News Flash – 6 March 2020

National News



Thieves Target 3 ATM’s in a Night, Flee with Rs.24 Lakhs



New Delhi: Thieves struck at three different ATMs in southeast Delhi on the intervening night of Wednesday and Thursday. While the locals in Jamia Nagar spotted them and thwarted their bid, the thieves managed to uproot and take away ATMs in Jaitpur and Pul Prahladpur. Just two days ago, thieves had unsuccessfully tried to steal an ATM in Lajpat Nagar. None of the ATMs targeted had a guard deployed there, and the same modus operandi tying the ATM to a hook and driving the vehicle ahead with a jerk to uproot it was used in all the cases. It is suspected that the same gang of thieves is on the prowl and a manhunt has been initiated to nab them. The incident at Jamia Nagar area was reported around 2.40am from Okhla Vihar colony when the locals dialled 100. The cops reached the spot and found the machine broken and kept outside the booth. A probe revealed that a passerby named Rizwan had raised an alarm after noticing four persons trying to load the broken ATM in a vehicle, forcing the accused to flee. “The accused also damaged the CCTV of an adjacent ATM kiosk and sprayed a black substance on the targeted ATM kiosk to hide their identity,” said a police officer. At Jaitpur, police received information around 5am about the theft. An ATM installed at F- Block, Harsh Vihar was broken and cash around Rs 7.91 lakh stolen. The cops are checking the CCTV footage from the kiosk to identify the thieves. Around 8am, police were informed about another ATM theft in Pul Prahladpur area. The thieves were here in a pickup van; the CCTV footage has revealed. About Rs 17 lakh was stolen here. DCP (south-east) RP Meena said that FIRs have been registered and teams formed to crack the cases.



30 Corona Cases Confirmed, 23 More Positive in 1st Test


New Delhi: A 57-year-old Ghaziabad resident with a recent travel history to Iran has become the 30th person to be confirmed positive for Covid-19 in India. The number of cases is likely to rise sharply as health authorities await results of reconfirmation tests on 23 more whose initial tests have shown the presence of the virus. The Ghaziabad man has been quarantined at Delhi’s Ram Manohar Lohia hospital. His wife and son have been put in an isolation ward in a Ghaziabad hospital. Besides, local authorities said, they have advised three of his employees to remain in home isolation. Samples taken from the 23 individuals have been sent to the National Institute of Virology, Pune, for final confirmation. “Many of them are likely to test positive and may require isolation too,” said a source. The health ministry said that besides the cases related to travel, some cases of community transmission are beginning to be observed, indicating that the virus may be spreading undetected in local communities. Therefore, the ministry said in a statement that states have been asked to form rapid response teams at the district, block and villages levels.



The novel coronavirus infection has so far killed more than 3,300 people globally and infected nearly 96,000. Rapid response teams in Delhi and NCR, where a majority of Covid-19 patients are under quarantine at present, have been actively tracing everyone who may have come in contact with the infected individuals and are testing them for the virus. Across India, 3,452 samples have been sent for testing of which 29 (the Ghaziabad resident was declared as a positive case later) have been found to be positive for Covid-19 till now, the health ministry said on Thursday. “Testing of 92 samples is in process and 23 samples are being reconfirmed,” it added. In some relief for Telangana, blood samples of two persons from the state that were sent to the NIV have tested negative. “All new Covid-91 patients are stable,” Union health minister Harsh Vardhan said. The 30 cases recorded so far include 16 Italian tourists from a single group.



Airport Health Body Asks for More Hands to Screen All International Passengers

Passengers scanned for suspected Covid-19 cases at city airport on Thursday.



Mumbai: The Airport Health Organisation (APHO) team working at Mumbai airport to scan passengers for suspected coronavirus cases has asked for more manpower from the state as the government has extended the screening to include all international arriving passengers. Currently, a team of 65 personnel from APHO works in shifts to carry out round-the-clock medical screening of international arriving passengers, said a source. On Wednesday, the government extended the screening to all international passengers. “Each passenger isn’t individually screened for high temperature or other symptoms like cough and breathlessness. Most pass through thermal scanners, which are monitored by APHO staff. But given the high volumes handled by the Mumbai airport, we need more staff if effective screening of all passengers has to be done,” said a source. So what is the procedure currently followed at the airport? “On board an arriving flight, announcements are made and passengers on all international flights have to fill out a self-declaration form,” said an airline source. The form asks for the list the countries the passenger visited in the past 14 days, whether they have high temperature, cough, and so on.



“On landing, every international passenger passes through zones that are being captured by thermal scanners. Some are readily visible; you can see the stationary cameras pointed to take images of passengers walking by. Some are stealthily hidden, probably to screen passengers who try to avoid the scanners,” said an airline pilot who operated an international flight on Wednesday. The second kind of screening is more intrusive and is largely used for passengers arriving on direct flights from countries battling a Covid-19 outbreak. After exiting the aerobridge and before reaching the immigration counter, passengers fall into a queue where they face a hand-held camera that scans for high body temperatures, said a source. “The airport has four stationary thermal scanner cameras and 25 hand-held devices that take the temperature,” said a source. Depending on the traffic, there are four-eight counters for hand-held thermometers. Passengers who have fever or cough are sent for further medical examination where they are asked about their travel and health-related details to ascertain if they should be quarantined. The National Disaster Response Force has begun conducting coronavirus awareness programmes for immigration, ground staff and luggage handlers, said Mahesh Nalavade, deputy commandant, NDRF. A total of 65,621 passengers have been screened since January 18.



Trace Back Your Steps if you have got Flu


New Delhi: This is the time of the year when seasonal influenza is at its peak and swine flu is also reported widely. The coming of Covid-19 the disease caused by novel coronavirus that exhibits symptoms similar to influenza and swine flu has made the situation more complicated. Doctors are flooded with patients suffering from fever, sore throat and cough, most of which could be caused by both seasonal flu and swine flu. But now almost everyone is scared that he or she may have got Covid-19. The problem will get worse if the novel coronavirus infection starts spreading in the community, beyond those with a travel history to the affected countries. Only a few such cases have been reported so far, according to the Union health ministry. “There isn’t enough data or research on the difference in symptoms in a person suffering from seasonal influenza versus those down with Covid-19. If everyone suffering from cough and sore throat comes to hospital, the system will crash,” said Dr Suranjit Chatterjee, senior consultant of internal medicine at Apollo Hospital. People shouldn’t panic and first figure out whether they have come in contact with anyone who has tested positive for Covid-19, he said.



“Many people who are suspected for the novel coronavirus infection but don’t have any severe symptom such as breathing difficulty and pneumonia need not be hospitalised. In the coming days, we may see more people with suspected Covid-19 being isolated at home,” said Dr Arun Gupta, a Paediatrician. Since last December, data shows, Covid-19 has infected over 97,000 people globally. “The death rate is around 3.4%. Most patients develop only mild symptoms and recover without any need for hospitalisation,” pointed out Dr G C Khilnani, chairman of PSRI Institute of Pulmonary, Critical Care & Sleep Medicine. Both common flu and Covid-19 can’t be treated with antibiotics, effective only in case of bacterial infections. In both cases, treatment focuses on reducing symptoms such as fever. “In severe cases, hospitalisation and support such as mechanical ventilation may be required,” Dr Khilnani said. The doctors advise frequent and thorough hand washing, staying home when sick and limiting contact with infected people to fight the new virus. But if you still suspect you have contacted it, contact the designated helpline. “District surveillance officers have been appointed. They will visit the person and, if required, he or she may be transported to a designated hospital for tests,” said an official. Many people are also asking if an increase in temperature will reduce disease spread. The US apex health body, however, says the link is still not clear.



In 10 Years, Karnataka Recorded 15k H1N1 Cases & 532 Deaths



Bengaluru: Karnataka has reported 14,917 cases of H1N1 Influenza A since 2010, of which 532 were fatal. This includes the 256 cases and three deaths one each in Bengaluru Rural, Davanagere and Tumakuru districts witnessed between January 1 and March 4 this year. The viral infection had created panic in 2008-09 with people standing in long queues at Rajiv Gandhi Institute of Chest Disease where the drug, Tamiflu, was available. Over the years, H1N1 hasn’t triggered panic like Covid-19 as people have developed herd immunity against it. Dr Shashidhar Buggi, who helmed RGICD during the H1N1 outbreak in 2008-09, said, “The man v/s viruses are a recurring fight. The only difference between the Covid-19 threat now and H1N1 outbreak in 2008 is that we had medicines ready then. Tamiflu was given to all family members of the patient. People developed herd immunity over months and the fear subsided”. According to Dr Mahesh Kumar, senior consultant physician at Narayana Health, H1N1 cases are seen routinely and some have led to complications. “H1N1 can lead to viral pneumonia in some cases, which can be serious. We have three such cases in our ICU. All three are middle-aged male patients who are being monitored. In contrast, no Covid-19 case in India till now has seen any complication apart from fever. In a hot country like ours, the virus will not survive for a longer duration,” he said. When healthy people wear masks, they constantly touch their face to adjust it, which is riskier. “There is no need for them to wear masks. Those who cough/ sneeze can wear them,” he added. “Avoid being in crowded places. Washing hands is important. So is active tracing of cases,” said Dr Buggi.



All International Flyers to Undergo Thermal Check at Airport; Singapore Advisory Withdrawn

(Top) NDRF training at the airport on Thursday; (above) thermal scanning on; (right) special cleaning being undertaken.



Kolkata: Health officials at Kolkata airport have begun universal screening at the international wing, bringing more than 4,000 flyers a day under the ambit of thermal check to detect fever. On Thursday afternoon, the National Disaster Relief Force held a training and orientation programme for all ground-handling staff on Covid-19 virus and ways to prevent its spread at the airport. So far, more than 45,000 passengers have been screened at the airport since January 17. The check, which initially began on flyers from China and Hong Kong, was extended to those arriving from other South-East Asian countries, including Vietnam, Thailand and Malaysia from February 2. Last week, the list was extended to Nepal and Singapore. But with the virus now spreading to 78 countries, the ministry of health and family welfare has asked airports to make thermal screening mandatory for all flyers from abroad. “Passengers arriving in Gulf carriers, flights from South-East Asia as well as South Asian countries Bangladesh, Nepal, Bhutan and Sri Lanka are being screened. Earlier, only flyers with recent travel history to China, South Korea, Iran, Italy and Japan had to undergo mandatory thermal screening. Later, Macau, Vietnam, Malaysia, Indonesia, Nepal, Thailand, Singapore and Taiwan were added to the list,” said a senior airport official.



Flyers of all international flights entering India from any airport are to submit a self-declaration forms with personal details, like numbers and addresses in India and travel history to health and immigration officials at the airport. On Thursday, the central advisory removed Singapore from the travel restriction advisory. But flyers arriving from there will continue to be screened. Though Singapore Airlines officials are relieved that the city nation has been taken off the restricted-travel list, they aren’t sure when traffic loads would normalise While Singapore Airlines has continued with its flight schedule despite the traffic decline, other airlines have reduced frequencies to Ho Chi Minh City and Hanoi, while those to Kunming, Guangzhou and Hong Kong have been suspended. The largest number of daily connections from Kolkata are to Bangladesh, followed by Thailand and Malaysia. Dubai is next with Bhutan, Doha, Abu Dhabi, Kathmandu, Yangon and Colombo to follow. With the nCoV scare now real, following detection of multiple positive cases in India, airport authorities established fresh protocols for disinfecting surfaces, including counters, chairs and door handles. Also, hand sanitizes have been provided at immigration counters and health desks. Housekeeping staff in charge of washrooms have been asked to clean them with disinfectants more regularly.



International News



Pull Out All the Stops to Check Virus March: WHO to World

Saudi Arabia on Thursday emptied Islam’s holiest site for sterilisation over fears of the new coronavirus. State television relayed images of an empty white-tiled area surrounding the Kaaba inside Mecca’s Grand Mosque, which is usually packed with tens of thousands of pilgrims. The move was a ‘temporary preventive measure’ but the upper floors of the Grand Mosque were still open for prayers, a Saudi official said. He called the measure ‘unprecedented’. On Wednesday, the kingdom halted the Umrah for its own citizens and residents.



Bangkok: The global march of the new virus triggered a vigorous appeal on Thursday from the World Health Organisation for governments to pull out “all the stops” to slow the epidemic, as it closed Bethlehem’s Nativity Church and blocked Italians from visiting elderly relatives in nursing homes. As China, after many arduous weeks, appeared to be winning its epic, costly battle against the new virus, the fight was revving up in newly affected areas of the globe, unleashing disruptions that profoundly impacted billions of people. The UN health agency urged all countries to “push this virus back”, a call to action reinforced by figures showing there are now about 17 times as many new infections outside China as in it. To date, the virus has infected nearly 97,000 people and killed over 3,300. “This is not a drill. This is not the time for giving up. This is not a time of for excuses. This is a time for pulling out all the stops,” WHO director-general Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus said at a daily briefing in Geneva. “Countries should be preparing for sustained community transmission… They have been planning for scenarios like this for decades. Now is the time to act on those plans”. As Chinese manufacturers gradually reopened their factories, anti-virus barriers went up elsewhere. In Italy, the epicenter of Europe’s outbreak, workers in latex gloves pinned “closed” notices on school gates, enforcing a 10-day shutdown of the education system.



A government decree on Thursday urged the country’s famously demonstrative citizens to stay at least three feet apart from each other, placed restrictions on visiting nursing homes and urged the elderly not to go outside. Italy’s toll climbed on Thursday to 148, and its confirmed cases to 3,858. Iran, which has registered 107 virus deaths, has also closed schools and universities. Now it has introduced checkpoints to limit travel between major cities. Iranians were urged to reduce their use of paper money. Brian Hook, the US special representative for Iran, said the US offered humanitarian assistance to help Iran deal with its outbreak but “the regime rejected the offer”. In the US, California joined the list of states declaring emergencies. So far, 11 deaths have been linked to the virus one in California and the rest in Seattle with 162 confirmed cases across the country. Hundreds of people were placed in self-quarantines due to cases in a New York suburb. Off the coast of California, a cruise ship with about 3,500 aboard was ordered to stay put until passengers and crew could be tested because a travellers from its previous voyage died and another one was infected. South Africa confirmed its first case, becoming the seventh African nation to report infections. Britain and Switzerland reported their first coronavirus deaths. Palestinian officials closed the storied Church of the Nativity in the biblical city of Bethlehem indefinitely, weeks ahead of the busy Easter holiday. In China, where hospitals were releasing hundreds of recovered patients, officials reported 139 new cases of infection and 31 more deaths. Overall, China has reported 80,409 cases and 3,012 deaths.

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