News Flash – 22 January 2020

National News



Airport Screening for Flyers from China

HEALTH CHECK: A thermographic camera being used at Kolkata airport to screen passengers arriving from China and Hong Kong.



New Delhi: In the wake of Wuhan coronavirus epidemic, India has told airlines operating direct flights from China and Hong Kong to start making in-flight announcements, asking passengers with history of fever and cough as well as history of travel to Wuhan City in last 14 days to self-declare at port of arrival. Passengers on these flights will need to fill up self-reporting forms before disembarkation, making these declarations. Issuing a statement on Tuesday, the ministry of civil aviation (MoCA) has directed seven airports Chennai, Bengaluru, Hyderabad, Cochin, Delhi, Mumbai and Kolkata — to set up health counters to do thermal screening of these flyers (from China and Hong Kong) in pre-immigration areas. Airlines staff will bring passengers to these health counters before immigration check. If any ill passenger or crew member is confirmed as a probable case of Wuhan coronavirus, the public health authorities will be notified. The alert comes in time for the Chinese New Year on January 24, which is the most important holiday season that witness’s maximum vacation travel out of China. Locals get a mandatory seven-day holiday at the start of this spring festival. Several Chinese airlines and two Indian carriers — Air India and IndiGo — have direct flights between India and China.



A spokesperson for Indi-Go said: “The areas affected by the virus are around Wuhan, which is a long way from our destinations in Guangzhou and Chengdu. We will continue to monitor the situation.” In accordance with a health ministry advisory, MoCA has prepared an action plan for airlines as well as airports to ensure strict adherence. “In order to facilitate early isolation, in-flight announcements to be made by the airlines (which are directly coming from any airport in China, including Hong Kong), requesting passengers with history of fever and cough and history of travel to Wuhan City in last 14 days to self-declare at port of arrival or to state health authorities,” the MoCA statement reads. “Airlines staff to guide the passengers in filling up the self-reporting forms before disembarkation, so that the filled up format can be checked by airport health organisation staff on arrival. Airport (health counter) signage to be displayed boldly at strategic locations of these seven identified airports,” it says. “Thermal screening of passengers to be undertaken. Provision of space in the pre-immigration area with logistics to install thermal cameras to be made at these airports. Airlines staff to bring the passengers to the health counters before the immigration check,” the statement said. “All passengers and crew, who are otherwise healthy, should be allowed to continue their onward journey. If the ill passenger or crew member is confirmed as a probable case of Wuhan coronavirus, the public health authorities should be notified,” the statement added.



Fire in E Delhi Flat, Woman Rescued

CLOSE SHAVE: Firemen said the blaze broke out on the fourth floor of the Glaxo Apartment.



New Delhi: A woman stuck in an apartment where a fire broke out on Tuesday afternoon was rescued after an hour-long operation in Mayur Vihar, Phase I. Fire officials said that the blaze broke out on the fourth floor of the Glaxo apartment, after which eight fire tenders were pressed into service. The residents of the third and fifth floor had to be evacuated. Delhi Fire Services chief Atul Garg said that they received a call at 3pm about the fire. As fire officials reached, residents informed about flames coming out of a flat on the fourth floor. Officials suspected that a room heater that was left switched on for a long time could have led to the blaze. A woman was stuck in one of the rooms and was calling for help. A team from the Mayur Vihar police station and firemen used a fire extinguisher to break open the entrance door. The woman, who had almost collapsed due to the smoke, was rescued by them. Meanwhile, officials knocked on the doors of the adjacent flats to check whether anyone was stuck inside. The residents on the floors above and below were asked to leave their belongings and step out. Officials said that the blaze was controlled in half an hour. Fire officials said that the residents were aware of the fire safety drills and helped in the evacuation.



International News



China Virus Spreads to US, Taiwan; Claims Sixth Victim


China: An outbreak of a viral lung illnesses in central China has spread more widely across the Asian nation, sickening several hundred, and global health officials are attempting to contain an illness that has crossed borders to five countries, including the US. Six deaths have been reported and cases have been found five other countries. US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention officials said on Tuesday that a case had been identified in Washington state from a person recently travelling in China. Since the new coronavirus was first detected in December in China’s Wuhan province, the number of infections from the has grown to 291, with 139 of them over the past weekend. While the vast majority of the cases are in Wuhan, a city of 11 million in the eastern inland of China, infections have been reported in Beijing, Shanghai, Tianjin, Zhejiang and Henan. Four cases have been confirmed overseas among Chinese travellers in South Korea, Japan and Thailand. A Taiwanese businesswoman who just returned from Wuhan tested positive for the virus, Taiwan’s Centers for Disease Control reported on Tuesday. Health officials still don’t know how dangerous the virus is or exactly how it spreads, but the rapid rise in illnesses has prompted tightened borders and a rapid attempt to trace contacts of those who have become ill. On Wednesday, the World Health Organization is scheduled to debate whether to declare the situation a public health emergency of international concern, a designation used for complex epidemics that can cross borders.



Russia has tightened border controls with China, and the US has set up airport checkpoints for passengers coming from China. On Tuesday, the US said that it had added new checkpoints in Atlanta and Chicago, in addition to New York, San Francisco and Los Angeles. Some new cases have involved doctors and nurses, a sign that the virus is being transmitted from person to person. The infection, which can cause pneumonia in patients, has evoked comparisons to SARS. SARS, or severe acute respiratory syndrome, originated in China and spread through airports and hospitals around the globe in a matter of months in the early 2000s. While it isn’t clear how the Wuhan virus compares to SARS in strength or transmissibility, with the Chinese New Year travel season about to send billions of people on holiday journeys, no one wants to take a chance. A WHO emergency declaration could include recommendations to restrict travel or trade to stop the outbreak. The agency has formed teams at its Geneva headquarters to study the virus, its spread and its symptoms and is sending a team to China to help gather information, according to David Heymann, an infectious disease researcher in the UK who advises the agency.



Storm Hits Spain


Spain: Four people have died in strong winds, heavy snowfall and low temperatures as Storm Gloria swept across Spain on Sunday and Monday, officials said. More than 30 provinces are on bad weather alert. Port authorities estimated waves of 8.44 metres in Valencia on Monday, which they said was a record.

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