News Flash – 18 March 2020

National News



63-Year-Old Man Dies at Kasturba: Maharashtra First Casualty, India’s 3rd


Mumbai: Maharashtra on Tuesday recorded its first Covid-19 casualty India’s third with the death of a 63-yearold man who was undergoing treatment at Kasturba Hospital, Chinchpokli. Another patient undergoing treatment at Kasturba is said to be critical. Two more persons in the state one from Mumbai and the other from Pune also tested positive on Tuesday, taking the state’s count to 41. Of the 40 people now in public hospitals in the state, one is critical, seven have mild symptoms, and the rest are showing no symptoms. Twenty-six of these patients are men and 14 women. Civic officials said the new case in Mumbai is of a 49-year-old man from Ghatkopar who came back from the US on March 7. The latest case in Pune is of a 26-year-old man who also returned from the US on March 14. Civic officials said the senior citizen from Mumbai who died on Tuesday had high blood pressure which, combined with inflammation of the heart muscles and an increased heart rate, contributed to his death. He also had pneumonia. His last rites were carried out in the presence of his daughters, sons-in-law and civic volunteers at the Shivaji Park electric crematorium. His wife and son, who too have tested positive and are currently under treatment at Kasturba, were informed of the death, but could not attend the final rites.



Guard, Aide Arrested for Rs.18 lakhs Theft



Mumbai: A security guard and his accomplice were arrested from Uttar Pradesh on March 13 for allegedly stealing ornaments worth Rs 18.2 lakh from the flat of a retired bank manager in Vile Parle (east) on February 15. The entire booty was recovered from Raja Singh alias Vikas (27) and his aide Angad Kashyap (27). Singh committed the offence two days after he started working as a security guard at Satyam Cooperative Housing Society in Vile Parle. Assistant inspector Kishor Doijad said Singh had at least eight similar offences registered against him in Mumbai. DCP (zone VIII) Manjunath Singe said action should be initiated against the security agency who hired Singh.



Corona Count: 1 more in Delhi, Two Each in Gurgaon & Noida

A robot distributes face masks and sanitizers in Kochi on Tuesday.



New Delhi/Ghaziabad: Four persons tested positive for coronavirus in Noida and Gurgaon, while a man who lives in Saket tested positive in Delhi. A 26-year-old Gurgaon woman, who had recently returned from Malaysia, was the first Haryana resident to test positive on Monday, while a second confirmed Covid-19 case was reported from the city on Tuesday. In Noida, a Sector 100 resident who had returned from France was the first to test positive on Tuesday. The second is a man from Sector 78. The Gurgaon man, 40, who tested positive on Tuesday, had returned from London on March 7 and had been in quarantine since March 9. He is in Safdarjung hospital and samples of eight persons who came in contact with him have been collected. “We are in touch with his primary contact group,” officials said. As many as 1,486 people are being examined in Gurgaon for Covid-19. Of them, 1,273 people are in home isolation; three are admitted in Medanta-The Medicity hospital whereas three others are in Fortis. Meanwhile, a 57-year-old businessman, who was the first Ghaziabad resident to be tested positive, returned home on Tuesday after doctors said he had fully recovered. The Raj Nagar Extension resident expressed gratitude to doctors in both Ghaziabad and Delhi for his quick recovery.



He was admitted to RML Hospital in Delhi on March 5, and was tested positive for Covid-19 a day later. In Noida, the Sector-100 resident who tested positive had told authorities that she had been screened at the airport during her return from France on March 13 and had tested negative then. She developed symptoms a few days later, following which a doctor advised her to remain in isolation. The second Noida patient is a man from Sector-78. Officials said he tested positive after he came in contact with his boss, a Delhi resident who had tested positive earlier and had visited the factory in Sector-80 on March 13. “Two persons a woman with recent travel history to France and a man have been tested positive for Covid-19. They had been in isolation and are undergoing treatment currently,” said Anurag Bhargava, chief medical officer of Gautam Budh Nagar. So far, a total of 1,400 cases have been tracked in Noida, with 1,065 of them under surveillance. The authorities have collected 200 samples, of which three have been found positive and 139 negative. The results for 59 are waited. District magistrate BN Singh said both patients who tested positive would be monitored closely and at least 3km areas around their houses scanned.



Thane Housing Society Stands by Family put in Quarantine



Thane: While there are reports of a few housing societies in Mumbai not allowing foreign-returned residents to enter premises, a Thane building has gone out of the way to ensure that one of its residents and his family, who arrived from a Covid-19 notified country on Monday, don’t feel isolated. Initially apprehensive, the building’s other residents consulted health experts and have now ensured that the family is strictly quarantined. They have ensured doorstep delivery of items, including grocery, for a fortnight so that the family doesn’t need to step out. “Our committee decided to stand by the family that has been put in home quarantine. It could have been any of us. So we decided to stand by them. We regularly interact with them on the intercom,” said a committee member of the society. A few societies have started restricting the entry of outsiders, mandating “thorough sanitisation” for members. A complex has sought an undertaking from families about recent foreign travel while helps and workers have been asked to stay away. Meanwhile, after Kasarwadavli locals objected to work on a quarantine facility there, mayor Naresh Mhaske on Tuesday appealed to them to cooperate with the administration. “Municipal staff are working tirelessly to ensure that the coronavirus does not spread. So, residents should cooperate with them. Quarantine facilities are being developed in some parts of Thane, but there is no reason to worry for locals as the administration is taking all possible precautions”.



Coronanxiety Behind 70% of Calls to 104 Helpline



Bengaluru: A 24/7 helpline on coronavirus is overwhelmed with queries, but most of the calls are driven by anxiety rather than the need for right information on coronavirus and steps for prevention and medical help, health officials said. The 104 helpline is run by the state government. Most callers have no history of travelling abroad or meeting those who did. They complain of a runny nose, cough or fever, and request that they be tested for Covid-19 at the Rajiv Gandhi Institute of Chest Diseases (RGICD). While helpline operators don’t discourage anyone from reaching out and patiently answer questions, they worry someone who actually needs guidance might not get through because of the deluge of calls. “Nearly 70% of the calls we receive are nothing but anxiety calls. This is not the time to be afraid but to be prepared and aware,” said Dr Omprakash Patil, director, state health and welfare department. “The experience of other countries tells us that close to 85% of the infected people will recover very well. Another 10-12% may have to battle it out when there are associated complications like hypertension, diabetes and respiratory issues.



Mortality rate is only 2-3%”. Covid-19 tests can be ordered only for those who have travelled to affected countries and who develop symptoms of the infection during home isolation. Primary contacts of positive cases are also tested. If you don’t fall in either categories, you cannot get tested. “Right now, everyone with fever presumes that she or he will have Covid-19. Those with fever and cold without a travel history must consult general physicians and take treatment. Not all cases are Covid-19,” said a senior health officer. The 108 ambulance helpline has also been getting several panic calls. Most people express the fear that they are infected and seek tests. Eight 108 ambulances are stationed at Kempegowda International Airport. “Lately, we have been getting requests from the public to ferry them to testing centres. We have shifted 60 suspected cases to the designated hospitals,” an official said.



State Panel Checks Private Hospitals nCoV Preparedness


Kolkata: A team from the West Bengal Clinical Establishment Regulatory Commission (WBCERC) on Tuesday visited seven private hospitals along EM Bypass to inspect their preparedness in the wake of the coronavirus crisis. “All hospitals, including the private ones, must keep their facilities ready to receive and treat Covid-19 patients or the suspected cases, if the need arises. Our motive of visiting these hospitals is to see if they are prepared for this,” said Justice (retired) Ashim Kumar Banerjee, the chairperson of WBCERC. So far, the government hospitals mostly Beliaghata ID Hospital have been handling the suspected cases that has crossed 70. A few cases had earlier been referred from private hospitals in the city. Few days ago, chief minister Mamata Banerjee had asked the private hospitals to keep isolation wards ready and not to refuse admission to any Covid-19 suspect. Accompanied by members of the health panel, including doctors Makhanlal Saha and Maitreyi Banerjee, the chairperson went to seven hospitals to see they had kept the isolation wards ready and if facilities like hand sanitizers and masks were available, especially for frontline health workers.



They also enquired if hospitals were playing their part in disseminating the correct information for awareness on the outbreak. “We found facilities at four hospitals satisfactory. But the rest have been suggested to revamp its preparedness immediately. We will revisit these three hospitals towards the end of this week to see if they have implemented our suggestions,” said Banerjee. The health panel will be visiting more hospitals on Wednesday. “We have a five-bed screening ward for Covid-19 suspected patients. The WBCERC delegation inspected it on Tuesday,” said a source at Rabindranath Tagore International Institute of Cardiac Sciences. While AMRI has two isolation beds in Mukundapur, its units in Dhakuria and Salt Lake have kept three and four isolation beds ready, respectively. “We have 10 isolation beds ready for Covid-19 suspected patients in addition to the isolation area in the emergency wing for screening of such patients,” said a source at Fortis Hospital. Peerless Hospital, Medica Super Specialty Hospital and Ruby General Hospital were the other hospitals the team inspected on Tuesday.



Face Police Action if you Spread nCoV Rumours


Kolkata: Kolkata Police has set up special teams both at Lalbazar and in each police division to flag down and take action against widespread rumour-mongering regarding the Covid-19 scare. The cops have decided to take the carrot and stick policy in this regard it will be encouraging for those who bring baseless rumours to the police’s notice, while legal action will be taken against all those spreading canards. Special drives have already been undertaken across the city where cops are trying to reach out to the community asking them to desist from any speculation. The cop action comes amid reports of Odisha police arresting a person for spreading Covid-19 related rumours and the social media being flooded with “home grown remedies” and theories about the outbreak. Police commissioner Anuj Sharma himself led from the front with a tweet in Bengali on Tuesday morning. “Do not listen to rumours or pay heed to them. Do not believe anything unless checking its veracity and truthfulness. Take all precautionary steps to stop the spread of the coronavirus. Stay safe, stay healthy,” he tweeted. His tweet got 60 tweets and 220 likes within a short span of time.



The Behala police division officially the southwest division has promised to take out a tableau in the area on Wednesday. “We will highlight on how it is important not to spread fake news and rumours as that can only manifold the care and stop people from taking proper care,” said DC (SWD) Nilanjan Biswas. The cyber and social media cells of Kolkata Police are keeping an eye on the social media. Sources said that it was necessary to act given a section of men was selling fakes evoking God while others were living in false beliefs neither propagated by the state administration and World Health Organization (WHO) nor any established doctor. A senior IPS officer said that “forwarding unverified message as true in effect was fostering nothing less than creating fakes”. He recounted how once after a fake message went viral he had to call up the control room and verify facts. “In case of any misinformation or when you feel unsure about a piece of information, do get in touch with the nearest cop or police station. We urge all individuals to carry the numbers of the local police stations,” he said.



Thai National Who Tested Negative for Covid-19 Dies, Aides Quarantined in Coimbatore, Tamil Nadu



Coimbatore: A 49-year-old man from Thailand who recently tested negative for Covid-19 died at the isolation ward of Coimbatore Medical College Hospital on Tuesday afternoon. Although hospital authorities said Donrosal Khamidoi died of renal failure, his symptoms included fever and breathlessness that progressed to organ failure, which is typically how Covid-19 progresses. Donrosal, of Songkhla, who had landed in India with five other tourist son March 6 to visit temples, had decided to return home on Sunday after he came down with fever and severe weakness. “Our thermal scanners at the airport caught his fever and we brought him to CMCH the same evening,” said deputy director of public health Dr Ramesh. “We immediately collected his throat swab and sent it to Chennai. When he arrived, he was having fever, light breathlessness and an infected ulcer in his leg,” he added. “We agree that fever followed by multi-organ failure is similar to Covid-19 symptoms, but he tested negative. As per protocol we are to test suspected symptomatic patients only once. It is only Covid-19 positive patients who have to be tested twice before being declared negative,” said Dr G Ramesh Kumar. The public health department said though the test results came negative on Monday evening, they continued to isolate and treat him for renal failure and sepsis. “But he passed away on Tuesday,” said Dr Sadagopan.



The doctors said he was a diabetic patient with a history of kidney disease and had renal failure almost immediately after being admitted. “We began giving him peritoneal dialysis for his failing kidneys and antibiotics to bring down his temperature. He did not mention having a cold before the fever. We isolated him purely because he could be a carrier of the virus,” said CMCH medical superintendent Dr Sadagopan. They have decided not to conduct a post mortem as the district administration is sending the body back to Thailand. The health department has now decided to isolate the other five people who were touring along with Donrosal and test them for Covid-19. Donrosal’s five other friends, who had accompanied him, have also been quarantined. The district health department officials admitted the five Thailand citizens to government hospital in Perundurai after one of their team mates diagnosed with Covid-19 died on Monday evening. According to an officer, the six had come to Erode from Thailandon Saturday to participate in some religious meetings. “One of them suddenly fell sick and decided to return to Thailand. He booked a flight from Coimbatore airport, where he arrived on Sunday. Airport officials subjected him to a medical check-up and confirmed that he was having Covid-19 symptoms. Subsequently, he was quarantined in CMCH and diagnosed with Covid-19 on Monday evening,” said Dr S Soundammal, deputy director, health services, Erode district. Based on the information that he was accompanied by five others, the health department officials in Erode went to Perundurai, where they were staying, and admitted them to the government hospital. “Doctors have collected their blood samples and they will be treated based on the reports,” Soundammal said.



Fire at Government Cattle Farm Near Hosur Destroys 50 Acres

IN FLAMES: The farm, which is spread across 1,640 acres, is the biggest of its kind in Asia.



Krishnagiri: A major fire broke out in the government cattle farm at Mathigiri near Hosur here on Monday night. While the cattle are safe, about 50 acres of trees, grass and herbs were destroyed in the incident. The farm, which is spread across 1,640 acres, is the biggest of its kind in Asia. Besides 1,000 cows, both exotic and indigenous, the farm houses goats, sheep, roosters, hens and pigs. Pointing out that trees, herbs and grass were cultivated on 50 acres for grazing the cattle, an official said fire engulfed the area around 10.30pm on Monday. As the fire began to spread, employees at the farm alerted the fire and rescue services personnel at Sipcot who sprang into action to douse the flames. It took them three hours to bring the fire under control. The official said the cattle were put up on the right side of Hosur-Denkanikottai state highway, which passes through the farm, while the grazing area that caught fire was on its left side. “The fire didn’t spread to the area where the cattle were put up, thanks to the road in-between. All the cattle are safe.” Preliminary investigation revealed that someone might have thrown a live cigarette butt or matchstick into the farm. The Mathigiri police have registered a case and initiated inquiry.



International News



Europe Faces Border Chaos, Choked Supply Lines, France Declares War with Virus, Puts 67M Under Lockdown, An Unprecedented Act

A woman takes a selfie on the empty Place de la Concorde in Paris.



Berlin: Strict new controls to slow the spread of the coronavirus froze traffic at global borders on Tuesday, idling trucks in columns more than 48 km long at some European crossings, while masked security officers turned back travellers at others. The moves by officials bent on protecting their citizens raised new questions about how to maintain supplies of food, medical equipment and other goods in coming weeks that will be critical to nations in lockdown. From France to Germany to Spain, millions were confined to their homes as shops and restaurants closed and borders were sealed, while European leaders edged towards banning non-essential travel to the continent. The draconian measures, never before seen in peacetime, have upended society and roiled financial markets, prompting governments to roll out emergency economic measures as fears mount of a global recession. France put its 67 million people under lockdown on Tuesday, in an unprecedented act during peacetime, and said it was ready to nationalize big companies suffering from the financial turmoil created by the deepening crisis. Drafting in the army to help transport gravely ill people and ordering border controls, President Emmanuel Macron late on Monday said citizens could leave their homes only to buy food, go to work, seek medical care or get some exercise on their own.



In Paris, police patrolled eerily quiet streets, stopping drivers and pedestrians and demanding that they present an interior ministry document justifying their movement. The form can be downloaded on the ministry website and citizens can present an electronic version on their smartphones. “We are at war, a public health war certainly. We are fighting not against an army or another nation. But the enemy is there, invisible and elusive and on the move,” he said in a sombre TV address on Monday night. Meanwhile, word of the border closings fanned growing fears in Europe, prompting widespread hoarding. “There is enough for everybody,” German agriculture minister Julia Kloeckner said, castigating people for spreading panic by posting fake reports that supermarkets would be closing. The moves come as caseloads in Spain and Italy where more than 2,500 deaths now account for a third of world’s total — continued to spiral. Worldwide, the number of cases topped 190,000. In Britain, where officials had resisted stringent measures to curb the virus, new research on the virus prompted a dramatic escalation on Tuesday. A study by Imperial College London estimated that the virus could kill 250,000 people in the UK and more than 1 million in the US, unless officials took action to stop its spread.PM Boris Johnson told people to eliminate unnecessary contact with others, work from home where possible and avoid bars, restaurants, theaters and other venues. Schools remained opened for the time being. But on Tuesday it was chaos on many borders, with traffic backed up for dozens of kilometers. The line of cars and trucks in Lithuania was some 60km long after Poland closed its border, while similar traffic jams could be seen on the borders with Germany and the Czech Republic.



US Cops Hunt Thieves Who Tried to Drag Away ATM



North Carolina: Authorities in North Carolina are searching for at least two suspects who were captured on CCTV footage chaining an ATM to a stolen pickup truck and attempting to drag it away, according to officials. Cops said they found the fallen ATM damaged. Police said it didn’t appear any money was taken.

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