Here are the top 5 news of January 4, 2021:
1. Bharat Biotech's Covaxin gets permission to conduct COVID-19 vaccine trials on children above age 12
'Covaxin', the indigenously-developed coronavirus vaccine by the Hyderabad-based pharmaceutical firm Bharat Biotech, has now been granted permission by India's top drug regulator to conduct vaccine trials on children above the age of 12. The development comes a day after Covaxin received approval from the Drugs Controller General of India (DCGI) for restricted emergency use in the country, paving the way for a massive inoculation drive. While granting the emergency use approval, the DCGI clarified the age requirements for active immunisation trials in a document.
According to reports, the 'Covaxin' indigenous shot has been approved for those above the age of 12, while the Oxford-AstraZeneca COVID-19 vaccine, manufactured by the Pune-based Serum Institute of India (SII) under the name 'Covishield', has been approved for those above the age of 18.
2. Ghaziabad crematorium incident: 24 killed, victims' kin block Delhi-Meerut highway; 3 officials arrested
The Ghaziabad Police today arrested three municipal officials over the collapse of a roof at a crematorium that claimed 24 lives. Superintendent of Police (Rural) Iraj Raja said that Muradnagar Nagar Palika Executive Officer Niharika Singh, Junior Engineer Chandra Pal and Supervisor Ashish were arrested this morning. Police teams are also conducting raids at possible hideouts of contractor Ajay Tyagi to arrest him, Raja said.
Meanwhile, the victims' families and acquaintances blocked the Delhi-Meerut Highway by placing two bodies on the road near the Muradnagar Police Station which led to a massive traffic jam with hundreds of vehicles getting piled up during the morning rush hour. The protesters are insisting the district magistrate be called for a talk with them so that they can register their demands including Rs 20 lakh compensation for each grieving family and a government job for one of their members.
3. Chinese billionaire Jack Ma suspected to be missing following Beijing's aggressive crackdown on Alibaba Group
Chinese billionaire and Alibaba Group founder Jack Ma is suspected to be missing following his mysterious disappearance from the public eye for over two months after Beijing's aggressive crackdown on his business empire. The country's third-richest man was slated to appear as a star judge on the season finale of Africa's Business Heroes, a reality TV show created by his own philanthropic organisation. However, he dropped out of the appearance and the show's broadcast was postponed, a report said.
Formerly known for his government connections and rare outspokenness, Jack Ma's trouble with the Chinese government began when he gave a speech criticising China's regulators and state-owned banks for their 'backwardness'. His remarks are said to have infuriated Beijing's party brass, leading to Chinese President Xi Jinping to personally order a halt to the offering by Alibaba's financial affiliate company, Ant Financial, which was set to raise USD 34 billion in the biggest stock-market debut in history, the report added.
The board exams for the Higher Secondary Certificate and the Secondary School Certificate will be conducted in April and May 2021, respectively, Maharashtra school education minister Varsha Gaikwad announced on Sunday. Gaikwad said, tentatively, HSC board exams would begin after April 15 while, SSC board exams would be conducted after May 1, 2021.
This announcement was much-awaited by students who are currently preparing for board exams by attending regular online classes. State board schools in Mumbai have not yet started offline classes for Classes 10 and 12 in view of Covid-19 risks. Generally, every academic year, HSC board exams begin in February while SSC board exams are held in March. Sources from the state school education department said exam dates were yet to be finalised but, the months are confirmed. A senior officer of the department said, "The exam dates will be finalised depending on the Covid-19 situation in the state. For now, it is confirmed that HSC board exams will be conducted in April and SSC board exams in May 2021."
Tamil Nadu government today allowed to increase the seating capacity of cinemas, theatres, multiplexes from existing 50 per cent to 100 per cent following COVID-19 protocols. The permission was granted through a notification by the state government. Many film stars like actor Vijay requested the state government to give permission for 100 per cent capacity before Pongal.
The state government had granted permission to cinema theatres and multiplexes to reopen with 50 per cent seating capacity from November 10. Now, the government has permitted to increase the seating capacity of cinemas, theatres and multiplexes from existing 50 per cent to 100 per cent by following the standard operating procedure issued already. As per the notification issued by the state government, in order to create awareness among the spectators, the precautionary measures for COVID-19 shall also be screened during the showtime.
(With input from agencies)