Police ask Indians to be alert after thousands get fake coronavirus jabs

Police ask Indians to be alert after thousands get fake coronavirus jabs
When India started its vaccination campaign in February, the government was the sole agency inoculating people, with jabs free to receive. (AFP)
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Updated 09 July 2021

Police ask Indians to be alert after thousands get fake coronavirus jabs

Police ask Indians to be alert after thousands get fake coronavirus jabs
  • More than 4,000 people have received fake COVID-19 jabs at over a dozen private vaccination camps in Mumbai and its metropolitan area since May

NEW DELHI: Police in Mumbai said on Thursday that people should be on alert after thousands of people in major cities have fallen prey to coronavirus disease (COVID-19) vaccine scams.
Scam vaccination drives have emerged in recent weeks as the demand for vaccines surged after a devastating second wave of the pandemic claimed more than 400,000 lives from April to early June.
More than 4,000 people have received fake COVID-19 jabs at over a dozen private vaccination camps in Mumbai and its metropolitan area since May, according to the police. In Kolkata, some 2,000 people — including a parliamentarian — were given fake vaccinations in June alone.
“We have asked people to be alert,” Anchalwar Shailesh Kumar, a senior police officer at Mumbai’s Khar police station, told Arab News. “We are investigating the case and at this stage we cannot tell many details.”
Umesh Shah from Mumbai’s Hiranandani Housing Society was one of some 300 people in the locality who received the fake jabs in late May.
“After the second wave our anxiety to protect ourselves from COVID-19 was very high and people took advantage of our vulnerabilities,” he said.
The residents thought the vaccination camp was official as it was organized by what appeared to be a private hospital.
“There was no reason for us to distrust when a private hospital approached us for vaccination, but the suspicion arose when our certificate did not come for days,” another society resident, Hitesh Patel, told Arab News.

HIGHLIGHTS

• At least 4,000 people received fake COVID-19 jabs at private vaccination camps in Mumbai. 

• 2,000 receive fake jabs in Kolkata.

“When the certificate came it was from a different hospital and of a different date than May 30 when we took the jab,” he said, adding: “We then realized that we were duped and approached the police.”
He said they had been given saline water instead of the vaccine.
A media uproar following the Hiranandani incident has prompted others to come forward, with similar cases starting to pour in from different parts of the country.
In Kolkata, a fake vaccination drive came into the spotlight after local parliamentarian Mimi Chakraborty took part in it. Failing to receive official confirmation of her vaccination on the government’s CoWin portal, she told local media she became suspicious and filed a police complaint.
While Kolkata police are also investigating the case, health experts blame the emergence of fraudulent schemes on the government’s new policy of allowing the private sector to take part in the national vaccination drive.
When India started its vaccination campaign in February, the government was the sole agency inoculating people, with jabs free to receive.
From May, however, private players have been allowed to commercially administer 25 percent of the vaccines the country has procured or produced.
India is currently relying on two “made in India” jabs — Covishield, the Oxford-AstraZeneca vaccine manufactured by the Serum Institute of India, and the local Covaxin, produced by Bharat Biotech — as well as the imported Russian Sputnik V, which it approved for emergency use in April.
As the government campaign has been sluggish, with less than 5 percent of the country’s 1.3 billion people inoculated so far, many have opted for paid vaccinations.
“The government policy of dual pricing is a problem knowing well that there is no regulation to check the private players,” Mumbai-based public health expert and Indian Journal of Medical Ethics editor Dr. Amar Jesani told Arab News.

“In the US, whether it is the private or public sector giving vaccines everywhere it is free. But in India, the government is concerned about the market,” he said.
“After the experience of the second wave, the government should have tried to build public health systems and infrastructure, but it has not learnt the lesson.”


Shanghai partly resumes public transport in patchy reopening

Shanghai partly resumes public transport in patchy reopening
Updated 6 sec ago

Shanghai partly resumes public transport in patchy reopening

Shanghai partly resumes public transport in patchy reopening
  • China’s largest city has been almost entirely locked down since April
  • Four of the city’s 20 subway lines restarted Sunday along with some road transport
SHANGHAI: Shanghai partially restarted public transport Sunday and set out new classifications for COVID-19 risk areas, signaling a gradual reopening after nearly two months sealed off from the outside world.
China’s largest city has been almost entirely locked down since April, when it became the epicenter of the country’s worst coronavirus outbreak since the early days of the pandemic.
Unlike other major economies, Beijing has dug in its heels on a strict zero COVID-19 approach that relies on stamping out clusters as they emerge, though this has become increasingly difficult with the infectious omicron variant.
But as new infections have slowed, Shanghai has cautiously eased restrictions, with some factories resuming operations and residents in lower-risk areas allowed to venture outdoors.
Four of the city’s 20 subway lines restarted Sunday along with some road transport, with officials announcing last week that it would provide a “basic network covering all central urban areas.”
Those who take public transport will have to show a negative COVID-19 test within 48 hours of their journey and have a “normal temperature,” they added Saturday.
Shanghai will also classify areas as high, medium or low-risk after May 31, city health official Zhao Dandan told a press briefing on Sunday.
Districts with 10 or more reported COVID-19 cases — or at least two community infections — will be considered “high-risk” while areas with no positive cases for 14 days will be deemed “low-risk,” Zhao said.
Medium or high-risk areas face lockdowns of two weeks.
The new system appears to set the stage for a degree of movement comparable to other cities, a shift from tough current measures in which even residents of lower risk areas have faced tight restrictions.
But despite broader attempts to ease those restrictions, the city’s central Jing’an district was back under lockdown on Sunday, according to an official notice.
Jing’an will undergo three consecutive rounds of mass COVID-19 testing from Sunday and residents are not to leave their homes during this period, a WeChat notice said.
“Exit permits that have been issued will be suspended,” the notice added Saturday, while assuring residents that “victory is not far away.”
The city of 25 million residents reported more than 600 COVID cases on Sunday, 570 of them asymptomatic, according to National Health Commission data.
But restrictions continued in other Chinese cities with COVID-19 cases, including the capital Beijing, which has already banned dining out and forced millions to work from home.
As of Saturday, nearly 5,000 people in Beijing’s Nanxinyuan residential compound had been relocated to quarantine hotels after 26 new infections were discovered in recent days, state media reported.
Fears have run high that the city may take a similar approach to Shanghai, where the lockdown has denied many adequate access to food and medical care.

Biden lands in Japan on second leg of Asia trip

Biden lands in Japan on second leg of Asia trip
Updated 55 min 5 sec ago

Biden lands in Japan on second leg of Asia trip

Biden lands in Japan on second leg of Asia trip
  • US president to meet with Japan’s prime minister and unveil a US-led trade initiative for the region on Monday

YOKOTA AIR BASE, Japan: President Joe Biden landed in Japan on Sunday for the second leg of a trip to reinforce US alliances in Asia.
Biden, making his first trip to Asia as president, arrived at Yokota Air Base outside Tokyo, and will meet with Japan’s prime minister and unveil a US-led trade initiative for the region on Monday, before joining a summit of the Quad regional grouping.


UK PM Johnson has not intervened in ‘partygate’ report, education minister says

UK PM Johnson has not intervened in ‘partygate’ report, education minister says
Updated 22 May 2022

UK PM Johnson has not intervened in ‘partygate’ report, education minister says

UK PM Johnson has not intervened in ‘partygate’ report, education minister says
  • The Labour Party has called on Johnson to explain why he met senior civil servant Sue Gray to discuss her final report into parties held at Downing Street

LONDON: British Prime Minister Boris Johnson has not intervened in an internal investigation into breaches of COVID-19 rules at his Downing Street office and residence, education minister Nadhim Zahawi said on Sunday.
Britain’s opposition Labour Party has called on Johnson to explain why he met senior civil servant Sue Gray to discuss publication of her final report into parties held at Johnson’s Downing Street office during COVID-19 lockdowns, which is expected next week.
“The Prime Minister has never intervened in the investigation that Sue Gray conducted,” Zahawi told Sky News, adding that he could not say who had called the meeting.
Johnson has faced widespread calls from opposition politicians and some in his own party for him to resign over the “partygate” scandal after it emerged that he and officials had broken stringent lockdown laws enacted by his government.


Global powerhouses head to sunny Davos as WEF returns in person

Global powerhouses head to sunny Davos as WEF returns in person
Updated 51 min 58 sec ago

Global powerhouses head to sunny Davos as WEF returns in person

Global powerhouses head to sunny Davos as WEF returns in person
  • Among the main topics of the conference is the Russia-Ukraine war

DAVOS: Business, tech and political leaders from around the world will reconvene in person for the first time since the beginning of the pandemic on Sunday for the start of the World Economic Forum’s Annual Meeting in a sunny, springtime Davos.

Delegates from all backgrounds will come together to discuss climate, tech and geopolitical issues as the world continues to reel from the devastating consequences of the COVID-19 pandemic.

“The annual meeting is the first summit that brings global leaders together in this new situation characterized by an emerging multipolar world as a result of the pandemic and war,” said Klaus Schwab, the WEF’s founder and executive chairman.

Among the main topics of the conference is the Russia-Ukraine war, with a special, virtual address by Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky set to take place. Similarly, other panels will tackle subjects such as refugee migration, public opinion and outlook to the future.

It is no surprise that with so many high-level figures from all over the world coming together to meet in a single location that sideline conversations tackling the world’s biggest problems will take place.

Much is riding on the panel-packed week of business card-passing and buzzword-throwing as the world awaits its outcome.


Afghan women TV presenters cover faces on air

Afghan women TV presenters cover faces on air
Updated 22 May 2022

Afghan women TV presenters cover faces on air

Afghan women TV presenters cover faces on air
  • The feared Ministry for Promotion of Virtue and Prevention of Vice ordered women TV presenters to follow suit from Saturday
  • Women presenters had previously only been required to wear a headscarf

KABUL: Women presenters on Afghanistan’s leading news channels went on air Sunday with their faces covered, a day after defying a Taliban order to conceal their appearance on television.
Since seizing power last year, the Taliban have imposed a slew of restrictions on civil society, many focused on reining in the rights of women and girls to comply with the group’s austere brand of Islam.
Earlier this month, Afghanistan’s supreme leader Hibatullah Akhundzada issued a diktat for women to cover up fully in public, including their faces, ideally with the traditional burqa.
The feared Ministry for Promotion of Virtue and Prevention of Vice ordered women TV presenters to follow suit from Saturday.
But women presenters defied the order and went on air with their faces visible, only to fall in line with the directive on Sunday.
Wearing full hijabs and face-covering veils that left only their eyes in view, women presenters and reporters aired morning news bulletins across leading channels like TOLOnews, Ariana Television, Shamshad TV and 1TV.
“We resisted and were against wearing a mask,” Sonia Niazi, a presenter with TOLOnews, told AFP.
“But TOLOnews was pressured and told that any female presenter who appeared on screen without covering her face must be given some other job or simply removed,” she said.
“TOLOnews was compelled and we were forced to wear it.”
Women presenters had previously only been required to wear a headscarf.
Ministry spokesman Mohammad Akif Sadeq MoHajjir said authorities had no plans to force female presenters out of their jobs.
“We have no intention of removing them from the public scene or sidelining them or stripping them of their right to work,” MoHajjir told AFP.
“We are happy with the media channels that they implemented this responsibility in a good manner.”
Akhundzada’s decree orders authorities to fire women government employees if they fail to follow the new dress code.
Men working in government also risk suspension if their wives or daughters fail to comply.
Authorities have also said that media managers and guardians of defiant women presenters would be liable for penalties if the diktat was not observed.
During two decades of US-led military intervention in Afghanistan, women and girls made marginal gains in the deeply patriarchal nation.
Soon after resuming control, the Taliban promised a softer version of the harsh Islamist rule that characterised their first stint in power from 1996 to 2001.
Since the takeover, however, women have been banned from traveling alone and teenage girls barred from secondary schools.
In the 20 years after the Taliban were ousted from office in 2001, many women in the conservative countryside continued to wear a burqa.
But most Afghan women, including TV presenters, opted for the Islamic headscarf.
Television channels have already stopped showing dramas and soap operas featuring women on the order of Taliban authorities.

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