led Indian government is trying, in vain, to criminalise the term ‘Indian variant’ for coronavirus, which is infecting 400,000 people and claiming more than reported 4,000 deaths every day in the country.

A report released by Kashmir Media Service in response to a notification issued by Indian Ministry of Electronics and Information Technology on May 21, 2021 regarding imposition of ban on social media posts about Indian variant of COVID-19 said that health experts and international media have confirmed the emergence of Indian variant of coronavirus.

As per Wall Street Journal, Indian variant has spread among “the US and 18 other countries and territories” around the globe, so far.

BBC too has confirmed that “A Covid variant first identified in India and spreading in parts of the UK, has threatened to derail Britain’s plans for a return to normality.”

On May 2, 2021, 39 of the UK’s leading scientists and health experts gathered – via video conference – and discussed the escalating situation. In the meeting they were presented with a paper by the government’s modelling committee, that made alarming reading. There was, the document said, a “realistic possibility” that the Indian variant was 50% more transmissible than the UK variant which had been responsible for the deadly winter wave.

Interestedly, Deccan Herald in a fresh report said that former chief minister of India’s Madhya Pradesh state, Kamal Nath, has repeatedly issued statements where he termed COVID-19 as ‘Indian Corona’. On 21 May in Bhopal, Nath said, ‘now this (COVID-19) has become the identity of our country, leave alone mera Bharat mahan, it has become mera Bharat COVID’. BJP supporters condemned his remarks on Twitter with the hashtag #ArrestKamalnath. Indian Forest and Environment Minister Prakash Javadekar (BJP), said, the statement that ‘bharat ki pehchan, mera bharat COVID’, it’s an insult to India.

Contrary to the above findings, India has asked social media companies to immediately remove any content on their platform which mentions or refers to the term ‘Indian variant’ of coronavirus.

Besides being an encroachment on media freedom, the move also betrays India’s irresponsible and insensible attitude towards the lives of the people in the world, as curbing information about Indian variant may land the globe in trouble water, the rights experts said.

Indian Information ministry on Friday through a notice attempted to dismiss the India variant statements and reports by describing them as false.

Tom Wenseleers, an evolutionary biologist at the University of Leuven in Belgium said, the variant from India is perhaps the most contagious coronavirus mutation on the planet. “The new variant from India has a very big transmission or growth advantage,” even over the UK mutation, he said in an interview with an American radio network, NPR. “It’s kind of like the UK variant squared.”

Wenseleers told NPR that this advantage was fueling the massive outbreak in India, on top of other contributing factors, such as recent mass gatherings, election rallies and relaxing of precautions.

Dr Yasmin Ali Haque, the Unicef representative in India, said in the same UN report that it would take years to overcome the consequences of this pandemic. “We are already seeing the secondary effects, especially on children and the poorest and most marginalised groups,” she said. The UN report warned that the current test positivity rate in India, 19pc, was too high. It noted that the infection pattern in India was similar to what was seen in Europe or the United States, but the scale was very different.

The report identified that matching the scale of the surge with the scale of the response was the real problem.

“This virus is adapting so fast, that no model has been able to predict how it will spread,” it warned. “We have to be ahead of the game: it’s a cycle of preparedness, readiness, response, and recovery. You can’t stop.”

Another UN report warned that the deadly new surge in India threatens to reverse global gains against the Covid-19 pandemic and have disproportionate impact on children.

The report — which includes inputs by the Unicef and WHO — noted that countries across South Asia were witnessing rises in infections, with India accounting for over 90pc of both infections and deaths in the region.

Dr Roderico H. Ofrin, the World Health Organisation’s (WHO) representative to India puts blame on India’s failure to follow standard operating procedures (SOPs). “We saw that people were not behaving in a way that was appropriate to slowing Covid-19, and I think that’s why we are where we are,” he said. “There are many reasons, but basically, we gave the virus a chance to keep transmitting.”

According to the WHO, India accounted for 46pc of global cases and 25pc of global deaths reported in the past week. Maldives, Nepal, and Sri Lanka also reported increasing caseloads.

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