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UK to receive first batch of 3 million paracetamol packets from India by Sunday

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London: The UK will receive a first batch of 3 million paracetamol packets from India by Sunday as it expressed gratitude to the Indian government for approving this “important shipment” after New Delhi lifted its export ban amid the coronavirus pandemic.

Lord Tariq Ahmad, the Minister of State for South Asia and the Commonwealth in the Foreign and Commonwealth Office (FCO), on Friday said the shipment is symbolic of the cooperative way both countries have been working through this unprecedented global crisis.

“The UK and India continue to work in close partnership to respond to the COVID-19 threat. My sincere thanks on behalf of the UK government to India for approving this important shipment,” Ahmad said.

The shipment, set to arrive on a plane by Sunday, will coincide with a series of charter flights laid on by the UK government to ferry thousands of British residents stranded in India’s coronavirus lockdown.

“We have been working very closely with the Indian authorities, here at the Indian High Commission in London, the Ministry of External Affairs (MEA), and at state level in India to put in place all the necessary requirements for British nationals wanting to return to the UK,” Ahmad said.

“The sheer logistics of this exercise involves every individual who has registered on to our central database being sent detailed information about booking their seat on the flights as well as local support for them to be able to get to the airports in the particular states, given the lockdown and curfews in place,” he said.

The travellers are set to be flown out from Goa, Mumbai, Delhi, Amritsar, Ahmedabad, Thiruvananthapuram via Kochi, Hyderabad, Kolkata and Chennai via Bengaluru over the coming week.


Also read: Why India doesn’t have an edge in exports of azithromycin, the other Covid-19 ‘wonder drug’ 


They will be checked for any symptoms of the novel coronavirus before being allowed to board the charter flights and on landing in the UK, they will be subject to the same self-isolation and social distancing stipulations as other UK-based citizens, the FCO said.

An estimated 21,000 British residents are currently in India, of which around 5,000 are set to be repatriated over this weekend and the next week with a total of 19 charter flights confirmed between the different cities of India back to London.

Passengers are given a chance to book on to these flights at a standard 600-650 pound rate, with those facing financial difficulties given the opportunity to access an interest-free loan to be paid back over a six-month period.

The British High Commission in New Delhi has said that it is prioritising the more vulnerable within the nationals registered on its database wanting to return to the UK.

The charter flights announced so far are expected to make “serious inroads” into repatriating the large numbers stranded in India, with an end of April target set for getting the majority back to the UK.

In reference to some calls for a possible passenger swap on these flights, for thousands of stranded Indians in the UK to be flown back to India by return journey, the UK government said that is a decision for the Indian authorities – given the ban on international flights in India.

The FCO said in the spirit of cooperation it has announced a series of measures to assist the Indians caught up in the crisis in the UK, including an extension to any expiring visas until the end of May and steps to safeguard university accommodation for Indian students.

On Friday, the total number of COVID-19 fatalities in the UK rose to nearly 8,000, while the number of confirmed cases climbed to more than 65,000.


Also read: India to export critical drugs like hydroxychloroquine to more than 20 countries for Covid-19


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India

Andhra doctor, suspended for alleging PPE shortage, now beaten by cops for ‘creating nuisance’

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Bengaluru: A doctor with a government hospital in Andhra Pradesh, who was suspended for questioning the shortage of PPE kits, was admitted to a mental health facility Sunday, a day after he was allegedly manhandled by the police and arrested for creating nuisance in Visakhapatnam.

Dr Sudhakar Rao, a government civil surgeon, was beaten, his hands tied behind his back and dragged by police officers Sunday. During the incident, Sudhakar allegedly verbally abused the Jagan Mohan Reddy government in an inebriated state. Videos of the incident have since been widely shared online.

“The police control room received a call about a person creating nuisance on Beach Road Hospital in Visakhapatnam. The Fourth Town police was rushed there and found that the person was the suspended doctor, Sudhakar.

“When the police tried to control him, he snatched the mobile phone of an officer and threw it away. He is suffering from mental disorder and he was drunk. He was sent for a medical examination,” Vishakapatnam Police Commissioner R.K. Meena told the media Sunday.

Sudhakar was admitted to a mental hospital Sunday after doctors at the King George Hospital in Vishakapatnam said he suffered from anxiety.

“Since the doctor is in anxiety and talking irrelevant things, I have referred him to a mental care hospital in Visakhapatnam,” said Dr Radha Rani, medical superintendent, King George Hospital.

A statement released by the hospital said: “Dr Sudhakar was brought to the KGH casualty ward at 6.30 pm. From the smell, it was found that he was in a drunk condition. Under the influence of alcohol, he did not cooperate with anybody there and kept abusing all. Still, his pulse, BP were checked. Pulse was 98, BP 140/100. Blood samples were sent to forensic lab to ascertain alcohol content in his blood.”


Also read: 6 toilets for 20 houses, inadequate testing: Why Mumbai’s Worli chawls are a Covid hotspot


‘Treatment towards Sudhakar was inhuman’

Sudhakar, who spent more than 10 years at the Narsipatnam Government Hospital in Andhra Pradesh, was suspended from his duties in March after he openly criticised the Reddy government for failing to provide PPE kits and N95 masks to doctors treating Covid-19 patients.

He had alleged that the state government was giving N95 masks and PPE kits meant for doctors to politicians and the police.

A video of Sudhakar criticising the government was also shared widely. In the clip, he can be heard saying: “We are putting our lives at risk here. We are asked to use the same mask for 15 days and a fresh mask will be provided only twice a month.”

Speaking to ThePrint, Dr P. Gangadhar Rao, member of the National COVID Committee of the Indian Medical Association, said the manner in which Sudhakar was manhandled by the police was “inhuman” and “violated” human rights.

“We strongly condemn the way he was taken into custody. He was not carrying a weapon, he was alone, the number of policemen outnumbered him. Why treat him like that? We also saw a video where a policeman beats him with a lathi,” said Dr Gangadhar.

He added that Rao was one of the most experienced anaesthetists the Andhra Pradesh government had.

“Our next step of action is to get Sudhakar to write an unconditional apology for having used filthy language, abusing the chief minister and the government. We will then take our appeal to the CM seeking that he be reinstated,” Gangadhar said.


Also read: Face shields, gowns, masks — the new attire for cabin crew post lockdown


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