Morning digest: WHO declares global emergency over coronavirus, children rescued and suspect killed in UP’s hostage crisis, and more

The World Health Organisation on Thursday declared an international emergency over the deadly coronavirus from China — a rarely used designation that could lead to improved international co-ordination in tackling the disease. “Our greatest concern is the potential for the virus to spread to countries with weaker health systems,” U.N. Health Agency’s Director-General Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus told a briefing in Geneva as he declared a “public health emergency of international concern.”

Over 20 children, aged between six months and 15 years, were rescued after an armed man, a murder convict who took them hostage after inviting them for a birthday party at his house in a village at Farrukhabad, was killed on January 30 night, police said. The hostage drama began at Kasaria village in the afternoon. Hours later, the accused released a six-month-old girl by handing her over to his neighbour from a balcony, they said. The suspect Subhash Batham fired from inside the house on those who tried to speak to him, police said, adding that a man suffered a bullet injury.

Key National Democratic Alliance member Shiromani Akali Dal (SAD) on Thursday slammed the Modi government at an all-party meeting called ahead of the budget session, saying legislation drafted on religious lines was not acceptable and reasserted its line that the Citizenship (Amendment) Act (CAA) should not exclude Muslims. Akali Dal Rajya Sabha member Balwinder Singh Bhunder raised the issue during the meeting. His comments come at a time when BJP national president J.P. Nadda met SAD chief Sukhbir Singh Badal to resolve the differences between the two parties over seat-sharing in the Delhi Assembly elections.

India’s economy needs to be evaluated in terms of the global misery index (GMI), the Congress said on Thursday. The benchmark measures people’s “misery score” based on parameters such as unemployment and inflation rate instead of the conventional gross domestic product (GDP), it said. At a press conference at the party’s headquarters just days ahead of the Budget, former Union Minister Manish Tewari said India now ranked high on the global misery index as it scored poorly on the key economic parameters factored in by the GMI.

Former J&K Deputy Chief Minister and PDP patron Muzaffar Hussain Baig’s decision to unfurl the national flag at the party office in Jammu on January 26 was in defiance of PDP president Mehbooba Mufti. Emerging as a new face of the mainstream parties in J&K setting an “achievable agenda”, Mr. Baig speaks on how politics was shaping up after the dilution of the special status.

India should address the concerns regarding the new citizenship law, the envoy of the United Kingdom said here on Thursday High Commissioner Sir Dominique Asquith’s comment came even as the Ministry of External Affairs (MEA) maintained that the Citizenship (Amendment) Act (CAA), 2019, is an internal matter of the country. “We noted what the government said that, ‘together with all, development for all, trust for all’, and I believe that is the manifested commitment of this government and I trust that it will continue to address the concerns that have been expressed. But that is for the Indian government and the Indian people,” Sir Dominique said.

Dr. Kafeel Khan, who was arrested from the Mumbai international airport on Wednesday evening by the Special Task Force (STF) of the Uttar Pradesh Police, was produced before a metropolitan magistrate court in Bandra on Thursday afternoon amid heavy security. As he was being led inside the court Dr. Khan told the media, “I was given a clean chit in the Gorakhpur [hospital deaths] case, now they are trying to frame me again. I would request the Maharashtra government to let me stay here as I do not trust U.P. police.”

Veteran scientist Dr. M.S. Swaminathan released a special publication on the Mahatma Gandhi assassination trial titled The Assassination of Mahatma Gandhi – Trial & Verdict 1948-49 published by The Hindu, as part of the History Series. The special publication is a tribute to Mahatma Gandhi on his 150th birth anniversary year. Releasing the book at his house on Thursday evening in the presence of N. Ram, Chairman, THG Publishing Pvt Ltd., Dr. Swaminathan said it was a moving moment for him, as he was present at Birla House when Mahatma Gandhi was assassinated.

The United States on Thursday extended exemptions to let an internationally-backed nuclear deal with Iran go forward, even as it announced new sanctions to step up pressure. President Donald Trump in 2018 pulled out of the accord negotiated by his predecessor Barack Obama, sending tensions soaring with Iran and leading Tehran to curb compliance, but European powers still back the deal.

Teen climate activist Greta Thunberg and the global protest movement “Fridays for Future” were nominated Thursday for the 2020 Nobel Peace Prize by two Swedish lawmakers. “Greta Thunberg is a climate activist, and the main reason she deserves the Nobel Peace Prize is that despite her young age, she has worked hard to make politicians open their eyes to the climate crisis,” Left Party Parliamentarians Jens Holm and Hakan Svenneling wrote in a letter to the Norwegian Nobel Committee.

Egypt’s Antiquities Ministry on Thursday unveiled the tombs of ancient high priests and a sarcophagus dedicated to the sky god Horus at an archaeological site in Minya governorate. The mission found 16 tombs containing 20 sarcophagi, some engraved with hieroglyphics, at the Al-Ghoreifa site, about 300 km south of Cairo. One of the stone sarcophagi was dedicated to the god Horus, the son of Isis and Osiris, and features a depiction of the goddess Nut spreading her wings.

An unassailable lead has opened up the window for experimentation but there will be no let-up in India’s intensity when it faces New Zealand in the fourth T20 International in Wellington on Friday. Both teams spent Thursday travelling from Hamilton to Wellington, and with a similar tight schedule for the final game of the series as well, there seems to be little chance of nets for either match. India skipper Virat Kohli and coach Ravi Shastri pride themselves on a win-at-all-times mentality, and have the chance to go for a 5-0 sweep.


Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *