News Flash – 12 March 2020

National News



State asks Doctors to Fix SOP to Battle Virus


Mumbai: If the steady stream of visitors, especially in swanky cars, to the BMC-run Kasturba Hospital near Saat Rasta on Wednesday was an indicator, Mumbaikars seem to be in panic mode. A woman who walked into the Kasturba complex seeking direction to the Covid-19 OPD, said she had had a cough for four days. Although she hadn’t visited any foreign country or met people who had travelled abroad, she said, “I just want to be sure this cough is not the coronavirus.” Two sisters who had returned from Dubai on March 3 were among those who wanted to be sure they weren’t infected. At the end of Wednesday, the hospital had taken 10 of these OPD visitors into the quarantine facility and planned to test them on Thursday. The visitors included office-goers who wanted a certificate stating they were not infected and could travel abroad or rejoin office. “My office wants to send me to Kazakhstan, but I need a certificate saying I don’t have the virus. But Kasturba doctors said I don’t need such a certificate,” a man said. The panic is also apparent in calls received by BMC’s disaster control room. Dr Santosh Narayankar, 34, a post-graduate doctor in preventive social medicine attached to one of the civic hospitals, has been attending to calls from anxious Mumbaikars for five days.



Some callers who have a travel history ask questions such as “People around us are avoiding us, what should we do?”. From March 6, the BMC decided to station a doctor within the disaster control room to attend to queries Mumbaikars may have. Several doctors from civic hospitals are stationed at the control room on a shift basis. Between March 6 and 11, 146 calls were received; 37 callers asked general information such as symptoms of the virus, the testing locations and preventive measures, while 37 others called in stating they have cold and cough and if they should take a test. On an average per day, 30 calls are being received, most from those who have a travel history or are planning to travel. Narayankar recounts how one caller said since he has returned from an international destination, his office wants him to submit a ‘fitness certificate’ before he resumes work. But he is unable to produce it as his family doctor has said there is a 14-day incubation period, only after which he would be able to check him.



Infected City Couple are Senior Citizens


Mumbai: An elderly couple became the first novel coronavirus patients of the city when they tested positive for the virus at Kasturba Hospital on Wednesday. The 70-year-old male and his 68-year-old wife had travelled to Dubai with the Pune couple who tested positive on Tuesday. The couple is in the quarantine facility at Kasturba and seem stable, said BMC officials. The other four – including another couple and a mother-daughter pair – tested negative for the virus and were discharged late on Wednesday night. Initially, BMC wanted to be “extra cautious” and keep the four for a few more days to check if they develop symptoms, but decided to let them go home and keep tabs on their health over the phone for 14 days. The couple was among 38 people contacted after the Pune couple tested positive; so far, nine from the Dubai team are positive. Agencies reported swab samples of the positive Mumbai couple will be sent to the Pune-based National Institute of Virology (NIV) for reconfirmation. Quoting Kakani, the report said swab samples would be sent to NIV for testing “as per protocol”. Sources said the couple don’t exhibit severe symptoms. “One of them appears to have had a cold, while the other has no symptoms,” said the source. They are being given symptomatic treatment, but officials said there are adequate medicines and infrastructure to help patients. It is learnt three people in the couple’s home have been placed in home isolation, and their status will be followed up by BMC every day. Meanwhile, 10 new people were admitted to Kasturba Hospital facility on suspicion of being infected. “Most people came on their own or were referred by private doctors to undergo the test,” said additional municipal commissioner Suresh Kakani. He said BMC has been training private doctors on how to recognize and manage Covid-19 patients.



Autos, Buses from Outside to be Disinfected

All metro trains and DTC and Cluster scheme buses are already being disinfected as a precautionary measure against the novel coronavirus infection.



New Delhi: After ensuring that all Delhi Metro coaches and Delhi Transport Corporation (DTC) and Cluster scheme buses are thoroughly disinfected every day to prevent spread of coronavirus, Delhi government is now focusing on getting autorickshaws, e-rickshaws and the buses coming to the city from other states disinfected. “We are coming out with an advisory for drivers of autos, e-rickshaws, mini-buses, etc., to create awareness about the necessity to keep their vehicles disinfected. They will be advised to thoroughly clean the vehicles and follow general dos and don’ts,” a Delhi government official said. “This is not only important for the safety of their passengers, but also to protect themselves from any infection,” the official added. The official further said that drivers and owners of smaller vehicles, such as autorickshaws, Phat Sewa, Eco Sewa, maxi cabs and e-rickshaws, might not have the financial means to ensure thorough cleaning of vehicles by the prescribed disinfectants. “We are planning to disinfect these vehicles free of cost at DTC and Cluster depots. The owners will be able to visit the nearest bus depot and get their vehicles disinfected. This facility is expected to start within a couple of days,” he added.



While all DTC and Cluster scheme buses are being disinfected daily, Delhi Metro Rail Corporation has also intensified the cleaning of its trains and common surfaces at stations. Inter-state buses coming from neighbouring states will be disinfected at the three inter-state bus terminals (ISBTs), starting Thursday. “All ISBTs, including the platforms and the common surfaces, are being disinfected. Starting Thursday, all buses arriving at Delhi’s ISBTs will be thoroughly disinfected,” said KK Dahiya, special commissioner (transport). He is also managing director of Delhi Transport Infrastructure Development Corporation, which manages Delhi’s ISBTs. “We are writing to the authorities concerned in the neighbouring states, urging them to ensure that all buses headed to Delhi are disinfected,” he added. As many as 3,467 buses from other states arrive in Delhi every day and most of these operate from Kashmere Gate ISBT (1,636), followed by Anand Vihar ISBT (1,210) and Sarai Kale Khan ISBT (621). Most of the interstate buses arrive from Uttar Pradesh (1,519), followed by Haryana (757) and Uttarakhand (313). DTC doesn’t operate any inter-state buses as its entire fleet runs on CNG, which is not easily available in other states.



Tips for Senior Citizens to Avert e-Fraud


Kolkata: A phenomenal rise in the number of cases of white-collar crimes in the last one year has prompted Lalbazar to launch an extensive and sustained campaign to educate senior citizens about ways of staying safe from cyber crooks. The first phase will involve those enrolled with the Pronam programme. This time, the objective is to warn seniors not to believe anyone talking to them over phone. Often, the accused sweet talks potential victims to shed inhibitions and give away bank details. The training is going to be based on practical experiences. “Senior citizens and kids are most prone to fall prey. Hence, even as we reach schools, it is important that we take senior citizens into confidence,” said an officer from the community policing section. Various police divisions have already begun organizing training schedules. “One obvious reason why senior citizens fall prey to cybercrimes is their lack of technical knowledge. Often, they are not comfortable in the online environment. They are also attractive targets of cyber criminals as most tend to have more wealth or a heftier ‘nest egg’. We were surprised by the range of questions and the hunger for knowledge among the senior citizens so far.



There have been questions ranging from what phishing is all about to what precautions are necessary before sharing personal information on any online platform,” said an officer. The cops have divided their presentation at various community centres into four different parts. While the first part deals with payment card fraud (its process, procedures and methods of mitigating frauds), the second session is dedicated to the new-found tricks employed by cyber fraudsters and the resultant emerging trends along with the dos and don’ts. The third part, exclusively, informed participants about phishing frauds and safe banking practice. The Q&A session ends the interactions. “We have issued advisory time and again about not revealing the PIN and other sensitive details to any individual but scammers are finding ways to get private information. We appeal to all to stay alert. If anyone is found committing a crime, kindly report the matter. Now that we have educated them, we hope that they would make their peers aware of cyber frauds,” said an officer at Lalbazar.



International News



Coronavirus Outbreak is a Pandemic, Declares WHO

A worker disinfecting Kilic Ali Pasha Mosque in Istanbul. Turkey reported its first virus case on Wednesday.



Italy: The spread of the coronavirus across more than 100 countries now qualifies as a global pandemic, World Health Organisation said on Wednesday. Until now, the WHO had avoided using the term to describe the epidemic leapfrogging across the world, for fear of giving the impression that it was unstoppable. “Pandemic is not a word to use lightly or carelessly,” Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus, chief of the WHO, said at a news conference in Geneva. “We cannot say this loudly enough or clearly enough or often enough,” he added. “All countries can still change the course of this pandemic.” In the past two weeks the number of cases outside China had risen 13-fold, and the number of countries affected had tripled, a sombre-looking Tedros said. The virus, which emerged in China in December, has spread around the world, halting industry, bringing flights to a standstill, closing schools and forcing the postponement of sporting events and concerts. There is evidence on six continents of sustained transmission of the virus, which has infected more than 120,000 people and killed more than 4,300.



According to the WHO, an epidemic is defined as a regional outbreak of an illness that spreads unexpectedly. The WHO had not declared a pandemic since 2009, when it gave that designation to a new strain of H1N1 influenza. Before the WHO’s comments, the UK and Italy announced multi-billion-dollar war chests to fight the disease. The US, too, said it was considering extending the tax filing deadline from all Americans beyond April 15, while lawmakers are discussing a stimulus package. Britain’s government promised on Wednesday nearly $39 billion in stimulus to its economy as its new chancellor of the exchequer, Rishi Sunak, outlined plans to boost public spending and bury the austerity politics of the last decade. In Italy, PM Giuseppe Conte announced that his government was developing a plan to spend about $28 billion to confront the coronavirus emergency. Italy is the hardest hit country outside of China. Confirmed cases across Italy rose to 12,462 from a previous 10,149, while toll jumped by 196 in 24 hours to 827. But China’s new cases have dwindled. Wuhan, at the center of its outbreak, was told resume operation of key industrial sectors. China’s new worry is that the coronavirus could re-enter from abroad. Beijing announced that all overseas visitors will be quarantined for 14 days. Of 24 new cases that China reported Wednesday, five arrived from Italy and one from the US. Chancellor Angela Merkel said the virus was likely to infect about two-thirds of the German population.

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