Bhopal: Union Minister for Petroleum and Natural Gas Dharmendra Pradhan on Monday said fuel prices had gone up because of lower production in oil-producing nations due to the coronavirus pandemic. This lower production had caused an imbalance in demand and supply, the minister said. "Oil producing countries stopped production or reduced it during the coronavirus epidemic. A pressure on fuel prices was seen due to this imbalance in demand and supply. A few months ago, crude oil prices were USD 35-38, which has gone up to USD 54-55," he told reporters here. "Our basic challenge is we have to import 80 per cent of crude oil of our requirement. Consumption has been increasing. India is third as far as energy consumption is concerned," he said. He said the focus of the government was on electric vehicles (EVs), solar energy, production of ethanol etc to become self-reliant in the energy sector. Ethanol production, which was less than 1 per cent of demand when the NDA government came to power in 2014, was set to reach 9 per cent this year, he said. In reply to a query on some people doubting the efficacy of COVID-19 vaccines, Pradhan said countries across the world were looking at India with hope in the fight against the pandemic.
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Heilongjiang file photo:VCG Northeast China’s Heilongjiang Province reported 40 new confirmed COVID-19 cases and 50 asymptomatic infections as of 7 pm Wednesday and the locked-down Wangkui county in the city of Suihua was adjusted as a medium-risk area, with a township being adjusted to a high-risk area, the local health authority announced on Wednesday night. The virus strain in Suihua is the same as the strain in the latest outbreak in Dalian, Northeast China’s Liaoning Province, local official said at a press conference. The outbreak in Dalian was likely caused by coronavirus-contaminated imported frozen products, a Dalian official said at Monday’s press conference. Most of those infected are workers at the Dalian port, who became infected after carrying items from a Russian cargo ship that were later confirmed to be contaminated with coronavirus, the official said. The new COVID-19 outbreak in Wangkui county continued to spread as two neighboring cities on Tuesday detected eight new asymptomatic cases that are related to the outbreak. Wangkui rolled out county-wide testing on Monday, expecting to be finished within two to three days. The city of Qiqihar reported seven new cases, including three patients who have been to Wangkui county. Qiqihar has activated a city-wide emergency response mechanism for COVID-19. Another city, Yichun, also found one positive case after testing all recent returnees from the county. Yichun has closed all entertainment venues and private clinics and strengthened control on transportation in the city. In addition to Qiqihar and Yichun, Northeast China’s Jilin Province neighboring Heilongjiang, also detected seven cases, among whom three were diagnosed as asymptomatic coronavirus carriers after traveling to Wangkui. Four of their close contacts were found to have been infected on Tuesday. Global Times