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Mumbai

The state of Maharashtra on Thursday announced its decision of reopening schools for all students from class 1 onwards, starting December 1. From Wednesday, schools will be conducting regular, physical sessions for standards 1 to 7 for the first time in 19 months. With this, all school students in the state, except those in pre-primary and kindergarten grades will be permitted to attend school, under the authority of listed COVID guidelines and SOPs.

Noteworthily, the final decision regarding the reopening of schools in Mumbai will be taken by the BMC Commissioner. This decision will affect about 11 lakh students (from classes 1 to 7 ) in the city.

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Amid the rising concerns of the new COVID variant Omicron, the Union Health Ministry has directed to increase testing and screening of all international travellers. In continuation to this, a special set of airport guidelines have been put in place for those arriving from South Africa, the epicentre of the said mutation. Reportedly, such passengers will have to undergo testing and quarantine at the Mumbai International Airport. If found COVID positive, their samples will be sent for genome sequencing, the Mumbai Mayor informed.

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Ahead of the state's formal notification regarding the reopening of all schools in Maharashtra for classes 1 to 7 from December 1, school authorities in Mumbai are planning to bring only secondary classes to campuses, as of now. As per reports, a staggered reopening of schools is being favoured across the city. Initially, only classes 5-7 will return to school. Lower grades will be welcomed once these classes settle. Noteworthily, BMC has the final authority to take a call regarding the reopening of schools in Mumbai. The civic body will take a decision only after the Education Department releases its official circular, read reports.

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''Omicron', a new COVID strain first traced in South Africa last week, is now becoming a cause of concern for the whole world. WHO on Friday alarmed the siren among countries after the classification of a new strain of COVID-19 in South Africa. The Swiss Federal Office of Public Health released a statement informing the same.

The recently designated variant of coronavirus B.1.1.529 is of concern and has more mutations than science knows about other alarming variants, read the statement. As per WHO, existing coronavirus vaccines may be less effective against the new COVID-19 variant. The FOPH also informed that this new strain is more transmissible than the previous globally dominant 'delta' variant. Spreading fast, the strain has plagued almost all provinces of South Africa and has also been traced in Botswana, Belgium, Hong Kong and Israel.

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A notification released by the Brihanmumbai Municipal Corporation highlighted that Mumbai reported a fresh rise of 179 COVID cases in the last 24 hours, pushing the total tally to the 7,61,955 mark. Reportedly, this number has been accounted to a cluster spread in the city, pushing the BMC to seal around 16 buildings in the affected zones. Noteworthily, there are no active containment zones in Mumbai, marking a significant pandemic arrest here.

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Good news 'local' travellers! Starting today, all fully vaccinated passengers can book online tickets for suburban trains directly from their phones, through the UTS app. Railway's Universal Ticket System (UTS) was suspended during the pandemic as there was no way to verify the COVID vaccination status of the commuters. Reportedly, the app has been made functional, starting today along with the required verification facility.

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In a step to curb the spread of COVID-19, the authorities of Maharashtra and Indore have taken an important decision on Monday. As per reports, the airport authorities of Indore have made a negative RTPCR report mandatory for all passengers coming from Maharashtra. The decision has been taken by the health department and airport officials of Indore after estimating the growth in the daily passenger traffic from Mumbai, Nagpur, Pune and Gondia to the city.

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Advancing towards the era of new-age travel, a bullet train project between Mumbai and Nagpur is in the pipeline. Pegged to reduce the travel time to 4 hours, the tabled scheme stretches across a 776-kilometer-long high-speed rail corridor between Mumbai and Nagpur. Currently, it takes about 12 hours to reach from the Financial Capital to Nagpur, when traveling by road.

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In a bid to draft a seamless layout of the Mumbai Metro operations, the MMRDA has realigned the position of two upcoming rake depots in the city. Reportedly, a meeting conducted on Tuesday finalised to cancel the proposed Line-7 Metro Car Depot at Airport Authorities of India lands at Dahisar. The design of Metro Line 9 will now be adjusted to install a shed at Raid Murdhe at Bhayanar, for Metro Line 7, 7A and 9, read reports. In addition to this, the Metro Car Deport for Line 5 has been moved to the Mauje Kasheli, instead of Kongaon MIDC for easier commute.

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The Maharashtra government on Thursday issued a notification slashing the excise duty by half. Reportedly, the 50% reduction aims to promote the legal import of liquor brands, effectively arresting bootlegging and/or smuggling of alcohol into the state. Now, the price of 1000 ml imported bottles, including scotch and whiskey priced between ₹5,800 and ₹14,000, will be cut down by 35-40%. Notably, the call on the reduction in prices will be taken by the affected liquor companies from Monday onwards.

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Starting Monday, 8 new AC suburban trains will be added to the air-conditioned local fleet of Western Railway in Mumbai. These additional services will ply along the Churchgate-Virar corridor, amplifying the daily luxury train frequency from 12 to 20 services. The move is set to establish a better AC train network in Mumbai, boosting convenient train travel for all.

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