News Flash – 20 January 2020

National News



35 H1N1 Cases in January, State says Situation in Control


Hyderabad: With a drop in temperature, there has been a steady rise in number of swine flu (H1N1) cases in the state. As many as 35 cases have been reported since the beginning of the year, most of them are from the city and its peripheral areas. Officials had sent out prior alerts of a possible outbreak in recent months and expect the number of cases to rise till February. Currently, two patients are undergoing treatment at Gandhi Hospital while another is being treated at the Chest Hospital. The 35 samples which have tested positive are among 138 samples tested for the presence of the virus. It is reported the virus may have mutated. However, officials are not raising an alarm as there was no outbreak reported. “Most cases are reported from different areas of the city with many samples being sent from corporate hospitals. With the temperature fluctuation, this had been expected but the numbers are less than what they were during the same period last year. It is possible that a mutation may occur given the two-year trend of change in strain noticed so far,” said a senior official from the state health department. In anticipation of an H1N1 outbreak, the health department had been issuing advisories since last two months. While district hospitals and tertiary centres have been advised to prepare and review their isolation wards, district level officials have been asked to redirect all suspected cases to the tertiary centres in the city Gandhi Hospital, Osmania General Hospital and Niloufer Hospital.



Early-Morning Fire Guts Wellness Centre in Kankurgachhi Building


(Clockwise from top left) The charred interior of the wellness centre; firemen battle the flames on Sunday; almost the entire first floor has been gutted; the stretcher used to bring down an ailing woman from the second floor of the building and the ambulance sent by the local police station.



Kolkata: A fire at a building in a building at the Kankurgachhi intersection on Sunday morning left residents mostly senior citizens panicked and a paralysed woman panting for breath till she was rescued by neighbours. The fire that broke out inside a beauty and wellness centre revived memories of a more devastating one at the same spot 13 months ago. Vinod Bansal, president of the seven storey Kashi Niket, was in his fourth-floor apartment when he noticed the fire. “Around 8.15am, there was a stench of burning. We had had a horrific time just 13 months ago when a fire inside a commercial area on the first floor leapt till the fifth floor and burnt a portion of our house. That fear forced me to run downstairs to investigate. I found thick smoke billowing from the beauty and wellness centre on the first floor,” Bansal recounted. Security guards had, by that time, alerted the fire brigade and fire tenders soon reached the spot. “The challenge was to evacuate the elderly persons. It being a Sunday morning, many of them were still asleep and we didn’t know who was aware and who wasn’t. Even my kids were asleep,” Bansal added. The biggest concern for the residents was a paralysed woman with her residence just above the seat of fire. “Her husband passed away and her children stay overseas. We decided to bring her down on a foldable, canvas stretcher.



We had called up the police station, too, and they sent an ambulance. She was brought down and shifted into the ambulance, but she was feeling breathless by then,” recounted Pinaki Narayan Ganguly, another resident. Ganguly’s parents-in-law stay in the same building and they needed to be shifted out as well. “My mother-in-law is 77 years old and my father-in-law turned 85 some months ago. Me and my son took them up to the terrace. Being a COPD (chronic obstructive pulmonary disease) patient myself, I was finding it difficult to breathe. But there was no way I could go out,” Ganguly said. His son Rahul, whose wedding is on Wednesday, kept rushing them out and helped with the general evacuation. While the beauty and wellness centre is closed on Sundays, residents called up two of their staffers, who then rushed to the spot. Firefighters broke the large glass panes to allow the smoke to escape. For the next two hours, five fire tenders kept battling the blaze, which gutted almost the entire commercial space on the first floor. “Primarily, it seemed that the fire originated from a short circuit. We are waiting for the fire brigade to find out what exactly happened. The building does have fire-safety arrangements, like sprinklers, so we need to know how the flames spread inside the commercial space despite that,” Bansal said.



Security Guard Injured after Fight with Intruder

Bhagabat Saha sustained wounds on his head and face.



Kolkata: An elderly security guard of a residential apartment on Moore Avenue in Tollygunge allegedly fought a man who had sneaked into the building and tried to snatch a cellphone from the guard when he found him loitering suspiciously on the premises on Sunday. The 65-yearold security guard, Bhagabat Saha, sustained injuries on his head and face as he held on to the man, half his age, by the throat, screaming for help. His cries alerted the residents, who came down and caught the accused. “We then dialed 100 and cops came and arrested the man. He had badly injured Saha and had even tried to gag him and cut his cheeks and tongue,” said Santanu Chakraborty, one of the residents. Cops said the accused, Biswajit Ghosh, claimed he had come to the building to meet a friend who was working as a plumber there. “But, according to Saha, there was no plumber by the name the man mentioned. Saha complained that Ghosh had tried to snatch his cellphone and had hit him with an iron rod when he protested,” said an officer, adding that Ghosh, who too sustained injuries, has lodged a complaint against Saha.



Emergency Rooms on Alert but Trauma Care Needs Healing


Chennai: There has been a decline in road accident deaths in the state, but ambulances and emergency rooms are seeing more deaths. While ambulances recorded nearly 6,500 more deaths compared to 2018, nearly 100 more people died in the emergency departments of various state-run hospitals. Since 2016, Tamil Nadu is among the top in the country in road accidents. In 2019, the state counted 10,472 road accident deaths compared to 12,216 fatalities in 2018. During the same period, nearly 40,000 more trauma victims, including 2,650 more accident victims, were taken to government hospitals. While surgeries were done for more than three out of five patients and CT scans were done on two-fifths of the patients, at least 4% of patients admitted required blood transfusion. One of the reasons why there was increased work in emergency rooms is because many departments in the state worked together with organisations and institutions such as IITM to locate accident hot spots, identify faulty road designs and causes for accidents, said transport commissioner S Jawahar said at a meeting in New Delhi recently, where TN was given an award for bringing down accident deaths. Overall, the number of high velocity accidents has also declined in the state, he said. The state 108 ambulances outsourced to GVK-EMRI picks at least 100 cases of trauma every day from across the state. “Sometimes accident victims are inside the ambulance for more than an hour either because of traffic or because the nearest state facility is that far. Some die on their way to hospital,” said EVK EMRI state head M Selvakumar.



An audit by the health department revealed that more than 70% of accidents happened on 8% of roads, particularly highways, and deaths happened because accident victims were not able to reach hospitals and receive basic first aid. To reduce travel time, the state has set up five seven bed emergency and trauma centres equipped with ventilators, defibrillators and other lifesaving equipment, besides doctors and nurses on duty round the clock. “These centres within 10 minutes of the accident spot acts as a hub before the patient is taken to a tertiary centre,” he said. At the tertiary care centre patients are given treatment free of cost. They can move to private hospital empaneled under the state health insurance scheme and continue free treatment. Officials at the EMRI and emergency medicine experts at government hospitals agree that they have to do more to bring down deaths. “As per the protocol, ambulance technicians must alert a staff nurse before arrival. This pre-arrival intimation helps us keep a team ready for the critically ill. On most days we don’t receive any such information,” said a senior doctor attached to Stanley Medical College Hospital. Senior neurosurgeons say improved trauma facilities, besides saving lives, will improve quality of organs that are retrieved in case of brain death. The state is also talking to private hospitals to expand its tertiary care network. As of now Sri Ramachandra Institute of Higher Education and Research, Raja Muthiah Hospital and Saveetha Medical College are a part of the state network.



International News



Houthis Attack Mosque Inside a Military Camp in Yemen, 79 Killed



Sanaa: Yemen’s president condemned on Sunday an attack by Houthi rebels on a government military camp, as authorities said fatalities had risen to at least 79 troops. Ballistic missiles smashed into a mosque in the training camp in the central province of Marib late on Saturday, wounding 81 others during evening prayers, according to Abdu Abdullah Magli, spokesman for the Yemeni Armed Forces. The oil-rich province of Marib lies about 115 kilometers east of the Houthi-controlled capital, Sanaa. The city is a stronghold of the Saudi led, US-backed coalition. The missile strike was the bloodiest attack in Marib since the beginning of Yemen’s long-running civil war, marking a military escalation in a rare spot of relative stability. President Abed Rabbo Mansour Hadi described Saturday’s assault as an act of “blatant aggression” that underscored Houthis’ “lawlessness” and “unwillingness” to make peace, according to Saudi Arabia’s state-run news agency. He denounced Houthis as “a cheap Iranian tool in the region”. Yemen’s defence ministry placed the military on heightened alert at nearby bases, directing troops to “take precautions” ahead of imminent battle. “This attack will be answered harshly,” Magli warned in a statement. There was no immediate comment from Houthis. Yemen’s civil war erupted in 2014 when Iran-backed Shia Houthi rebels seized Sanaa, and much of the country’s north. The conflict became a regional proxy war month later as a Saudi-led coalition intervened to try and restore Hadi’s internationally-recognised government, which rules in exile in Riyadh, the Saudi capital.

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