News Flash – 6 February 2020

National News



Fire Breaks Out in Building at Malabar Hill, 17 Rescued

Firemen rescue stranded residents of Las Palmas building.



Mumbai: A major fire broke out in a nine-storey building at Malabar Hill on Wednesday evening. Using ladders, firemen rescued 17 people, most of whom had rushed to the terrace. A fireman sustained minor injury during the firefighting operation. Sources said the blaze started in a fifth floor flat of Las Palmas building near Hanging Garden around 7.30pm. As it spread to other floors, many of the residents rushed out. Those who were alerted late and could not get out to safety ran to the terrace. Two men even slid down the drainage pipe. Chief fire officer P S Rahangdale said, “The building is located on a dead-end road and the narrow access was challenging for fire persons to deploy resources. As the building’s firefighting system was not working, we used jets that sprayed water directly into the flames. We rescued 17 people, most of whom were on the terrace”. Shirin Mirchandani (81), who lives on the fifth floor, said her neighbour, along with her maid and dog, were at her place when the fire broke out in the flat next door. “Her other maid rushed out of the flat screaming that there was a fire, and my cook alerted us. Later, firemen rescued me, my neighbour and our maids”. Surendra Jadhav, who works in a flat on the seventh floor, said they were informed about the blaze via intercom. His employer, along with his wife and one of their children, were also at home. Jadhav said they rushed out and found the lobby filled with smoke. Jadhav said his employer’s family rushed into the bedroom, while he and another help took refuge in the living room. “As the smoke entered the flat, we faced difficulty breathing. We opened a window and slid down the drainage pipe. We suffered bruises while doing so, but are happy to be alive.” Firemen rescued his employer and his family.



Coronavirus Alert: Another 12 Moved to Isolation Wards



Hyderabad: City hospitals reported 12 fresh suspected cases of the Novel Coronavirus (2019-nCoV) on Wednesday, taking the total count of suspected cases to 63. The patients have been kept in the isolation wards at the state-run Gandhi and Fever hospitals. Of the 12, three are said to be air-hostesses with a prominent airline. “Of the 12, eight people have been admitted to Gandhi Hospital while the remaining four are at Fever Hospital. Their samples have been collected and are undergoing tests. The samples of 25 others have tested negative for the virus,” said Vijay Kumar, state nodal officer for Corona. While most of these people walked into the hospitals with complaints of fever, on Wednesday, some of them were picked up by the Integrated Disease Surveillance Programme teams. Meanwhile, in wake of the novel Coronavirus vigil resulting in many suspected patients being put in isolation facilities, district officials have now been asked to prepare teams to manage post traumatic events and stress during quarantine. So far, around 60 people who returned from Wuhan and other parts of China were kept in isolation wards (briefly) while many were asked to maintain self-quarantine at home for 28 days.



“Isolation even for 24 hours is likely to have a psychological impact. A person in quarantine is not even allowed to interact with family members and exposure to doctors or nurses is minimal. This causes immense stress to many people who have never been on their own, without any contact with the outside world for even a few hours. Moreover, the number of suspected cases are on the rise and going by number of people who have returned from China as well as other affected countries, people observing self-quarantine will be in thousands,” said a senior health department official, speaking about the reason for the move. In fact, similar orders have also been given by the Kerala government in its action plan to tackle the outbreak of Novel Coronavirus. The Telangana health department is closely following the action plan of Kerala in preparation for an outbreak. Health authorities are also keeping close tabs on the daily situation of the outbreak in China and other affected countries, trying to trace patterns in the outbreak, hoping to pick queues from it. “These updates are being sent to district level authorities on a daily basis,” added the health official.



International News



7,300 Quarantined on 2 Cruise Ships

Cruise ship Diamond Princess has been anchored off the Yokohama port in Japan after 10 people on the cruise liner tested positive for the virus.



Tokyo: Large white sheets covering them head-to-knee, people infected with a new virus were led by gloved and masked officials on Wednesday off a Japanese cruise ship, while the rest of the 3,700 people on board faced a two-week quarantine in their cabins. In Hong Kong, more than 3,600 people on another cruise ship were to be screened after it was banned by Taiwan amid growing worry about the spread of an outbreak. The ships are caught up in a global health emergency that seems to worsen by the day. China’s National Health Commission said another 65 people had died as of Tuesday, a new daily record, taking the toll on the mainland to 490, most in and around the locked down Wuhan, where the virus emerged late last year. As thousands of hospital workers in Hong Kong went on strike to demand the border with mainland China be closed completely, the city announced that all people entering from the mainland, including Hong Kong residents, must be quarantined for 14 days. Tokyo Olympics organisers, meanwhile, said they are increasingly worried about the disruption the virus is causing ahead of the games, which open in less than six months. The director-general of the World Health Organisation, Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus, asked for $675 million to help countries address the expected spread of the virus. He acknowledged that the sum is a lot, but told a news briefing that “it’s much less than the bill we will face if we do not invest in preparedness now”. Tedros said in the last 24 hours, the UN health agency has seen the biggest jump in cases since the start of the epidemic. The number of new cases increased to 24,363, a rise of 3,887 from the previous day. Outside mainland China, at least 230 cases have been confirmed, including two fatalities, one in Hong Kong and another in the Philippines.



China has strongly defended its epidemic control measures and called on other nations not to go overboard in their responses. Countries “can assess the epidemic situation in an objective, fair, calm and rational manner, respect authoritative and professional WHO recommendations, understand and support China’s epidemic control efforts”, a foreign ministry spokeswoman said. “Fear is worse than any virus”. To reduce the danger of exposure for health workers, Beijing is seeking to develop a robot to administer throat tests. Separately, Shanghai announced that all schools will delay reopening until at least the end of February, rather than the middle of the month as originally planned. The exact date will depend on how the outbreak develops. In the port city of Yokohama, just outside Tokyo, health workers, some in protective white jumpsuits, transferred 10 patients from the Diamond Princess cruise ship to a Japanese coast guard boat next to it. The 10, covered in sheets to protect their identities from cameras, were taken to a dock and put on ambulances bound for hospitals for treatment in isolation. Health minister Katsunobu Kato said all of the people on board will be quarantined on the ship for up to 14 days. The ship had 2,666 passengers and 1,045 crew members. Tests were pending on 273 people who had symptoms or had contact with a man who was diagnosed with the virus. The infections on the ship raised Japan’s total to 34 cases. South Korea and Thailand reported recent cases among people who had not been to China, raising concerns about how easily virus might be spreading. The Hong Kong ship passengers were being screened after three passengers on a previous voyage were diagnosed with the virus. The territory’s beleaguered leader, Carrie Lam, also announced that two terminals including the terminal where the cruise ship is currently quarantined will be shut down.



Plane Skids Off Istanbul Runway, Breaks into Pieces; 120 Injured

NARROW ESCAPE: The plane overran the runway during landing and crashed at Istanbul’s Sabiha Gokcen airport. Media reports said that the plane had 177 people on board, including 12 children.



Istanbul: A plane skidded off the runway on Wednesday as it tried to land in Istanbul, crashing into a field and breaking into pieces. Passengers had to evacuate through cracks in the smashed plane and authorities said 120 people were sent to the hospital with injuries. The low-cost Pegasus Airlines plane was arriving at Istanbul’s Sabiha Gokcen airport from the western Turkish city of Izmir when it had what the transportation ministry described as a “rough landing”. The ministry said no one died in the incident. Video obtained by The Associated Press showed the wreckage of the plane in a field adjacent to the end of the runway. The video shows heavy rain and strong winds at the time, with smoke coming from one of the engines as passengers climb out of the fuselage onto the wings of the plane and away from the crash site. Dozens of rescue crew members swarmed around the flood-lit fuselage, including around the cockpit, which had flipped over. The plane was a Boeing 737 that was 11 years old, according to the flight tracking website Flightradar24. Istanbul governor Ali Yerlikaya said 120 people were injured and had been hospitalised. His office said the plane was carrying 177 people, including six crew members. NTV television said the injured included the plane’s two pilots, who it said were in serious condition. NTV broadcast a recording of the communications between the pilots and air traffic control in which the pilots are told that previous flights had reported strong tail winds. The airport was shut down and flights were being diverted to Istanbul’s main airport. “According to the information we have, there was a rough landing,” state-run Anadolu Agency quoted transportation minister Mehmet Cahit Turan as saying. The accident comes a month after a Pegasus plane with 164 people on board skidded off the runway in Istanbul at the same airport.

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