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Kerala now second in Covid death toll, trails Maharashtra- The New Indian Express



Express News Service

THIRUVANANTHAPURAM: Kerala has surpassed its neighbouring states to become the second in the country in terms of Covid deaths. A low case fatality ratio (CFR — the ratio of deaths among the total positive cases detected) of around 0.4% was the hallmark of the Kerala model of Covid management.

But it suffered a beating after the state started adding deaths previously not included in the official death list, since October. The steady climb of CFR to 0.74% on Wednesday saw the state (38,353 deaths) surpass Karnataka (38,185) and Tamil Nadu (36,415). Kerala is far behind Maharashtra which has so far recorded 1.41 lakh deaths. But the state is unlikely to be replaced by the neighbouring states soon. 

When Karnataka and Tamil Nadu added 3 and 14 new deaths on Wednesday, Kerala added 308. The state reported 384 deaths on Thursday, taking the total toll to 38,737. The troubles before the state are manifold as it continues to report the highest daily death count along with the addition of deaths previously not accounted for. 

The reconciliation efforts made by the government in setting right the underreporting of deaths have revealed the true picture of the Covid casualties, even when the health activists accuse the government of distorting the records. As many as 9,598 deaths have been added in this manner since October 22. 

Reconciliation of deaths reveals inadequacies

The Union health ministry was highly critical of the extent of backlog deaths that questions the reporting standards as well as the claims made by the state. “Kerala has always claimed that its clinical management for Covid has been very good and hence one of the lowest number of deaths is being reported from the state. It is shocking to highlight that for the last three months, in the name of reporting backlog deaths, a larger number of deaths are being reported by Kerala,” the latest death analysis report by the Ministry of Health and Family Welfare observed.

“The recent reconciliation of deaths in the state reveals inadequacies in the recording and reporting mechanism. Apart from the deaths being added after appeal by the public, the deaths being added to the cumulative death toll also include the backlog of unreported cases during the period between March 2020 and June 2021 which is a cause for concern. This has brought to the fore the gap in the effective implementation of containment strategy in the past few months coupled with belying the claims made by state with respect to managing deaths due to Covid,” the report said.

The Kerala model had won praise when the state successfully flattened the curve, with all patients getting treatment without overwhelming the health system. However, health experts have been critical of the opaque manner of death declaration. Dr N M Arun, a public health activist who championed for better transparency in Covid death reporting, said the methods adopted by the health department are still not fully transparent. “While it is a positive aspect that the state has made the reconciliation effort, the extent of death toll could put the government in a defensive mode.

They could even stop reporting appeals on a daily basis. There are not many details available on the pending deaths added. Information such as date of death, age, sex, comorbidity and vaccination status of the dead are required to study the impact of Covid,” he said. The health department has stopped the pending deaths declaration of the cases up to June 18, 2021 (offline period of death reporting) when 3,779 deaths were reported in the category. It still has to process 15,405 appeals and the result could further increase in toll. Resolution of all these appeals will soon take the state’s death toll beyond 50,000.


Govt enforces covid containment measures in country till 31 Dec




The central government on Tuesday extended the enforcement of nationwide covid-19 containment measures until 31 December, as concerns rose over the emergence of the Omicron coronavirus mutant in some countries.

In an order, Union home secretary Ajay Bhalla asked states and Union territories to strictly adhere to a 25 November health ministry advisory recommending rigorous screening and testing of all international arrivals.

“Further, the contacts of these international travellers must also be closely tracked and tested as per MoHFW guidelines, and the samples of travellers turning positive are sent to the designated Indian SARS-CoV-2 Genomics Consortium (INSACOG) Genome Sequencing Laboratories (1GSLs) promptly, as per the Indian SARS-CoV-2 Genomics Consortium (INSACOG) Guidance Document,” the order said.

On Tuesday, Union health secretary Rajesh Bhushan chaired a high-level meeting with states to review covid-19 public health response measures and preparedness amid reports of the Omicron variant in various countries. Reiterating that the ministry’s revised guidelines and advisories have been shared with the states, Bhushan also advised States not to let their guard down and keep a strict vigil on the international passengers coming to the country through various airports, ports and land border crossings.

The states were advised to undertake effective surveillance of international passengers, enhance testing, strengthen the testing infrastructure and strictly implement the testing guidelines. The states were also asked to monitor hotspots, home isolation cases, and ensure the augmentation of health infrastructure. The government also asked states to coordinate with airport health organizations for lists of positive travellers, including details of all international travellers, and strengthen support for effective surveillance. The government said states should monitor the cases daily, with the state surveillance officer tasked to track and contain the spread of transmission of any variant of concern in the country, especially from any recent clusters of positive cases.

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‘The Matrix Resurrections’ Plot Details Revealed in New Interview



The fourth Matrix movie, The Matrix Resurrections, premieres in theaters and on HBO Max in a little over three weeks. And yet we still have only the vaguest of notions of what the film is actually about. Sure it’s about, y’know, the matrix, and it has Keanu Reeves’ Neo and Carrie-Anne Moss’ Trinity in it even though they, uh, died in the last Matrix movie. As to how they are alive, or why the matrix is still in existence 15 years after the events of The Matrix Revolutions, or why Morpheus now looks like Yahya Abdul-Matteen II instead of Laurence Fisburne, who knows.

Well, there’s a new cover story about the film in Entertainment Weekly, and while it doesn’t give away much, it does feature a few new details about the story. Here is how the article — which includes interviews with Reeves, Moss, and writer/director Lana Wachowski — describes the film:

Neo and Trinity are seemingly alive and well, but their minds are locked away inside the Matrix, which has become more dangerous. They have no apparent memory of their past, yet Neo is haunted by it. He sees flashes of what transpired in the previous films in his dreams, in what he thinks is everyday life.

The key new character in the film is apparently Bugs played by Jessica Henwick; she’s the blue-haired women seen in The Matrix Resurrections trailer. “When she crosses Neo’s path, we get more clues about just why Lana [Wachowski] felt so compelled to return to The Matrix,” the article claims.

Wachowski also said of the film that “art is a mirror…  most will prefer to gaze at the surface but there will be people like me who enjoy what lies behind the looking glass. I made this movie for them.” Of course, The Matrix fans hear mirrors and they immediately think about this clip, which adds some interesting context to Wachowski’s quote.

That’s still not much to go on, but what more do you need? It’s The Matrix. There’s going to be martial arts, philosophical discussions about the nature of reality, and absolutely no spoons whatsoever. The Matrix Resurrections opens in theaters and premieres on HBO Max on December 22.

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Mehreen likely to be cast in Nagarjuna’s ‘The Ghost?’



Akkineni Nagarjuna’s upcoming movie ‘The Ghost’ is being helmed by Praveen Sattaru. With two schedules of shooting wrapped up, the makers of ‘The Ghost’ are still uncertain on whom to cast opposite Nagarjuna in an important role.

Months ago, actress Kajal Aggarwal walked out of the project, citing personal reasons. After that, there were reports that actress Ileana D’Cruz would step into her shoes, which turned out to be false. Now, the latest grapevine is that Mehreen Pirzada has joined the team of this upcoming movie, which is billed to be a thriller. The makers are to soon make an official announcement regarding the same.

Mehreen, who has been part of films like ‘Manchi Rojulochaie’ recently, is busy with her upcoming movie ‘F3’, starring Venkatesh and Varun Tej. Director Praveen Sataaru, who got instant fame with his thriller ‘Garuda Vega’ seems to be quite confident of this movie.

‘The Ghost’ has Gul Panag and Anikha Surendran in key roles. Nagarjuna, who is currently busy with his upcoming family entertainer ‘Bangarraju’, will soon join the sets of ‘The Ghost’.

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