News Flash – 12 October 2018

National News



199 H1N1 deaths across state this year, 1 from Mira Road



Mumbai: The state’s public health department on Thursday said that deaths due to H1N1 infection numbered 199 this year in Maharashtra and blamed self-medication and delay in seeking treatment as some of the main factors. Public health minister Dr Deepak Sawant said that since the start of the year over 16,000 admissions were related to the respiratory infection. “People should not ignore symptoms like fever, cough and cold. They should seek medical treatment without any delay,” said Sawant. This year, nearly 1,700 people have tested positive for the virus. Sawant said that at a recent meeting of the infectious disease control committee, it was decided that H1N1patients on life-support will be treated as per a uniform protocol. While Mumbai has been lucky to record only a handful positive cases and no deaths so far, districts like Pune, Nashik, Ahmednagar, Satara and Kolhapur have been reeling under the epidemic. State epidemiologist Dr Pradeep Awate said people have delayed seeking treatment for up to a week. “Many have gone into complications because of the delay in taking treatment on time,” he said. City doctors say H1N1 cases have started coming since end of September. Awate said only one death has been reported from Mira Road in the Mumbai metro region. “Those with underlying health conditions like diabetes and hypertension have to be extra vigilant. Weather changes seen this time of the year are conducive for transmission of the virus,” Awate added.



Titli pounds AP: 4k evacuated, 196 villages in Srikakulam hit


Visakhapatnam: Cyclone Titli left a trail of destruction in Srikakulam and several other parts of AP and Odisha on Thursday. Over 4,500 people including 3,000 from Srikakulam and 1,500 from Vizianagaram were evacuated to safer places. A total of 196 villages in 12 mandals in Srikakulam district took the brunt of the cyclonic storm. The road network in Srikakulam suffered extensive damage, while the power distribution network was also severely affected. More than 2,000 electric poles were uprooted by strong winds. While a 62-year-old woman died at Gudivada Agraharam village after a tree fell on her, a 55-year-old man died in a house collapse at Rotanasa village in Srikakulam district, the AP State Disaster Management Authority said. The AP CMO said the other six killed were fishermen who had ventured into the sea. No major damages were reported from Vizianagaram district. While 1.39 lakh acres of crops were damaged in Srikakulam, it was 4,000 acres in Vizianagaram. “Except minor damages to nearly 4,000 acres of crops, no major damages were reported from Vizianagaram district,” district collector Hari Jawaharlal told TOI.


Power supply to nearly 89.12 lakh households in 4,677 villages was disrupted from Wednesday night to Thursday morning. A 132 KV sub-station, which caters to Tekkali and surrounding areas, was completely destroyed. Traffic on National Highway-16 (Chennai-Kolkata) on the Srikakulam-Palasa stretch came to a halt after the uprooted trees blocked some sections of the highway. In Tekkali, empty containers of nearly 30 trucks were seen lying on the road. The cyclone has also caused severe damage to railway property. Railway tracks were damaged from Srikakulam to Icchapuram. Railway stations at Palasa, Naupada and Kotabommali were severely damaged, while Mandasa, Icchapuram and Tilaru stations were hit partially. The railways refunded nearly Rs.50 lakhs to passengers due to cancellation of trains on the Chennai-Howrah main line from Wednesday night to Thursday night. Waltair divisional railway manager MS Mathur said teams including track specialists, bridge engineers, overhead electricity engineers are on the spot carrying out repairs between Brahmapur-Palasa and Palasa-Kotabommali.



Traffic cop prevents Robbery



Bengaluru: An assistant sub-inspector attached to the Banasawadi traffic police stopped miscreants from stealing Rs 5 lakh outside an ATM in Kalyan Nagar on Thursday. The van had two cash custodians, an armed guard and a driver. In Kalyan Nagar, one cash custodian took Rs 6 lakh into the kiosk along with the armed guard to load it into the ATM at 2pm. When another cash custodian and the driver got down from the vehicle and walked a few feet away, two men jumped into the vehicle and drove away. Traffic ASI Kumar, who was at a nearby junction, noticed them escaping with the vehicle and chased them on his bike. On seeing the cop, the miscreants jumped out of the vehicle and took to their heels. Banaswadi police rushed to the spot and seized the vehicle which had Rs 5 lakh. Police are grilling cash custodians Satish Kumar, 34, and Deepak, 26, guard Manju, 46, and driver Suman, 24.



Rise in Swine Flu cases lead to space crunch at Gandhi wards


Hyderabad: The steady rise in swine flu (H1N1) cases in the state has led to a severe space crunch at the city’s Gandhi Hospital. While the disaster ward that houses patients who have tested positive for H1N1had none of its nine beds vacant on Thursday, the respiratory ward, used for suspected swine flu patients, had only nine of its 36 beds available. According to hospital insiders, the rush of patients shifting out of private facilities, has also added to the burden. “These patients are being directed to Gandhi when they are not able to pay the high charges any more or their condition is deteriorating drastically,” said a source referring to one such patient, Nagalakshmi, who recently moved into the state-run facility after failing to deal with the spiraling costs at a private hospital. “The disaster ward — also a quarantine ward — has been full for the last few days. On Thursday, we also had district hospitals sending their patients here,” the insider added. While health authorities, alarmed by the surge in positive cases over the last few weeks — and anticipating a further increase in numbers — have already directed district hospitals to inspect and keep isolation wards ready for housing swine flu patients, they have also stated that those with the highest level of risk must be sent to the Gandhi Hospital.



More than half of city’s pubs & bars not Fire Safe



Hyderabad: The next time you decide to hop into a pub or bar for a night out with friends, you might want to think again. For, more than half of the city’s pubs and bars, including those housed in five-star hotels, are unsafe as they do not comply with fire safety norms, inspections by the Greater Hyderabad Municipal Corporation’s (GHMC) Directorate of Enforcement, Vigilance & Disaster Management (EV&DM) have revealed. After the civic body served notices to 750 pubs and restaurants in August to ensure that they pull up their socks within three months or face action, 550 submitted their documents. The rest ignored the notice. Ironically, while some outlets furnished the requisite papers and upgraded their fire safety equipment, most of those who submitted the documents did not meet fire safety norms. What is more shocking being that not a single pub in five star hotels across the city had fire NOC, confirmed GHMC officials. “While serving notices to pubs and bars across the city, we noticed that even hotels with five-star accreditation do not have fire NOC for their pubs and bars. Of the pubs and bar that submitted fire safety documents after being served notices, only one five-star hotel applied for fire NOC,” said a top GHMC official. According to Viswajit Kampati (IPS), director, EV&DM, GHMC, most hotel, pub and restaurant managements are unaware of the basic mandatory fire safety norms.


“The fire safety equipment and precautionary measures change with the quantum of built-up space, material used for construction (interiors), floor on which the pub/bar is located, among other factors, but most of them are not aware of the basics,” said Kampati. They also vary with the number of footfalls. For instance, outlets witnessing footfalls of over 300 and below 500 have been instructed to install 900LPM capacity fire pumps, while those with footfalls of over 500 need to install one 2280 LMP diesel pump and one 180 LPM capacity electric jockey pump. However, some precautionary measures, including fire extinguisher, hose reel and fire alarm, are common for all the places irrespective of size and footfalls. Sources said the process of ground verification will pick up pace post-polling, which is when GHMC has decided to crack down on pubs and bars flouting the norms. These establishments had to furnish details of all the fire safety equipment they have installed by filling up a form that is available at In the form, the managements had to mention the fire safety measures taken up by them, which in turn are inspected by GHMC’s EV&DM officials.



Titli’s slow re-curve spares city heavy downpour on Day-I


Kolkata: After cyclone Titli hit the Andhra Pradesh and Odisha coast with the wind speed touching 126 km/hour on Thursday, it re-curved slower than expected on landfall, losing intensity and sparing Kolkata heavy showers. While the city received just a few spells of light drizzle instead of the intense rain that had been predicted, showers could lash Kolkata from Friday afternoon as the storm finally re-curves and reaches Gangetic Bengal in the form of a depression. The rain could continue till Saturday morning, said the Regional Meteorological Centre (RMC). “A cyclone usually curves after hitting land which helps the system retain intensity. But Titli continued to move in a north-westerly direction for six hours after hitting land at 11.30am. So, it kept losing intensity and turned into a cyclonic storm and later, a deep depression. By the time it reaches Gangetic Bengal on Friday morning, it will have turned into a depression. The city could receive moderate showers under its impact from Friday afternoon,” said RMC director G K Das. Earlier, the cyclone had moved west-northwestwards at a speed of 13 km/hour and hit the Andhra-Odisha coast, triggering heavy rain. But the devastating effects of the cyclone were hardly felt in Kolkata, which was bracing for a wet run-up to the Puja. Other than a couple of light drizzles, the city remained dry, though cloudy.


“It would have rained heavily had the cyclone curved on landfall. But it took unusually long to turn. But since Titli is reaching Gangetic Bengal slightly later than expected, the showers could linger, too. But we expect the skies to be clear by October 14,” said a weather scientist. Meanwhile, 20 flights arriving in Kolkata were delayed and one departing flight from the city was cancelled owing to cyclone Titli. “Flight and train operations have taken a major hit, disrupting travel along the east coast. About 16% of the inbound and outbound flights from Bhubaneshwar have been cancelled, and 27% of the flights to and from Vizag have been delayed. While no major impact has been seen on Kolkata yet, weather reports indicate heavy rain in Bengal over the next 24 hours, which may lead to flight and train cancellations,” said Aloke Bajpai, CEO and co-founder of travel portal Ixigo. The Met office has predicted heavy to very heavy showers across south Bengal on Friday and Saturday. Howrah, Hoogly, East and West Midnapore, Burdwan, South and North 24 Parganas, Murshidabad, Birbhum and Nadia are expected to receive rain over the next 48 hours.



Zika scare puts state on Alert



Kolkata: Even as Kolkata grapples with a dengue outbreak, a Zika virus case in neighbouring Bihar has led to an alarm. It has prompted the state health department to start monitoring the situation. The vector-borne virus — transmitted by the same aedis egypti mosquito that spreads dengue and chikungunya — has similar symptoms to the other two and can be sexually transmitted as well. A Zika-infected pregnant woman can pass on the virus to the unborn child which may have congenital deformities. “It’s too early to contemplate preventive measures but we are keeping an eye on the situation,” said director of health services Ajay Chakrabarty. Several Zika cases have been reported from Rajasthan as well. “Like dengue and chikungunya, Zika is an RNA virus that spreads easily but remains undetected. Its symptoms are headache, joint pain, vomiting and high fever. Zika is not life-threatening, unless it’s passed in to foetus from an infected mother. The unborn child could die or have congenital deformities,” said AMRI Hospital consultant Debashish Saha. Two Zika outbreaks were reported in India last year. But Bengal has remained largely unaffected so far. In 2016, the state health department had conducted a survey of newborn children to find out if they had microcephaly — a condition that leads to abnormally small heads. “Zika symptoms are difficult to distinguish from ordinary viral fever or dengue. But it’s rarely fatal. It’s very rare in our state but since it has happened in Bihar, we ought to be cautious.


Since we already have hundreds of dengue patients, a Zika outbreak could complicate matters,” said Fortis Hospital internal medicine specialist Joydeep Ghosh. Zika virus infections during pregnancy have been linked to miscarriage and birth defects, including microcephaly — a potentially fatal congenital brain condition. Zika virus may also lead to other neurological disorders like Guillain-Barre syndrome. Treatment of Zika, like dengue, is symptomatic. “There is no drug specific to the virus. Patients need paracetamol to control fever and pain-killers. As in dengue, parameters like blood pressure, heart rate and functioning of the vital organs need to be monitored constantly. Especially in the case of pregnant women since the virus can be transmitted through the uterus to the foetus,” said Saha. But experts said it could be risky travelling to areas where a Zika outbreak has happened. “It’s contagious like dengue but leads to neurological complications more than haematological ones. The symptoms could last between two to seven days. Often, the disease remains asymptomatic. Since Zika can be sexually transmitted, the spread happens faster,” said consultant Arindam Biswas. Times View: There is no need to panic just yet but we should be prepared. This disease has already affected pockets in South America and the United States and now a couple of Indian states. There should be proper dissemination of information and a ready plan of action.



5 Tribals killed, 12 hurt as Mini Truck plunges into 50 feet gorge



Coimbatore: Five tribal people were killed and 12 others injured after a minitruck they were travelling in fell into a 50-ft deep gorge from the eighth hairpin bend on Kadamparai Road near Pollachi here on Wednesday night. According to police, at the time of the incident the vehicle was driven by V Rajan, 40, of Kurumalai, who didn’t have a driving licence. The incident took place when 18 people from the three tribal settlements of Mavadappu, Kattupatti and Kurumalai were returning to their houses from Kottur weekly market. A press note issued by the Udumalpet forest range office said the driver lost control of the vehicle and the truck rolled down the Ghat road. It came to halt after hitting a tree. Two people died on the spot, while three others succumbed to their injuries on the way to the government hospital in Pollachi. While twelve others were injured, a 10-year-old boy, identified as V Rajkumar of Kurumalai, escaped without any injury. The boy, however, lost his parents in the mishap. The injured managed to reach the main road after walking for an hour and alerted motorists, who contacted the rural police. Following this, all the 12 injured were taken to the Pollachi government hospital. The Kadamparai police have registered a case.



International News



Michael kills 2 in US, heads inwards



Miami: At least two people were killed as Hurricane Michael, one of the most powerful storms ever to hit the continental the US, slammed into Florida, unleashing a trail of destruction by flooding beach towns, peeling off roofs and snapping trees before advancing to the Carolinas. Two people, including a child, were killed by falling debris, the US media reported on Thursday. Thousands of homes and businesses were left without electricity in Florida, Alabama and Georgia. Michael made landfall on Wednesday in Florida, dashing homes into pieces, CNN said. It was the strongest to hit the continental US since Hurricane Andrew in 1992. Now, having weakened to a tropical storm, Michael was on its way to the Carolinas.

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