7 Nightmares and 3 Alternative Policies for Moderating Them
In thinking about mankind’s future, one can be either an optimist or a pessimist. 
 
Let’s start with an optimistic mindset. Taking a long view of mankind’s history, humans have moved far beyond the Neanderthal stage and today Homo sapiens are the dominant human species. Humans have passed through the hunter or gatherer stage, the agricultural stage and the industrial stage. Post-industrial mankind is equipped with the tools of science and technology. World poverty has been substantially reduced. Wars are fewer and less disastrous. Many people around the world own homes, drive cars and have steady jobs.
 
If one wants to be optimistic about mankind’s future, read Steven Pinker’s book, Enlightenment Now.  Steven Pinker is a Harvard professor of cognitive psychology. His basic argument is that humans have made substantial progress in every single measure of human well-being. He supports this with 75 charts of the timeline behaviour of human well-being variables such as longevity, income, democracy, equal rights, safety, literacy, sustenance and happiness. Each well-being indicator improves over time, not evenly, but substantially. Since the end of the Cold War, the world has experienced fewer civil wars, genocides, and autocracies. Since the 1950s, the world experienced “a cascade of Rights Revolutions including civil rights, women’s rights, gay rights, children’s rights, and animal rights.”
 
Pinker acknowledges that some well-being indicators can worsen for a time, but their general movement shows improved well-being. Most people are not aware of this progress. Our daily news focuses on bad happenings. News editors prefer the approach of “if it bleeds, it leads.” Our daily headlines carry awful stories of war, terrorism, crime, pollution, inequality, drug abuse, and oppression. We are constantly reminded of existential threats of overpopulation, resource shortages and nuclear war. Readers end up with a pessimistic mind-set, often with a feeling of existential anxiety. 
 
Pinker hopes to make a convincing case for optimism. An optimist believes that the world could be made much better than it is today. He hopes that we will see “newborns who will live more than eight decades, markets overflowing with food, clean water that appears with a flick of a finger and waste that disappears with another, pills that erase a painful infection, sons who are not sent off to war, daughters who can walk the streets in safety, critics of the powerful who are not jailed or shot, the world’s knowledge and culture available in a shirt pocket.”
 
Pinker summarises where mankind stands today:
“We live longer, suffer less, learn more, get smarter, and enjoy more small pleasures and rich experiences…Fewer of us are killed, assaulted, enslaved, oppressed, or exploited.”  
 
Are we better off, as Pinker suggests? The answer is yes if you read Seth Godin’s description of life in the year 1960. 
 
The world was a twitch away from total nuclear destruction. White bread was a health food. Diabetes and obesity were relatively rare. The newspaper was the way most people heard about the news. We thought things were moving very fast, frighteningly fast. Women rarely worked outside the home, and the Rev. King was a relatively unknown preacher. No one owned a computer. The number of books published every year was quite small, as was the local bookstore. It was almost impossible to spend more than 45 minutes a day keeping up with current events. It was against the law for blacks and whites to marry in Virginia, and for gay couples to marry just about anywhere. Apartheid was mostly unremarked upon in the US. UPS (United Parcel Service) never came to your house. A long-distance phone call was a big deal. Air conditioning was rare, bottled water had not been invented yet, there were no billionaires, there were three or four channels of TV, movies were only shown in movie theatres, and most dangerous diseases would certainly kill you. The air and water were clean, but we were working overtime to make them dirty. Congress wasn’t a version of pro wrestling. Milk came in only one formulation (whole), you probably worked at the same company for a very long time and relatively few people went to college.
 
We can agree that mankind’s past presents a record of human progress. The question, however, is, whether human progress will continue?  Will the great majority of human beings continue to progress to enjoy more satisfying lives?  
 
Or can pessimists make the case that human progress is over and the future of mankind will be marked by anxiety and despair?  
 
We know that young children worry about many things, such as losing their parents, getting injured, not have enough to eat. And full-grown adults carry many worries about their future. Michelle Goldberg, the New York Times journalist, described her observation:  
“Pessimism is everywhere: in opinion polls, in rising suicide rates and falling birthrates, and in the downwardly mobile trajectory of millennials. It’s political and it’s cultural. At some point in the last few years, a feeling has set in that the future is being foreclosed. When, in the 1970s, the Sex Pistols sang “There is no future,” there was at least a confrontational relish to it. Now there’s just dread.”
 
Adults need to discuss not only their personal fears about their own future but also their nightmares about the future of mankind. Mankind is haunted by seven different nightmares about mankind’s future. These nightmares, starting with the worse, are:
1. The planet ends.
2. The planet can no longer feed and support 7.7 billion people.
3. The planet will be awash with water damage and water shortages.
4. Robots and AI will take over most jobs and create mass unemployment. 
5. A great war will break out between the U.S. and China.
6. Civil unrest will grow with fighting between the haves and have-nots. 
7. Countries will increasingly fall under authoritarian leaders and Fascism
 
What are the sources of these nightmares?  Can we estimate a probability of occurrence for each nightmare?  Are there actions that mankind can take to prevent these nightmares from occurring? 
Let examine the underpinnings of each nightmare.
 
1. The Planet Ends
Some distinguished thinkers, including Elon Musk, worry that planet Earth will expire at some point. This would mean the end of mankind as well. Mankind clearly needs to find another planet to inhabit. It could be the Moon; but if Earth is destroyed, the Moon might also collapse. Elon Musk is betting on Mars as the best second best planet to live on. His aerospace company, Space X, is working to set up Mars as mankind’s next habitat. During the next few years, Space X will send supplies of water and equipment to Mars. By 2024, Space X will send its five month space mission to Mars with a crew ready to live on Planet Mars.
 
The fear that the Earth will end has many sources.
 
a) That the Earth will be hit by a major asteroid. Some scientists estimated that a 7.5 mile-wide asteroid crashed into the ocean 66 million years ago in a port town in Mexico with an impact that wiped out the majority of dinosaurs. 
 
b) That the Sun will die. Many stars die millions of years after birth. When a star runs out of hydrogen fuel, it will contract under the weight of gravity.
 
c) That the Earth’s oxygen will disappear or be insufficient to support life.
 
d) That the Earth’s temperature might rise to unlivable levels of heat or conversely, temperature might fall to freezing levels that will kill all life. 
 
e) That the Earth will be hit by solar flares. A solar flare is a sudden release of solar magnetic energy that emits radiation that can kill human life.
 
f) That the Earth will be infected by a mass disease like the Spanish flu of 1918 that infected 500 million people worldwide and killed an estimated 20 to 50 million victims.
 
The main concern is that these events are non-predictable and non-preventable. Most Earthlings would be smart not to waste time worrying about the end of the Earth because they can do little about it. Leave the “end of the Earth” concerns to the imagination of science fiction writers.
 
2. The Planet Can No Longer Feed and Support 7.7 Billion People
 
The second nightmare has to do with world population growth. In 1970, the world population was 3.7 billion. By 2011, the world population grew to 7.0 billion. Today (2020) the world population stands at 7.7 billion. The UN expects the world population to grow to 9.8 billion by 2050. The nightmare would be that the Earth cannot feed so large a population. The amount of arable land is limited and the top soil is getting poorer. Several parts of our oceans are dead zones with no living marine life. 
 
A recent book, Empty Planet by Darrell Bricker and John Ibbitson, takes issue with the U.N.’s forecast and believes that population will eventually decline.  They see global population peaking around 2050 at 8.5 billion and declining by 2100 to 7 or 8 billion. They cite the declining fertility rates in many countries. In Japan, women want a career and prefer no or few children, especially because their husbands don’t help their wives in raising children. The more empowered women are, the more likely they will want fewer children. The more people move from rural to urban areas, the fewer the number of births. More than 70 percent of the world’s population now live in urban areas where food, housing and clothing costs are high. In the U.S., the poor depend on government food stamps and other programs. Recently President Trump said that he would hope to move 3 million people off food stamps. This is disturbing.
 
Is the Earth able to support even 7.7 billion people?  In the world, 800 million people can’t get enough calories. Two billion can’t get enough nutrients. More children will inflate our medical costs in a vicious circle.
 
Dr Christopher Kevin Tucker, author of A Planet of 3 Billion, claims that the largest population that the Earth can support is 3 billion!   He is the President of the American Geographical Society and says that we need to eat less meat, use our water more carefully, and take another set of steps. He warns that “humanity’s century-long binge has incurred an unsustainable ecological debt that must be paid down promptly, or else cataclysm awaits.”  He wants us to go back to the 3.7 billion that populated the Earth during the First Earth Day in 1970. He is aware that we can’t bring the human population down from 7.7 billion to 3 billion but makes us aware that overpopulation is a major problem that has been neglected.
 
3. The Planet Will be Awash with Water Damage and Water Shortages
 
Even if we find a way to feed all the people in the world, we will still face a set of water catastrophes. The first problem is whether the Earth can supply people with enough fresh and drinkable water. About 2.5% of the Earth’s water is freshwater. But only 31% of this water is accessible because 69% is in the form of ice cap and glaciers in places like the Antarctic and Greenland ice sheet. Given that 31% of the 2.5% fresh water is available, equates to 1% of all the water is fresh. A further worry is that salt water is penetrating fresh water areas that will require more expensive desalinisation applications to take place. Of the 1% freshwater, most of the third world countries don’t have the resources to provide safe and clean water. Many deaths occur in India due to the poor quality of drinking water, a problem that Bill Gates addressed recently in his campaign to help India sanitise its water supply.
 
The second problem is flooding. As our economy continue to release green gases and methane into the atmosphere, these heat trapping elements cause the ocean to heat and glaciers to melt, resulting in raising the sea level. The tragedy is dramatized by the sight of polar bears left standing on a fragment of floating ice facing imminent death. The rising sea level is flooding coastal cities such as Miami, New Orleans, Venice and many others. Whole barrier islands will get covered with water and many important cities and countries will face hardship and destruction.
 
A third problem is the destruction of marine life. Many species of fish depend on healthy coral reefs in the ocean. Unfortunately many coral are dying due to ocean acidification and diseases. Furthermore tons of plastic and other industrial items enter the ocean and kill many species.
 
The good news is that steps are being undertaken by major environmental firms to reverse the destructive effects of industrialisation. The economy’s growth has depended for its energy on nonrenewable sources such as coal, oil, and gas, all of which produce CO2 and heat the Earth’s air and water. Slowly the world is turning to solar, wind and other forms of renewable energy that is not carbon-producing. A good case can be made for countries to turn to nuclear energy that does not pollute the Earth’s atmosphere. Other measures are to help companies, farmers and citizens to conserve water more carefully and distribute it more equitably. Otherwise, there will be a large number of places suffering from inadequate water supply while other places are awash with too much water covering and drowning their landscape.
 
4. Robots and AI Will Take Over Most Jobs and Create Mass Unemployment 
 
During most of human history, mankind had to do hard work physically and mentally to procure and provide sufficient food, clothing and shelter. Early man had to gather food from plants and kill animals. They moved from hunting/gathering to farming and animal husbandry that required great physical effort throughout the year. Industrialisation brought them into factories and offices requiring a variety of physical and mental work. Advances in technology and the digital age made it possible to carry out some jobs with mechanical equipment and electrical energy. To reduce labour costs, enterprises examined every job that could be done at lower cost by mechanical and electrical means and computer programs. Many physical jobs were replaced by machines and assembly lines. Many mental jobs were replaced by algorithms and artificial intelligence. Accountants had less work to do. Lawyers could search for court cases more quickly. Grocery clerks might become less necessary as new type of groceries are managed by sensors, facial recognition and credit cards. Deliveries can be done by drones or automated trucks, not requiring so many truck drivers. 
 
Does this sound like a nightmare or a blessing?  It is nice to have less work or simpler work but the disappearance of jobs mean the disappearance of wages. If most work can be automated and done without human effort, the result is mass unemployment. The first problem is how to get an income when there is no job?  The second problem is what are workers to do when they no longer have to work?  
 
The most logical solution to the income loss is UBI, the. UBI is Universal Basic Income, a model for providing all citizens of a country with a given monthly sum of money, regardless of their income, resources or employment status. The government would raise some of this money by cutting other social programs designed to support people with insufficient income. Some of this money would come from passing higher income taxes on the wealthy, including a wealth tax. The rest of the money would come by the government printing more money. UBI could take other forms, such as not being paid to persons with adequate incomes, and money being deposited to each baby born, not to be available until age 18.
 
What about the problem of workers having no work?  Persons who have had a job all their life have a difficult time in retirement. If they had no hobbies, or learning interests, or travel interests, they are left with watching television or card playing for entertainment.  Fortunately, there is a growing literature on how to spend time enjoying leisure.  The economist John Maynard Keynes in the 1930s predicted that his grandkids would work just 15 hours a week. He imagined that we would basically work Monday and Tuesday, and then have a five-day weekend. He thought his kids could lead a wonderful life this way. 
 
5. A Great War Will Break Out between the US and China and US
 
The fifth nightmare is that another great global world war will break out, possibly between the US and China. Another great global world war is not likely to happen if there is a prevailing superpower nation with great military strength that behaves wisely and no one dares to attack. This was the US’s position during the thirty years following the Second World War. Fortunately, two of the powerful but defeated states, Germany and Japan, had converted into peaceful states. They were able to grow their economic and political power through peace means rather than through war. Russia, US’s partner during World War II, sought to challenge US power in what erupted as the Cold War. The US worked hard to contain Russia’s expansion and power, and this kept war from breaking out. The falling of the Berlin Wall in November 9, 1989  marked the end of the Cold War and the fall of communism in Eastern and Central Europe.
 
In the 1980s, China’s growth took off rapidly. China became the “world’s factory” in supplying the rest of the world with cheap consumer products. China turned to technology and built a large number of steel plants and used the steel to construct skyscrapers and modern railroads and dams. China then invested heavily in the digital revolution building major software companies such as Alibaba, Tencent and Baidu (their answer to Amazon, Facebook, and Google). Then China came up with the brilliant idea of building a “belt and road system” that would facilitate the movement of its goods from China all the way to Europe, using mainly its own labour and finances. By bringing construction and businesses into surrounding countries and financing their development, China acquired political power and respect and occasionally took over assets from foreign businesses that couldn’t pay back their loans. Today, the world faces two great powers, the US and China, each with a very different political system. The U.S relies on private enterprise  for its economic growth. China also relies on many strong private companies but the difference is that China does much more long term planning and has greater influence on its state and private companies and their policies. The economic battle is between a highly decentralized economy that observes well-accepted business norms and a highly centralised economy that steals technologies from abroad, keeps some its important markets closed or at a disadvantage to foreign companies, and keeps its currency artificially low.
 
No one is saying that China or the US. is likely to decide to go to war. China can continue to gain more wealth and power through peaceful means than through war. The US sees China doing its best to gain power in the South China Sea and continues to engage in some unbusiness-like activities that irritate the US. The US initiated the trade war with China believing that China would easily slow down and change its ways. But the trade war hasn’t ended and has produced a great cost to both nations. China continues to build its navy and its military strength, as the US does the same. Hopefully, no major incident or issue occurs to bring either party to start a war with the other.
 
Wars can still break out in other areas, such as with Iran or an unsettled situation in Syria or the Middle East. But none seem to pose more than a regional war. Not a global world war.
 
6. Civil Unrest Will Grow with Fighting between the Haves and Have-Nots
 
One can imagine a long period of civil unrest coming out of an enduring polarization of the two political parties that refuse to get along or compromise. As long as the income difference grows larger between the haves and have-nots, the have-nots, if organized, will go after the wealthy. Major social revolutions have taken place in the past in the Russian Revolution, the Chinese Revolution and in other areas. In the United States, some white supremist groups are gathering arms and expressing their discontent with migrants, politicians, or the wealthy class. They wave their guns and in some cases act as “domestic terrorists.”
 
The wealthy have to do more than just build high fences and hire guards as they often do in South American countries. They have to moderate their gains and allow more money to flow into the pockets of the poor and the working class. There are now some well-known billionaires such as Warren Buffett and Bill Gates asking to pay higher top rate income taxes and higher wages to the working class. Politicians and political parties must call for more equity in the sharing of the fruits of productivity gains and the gross national product. 
 
7. Countries Will Increasingly Fall under Authoritarian Leaders and Fascism
 
Civil unrest and disappointment can breed populist politicians who outline and promise good sounding reforms to get elected. Once in power, they do their best to divide the population between those for them and those against them. They describe certain groups as plotting against them or lying about them. They charge that the press is against them and creating and distributing fake information. They complain about the decisions coming out of biased judges. They oppose investigations into their activities and vilify their critics. In the end, they become autocrats or dictators and few people have the courage to attack them or speak against them.
 
We have seen the rise of authoritarian leaders and the slipping of democracy in such countries as Turkey, Poland, Hungary, Philippines and elsewhere. It is as if the public is crying for stability and ready to support a leader who is willing to suppress noisy critics.
Countries need a strong set of institutions that provide checks and balances. The executive must be subject to the will of the elected legislators. Both have to support the basic principles of their Constitution as assessed by a free and unbiased Supreme Court. 
Three Alternative Policies for Moderating these Nightmares
 
Why do I present these seven nightmares?  Partly because many citizens are distressed or displeased with the way things are going. Many feel deep anger, fear or hopelessness. The seven nightmares have different probabilities of occurrence and present different levels of harm. Not all nightmares can be addressed by one platform. There is a need to shape a vision of the future that might gain wide support from a majority of citizens. 
 
What becomes clear is that there are three competing visions for how to best respond to these nightmares. They are: 
A. The Standard Economic Growth Model, 
B. The Degrowth, Depopulation Model, 
C. The Wealth Redistribution Model. 
 
A. The Standard Economic Growth Model
The U.S. has been applying the standard economic growth model through its history and it has yielded a high level of economic growth and prosperity. The model grants a high level of economic freedom for business leaders to use market forces to build their businesses, jobs and incomes. The government plays a background role in providing defence, civil services, infrastructure of roads and ports, public education and public safety, all of which are needed for businesses to perform profitably. The government avoids directing the economy but does respond with remedies when threatening situations arise, such as recessions, disease outbreaks, or weather related emergencies. 
 
This model is likely to continue because it has worked so well in raising the living standards of citizens. But the same model produces some of our nightmares, such as the overheating of the planet, the deteriorating condition of the oceans, the overconcentration of wealth and the continuation of poverty and inadequate incomes.
 
B. The Degrowth, Depopulation Model
A number of economists and social critics have proposed replacing the standard economic growth model with a de-growth, de-population model. They fear that the planet’s carrying capacity cannot well support even today’s 7.7 billion people, let alone the predicted 9.8 billion forecast for 2050. They predict that a growing number of people will go hungry, lack water, get ill and lead to earlier death or rebellion and turn to authoritarian leaders full of promises that they cannot deliver.
 
The degrowth, depopulation model calls for taking a number of bold steps.
a. Getting citizens and companies to switch away from nonrenewable energy (coal, oil, gas) to renewable energy from solar, wind, and possibly nuclear energy.
 
b. Training people, companies and farmers to use less water and share fairly its water with water-deprived areas.
 
c. Getting people to buy less clothing and reuse, recycle or redistribute clothing to others.
 
d. Getting companies to do a better job of designing their products and distribution systems to minimize waste and short lived products.
 
This degrowth model also calls for efforts to reduce population growth. This means an active effort to encourage families to have fewer children. Consider China’s 'one child' policy:
 
China made this decision in 1979 (after a decade-long two-child policy) to better control its population growth. A second child would go without the benefits enjoyed by the first child. The family would be shamed for trying to have more than one child. The policy was partly aimed at rural and religious groups who believed in larger families needed for labour and to provide assistance to parents in old age. The one-child policy led some families to abort or kill female children when X-rays showed that the pregnant woman was bearing a daughter, not a son. Giving birth to only one son led to the phenomenon of the “boy king” whose family did everything possible to please the boy. After all, this boy would be responsible as an adult to provide and protect his parents when they were old.
 
In 2016, the Chinese government changed the policy to permit families to have two children. The government saw a new problem emerging in the form of not enough girls for the sons to marry. The government had successful limited population growth but at a high price.
 
The depopulation movement does not have to be one of limiting families to having only one or two children. The real need is to sell “family planning” accompanied by a wide distribution of condoms and other means of preventing pregnancies. Thailand was able to reduce its population birthrate from seven to two children per family. Thailand’s Population and Community Development Association (PDA) gave a prize to Dr. Mechai Viravaidya, who passionately promoted condoms to the Thai public. He spoke at a variety of events, proclaiming, “The condom is a great friend. You can blow a balloon with it. You can get it in different colours. You can get it at toolbooths and washrooms.”
 
The real need is to discourage families who habitually or religiously insist on having a large number of children. The Catholic Church sees children as a blessing and encourages Catholic families to have as many children as possible. A similar attitude occurs in Muslim families. In rural communities in developing countries, families would like to have six children because three of them are likely to die in childhood, leaving three children to help work in the farm. What this means is that depopulation promotion calls for different strategies and appeals put out to different groups. This also calls for continuing to empower women to stand up for their right to say how many children they will have and to marry the right men who agree to their wish.
 
C. The Wealth Redistribution Model
Getting citizens to move from the standard economic growth model to the degrowth, depopulation model is likely to produce hardship for a number of people. With slower economic growth, there will be fewer jobs and lower incomes. It is not fair to let a substantial number of lower income people to bear even more pain and suffering for the sake of bringing down the population size. Those who are unemployed have to receive financial support and social welfare. If the government supports the unemployed by printing money, this is likely to produce inflation and the rise in prices will fall heavily on those who are already poor. The answer has to be passing more taxes on the wealthy, in the form of a higher top income tax rate and possibly a wealth tax. The average CEO who used to be paid about 20-40 times what the average worker in their firm earned today is paid over 300 times what the average worker in their firm is paid. Why should a huge number of citizens be without a basic standard of living while a small class of people live with much more wealth than they ever need?  There are not only people who have achieved a wealth of 1 billion dollars but many billionaires have many billions of dollars. The economic system seems rigged to a lot of citizens and if this gets worse, this can lead to rebellions or authoritarian leaders who suppress the rebellion. Citizens need to discuss their views on how much wealth disparity is too much. The question is increasingly being asked:  “Should billionaires exist?”
 
Conclusion
 
The article has described seven nightmares that no longer should be hidden under a rug. They all deserve extended discussion. Some nightmares are extreme and not very likely to happen, being very preventable. Other nightmares are quite real and threaten to change our lives drastically. We do not need to overheat our planet and allow our cities to be flooded and our oceans destroyed of marine life. We can use technology to grow more food and create less waste. We can reduce our physical labour and improve our lives with robots and AI. When unemployment strikes, we can give financial support through generous social welfare programmes. We can try to avoid wars and use soft power to calm warring parties. We need to provide a more equitable distribution of income and strive to eliminate poverty. We need to expose politicians presenting false claims and cures about what can realistically be done to improve people’s lives. Where there is life, there is hope.
 
(Dr Philip Kotler is the SC Johnson & Son Distinguished Professor of International Marketing at the Northwestern University Kellogg Graduate School of Management in Chicago. He is hailed by Management Centre Europe as "the world's foremost expert on the strategic practice of marketing."
 
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    kuldip46

    2 months ago

    Way back in December 1985, Saint Scholar Giani Niranjan Singh Ji said, “ Come to the turn of the century, the economy of the world will start to go downhill.”

    To the question, “ Why?” the Saint Scholar replied, “ We will be moving from the Age of Falsehood to the Age of Righteousness.”

    To another question, “ If the economy of the world will go downhill, which country will come up?”

    Saint Scholar replied, “India.”

    The questioner asked, “Why?”

    Saint Scholar replied, “ Land on which deep meditation will thrive. Other countries will have a hard time.”

    Which is the reason India is not seriously impacted by the coronavirus.

    Another quotation from Saint Scholar Ji -

    “Science has spread scepticism among educated people. The hope of establishing a heaven on earth by means of material progress has led many to ridicule the search for the spiritual path. But, the god of material progress demands worship at its shrines.
    We worship the swift-moving machinery of our skills, factories and workshops-the temples of industry; we worship our office, our trade and commerce, banks and stock exchanges(the churches of high finance); we worship scholarship, our schools, and colleges.

    And in the midst of all this worship, we have forgotten the worship of the Lord.”

    Quoted from the book
    *Divine Mystic Reflections on Gurmat* by Saint Scholar Naranjan Singh Ji

    To round up - “Give a man a gun and he can rob a bank, but give a man a bank, and he can rob the world.”
    Tyrell Wellick

    REPLY

    kuldip46

    In Reply to kuldip46 2 months ago

    The sentence ' Saint Scholar replied, “ Land on which deep meditation will thrive. Other countries will have a hard time.”
    I missed out the words 'took place.'

    This should read - ' Saint Scholar replied, “ Land on which deep meditation took place will thrive. Other countries will have a hard time.”

    My apologies for the oversight.

    Ramesh Popat

    2 months ago

    some probability of fusion will come true. (longest ML article?!)..reshaping the world inevitable!

    Study touting hydroxychloroquine as COVID-19 cure didn't meet standard: Publisher
    A study that first claimed that anti-malaria drug hydroxychloroquine is an effective treatment for the novel coronavirus and triggered US President Donald Trump enthusiasm for its widespread use, has now been slammed by the same group that publishes the journal in which the paper first appeared.
     
    The Scotland-based nonprofit International Society of Antimicrobial Chemotherapy (ISAC) has stressed that the study in question that appeared in its International Journal of Antimicrobial Agents (IJAA) "did not meet its standard".
     
    The study was published as "Hydroxychloroquine and azithromycin as a treatment of COVID-19: results of an open-label non-randomized clinical trial" and was led by France-based University of Marseille's researcher Didier Raoult.
     
    It reported testing 36 French COVID-19 patients in March, majority of them showing upper respiratory tract infection symptoms. They were given 600mg of hydroxychloroquine daily, and were tested every day via nasal swabs.
     
    The addition of azithromycin to the treatment depended on patients' "clinical presentation."
     
    According to a society statement, the "ISAC Board believes the article does not meet the Society's expected standard, especially relating to the lack of better explanations of the inclusion criteria and the triage of patients to ensure patient safety".
     
    "Although ISAC recognises it is important to help the scientific community by publishing new data fast, this cannot be at the cost of reducing scientific scrutiny and best practices. Both Editors in Chief of our journals (IJAA and Journal of Global Antimicrobial Resistance) are in full agreement," said Andreas Voss, ISAC President.
     
    Other scientists have also detailed serious problems with the study, including questions about its ethical underpinnings, messy confounding variables, missing patients, rushed and conflicted peer review and confusing data.
     
    According to Retraction Watch, others have used PubPeer to report additional issues with the original Raoult article.
     
    Hydroxychloroquine is a less toxic version of chloroquine, another malaria drug, which is related to quinine, an ingredient in tonic water.
     
    President Trump called Prime Minister Narendra Modi, requesting him to supply the anti-malaria drug hydroxychloroquine that is being used to treat COVID-19 patients and as prophylactic by the frontline health care workers deployed in the fight against the coronavirus pandemic.
     
    India imposed a ban on export of the drug since the coronavirus pandemic hit India.
     
    The government has now decided to lift a partial ban on hydroxychloroquine, to export the drug to aid America's fight against the deadly COVID-19 disease.
     
    The US has the highest number of the novel coronavirus cases in the world, with over 368,000 cases of infections and over 10,800 deaths.
     
    Disclaimer: Information, facts or opinions expressed in this news article are presented as sourced from IANS and do not reflect views of Moneylife and hence Moneylife is not responsible or liable for the same. As a source and news provider, IANS is responsible for accuracy, completeness, suitability and validity of any information in this article.
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    ameymajgaonkar72

    2 months ago

    Very nice article to read about our Future.

    Coronavirus (Covid-19) Updates
    Black day in India's Covid-19 fight, 693 cases and 30 deaths
    06-04-2020 18:51

    It was a black day in India's fight against the spread of coronavirus cases, as 693 new cases were found in 24 hours - the highest number in a day recorded so far, taking the total count to 4,067. Also, 30 deaths were reported in a day, which is one-third of the total number of deaths in the country so far.

    Lav Agarwal, Joint Secretary in the Union Health Ministry, said as many as 109 people have died of the disease till now.

    Out of the 4,067 coronavirus cases, at least 1,445 cases have been epidemiologically linked to Islamist group Tablighi Jamaat congregation in Nizamuddin, Delhi in March.

    On Sunday, more than 500 coronavirus cases were registered for the fourth consecutive day, even as the government announced a massive ramp up in the testing facilities. The number of deaths also rose up to 30.

    In Delhi, Covid-19 cases reached 523, with 20 fresh cases being reported since Sunday, including 10 attendees of Tablighi Jamaat. According to Delhi Chief Minister Arvind Kejriwal, one person died in the last 24 hours, taking the total toll to 7, and 25 patients are on ventilators.

    According to Agarwal, 47 per cent cases of positive cases are in people below the age of 40 years, 34 per cent cases in the age group of 40 to 60 years; and 19 per cent cases in above 60 years of age, while people above 60 years account for 63 per cent of all Covid-19 deaths.

    He also added 86 per cent young people with comorbid conditions are also susceptible or at high-risk from the coronavirus infection. Out of total positive cases, men comprise 76 per cent and women 24 per cent, while males account for 73 per cent of total deaths and females the rest 27 per cent.

    Globally, the death toll surpassed 70,344 and the number of infections rose to 1,285,257. US President Donald has touted hydroxychloroquine as a game changer for treating the coronavirus. Reportedly, 47 per cent of the US supply of the drug last year came from India makers.

    Indian Council of Medical Research (ICMR) officials, however, said that there is limited evidence on efficacy of hydroxychloroquine to deal with Covid-19, and also there is not enough proof to advise it for the public. The ICMR official added orders have been placed for 5 Lakh rapid antibody testing kits for conducting Covid-19 tests in the identified hotspots.

    The Union Home Secretary has also asked the state governments and Union Territories to ensure the supply of medical oxygen, which is critical for Covid-19 treatment.
     
    Mumbai's Wockhardt Hospital isolated after 29 staff test positive
    06-04-2020 13:37

    The BrihanMumbai Municipal Corporation (BMC) has declared the Wockhardt Hospital near Mumbai Central a containment zone after at least 29 staff including 3 doctors and 26 nurses were found Covid-19 positive last week, officials said.

    The infections reportedly happened after two Covid-19 patients and two suspected cases were shifted here from the Kasturba Hospital a fortnight ago.

    While the two patients were kept in the isolation ward, the two suspect cases were kept with other patients in the ICU from where the infection may have spread.

    Last week, two nurses serving in the ICU tested positive, and then the infections spread quickly, affecting nearly 29 including the doctors.

    The BMC has taken the swabs of another 270 staffers and patients at the hospital for testing, and pending the outcome, the hospital has been declared a containment zone.

    Since such a large number of cases have come from a single location, the BMC has ordered a probe to ascertain if Covid-19 protocols were adhered to or not while dealing with the two patients and two suspects admitted there last month.
     
    Americans asked to brace for 'saddest', 'hardest' week
    06-04-2020 12:21

    With a dire warning from Surgeon General of the US Jerome Adams, the country braced for the "saddest" week ahead even as it saw glimmers of hope in the dip in new cases and deaths in the coronavirus pandemic's epicentre New York and an abatement in Washington state where it began.

    Alluding to two epochal events in the country's history, Adams said on Sunday: "This is going to be our Pearl Harbor moment, our 9/11 moment, only it's not going to be localised. It's going to be happening all over the country."

    Delivering his warning at the start of the week when Christians commemorated the crucifixion of Jesus Christ, he told a FOX News interviewer: "It's tragically fitting that we're talking at the beginning of Holy Week because this is going to be the hardest and the saddest week of most Americans' lives, quite frankly."

    The number of confirmed COVID-19 cases in the US reached 337,638, about a quarter of the 1,275,856 infecions worldwide, while the death toll in America stood at was 9,647.

    The fears now were that the cases will zoom in other areas of the country, even as its rate of increase falls in New York and other areas that saw the first spikes.

    Michighan, Louisiana, Massachusetts and Florida showed big increases in COVID-19 cases last week.

    But Adams also said: "I want Americans to understand that, as hard as this week is going to be, there is a light at the end of the tunnel if everyone does their part for the next 30 days."

    A positive sign came from New York, where the number of new deaths fell from 630 on Friday to 594 on Saturday, and the new cases from 10,841 on Friday to 8,327 on Saturday, according to state data.

    The new cases reported in New York City showed even steeper rates of decline, from 3,905 on Thursday to 3,250 on Friday and to 1,091 on Saturday.

    One fact that stands out in the pandemic is the differences in the death rates of the US and European countries like Italy and Spain.

    The US with 337,638 confirmed cases has 9,647 deaths, while Italy with 128,948 has 15,887 deaths, and Spain has recorded 12,641 deaths from 131,646 cases.
     
    Corona deaths cross 100 in India, 490 new cases in 12 hours
    06-04-2020 10:20

    The Union Health Ministry on Monday said 109 deaths were reported across the country due to Coronavirus, and the total number of infected cases so far has risen to 4067.

    At least 490 new cases and 26 new deaths have been reported in the last 12 hours.

    Till Sunday evening, the total number of cases was 3,577 while 83 deaths were reported.

    In the 9 a.m. update on Monday morning, the Ministry said as of now, 3666 cases are active while 291 people have been cured and discharged.

    One person has migrated while 109 have died due to the virus, the Ministry said.

    About 30 per cent of the total cases, are connected to Tablighi Jamaat, an event organised by the Islamic sect in Delhi's Nizamuddin area last month.
     
    Tiger tests positive for coronavirus at New York's Bronx Zoo
    06-04-2020 06:34

    A tiger in New York City has tested positive for coronavirus, according to a news release from the Wildlife Conservation Society's Bronx Zoo.

    The four-year-old female Malayan tiger named Nadia, as well as three other tigers and three African lions, "developed a dry cough and all are expected to recover", the BBC reported.

    "We tested the cat out of an abundance of caution and will ensure any knowledge we gain about COVID-19 will contribute to the world's continuing understanding of this novel coronavirus," the zoo said in a statement.

    "Though they have experienced some decrease in appetite, the cats at the Bronx Zoo are otherwise doing well under veterinary care and are bright, alert, and interactive with their keepers."

    The animals are believed to have been infected by a zookeeper. The zoo has been closed since mid-March.
     
    Hydroxychloroquine-azithromycin mix dangerous for heart: Cardiology Magazine
    03-04-2020 19:03

    As the combined use of anti-malaria drug hydroxychloroquine and the antibiotic azithromycin to treat coronavirus patients gains momentum, cardiologists are advising caution because both medications can increase the risk for dangerous abnormal heart rhythms.

    In guidance published in the American College of Cardiology publication titled ‘Cardiology Magazine', cardiologists from Oregon Health & Science University (OHSU) and Indiana University recommend clinicians who treat COVID-19 patients with the malaria-antibiotic drug combination to also consider monitoring those patients for "ventricular arrhythmia," which involves the lower heart chambers beating quickly and irregularly and can lead to cardiac arrest.

    There are hundreds of drugs that can increase the risk for cardiac arrest, but using two together in patients who are already at risk or critically ill could increase that risk further, the authors warned.

    "While there is yet very little data regarding hydroxychloroquine and azithromycin's effectiveness as a treatment for COVID-19, some clinicians are considering combining them during this global pandemic," said lead author Eric Stecker, associate professor of medicine (cardiovascular medicine) in the OHSU School of Medicine and OHSU Knight Cardiovascular Institute.

    "If physicians use their best medical judgement and order this drug combination for coronavirus patients, we want them to be aware of potential adverse side effects," he added.

    Stecker and colleagues recommend clinicians who treat COVID-19 patients with the drug combination also monitor patients for dangerous arrhythmias.

    However, they acknowledge limited resources could make monitoring a challenge.

    "Until we have clinical outcome data supporting the benefit or harm of these medications, I would advocate for a cautious approach in using the combination of hydroxychloroquine and azithromycin," said Stecker.

    Any medications that increase the risk of cardiac risk require consideration of both risks and benefits.

    "Right now, we do not have evidence that benefits outweigh risks for use of hydroxychloroquine or chloroquine," the study said.

    Patients should be monitored for arrhythmias during any use of these medications, alone or in combination, unless risk of infection for health care workers or limitations in use of personal protective equipment are prohibitive," said the authors.
     
    Global COVID19 cases near 1 million, death toll cross 51,000
    03-04-2020 01:17

    The global coronavirus toll crossed 51,000 late on Thursday with Italy (13,915) and Spain (10,096) accounting for nearly half the fatalities, while the number of cases were fast approaching a million, with the US having over a fifth of them, as per the Johns Hopkins University's Coronavirus Resource Centre.

    As of midnight, the toll stood at 51,335 and the total number of cases around the world at 998,047.

    The US, which had the maximum cases at 234,462, reported the third highest number of deaths at 5,607, with 1,374 of them in New York City.

    France, at 4,503 deaths, was at fourth place and was followed by China, from where the disease outbreak was first reported with 3,322 (3,199 of them in Hubei provice, where epicentre Wuhan is located), and Iran at 3,160 deaths.

    Italy was second in the mumber of cases, at 115,242, closely followed by Spain with 110,238, while China had 82,432.

    Germany reported 81,728, France 57,807 and Iran 50,468.

    On the other hand, 208,630 people have recovered worldwide, led by China with 76,571, Spain with 26,743, 21,400 recovered in Germany, 18,278 recovered in Italy, and 16,711 in Iran.
     
    Indian Govt suggests using homemade face masks
    02-04-2020 16:20

    The Office of Principal Scientific Advisor to the Government, on Thursday, suggested usage of homemade face masks for people to overcome shortage.

    Dr Shailja Vaidya Gupta, Senior Adviser, Office of the Principal Scientific Adviser to the Government, said "This is primarily meant for the people who want to wear mask but do not have access to it. They can make these washable and reusable masks home."

    Gupta said the shortage of face masks and hand sanitizers is a stark reality.

    Axious public frantically shopped hygiene products, in particular marks and hand sanitizers, amid COVID-19 outbreak due to which the sudden increased supply could not be met by the burgeoning demand.

    Therefore the government issued the manual on homemade masks, "Masks for Curbing the Spread of SARS-CoV-2 Coronavirus" for home fabrication. The key criteria for proposed designs are ease of access to materials, ease of making at home, ease of use and reuse.

    However, the government hitherto maintained that face masks were only required for the people who are suffering from the Coronavirus disease and their close contacts, for example a designated family member who is looking after the patient or healthcare workers who are treating them. A healthy person needs not to wear face masks.

    But as cases of COVID-19 surge in India, the government said protective masks lower the chances of coronavirus entering our respiratory system through droplets that are present in the air.

    According to a report published in Pub Med analyses show that if 50 per cent of the population were to wear masks, only 50 per cent of the population would be infected by the virus. Once 80 per cent of the population wears a mask, the outbreak can be stopped substantially. Wearing of masks is especially recommended for people living in densely populated areas.

    "India has pockets of dense population. It's mind boggling the density; the North East district of Delhi has a population density of 36,155 per square km, the models and control points for India are out of scale! Masks and washing hands will help and are easy to make at home". said Dr Gupta.

    The Science and Technology Empowered Committee was constituted on March 19. The committee is jointly chaired by Prof. Vinod Paul, Member, NITI Aayog and Prof. K Vijay Raghavan, Principal Scientific Adviser to the Government of India, and is responsible for coordination amongst science agencies, scientists, industries and regulatory bodies, and to take speedy decisions on research and development to implementation related to the Sars-Cov-2 virus and the COVID-19 disease.
     
    Banks to recycle inward currency notes only after 48 hours on corona threat
    02-04-2020 01:00

    As the corona pandemic turns multifaceted, concerns are arising over the use of currency notes and banks have been advised not to recycle inward currencies and do so only after 48 hours.

    As a per a circular issued to banks in Kerala, all member banks of the SLBC that the inward currencies at branches should not be recycled. The inward currencies are to be separately wrapped in packets with date and to be recycled only after 48 hours.

    "We infer that currency notes are a probable threat for spread of coronavirus. Health Department has also opined that coronavirus could sustain on infected currency notes for about 12 hours."

    Canara Bank has issued a circular today to the SLBC member banks in Kerala.

    The staff in the branches have been asked to take precautions including wearing masks, gloves, using sanitisers and ensuring social distancing.

    Earlier, Indian Banks' Association (IBA) has made an appeal to people to wash their hands after touching or counting currency.

    IBA had also asked customers to use online and mobile banking channels for making their transactions and avoid visiting bank branches.

    "Wash your hands with soap for at least 20 seconds before and after physical banking/currency counting/AEPS (Aadhaar-enabled payments)," IBA had said in a public appeal.

    Traders body, the Confederation of All India Traders had also flagged these concerns to Finance Minister Nirmala Sitharaman about the possible spread of coronavirus through currency notes.

    CAIT had said that usage of paper currency which is (the) most dreaded carrier for different viruses and infections due to rapid change of hands between unknown people and thus becomes a health hazard.

    It cited the safety of polymer currency, mentioning 13 countries who have switched entirely to these notes, ditching paper variants, and more than 15 countries in line to do so.
     
    How You Can Donate?
    01-04-2020 15:48
     
    Name of the Account: PM CARES
    Account Number: 2121PM20202
    IFSC Code: SBIN0000691
    SWIFT Code: SBININBB104
    Name of Bank & Branch: State Bank of India, New Delhi Main Branch
     
    Following modes of payments are available on the website pmindia.gov.in -
     
    Debit Cards and Credit Cards
    Internet Banking
    UPI (BHIM, PhonePe, Amazon Pay, Google Pay, PayTM, Mobikwik, etc.)
    RTGS/NEFT
     
    Maharashtra Chief Minister’s Relief Fund-COVID 19
     
    Account number: 39239591720
    Bank Name & Address: State Bank of India, Mumbai Main Branch, Fort Mumbai 400023
    Branch Code: 00300
    IFSC CODE:  SBIN0000300
     
    Scientists identify 8 strains of coronavirus
    01-04-2020 14:15

    Even as researchers across the world work overtime to understand evolution of the virus that causes the disease COVID-19, scientists have identified at least eight strains of coronavirus doing the rounds globally.

    Over 2,000 genetic sequences of the virus submitted from laboratories across the world to the open-source project Nextstrain.org show how the virus is migrating into new subtypes.

    According to a report in National Geographic, the data at the site, inluding samples from every continent except Antractica, showed the virus is taking on an average 15 days for mutating.

    This, however, does not mean that the virus is becoming dangerous. Rather, these mutations are helping scientists understand their behaviour and origin.

    "These mutations are completely benign and useful as a puzzle piece to uncover how the virus is spreading," Nextstrain cofounder Trevor Bedford, a computational biologist at the Fred Hutchinson Cancer Research Center in Seattle, US, was quoted as saying.

    "One thing that's become clear is that genomics data gives you a much richer story about how the outbreak is unfolding," Bedford said.

    Looking at the evolution of the virus also helped scientists debunk the conspiracy theory that the virus might have originated in laboratories.

    The novel SARS-CoV-2 coronavirus that emerged in the city of Wuhan, China, last year and has since caused a large scale COVID-19 epidemic is the product of natural evolution, according to a study published in the journal Nature Medicine.

    The analysis of public genome sequence data from SARS-CoV-2 and related viruses found no evidence that the virus was made in a laboratory or otherwise engineered.

    "By comparing the available genome sequence data for known coronavirus strains, we can firmly determine that SARS-CoV-2 originated through natural processes," said corresponding author on the paper Kristian Andersen, Associate Professor of Immunology and Microbiology at Scripps Research Institute in the US.
     
    One more death in Maharashtra; total cases 321
    01-04-2020 10:35 

    A 75-year-old man died due to Covid-19 in Mumbai, taking the number of such casualties to 12 in Maharashtra, where 19 new corona positive cases reported since Tuesday night took the total cases to 321, health officials said here on Wednesday.

    While a 50-year-old man had died at a government hospital in Palghar, the first for this tribal district, the 75-year-old passed away in a Mumbai hospital.

    Among new patients, 16 are from Mumbai, 2 from Pune, and one from Buldhana, the highest increase in the past 36 hours from 220 to 321 cases.

    Besides Mumbai and Pune, the other cases are in Thane, Sangli, Nagpur, Ahmednagar, Yavatmal, Buldhana, Satara, Kolhapur, Aurangabad, Sindhudurg, Ratnagiri, Gondia, Jalgaon, Nashik, besides one from Gujarat.

    Of the 12 Covid-19 deaths, 9 were in Mumbai, and one each in Palghar, Pune and Buldhana.

    The state's youngest victim was a 40-year-old suburban homemaker with no history of foreign travel, and a medico in his early 80s, said officials.

    Addressing the state late on Tuesday evening, Chief Minister Uddhav Thackeray again appealed to the people to remain indoors and maintain social distancing.

    "The 'war against coronavirus' has reached a crucial stage and this is the time to exercise extreme precautions. Please do not step out of your homes for your own safety," he pleaded.

    According to officials, among the reasons for the huge jump in cases on Tuesday is the population density, especially in sprawling dingy slums with tiny tenements - which make up half of the country's commercial capital.

    The slums house millions of people eking out an existence in cramped quarters, using common sanitation facilities, insufficient water supply, no open spaces or greenery, making them a potentially fertile ground for diseases as there' little or no scope for 'social distancing'.

    To address the serious problem, the Municipal Commissioner Praveen Pardeshi on Tuesday ordered requisitioning of all vacant premises like flats, buildings, hotels, lodges, clubs, ships, hostels, community halls, dharamshalas, etc to convert them into quarantine centres for low-risk or high-risk slum dwellers who have come in contact with Covid-19 patients.
     
    No evidence against ibuprofen's use in COVID-19 patients: Study
    31-03-2020 15:55

    Researchers led by King's College London have found that there is no evidence for or against the use of non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs such as ibuprofen for patients with novel coronavirus (COVID-19).

    The study, published in the journal 'ecancermedicalscience', also found other types of drugs, such as TNF blockers and JAK inhibitors, used to treat arthritis or other forms of inflammation, safe to use.

    "This pandemic has led to challenging decision-making about the treatment of COVID-19 patients who were already critically unwell," said study author Mieke Van Hemelrijck from King's College London in the UK.

    "In parallel, doctors across multiple specialties are making clinical decisions about the appropriate continuation of treatments for patients with chronic illnesses requiring immune suppressive medication," Hemelrijck added.

    For the findings, 89 existing studies on other coronavirus strains such as MERS and SARS, as well as the limited literature on COVID-19, were analysed to find out if certain pain medications, steroids, and other drugs used in people already suffering from diseases should be avoided if they catch COVID-19.

    Some patients, for example those with cancer, are already given immunosuppressive drugs -- therapies that can lower the body's immune system -- or immunostimulant drugs -- therapies that boost it.

    According to the researchers, there had been some speculation that non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs) such as ibuprofen might make things worse for some COVID-19 patients, but the researchers did not find evidence to support this statement.

    Other types of drugs such as TNF blockers and JAK inhibitors, were also found to be safe to use.

    Another class of drug known as anti-interleukin-6 agents is being investigated for helping to fight COVID-19, although there is no conclusive proof yet.

    The researchers found that low amounts of prednisolone or tacrolimus therapy may be helpful in treating COVID-19.
     
    Nizamuddin markaz: 24 test positive for corona, 1,033 evacuated
    31-03-2020 11:50

    Delhi Health Minister Satyendra Jain said on Tuesday that 24 people have been found corona positive in the Nizamuddin markaz that has turned into ground zero of the new cases spiralling out of control following an ijtima in mid-March.

    Giving details of the case reported in Nizamuddin, Jain said that the government is not certain of the number but it is estimated that 1,500-1,700 people had assembled at the Markaz building.

    The Delhi Health Minister said that 1,033 people have been evacuated so far of which 334 have been sent to hospital and 700 have been sent to the quarantine centre. Jain said that 24 cases have been found to be positive for coronavirus.

    The Markaz, also known as Banglewali Masjid, is a six-storey building complex that can house up to 2,000 people. It shares its wall with the Nizamuddin police station and is adjacent to the famous shrine of Khwaja Nizamuddin Auliya. Starting March 13 there was meeting held here with peopel from Kashmir to Andaman islands attending it, besides Saudis, Thais, Indonesians, that has seen already six alone die in Telangan after their return.
     
    India sees highest spike in Covid-19 cases, total reaches 1,251
    31-03-2020 01:40

    India on Monday witnessed one of the sharpest spike in the number of novel coronavirus (Covid-19) as 227 people tested positive in 24 hours, taking the country's total to 1,251 with 32 deaths. However, 102 people have been cured.

    The Union Health Ministry in its updated report said that 32 deaths have been reported in India so far, with highest eight from Maharashtra, followed by Gujarat with five fatalities.

    "A total of 102 patients have been cured and discharged," it said.

    Among the 27 states and union territories having Coronavirus patients, Kerala has the highest tally of positive cases at 202, followed by Maharashtra at 198. Delhi recorded 87 confirmed cases of Covid-19 with 82 positive cases from Uttar Pradesh.

    India has been under a 21-day lockdown due to Coronavirus till April 14.

    Earlier in the day, the government denied as "rumours" that the 21-day nationwide lockdown would be extended.
     
    India not at community transmission level, says Health Ministry
    30-03-2020 17:15

    Coronavirus outbreak in India is, technically, still in local transmission stage, and there has been no community transmission so far, the Union Health Ministry announced on Monday.

    Joint Secretary, Health Lav Agarwal said 99 cases out of the over 1,000 positive coronavirus cases have recovered so far.

    The Health Ministry, urging people to follow dos and don'ts, said early identification of the viral infection is very crucial in fighting the disease. As many as 1,071 cases have been confirmed for the viral infection with 92 cases coming in the last 24 hours and four deaths.

    The Health Ministry said 10 empowered groups have been constituted focusing on medical emergency, hospital management, community mobilisation etc., and emphasised on following social distancing to contain the spread of the coronavirus.

    "Most of the positive cases for the coronavirus had a travel history," Agarwal added.

    "We should maintain social distancing. Even one person's carelessness may play a big role in the spreading of the coronavirus," he said.

    Indian Council of Medical Research's Dr. Raman Gangakhedkar said 38,442 coronavirus test has been done so far and it is still below 30 per cent of its testing capacity.He added that 47 private labs have conducted 1,334 in three days.
     
    Jefferies Group CFO Peg Broadbent dies of coronavirus complications
    30-03-2020 14:43

    The Chief Financial Officer (CFO) of Jefferies Group, Peg Broadbent, has died of coronvirus complications, a company statement said.

    "The entire Jefferies family mourns Peg's loss. On behalf of our Board of Directors, management team and all our global employees, we extend our deepest sympathies to Peg's family, the statement added.

    Teri Gendron, CFO of Jefferies Financial Group, has been appointed as the interim CFO and Chief Accounting Officer of Jefferies Group LLC.

    Broadbent was the CFO and partner of the company for over 12 years. He had worked with Morgan Stanley for 16 years before joining Jefferies in 2007.
     
    In worst case scenario, 200,000 Americans could die from COVID19: White House
    30-03-2020 06:32

    Sending out a dire warning, the White House on Sunday projected America's peak death toll from the coronavirus is likely in two weeks coinciding with Easter weekend and in a worst case scenario, a total of 100,000 to 200,000 Americans could eventually succumb to the virus.

    "It's possible. It's entirely possible that would happen if we don't mitigate. What we're trying to do is to not let that happen," America's top infectious diseases doctor, Anthony Fauci said at a White House briefing in the Rose Garden on Sunday.

    Dr. Deborah Birx, White House coronavirus response co-ordinator, explained that the model which is predicting the 100,000-200,000 death toll number assumes that social distancing is happening at scale.

    "In the model, there's a large confidence interval. In that model, they make full assumption that we continue doing everything that we are doing and even better. We are hoping that the models aren't completely right," Birx said.

    At the same time, Fauci urged Americans not to get "overly anxious" about the extremes of the models. "Models are as good as the assumptions you put into it," Fauci said.

    US president Donald Trump said that the grim numbers come from the "most accurate" study so far which landed on his desk Sunday.

    Trump said, "2.2 million people would have died if we did not do the social distancing and all that. If we could hold that down to a 100,000 - it's a horrible number - we've done a very good job."

    Trump announced that the US is extending the social distancing guidelines currently in place till April 30.

    Seeking to reassure Americans, Trump said, "By June 1, we will be well on our way to recovery."

    By Sunday, the US death toll crossed the 2,300 mark and its caseload, already the world's maximum, rose to more than 135,000.
     
    Global COVID-19 cases now 601,478, deaths 27,862: Johns Hopkins
    28-03-2020 15:31

    The total number of global coronavirus cases has increased to 601,478, while the death toll stood at 27,862, the latest update by the Washington-based Johns Hopkins University revealed on Saturday.

    Besides the cases and deaths, a total of 131,826 people have recovered from the disease, Xinhua news agency quoted the update maintained by the varsity's Center for Systems Science and Engineering (CSSE) as saying.

    In terms of cases, the US recorded the highest number of cases at 104,837, followed by Italy 86,498 and China 81,948, the update revealed.

    Italy has recorded the highest number of fatalities with 9,134 deaths, followed by Spain and China, at 5,138 and 3,299, respectively.

    Although the pandemic originated in China last December, now other countries have surpassed it both in terms of infection numbers and fatalities.
     
    Wuhan market shrimp seller may be COVID-19 patient zero: Report
    28-03-2020 15:15

    A shrimp seller at the wet market in the Chinese city of Wuhan believed to be the centre of the coronavirus pandemic, may be the first person to have tested positive for the disease, a media report said on Saturday.

    The report by the London-based Metro newspaper said that 57-year-old woman, named by the Wall Street Journal as Wei Guixian, was selling shrimp at the Huanan Seafood Market when she developed what she thought was a cold last December.

    Chinese digital news outlet, The Paper has said that she may be epatient zero'.

    Wei was told by doctors her illness was "ruthless" and other workers at the market had come to the Wuhan Union Hospital with the same symptoms, the Metro newspaper report quoted the outlet as saying.

    "Every winter, I suffer from the flu, so I thought it was the flu," the woman was quoted as saying by The Paper news outlet.

    The shrimp seller added that she believed she contracted the coronavirus from the shared toilet in the market.

    She said the fatal disease would have killed fewer people if the government had acted sooner.

    Wuhan Municipal Health Commission has confirmed that Wei was among the first 27 people to test positive for the coronavirus.

    It said she was one of 24 cases with direct links to the market, the Metro newspaper reported.

    Though Wei may be "patient zero", it does not mean she is the first person to have contracted the virus, added the Metro report.

    Chinese researchers have claimed that the first person diagnosed with the airborne virus had no contact with the seafood market and was identified on December 1, 2019.

    Wei was later quarantined when a connection was made between the bug and the market before recovering in January.
     
    Abbott's portable test can detect COVID-19 in 5 minutes
    28-03-2020 11:30

    In what could be the fastest available molecular point-of-care test for the detection of novel coronavirus (COVID-19), US-based healthcare technology maker Abbott has unveiled a test that can deliver positive results in as little as five minutes.

    The test can also be used outside the four walls of a traditional hospital such as in the physicians' office or urgent care clinics.

    Abbott on Friday said it has received emergency use authorisation (EUA) from the US Food and Drug Administration (FDA) for the test.

    Testing remains a crucial step in controlling the novel COVID-19 pandemic. Continuing to supply healthcare providers with new technologies to help curb the spread of infection is a top priority for public health officials and healthcare providers.

    Molecular point-of-care testing for COVID-19 offers healthcare workers rapid results in more settings where people show up for care.

    Molecular testing technologies help detect the presence of a virus by identifying a small section of the virus' genome, then amplifying that portion until there's enough for detection.

    This process can cut testing wait time from hours, if not days, to as little as five minutes for positive results and 13 minutes for negative results.

    The new Abbott ‘ID NOW COVID-19' test runs on Abbott's ID NOWTM platform -- a lightweight box (6.6 pounds and the size of a small toaster) that can sit in a variety of locations.

    Because of its small size, it can be used in more non-traditional places where people can have their results in a matter of minutes, bringing an alternate testing technology to combat the novel coronavirus.

    Abbott said it is ramping up production to deliver 50,000 ID NOW COVID-19 tests per day, beginning next week, to the U.S. healthcare system.
     
    Total coronavirus cases cross 870 in India, 78 recovered
    28-03-2020 11:07

    There are at least 775 active Covid-19 cases in India at present, the Ministry of Health and Family Welfare said on Saturday, taking the total number of confirmed coronavirus cases in the country to 873.

    Besides 775 active cases, the country has reported 19 casualties so far while 78 persons have recovered.

    The virus has so far spread to 27 states and UTs. A total of 103 districts have been affected by the highly contagious coronavirus.

    On Friday, the Union Ministry of Health and Family Welfare said that it has given orders to Public Sector Undertakings to provide ventilators in order to handle the surge in novel coronavirus cases in the country.

    Joint Health Secretary of the Health Ministry Lav Agarwal said, "The government is taking pre-emptive and proactive approach to tackle the situation. In order to upgrade the number of ventilators in the country," adding "We have given an order to PSU to provide 10,000 ventilators. Bharat Electronics Limited (BEL), which is one of the Defence Ministry's PSs, has also been requested to purchase 30,000 additional ventilators in 1-2 months."

    Agarwal said at least 1.4 lakh companies have allowed their employees to work from home as per government's request. "Around 1.4 lakh companies allowed employees work from home after our appeal of social distancing and lockdown."
     
    Chef Floyd Cardoz dies from coronavirus, celebs mourn demise
    27-03-2020 20:27

    Renowned chef Floyd Cardoz has died from the novel coronvirus on Wednesday in New York. He was 59.

    Floyd was the co-owner of the two popular Mumbai-based restaurants, the Bombay Canteen and O Pedro.

    A statement released by The Hunger Inc, the company that runs the restaurants, had confirmed a few days back that the chef had tested positive for COVID-19 in New York.

    "As a precautionary measure we have informed the Health Department in Mumbai about the same. We are also reaching out personally to people who have interacted with him during his visit to India, so they can take necessary medical advice should they indicate any symptoms (fever, cough, shortness of breath)and or (put themselves in) self-quarantine," the statement said, according to a Mid-Day report

    Several celebrities took to social media to express grief.

    Actor Rahul Bhose tweeted: "Shocked to hear the passing away of @floydcardoz. Apart from enjoying sterling meals at his various restaurants in New York & Bombay, he was a wonderful man - always warm, gracious and funny. Any pandemic always gets more ominous when you know those who have succumbed. RIP Floyd."

    Actress Tisca Chopra wrote: "So sad. RIP Floyd."

    Actress Sophie Choudry finds Floyd's Demise as a "huge loss to the culinary world".

    Chef Kunal Kapur, who is also known for judging "Masterchef India", too mourned the demise of Floyd. "It is sad to share that chef floyd Cardozo. @floydcardoz is no more. He has been an inspiration to many and I was hoping to cook with him some day.Falling to #covid19 just goes to show that this threat is very real so everyone please take care of yourselves. RIP cheffie. #corona," Kapur wrote.
     
    UK PM Boris Johnson tests positive for Covid-19
    27-03-2020 17:06

    UK Prime Minister Boris Johnson has tested positive for coronavirus but will continue to discharge his duties from self-isolation, a spokesman said on Friday.

    Johnson's "symptoms are mild and he will continue to lead the government response to the virus while he self-isolates", the BBC reported the spokesman as saying.

    The Prime Minister is the second high-profile British leader to test positive for coronavirus after Prince Charles, the heir to the the throne, in recent days. Several ministers in the Johnson government and MPs have also tested positive for Covid-19.
     
    Wuhan no longer at 'high risk' due to coronavirus
    27-03-2020 16:15

    The Chinese city of Wuhan, where the coronavirus pandemic originated last December, has had its COVID-19 risk evaluation downgraded from "high risk" to "medium risk", a local health official said on Friday.

    Speaking at a news conference here, Liu Dongru, deputy head of Hubei province's health commission, said coronavirus risk evaluation for five districts of Xinzhou, Huangpi, Jiangxia, Caidian and Dongxihu have been further lowered to "low risk", reports Xinhua news agency reported

    Liu also declared the transmission of the coronavirus epidemic in Wuhan has been "basically blocked".

    Since March 18, Wuhan has only reported one new confirmed case.

    Friday's announcement comes after authorities in Hubei's provincial capital on Tuesday announced that travel curbs will be lifted in Wuhan from April 8 after over two months of lockdown.

    On January 23, Wuhan declared unprecedented traffic restrictions, including suspending the city's public transport and all outbound flights and trains, in an attempt to contain the epidemic within its territory.

    Similar restrictions were soon introduced in other areas in Hubei.

    As of Friday, there were 81,340 confirmed cases in China and 3,292 deaths, the country's National Health Commission said.

    In total, 565 of those confirmed cases were classed as "imported" - either foreigners coming into China, or returning Chinese nationals.

    Although the virus emerged in China, it now has fewer cases than the US and fewer deaths than Italy and Spain.
     
    Mass testing at Vatican after priest tests COVID-19 positive
    27-03-2020 15:58

    Mass testing has been carried out in the Vatican after a priest living at the Popes residence tested positive for the novel coronavirus.

    Msgr. Gianluca Pezzoli, 58, head of the Italian section of the Vatican's Secretariat of State tested positive earlier this week. He is a permanent resident at Santa Marta, Efe news reported on Friday.

    Pezzoli has now been hospitalized.

    Pope Francis has already been tested once before after he had a bad cold but the result was negative. This was the pontiff's second COVID-19 test.

    On Friday, Roman newspaper Il Messaggero said that another official State Secretary had also tested positive for coronavirus, although he lived in a residence outside the Vatican.

    The Holy See has confirmed the existence of four coronavirus cases: workers at the Vatican Museum and an employee of the papal state.

    With the infection reported by the Roman newspaper on Friday the total number of Vatican infections would be five.

    The Vatican has not reported on the measures that have been taken to protect Pope Francis from possible contagion.

    According to the Roman newspaper, Francis has stopped eating lunch in the common dining room and eats alone in his room and has limited visits, although he continues to receive people in private audiences.

    He has also refused to move to the rooms of the papal palace, where previous popes lived, and which he rejected as he felt too isolated.

    The Vatican has reported that the dicasteries (ministries) and other agencies have not suspended their activities, but have reduced the number of staff in the offices and promoted home working where possible.

    The Vatican has also closed St. Peter's Square and the basilica temporarily until April 3, as a preventive measure against the spread of this virus.

    Pope Francis offers daily morning mass, the general audiences on Wednesdays and the Angelus prayer which are all streamed online.

    The pope has invited the faithful across the world to join him in prayer on Friday at 6 p.m.

    The initiative was announced on Sunday's Angelus: "I invite everyone to participate spiritually through the means of communication".

    The prayer comes after Wednesday's live-streamed ceremony during which Christians around the world gathered to pray the Our Father in response to the COVID-19 pandemic.

    As of Friday, Italy reported 80,589 confirmed coronavirus cases with 8,215 deaths, the highest in the world.
     
    Indian Railway coaches to be turned into isolation wards
    27-03-2020 11:10

    The Indian Railways is preparing to convert train coaches into isolation wards to prepare for a fight against coronavirus pandemic.

    North Central Railway (NCR) General Manager Rajiv Chaudhary, said that the Railways are trying to convert a coach at the coaching depot in New Delhi into isolation wards after consulting medical professionals.

    "A sleeper coach of a train is being converted and improvised into an isolation wards for patients suffering from Covid-19. Such a plan can help us be well-prepared to meet any emergency," he said.

    Besides, all Railway divisions have identified a ward or building for setting up isolation beds for Covid-19 patients.

    Likewise, Indian Railways Catering and Tourism Corporation (IRCTC) is working out a plan to serve meals in different parts of the country and hospitals, if the need arises.

    Chief Public Relations Officer (CPRO) of NCR, Ajeet Kumar Singh said, "NCR has taken necessary steps to ensure operational safety to mitigate any possibility of disruption in goods trains."

    In big yards, where maintenance requires concentration of staff, speed of goods trains has been reduced to 15 kmph to sustain required operation and maintenance with social distancing, he informed.

    Similarly, NCR is considering an extension of the mandatory Paramedical Medical Examination (PME) of safety category and running staff to boost its medical facilities.

    "NCR is also imparting training to its paramedical staff on for Covid-19 related procedures, especially ventilators. Videos posted on ministry of health and family welfare's website are being used to train staff," said Chaudhary.
     
    Maharashtra COVID-19 positive cases increases to 125
    26-03-2020 16:45

    With three more COVID-19 positive cases detected on Thursday, the total number of infected persons rose from 122 to 125 in Maharashtra, health officials said.

    Earlier, the test reports of two persons admitted was found positive followed by one more case detected as positive.

    The new cases include one each from Mumbai, Thane and Nagpur, and their treatment is currently underway.

    Mumbai has so far recorded four deaths of COVID-19 patients - two men both 63-years old, a 65-year old and a 68-year old Philippines national.
     
    35 companies in race to produce wonder vaccine to prevent COVID-19, trials started
    26-03-2020 10:15

    As the world anxiously awaits a possible vaccine to prevent thousands of people getting infected from COVID-19 virus, around 35 pharmaceutical companies and institutes are racing against time to create such a vaccine. At least four such companies, have already started testing in animals.

    The science journal of American Association of Advancement in Science (AAAS) reports that Boston based biotech firm, Moderna Therapeutics is speeding the vaccine through an internal safety trial in collaboration with National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Disease.

    The company said that it plans to distribute the vaccine to health care workers by September, this year. Moderna has shared little detail in published papers about the technology it's developing.

    This unprecedented speed to create a vaccine stems from the early Chinese efforts to sequence the genetic material of Sars-CoV-2, the virus that causes Covid-19.

    The Chinese medical authorities wasted no time in sharing that sequence with research groups as early as January. The cooperation enabled the research companies around the world to grow the live virus and study how it invades human cells and makes people sick.

    In fact Coronaviruses have caused two other recent epidemics -- severe acute respiratory syndrome (Sars) in China in 2002-04, and Middle East respiratory syndrome (Mers), which started in Saudi Arabia in 2012.

    Leading english daily Guardian in its report says that "both cases, work began on vaccines that were later shelved when the outbreaks were contained. One company, Maryland-based Novavax, has now repurposed those vaccines for Sars-CoV-2, and says it has several candidates ready to enter human trials this spring."

    Besides, Moderna Therapeutics also built on earlier work on the Mers virus conducted tests with help of Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases in US.

    As per the universal norms, clinical trials for such vaccines are held in the three different phases.

    The first phase involves testing of vaccines on a few dozen healthy volunteers to look for its adverse effect and safety.

    The second phase is about testing the vaccines on a few hundred people living in epidemic affected part of the world to see how potent is the vaccine.

    The third phase is to enlarge the sample which runs into thousands of person being tested for effectiveness of the vaccine to fight the disease.

    All the companies including Moderna will now have to go through these phases to finally come with a successful vaccine for the pandemic.
     
    Mumbai police seize 2.5 million masks worth Rs15 crore
    24-03-2020 18:55

    In a major swoop, Mumbai Police have seized three truckloads of 2.50 million masks worth Rs 15 crore hoarded illegally and busted a four-member gang, Home Minister Anil Deshmukh said here on Tuesday.

    "The masks were being hoarded by the gang and were intended for sale in the black market. The seizure includes over 325,000 N-49 masks, plus others of different varieties," Deshmukh told mediapersons.

    He said that at the height of the ongoing COVID-19 crisis, Maharashtra is facing a massive shortage of all types of masks and this seizure is expected to ease the problems somewhat.

    The seizure came after a tip-off received by Mumbai Police Commissioner Param Bir Singh last week on a gang hoarding the heavy-demand masks for exorbitant prices.

    Accordingly, a trap was set up by Senior Inspector of Police (Crime) Mahesh Desai who posed as a customer and finally managed to bust the gang by raiding locations in Mumbai and Thane.

    While four persons have been arrested, the police are on the lookout for two absconders, said Deshmukh.

    Deputy Commissioner of Police (Crime) Akbar Pathan said the four accused were produced before a magistrate and remanded to police custody till March 27.

    Since one consignment was found near the Mumbai Airport Cargo Complex and another in a warehouse in Bhiwandi, Pathan said the investigations will focus on whether attempts were underway to export the masks to other seriously affected countries where they are in huge demand.

    It may be recalled that recently the Maharashtra Food & Drugs Administration had banned the sale of the N-49 masks without medical prescription after people resorted to panic buying leading to an artificial shortage.

    So far, Maharashtra has recorded 107 COVID-19 positive cases besides four deaths including a 68-year-old Fillipino.
     
    255 arrested in Kolkata for violating lockdown restrictions
    24-03-2020 16:15

    Altogether 255 people have been arrested in Kolkata for defying the lockdown that began on Monday evening to prevent the spread of novel Coronavirus infection, police said on Tuesday.

    The 255 arrested included pedestrians, those riding bicycles or travelling in other vehicles who remained outdoors after 5 p.m. on Monday when the lockdown ordered by the state government began, a police officer said.

    People were also hauled up for taking part in gatherings on the road.

    Cases would be filed against the offenders who would be prosecuted under section 188 (Disobedience to order duly promulgated by public servant) of the Indian Penal Code (IPC), the officer said.

    The lockdown has come into effect in large parts of West Bengal, including the whole of Kolkata and eight entire districts to combat the spread of Coronavirus infection, which has already claimed over 16,500 lives worldwide, including ten in India.

    The lockdown, christened 'complete safety restrictions", covers all municipal and district towns besides some rural areas in other parts of the state tillAFriday midnight

    Meanwhile, in an appeal through social media, city Police Commissioner Anuj Sharma has asked people to stay at home and cooperate with the administration.

    "I appeal to all citizens to #StayHome and cooperate with the administration. @KolkataPolice will continue the drive against violators," Sharma tweeted.

    West Bengal has so far recorded one death, while eight others detected with the virus are under treatment. However er, the state authorities are awaiting a second confirmatory test with regard to two of these people.
     
    10,000 people in Bengaluru stamped home quarantine in 2 days
    24-03-2020 14:35

    City civic body, police and health officials stamped about 10,000 people on home quarantine in Bengaluru in the last two days, amid rising Coronavirus positive cases, a top official said on Tuesday.

    "BBMP and Bengaluru police completed stamping of 10,000 people on home quarantine by deploying 600 teams in the last two days," tweeted the civic body commissioner BH Anil Kumar.

    Kumar said 500 teams of officials will stamp another 10,000 people on Tuesday, led by Bruhat Bengaluru Mahanagara Palike (BBMP) special commissioner Ravi Kumar Surpur and deputy commissioner of police Isha Pant.

    BBMP commissioner advised people to avoid visitors at home in the event of quarantine.

    According to Kumar, another man tested positive for Coronavirus in the city.

    "A Singasandra resident who tested positive was shifted in an ambulance to an isolation hospital on Tuesday morning," he tweeted.

    He said the civic body's Bommanahalli officers immediately started cleaning the area and door to door surveillance to contain the spread of infection.
     
    Maharashtra's positive cases reach 101  
    24-03-2020 12:55

    The total number of coronavirus positive cases in Maharashtra climbed to 101 as four new cases were reported since Monday night, officials said here on Tuesday.

    The new cases include three from Pune and one from Satara. They include people with travel history to Peru, UAE, and Saudi Arabia.

    So far, three COVID-19 patients have died in Maharashtra, including a 68-year-old Fillipino and two other men, both aged 63.
     
    Complete lockdown imposed in 32 states, UT in India
    24-03-2020 11:38

    A complete lockdown has been imposed in 560 districts in 32 states and union territories across the country as precautionary measures to contain the spread of the coronavirus.

    Meanwhile, curbs have been imposed in only certain areas of Uttar Pradesh, Madhya Pradesh and Odisha. A total of 58 districts are under lockdown in the three states.

    In Lakshadweep, a partial lockdown has been imposed. Passenger ships are prohibited from entering the island and section 144 of the Criminal Procedure Code (CrPC) is in place.

    Total number of cases in India has touched the 500 mark, including nine deaths.
     
    South Africa declares 21-day nationwide lockdown
    24-03-2020 02:09

    As cases of COVID-19 passed the 400 mark on Monday, South African President Cyril Ramaphosa said a countrywide lockdown would be implemented on Thursday.

    The 21-day lockdown would last until April 16, the president announced in Pretoria, Xinhua news agency reported.

    "Staying at home, avoiding public places and cancelling all social activities is the preferred best defence against the virus," he announced.

    The announcement comes after numbers of coronavirus cases jumped to 402 from 274 overnight.

    National Coronavirus Command Council held meetings with different stakeholders at the weekend where the need to escalate response to the pandemic was reached.

    "Without decisive action, the number of people infected will rapidly increase from a few hundred to tens of thousands, and within a few weeks to hundreds of thousands," said the president, "This is extremely dangerous for a population like ours, with a large number of people with suppressed immunity because of HIV and TB, and high levels of poverty and malnutrition."

    Most shops would be closed except for pharmacies, laboratories, banks, essential financial and payment services, including the JSE, supermarkets, petrol stations and health care providers.

    Individuals will not be allowed to leave their homes except under strictly controlled circumstances, such as to seek medical care, buy food, medicine and other supplies or collect a social grant.

    Temporary shelters that meet the necessary hygiene standards will be identified for homeless people. Sites are also being identified for quarantine and self-isolation for people who cannot self-isolate at home.

    The president said South African National Defence Force to be deployed to support the South African Police Service in ensuring that the measures we are announcing are implemented.

    Ramaphosa said this nationwide lockdown will be accompanied by a public health management program which will significantly increase screening, testing, contact tracing and medical management.

    He admitted the devastating impact the lockdown would have on the economy and announced a set of interventions such as setting up a Solidarity Fund to support the vulnerable to help cushion the country from economic difficulties.
     
    Domestic flight ops in India to cease from Tuesday midnight
    23-03-2020 16:59

    Domestic schedule commercial air operations will cease with effective from the midnight of Tuesday.

    However, the resumption date was not disclosed.

    According to Ministry of Civil Aviation, the operations of domestic schedule commercial airlines shall cease operations.

    "Airlines have to plan operations so as to land at their destination before 2359 hours on 24/3/2020," the Ministry said in a statement.

    "The restrictions shall not apply to solely cargo carrying flights."
     
    No new COVID-19 cases in Wuhan for 5 days
    23-03-2020 16:57

    Wuhan, the Chinese city where the coronavirus pandemic originated last December, on Monday marked its fifth consecutive day of no new confirmed or suspected cases, a health official said.

    Arduous efforts have been made since Wuhan was lockeddown two months ago, Xinhua news agency quoted Mi Feng, an official with the National Health Commission (NHC), as saying here.

    The official added that the number of existing infected cases kept decreasing not only in the epicentre but across Hubei province of which Wuhan is the capital.

    However, zero ases do not mean there was no risk, Mi said.

    There were still potential risks of spreading and even cluster outbreaks, Mi noted, adding that there was still hard work ahead in epidemic prevention and control.

    As of Monday, China reported 81,454 confirmed cases with 3,158 deaths.

    The worst-hit country outside mainland China is Italy with 5,476 fatalities and a total of 59,138 infections.
     
    Kerala priest arrested for conducting mass
    23-03-2020 14:43

    A Catholic priest P. Pauly was on Monday arrested by the police here, for breaking the guidelines put out on account of COVID-19 by the district authorities, said the police.

    A police official of the Chalakudy police station told IANS that the priest has been arrested and will be given bail.

    "It was for violating the guidelines that is in place. He will be given bail," said the official requesting anonymity.

    The incident occurred after the police came to know about the prayer session that took place at the Kudapuzha Nithyasahaya Matha Church, at Chalakudy, near here around 6:30 a.m.

    The police after knowing about it came and took the priest into custody.

    The police also asked the priest clean his hands with the sanitizer before taking him to the police station.

    The police are also contemplating to register cases against around 100 laity who attended the morning prayers.
     
    Bigbasket, Grofers urge people not to panic as orders surge
    20-03-2020 16:10
     
    After Prime Minister Narendra Modi's appeal not to get into panic buying or hoarding owing to the coronavirus pandemic, leading online grocery platforms Bigbasket and Grofers on Friday requested customers to restrain from excessive buying or placing multiple orders.

    Bigbasket saw its online traffic and revenue grow two times and basket value increase by 15-20 per cent in the last three days as people went into frantic buying of daily use staples like atta, dal and vegetables.

    Several users reported essential items immediately going out of stock for certain hours during the last three days on both Bigbasket and Grofers (Grofers has seen a 45 per cent rise in orders as well as 18 per cent hike in order value).

    "Although we faced some disruption in the last 3 days, we have taken corrective action and have geared up for supplies to meet the increased demand. Increased demand is in essentials such as staples, atta and dal, fruits and vegetables. We are in control because the predominant share is from our private label products," a Bigbasket spokesperson told IANS.
     
    Official suspended for keeping corona-hit son at Bengaluru railway room
    20-03-2020 14:30
     
    A senior woman employee was suspended for keeping her foreign-returned son, who tested positive for coronavirus, at the railway guest house near the Bengaluru station, an official said on Friday.

    "South Western Railway zone general manager A.K. Singh has suspended the employee for lodging her 25-year-old COVID-19 affected son at the rest house near the main station in the city centre on March 14," the official told IANS.

    The son, who returned to Bengaluru from Germany via Spain on March 13, is an entrepreneur who had set up a start-up in this tech city.

    The son rushed to a state-run designated hospital in the city in an ambulance on Wednesday night and tested positive for COVID-19 symptoms after staying at the rest house for five days.
     
    Global death toll from COVID-19 exceeds 9,000, Over 85,830 recoveries
    19-03-2020 18:33
     
    The death toll from coronavirus (COVID-19) infection has crossed 9,000 mark worldwide, with a total of 2,25,254 cases and 85,831 recoveries, as recorded till 11am GMT on Thursday, according to worldometers.info.

    A total of 9,276 deaths were recorded, with 4,134 in Europe and and 3,416 in Asia, where the outbreak first emerged in China in December.

    With 712 more deaths reported in the past 24 hours and a total of 90,293 cases, Europe is now the region where COVID-19 is spreading the most rapidly.

    India on Thursday recorded 173 active Covid-19 cases till 5 p.m. (IST) including 25 foreign nationals. Four persons have succumbed to the dreaded virus so far -- one each in Maharashtra, Delhi, Karnataka and Punjab.
     
    For First Time, China Reports Zero Domestic Covid-19 Cases
    19-03-2020 16:29
     
    Mainland China has reported zero new domestic infections of coronavirus for the first time since the outbreak was first reported in the country last December, the National Health Commission said on Thursday.

    The Commission said that by 12 a.m. Thursday, no local infections had been recorded throughout the Chinese territory, reports Efe news.

    Authorities said the 34 cases that were reported in that period were all imported and were travellers from other countries and regions affected by the pandemic.

    The 34 imported infections were registered in Beijing (21), Canton (nine), Shanghai (two), Heilongjiang (one) and Zhejiang (one).

    On the day China hit an encouraging coronavirus milestone, health authorities reported that eight people had died of the virus, all of them in the province of Hubei, in the central-eastern part of the country which is the epicentre of the outbreak.

    The latest data places the total number of infections in China at 80,928 since respiratory disease first emerged.

    Of those 70,420 have responded positively to treatment and have since been discharged.
     
    Why soap is preferable to bleach in the fight against coronavirus
    19-03-2020 12:51
     
    FOR NEARLY 5,000 years, humans have concocted cleaning products, yet the simple combination of soap and water remains one of the strongest weapons against infectious diseases, including the novel coronavirus. Even so, when outbreaks like COVID-19 occur and panic sets in, people rush to buy all sorts of chemical cleaners, many of which are unnecessary or ineffective against viruses, says a report from National Geographic.

    Foam hand sanitizers are disappearing from store shelves, even though many lack the necessary amount of alcohol—at least 60 percent by volume—to kill viruses. In countries hardest hit by the novel coronavirus, photos show crews in hazmat suits spraying bleach solutions along public sidewalks or inside office buildings. Experts are dubious, however, of whether that’s necessary to neutralize the spread of the coronavirus.

    Using bleach “is like using a bludgeon to swat a fly,” says Jane Greatorex, a virologist at Cambridge University. It can also corrode metal and lead to other respiratory health problems if inhaled too much over time.

    “With bleach, if you put it on a surface with a lot of dirt, that [dirt] will eat up the bleach,” says Lisa Casanova, an environmental health scientist at Georgia State University. She and other experts instead recommend using milder soaps, like dish soap, to easily sanitize a surface indoors and outdoors.

    To fully understand why health officials keep coming back to soap, it helps to know how the coronavirus exists outside the body, and what early research is saying about how long the virus can linger on common surfaces.
     
    Israeli Nobel Laureate: Coronavirus spread is slowing
    19-03-2020 11:58
     
    Nobel laureate Michael Levitt praised Israel for its preventative measures. He said most people are naturally immune, and that since the infection rate in China is slowing down, "the end of the pandemic is near," says a report from The Jerusalem Post.

    The coronavirus epidemic is slowing down in China, and will not pose a risk to the majority of people, the Israeli laureate has said.

    Michael Levitt, an American-British-Israeli biophysicist who won the 2013 Nobel prize for chemistry for "the development of multiscale models for complex chemical systems," has become something of a household name in China over the last few months. Although his specialty is not in epidemiology, he accurately forecast the slowing down of the spread of the virus in February, giving hope to those affected by the lockdown.
     
    Covid-19: CBSE postpones Class 10, 12 board exams till 31st March
    19-03-2020 10:16
     
    In wake of Covid-19 breakout, the Central Board of Secondary Education (CBSE) on Wednesday postponed all board examinations for Class 10 and 12 scheduled between March 19 and March 31.

    The decision comes in compliance of the instruction received by the CBSE from Secretary of Department of Higher Education. School Education and Literacy.

    "All ongoing examinations of the board for classes 10 and 12, being held in examination centres in India and abroad, and scheduled between 19.03.2020 to 31.03.2020 (both dates inclusive), shall be rescheduled after 31st March, 2020," a statement by CBSE read.
     
    India Issues Standard Operating Procedure (SOP) for Passenger Movement Post Disembarkation at Airports
    18-03-2020 14:05
     
    The Indian government has issued standard operating procedure (SOP) for passenger movement post disembarkation at airports in the country.

    The SOP includes health screening on arrival, immigration, luggage collection and customs, control room and triage room.

    Check this portal for more details https://www.mohfw.gov.in/pdf/SOPQuarantineofPassengers.pdf
     
    Facebook to Give USD1,000 Cash to Each of Its 45,000 Employees
    18-03-2020 10:06
     
    Facebook is giving USD1,000 as bonus to each of its 45,000 employees to support them with liquid cash amid the COVID-19 pandemic.

    Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg has announced in an internal memo that all employees will earn at least their full bonuses for their six-month review, reports The Information.

    "I'm told Facebook has never done this, giving all employees at least their full normal bonuses, in its 16-year history," journalist Alex Health tweeted.

    Some full-time Facebook employees have apparently taken over some of the work done by third-party contractors so that those contractors can stay home.

    Facebook has already asked its Seattle and Bay Area employees to work from home.

    The social networking giant also announced it is offering USD100 million in cash grants and credits for up to 30,000 eligible small businesses in over 30 countries.

    "Teams across our company are working every day to help businesses. We're looking at additional ways to host virtual training -- and will have more to share in the coming weeks -- and we're finding more ways to help people connect and learn to use technology through Blueprint, our free e-learning training programme," COO Sheryl Sandberg elaborated in a Facebook post.

    The company said it's partnering with the Lenfest Institute for Journalism and the Local Media Association to offer $1 million in grants for the US and Canadian newsrooms to properly cover the coronavirus pandemic.

    These individual grants will be for up to USD5,000.
     
    Old Patient wiith Pneumonia, Hypertension & Inflammation of Heart Muscle Died in Mumbai
    17-03-2020 18:25
     
    A 60+ yr old male patient with Pneumonia, Hypertension & Inflammation of Heart muscle passed away today. He became as good as family to all his caretakers at the hospital. We pray for his soul to rest in peace, & convey our condolences to the family.

    How to Treat COVID-19 and Why Quack Remedies Are Dangerous
    17-03-2020 15:53
     
    Here is an interesting blog post by Anirban...

    For those short on time, I will cut right to the chase: as of today there are no approved drugs or vaccines for any coronavirus disease, not just COVID-19.

    Now that does not mean that there are no potential drugs, and for the rest of the post I will focus on legitimate evidence-based treatment options and why it is dangerous to support any quack treatment options.

    First a very quick explanation of terms. The novel coronavirus is called SARS-CoV-2. When it infects someone (usually by human to human transmission) it is a coronavirus infection. Many people who are infected with SARS-CoV-2 will have no or very mild symptoms. Other people will develop coronavirus disease, which is called COVID-19… Read More...
     
    BMC Prepares for Long-Haul, Takes Over 240 Rooms Near Airport
    17-03-2020 14:20

    Readying for a long-drawn medical war with coronavirus, the Maharashtra government has decided to take over hundreds of rooms from private hotels and guest houses near the Chhatrapati Shivaji Maharaj International Airport to quarantine incoming passengers.

    However, those quarantined in these locations would have to cough out the applicable charges for the comfortable quarantine stay.

    "This is for those who would not prefer to remain in home-quarantine," Municipal Corporation of Greater Mumbai (MCGM) Commissioner Pravin Pardeshi said.

    Accordingly, Pardeshi has issued an order through the MCGM and requisitioned 240-odd rooms from private hotels, guest houses, etc.

    He has directed the concerned officials to negotiate the rates with the respective hotel managements.

    As per the current plans, 20 rooms will be procured from the Miraj (Madison Group), 100 from the ITC Maratha, 70 rooms form the PWD guest house at Andheri and 50 from the Niranta Airport Transit Hotel.

    These rooms will be designated as for 'Quarantine', he said.

    Others requiring to be isolated will be sent to the Seven Hills Hospital, Andheri east, where 400 beds are kept ready.
     
    Dashboard of the COVID-19 Virus Outbreak in Singapore
    17-03-2020 12:56
     
    This portal developed by UPCODE also has in intereactive map that shows how the person got infected with COVID-19, what is the current status. Check it out here https://co.vid19.sg/cases
     
    Taj Mahal Closed, Annual Shah Jahan Urs Not To Be Held
    17-03-2020 10:43
     
    The annual three day Urs of Mughal emperor Shah Jahan, builder of the iconic Taj Mahal, will not be held, as scheduled from March 21, as the historic monuments including the Taj in the city have been shut down till March 31, in the wake of COVID-19.

    This will be the first time in the history of the Taj, that the annual Urs will not be held.

    During the three day Urs, entry remains free and a series of functions are organised. Work on the 365 metre long chadar, to be offered, had begun.

    A member of the organising committee said, the convention would indeed be disrupted, but the safety of the country was more important.

    The whole area around the Taj Mahal wears a deserted look. The Taj is visited by around 30,000 people daily. For the past one month there had been a steep decline.
     
    Google removing fake corona videos from YouTube
    17-03-2020 10:43
     
    Alphabet and Google CEO Sundar Pichai said the company has taken down thousands of videos related to dangerous or misleading coronavirus information using its Artificial Intelligence (AI)-based technology.

    In a blog post, Pichai said that since January, Google has blocked hundreds of thousands of ads attempting to capitalize on the coronavirus pandemic.

    "Last week, we announced a temporary ban on all ads for medical masks and respirators," he said on Monday.
     
    The UK Only Realised "In The Last Few Days" That Its Coronavirus Strategy Would "Likely Result In Hundreds of Thousands of Deaths"
    17-03-2020 10:16
     
    Scientists advising the government say an aggressive new approach adopted to attempt to "suppress" the virus may have to be in place for 18 months, says a report from Buzzfeed.

    The UK only realised "in the last few days" that attempts to "mitigate" the impact of the coronavirus pandemic would not work, and that it needed to shift to a strategy to "suppress" the outbreak, according to a report by a team of experts who have been advising the government.

    The report, published by the Imperial College COVID-19 Response Team on Monday night, found that the strategy previously being pursued by the government — dubbed "mitigation" and involving home isolation of suspect cases and their family members but not including restrictions on wider society — would "likely result in hundreds of thousands of deaths and health systems (most notably intensive care units) being overwhelmed many times over".

    The mitigation strategy "focuses on slowing but not necessarily stopping epidemic spread — reducing peak healthcare demand while protecting those most at risk of severe disease from infection", the report said, reflecting the UK strategy that was outlined last week by Boris Johnson and the chief scientific adviser Patrick Vallance.
     
    America Shuts Down: From the Capitol to California, Officials Are Taking Aggressive New Measures to Limit Social Interactions
    16-03-2020 18:44

    Financial markets are careening. Public tours of the very symbols of American political power — the White House, Capitol Hill and Supreme Court — are being put on hold while some congressional offices are shuttering altogether. Campaign rallies are being canceled. Professional sports leagues have suspended play. And Broadway and Disneyland are shutting down, says a report from Politico.com.

    Each day, more and more employees are working remotely at companies large and small. Even the White House is considering mass teleworking. Schools are being closed or going virtual. Ohio students are getting a three-week spring break beginning Monday, while schools will be closed for two weeks across Maryland and six weeks in three Washington state counties. And travel is being discouraged — and in the case of foreign visitors from most of Europe, banned. Some cruise lines are even halting voyages on their ships.

    America is shutting down as Americans learn to adapt to life amid the coronavirus pandemic, a global health crisis that is straining public health systems and burrowing deeper into advanced economies and societies by the day. The question nobody can yet answer: for how long?
     
    114 Positive Cases in India, Maharashtra Worst-Hit
    16-03-2020 18:08

    The Health Ministry on Monday said a total of 114 people in India have so far tested positive for the novel coronavirus or Covid-19.

    A state-wise data, compiled at 4pm on Monday on the ministry's website showed that Maharashtra continues to top the chart with the most number of cases -- 38, as per health officials in the western state, followed by Kerala.

    Kerala showed an additional patient and reported a total of 23 positive cases. Three persons who had earlier tested positive have recovered.

    Besides, Uttarakhand and Odisha reported their first ever case in the data.

    There were at least 13 positive cases of the novel coronavirus in Uttar Pradesh of which 12 are Indians and one is a foreign national. The Health Ministry said four patients in Uttar Pradesh were cured and discharged from the hospital.

    In Rajasthan, four persons -- two Indians and two foreigners -- continue to suffer from the Covid-19 infection while three persons have been discharged from the hospital after they recovered.

    There is at least one confirmed case each of the disease in Punjab, Andhra Pradesh and Tamil Nadu. Haryana reported no new case except the previous 14 foreign nationals currently having the infection.

    In the national capital, there are seven cases of which two have recovered and one, a woman, has died.

    The Union Territory of Ladakh has reported one more case, taking the total number of infected cases to four.

    Jammu and Kashmir has reported one case, with no recovery in both the UTs. All the patients are Indian nationals.

    Karnataka has confirmed six cases so far of which one individual has died.

    There are a total of 97 Indians and 17 foreign nationals who have tested positive for the novel coronavirus.

    A total of 13 patients have recovered and were discharged from hospitals, while two persons lost their lives.

    Besides, the ministry said that at least 12,76,046 passengers were screened at various airports across the country.
     
    Corona Virus Spreads Perfectly Well in Warm Weather
    16-03-2020 15:58


    Live Dashboard on Corona virus Outbreak in India
    16-03-2020 15:43

    Here is a collection of useful data visualisation of the corona virus outbreak in India created by Kiprosh (https://covidout.in/).
     
     
    With an aim to reduce panic and rumors about the affected cases and the fatality rate, Kiprosh has developed a dashboard of the Corona Virus outbreak in India.

    In the absence of a central and single data source, Kiprosh is aggregating data from multiple sources including the MoHFW Government site. It then re-verify and organise the data in the dashboard. Kiprosh hopes that this India centric covid19 dashboard will serve real-time information daily.
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    COMMENTS

    veereshmalik

    2 months ago

    The Nizamuddin Cluster containment is placing the community at risk regardless of travel it seems.

    Nahom

    2 months ago

    Looks like India's GDP figures released by Govt. Too good to be true.

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