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Global TB progress mired by scarce funding, Covid-19: WHO

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World Health Organization (WHO) Director-General Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus speaks at the 73rd World Health Assembly at the WHO hea

Geneva, Oct 15 (IANS) Despite a steady progress in tackling tuberculosis (TB) across the world, global targets for its prevention and treatment will likely be missed due to insufficient funding and the ongoing Covid-19 pandemic, according to a latest World Health Organization (WHO) report.

The WHO’s Global Tuberculosis Report 2020 released on Wednesday said that between 2015 and 2019, there was a 9 per cent reduction in TB incidence and a 14 per cent drop in deaths, together with high-level political commitments at global and national levels delivering results, reports Xinhua news agency reported.

However, about 14 million people were treated for TB in the period 2018-2019, just over one-third of the way towards the five-year target of 40 million for 2018-2022.

The WHO’s End TB Strategy, which has been adopted by all its members, aims for a 90 per cent reduction in TB deaths and an 80 per cent reduction in the TB incidence rate by 2030, compared to the 2015 baseline.

Milestones for 2020 included a 20 per cent reduction in the TB incidence rate and a 35 per cent reduction in TB deaths.

Funding is a major issue, according to the report.

In 2020, funding for TB prevention, diagnosis, treatment and care reached $6.5 billion, representing only half of the 13 billion target agreed by world leaders in the UN political declaration on TB.

Meanwhile, the Covid-19 pandemic has led to further setbacks on access to TB service, as in many countries, human, financial and other resources have been reallocated from TB to the coronavirus response.

Data collated from over 200 countries has shown significant reductions in TB case notifications, with 25 to 30 per cent drops reported in three high burden countries, namely India, Indonesia, the Philippines, between January and June 2020, compared to the same six-month period in 2019, the report said.

These reductions in case notifications could lead to a dramatic increase in additional TB deaths, according to WHO modelling.

According to WHO statistics, about 85 per cent of TB funding in 2020 came from domestic sources, with Brazil, Russia India, China and South Africa providing 57 per cent of the global total.

The WHO has called for urgent action and investments to meet the global TB targets.

“Equitable access to quality and timely diagnosis, prevention, treatment and care remains a challenge. Accelerated action is urgently needed worldwide if we are to meet our targets by 2022,” said WHO Director-General Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus.

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Global Covid-19 cases top 38.4mn: Johns Hopkins

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New York, Sept. 14, 2020 (Xinhua) -- People walk through Times Square during the COVID-19 pandemic in New York, the United States, Sept. 13,
New York, Sept. 14, 2020 (Xinhua) -- People walk through Times Square during the COVID-19 pandemic in New York, the United States, Sept. 13,

Washington, Oct 15 (IANS) The overall number of global coronavirus cases has topped 38.4 million, while the deaths have soared to more than 1,091,240, according to the Johns Hopkins University.

As of Thursday morning, the total number of cases stood at 38,426,373 and the fatalities increased to 1,091,245, the University’s Center for Systems Science and Engineering (CSSE) revealed in its latest update.

The US is the worst-hit country with the world’s highest number of cases and deaths at 7,911,497 and 216,734, respectively, according to the CSSE.

India comes in second place in terms of cases at 7,239,389, while the country’s death toll soared to 110,586.

The other top 15 countries with the maximum amount of cases are Brazil (5,140,863), Russia (1,332,824), Argentina (931,967), Colombia (930,159), Spain (908,056), Peru (853,974), Mexico (830,502), France (820,376), South Africa (696,414), the UK (657,459), Iran (513,219), Chile (485,372), Iraq (413,215), Bangladesh (382,959), and Italy (372,799), the CSSE figures showed.

Brazil currently accounts for the second highest number of fatalities at 151,747.

The countries with a death toll above 10,000 are Mexico (84,891), the UK (43,245), Italy (36,289), Peru (33,419), Spain (33,413), France (33,058), Iran (29,349), Colombia (28,306), Argentina (24,921), Russia (23,069), South Africa (18,151), Chile (13,415), Ecuador (12,264), Indonesia (12,156), Belgium (10,244) and Iraq (10,021).

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France to implement curfew to stem coronavirus: Macron

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French President Emmanuel Macron. (File Photo IANS)
French President Emmanuel Macron. (File Photo IANS)

Paris, Oct 15 (IANS) A curfew from 9 p.m. to 6 a.m. will be implemented in the greater Paris region and eight other big cities in France starting from Friday midnight, and it will last for at least four weeks to stem the spread of coronavirus, President Emmanuel Macron announced on Wednesday.

“A curfew will apply to the Ile-de-France region…and eight metropolitan areas — Grenoble, Lille, Rouen, Lyon, Aix-Marseille, Saint-Etienne, Toulouse, Montpellier and Rouen,” Macron said in a televised interview, Xinhua news agency reported.

France has been in a second wave of the coronavirus epidemic with an average of 20,000 new infection cases per day. “We have now entered a phase to which we must react… The virus is everywhere in France,” Macron added.

The situation is worrying and the curfew is a “pertinent” measure while having the whole country locked down again would be “disproportionate”, he explained.

“We have not lost control. We are in a situation which is worrying and which justifies that we are neither inactive nor in panic. We have learned from the first wave,” Macron said.

The curfew does not ban driving between 9 p.m. to 6 a.m., but travel will be strictly limited unless with good reasons.

“We must continue to be able to go to work in all sectors,” said Macron. “For those who have emergencies, health for example, there will be authorisations.”

Prime Minister Jean Castex will address a press conference on Thursday to unveil details of these measures, Macron added.

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Cinema halls reopen in Bengal with Covid restrictions

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New Delhi Sanitisation drive underway at the INOX cinema hall in New Delhi on Oct 13, 2020. Cinema halls in the national capital shall
New Delhi Sanitisation drive underway at the INOX cinema hall in New Delhi on Oct 13, 2020. Cinema halls in the national capital shall

Kolkata, Oct 15 (IANS) Almost seven months after a nationwide lockdown was imposed, movie theatres and multiplexes have reopened in West Bengal on Thursday with strict Covid-19 safety protocols for the viewers.

The theatres have reopened with only 50 per cent of its total seating capacity so that there is a minimum distance of at least 3-metres between two people watching the movie.

“We are encouraging paperless entry and digital payments at the ticket counter. One has to enter inside the movie theatre after thermal screening and a thorough sanitisation process. Masks and gloves are also being distributed to every person at the entry point before getting inside the auditorium,” said Puneet Gupta, spokesperson for INOX Leisure Ltd.

He said that all the standard Covid safety protocols are being maintained at INOX theatres across the country, including Kolkata, to avoid any health hazards. People can book movie tickets online, through both website and mobile application. People can also drop in and get an e-ticket at the counter.

“We are expecting a decent response. Most of shows will start from the afternoon. So, we would be able to share the response of tickets selling tomorrow,” he said.

“It’s a good news that movie theatres have re-opened with restrictions but we must keep the safety protocols in mind. People should not think that they can once again go watch a movie with a bid group of friends and family. We must take necessary precautions to avoid any kind of spread of Covid-19,” said actor Saswata Chattopadhyay.

Sources said that every person entering the hall must have the Aarogya Setu app installed on his phone. Person having fever or any kind of Covid symptoms will not be allowed inside the theatre.

As per guidelines, it is also mandatory to maintain a minimum of six feet distance between two individuals in the common area, waiting area and entry point at the cinema halls. Private security personnel have been deployed in adequate numbers to monitor the movements of movie buffs who will throng multiplexes Thursday onwards in Kolkata and its adjoining areas, said an official of a city multiplex.

The temperature of the air conditioner should be set at 24-30 degrees Celsius and there should be cross ventilation in the theatre. The screens should also be cleaned after every show and Covid-19 protocol should be strictly followed by the hall owners failing which action would be taken under the IPC and Disaster Management Act.

“It’s a big positive for the audience and industry people as well. It’s a great feeling that life is slowly getting back to normalcy. I am sure that the hall owners and multiplexes will take necessary precautions and carry out sanitising drives. Watching a movie in theatres has been the real mode of entertainment for people in India.

I guess people have become habituated with the safety guidelines in last seven months and going back to cinema halls will add on a whole new level of positivity in their social lives,” filmmaker Dhrubo Banerjee told IANS.

Banerjee said that a lot people involved with Kolkata’s Tollywood entertainment industry and re-opening of theatres would give them a fresh impetus in the new normal scenario.

Arijit Dutta, the owner of Kolkata’s iconic Priya Cinema hall, said: “It’s just a start. The movie theatres are re-opening in phases. It’s not that that all cinema halls and multiplexes have re-opened today. I’m sure the business will restore in next two-three months as the process has been initiated.”

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Australian state stalls easing Covid-19 curbs

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Sydney, Aug. 8, 2020 (Xinhua) -- People rest in front of the Sydney Opera House in Sydney, Australia, on Aug. 6, 2020. (XinhuaBai XuefeiIANS)
Sydney, Aug. 8, 2020 (Xinhua) -- People rest in front of the Sydney Opera House in Sydney, Australia, on Aug. 6, 2020. (XinhuaBai XuefeiIANS)

Sydney, Oct 15 (IANS) Australia’s New South Wales (NSW) has stalled easing Covid-19 restrictions after new cluster outbreaks were reported in the state capital of Sydney, authorities said on Thursday.

On Thursday morning, the state registered six new locally acquired infections, which followed 11 local transmissions the day before, Xinhua news agency reported.

State leaders have described the present situation it as the most concerning since mid-July, when an outbreak at a western Sydney pub resulted in over 50 cases and a clampdown on the hospitality sector.

“This is the most concerned we’ve been since that first incident when the Victorian citizen came up, infected his colleagues and went for a drink at a hotel,” NSW Premier Gladys Berejiklian said in a briefing.

Health officials flagged several new areas where a person had been while infected with the virus, including public transport services, a tutoring service and shopping mall.

On Tuesday, the government announced that up to 500 people would be allowed to attend outdoor music performances, as long as they remained seated and groups remained four meters apart.

Restrictions for outdoor dining venues were also relaxed, allowing one patron per two square meters, as long as venues use an electronic contact tracing system to record patrons’ contact details.

NSW Health Minister Brad Hazzard urged anyone with even the slightest of symptoms to get tested, as well as to cooperate fully with questions to assist health officials with contact tracing.

“We are aiming to have at least 20,000 (tests) a day and while we have these positive cases still amongst us the emphasis is… Please get tested,” he added.

Of Australia’s 27,341 overall case tally, NSW accounts for 4,310 infections.

The country’s death toll stands at 904.

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Andhra registers 3,892 more Covid cases, tally 7.67 lakh

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future covid related stories
future covid related stories

Amaravati, Oct 14 (IANS) Andhra Pradesh on Wednesday registered 3,892 new Covid positive cases, increasing the state’s tally to 7.67 lakh cases, even as 5,050 recoveries outnumbered fresh infections.

East Godavari accounted for the highest number of cases at 607, followed by West Godavari (518), Krishna (458), Chittoor (405), Guntur (345), Kadapa (332), Anantapur (290), Nellore (219), Visakhapatnam (163), Srikakulam (154), Vizianagaram (151), Prakasam (146) and Kurnool (104).

East Godavari continues to battle the highest number of infections at 1.07 lakh. At the lower end, Krishna district has witnessed 32,910 cases so far.

Not just having the highest Covid tally among the 13 districts, East Godavari is also shouldering the highest active cases at 7,135.

Meanwhile, 28 patients succumbed to the virus in the past 24 hours, one of the lowest daily Covid death counts in the recent past.

With the new additions, the statewide Covid death toll has reached 6,319.

As always, the positive trend of higher recoveries continues to occur in the southern state. On Wednesday, 5,050 more patients recovered from the virus, raising the total number of recoveries to 7.19 lakh.

Of the total 7.67 lakh cases, the number of active cases currently stands at 41,669.

The state’s positivity rate stands at 11.3 per cent at present.

Andhra Pradesh tested 69,463 samples on Wednesday. In total, the state has tested 67.7 lakh samples for Covid until now.

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After Sputnik V, Russia approves another Covid-19 vaccine: Putin

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Moscow, Aug. 18 (Xinhua) -- Russian President Vladimir Putin (Sputnik via XinhuaIANS)
Moscow, Aug. 18 (Xinhua) -- Russian President Vladimir Putin (Sputnik via XinhuaIANS)

Moscow, Oct 14 (IANS) Russian President Vladimir Putin on Wednesday announced that the country has registered the second Covid-19 vaccine, according to media reports.

Russia became the first country to give regulatory approval to a Covid-19 vaccine in August when Sputnik V was officially registered ahead of large-scale clinical trial, drawing criticism from some quarters in the scientific community.

The second Russian vaccine to get regulatory approval has been developed by the Vector State Research Centre of Virology and Biotechnology.

Vector’s vaccine, dubbed “EpiVacCorona”, relies on chemically synthesized peptide antigens of SARS-CoV-2 proteins, conjugated to a carrier protein and adsorbed on an aluminum-containing adjuvant, according to details posted at ClinicalTrials.gov, a database of privately and publicly funded clinical studies conducted around the world.

Putin said that a third Russian vaccine against Covid-19, developed by the Chumakov Centre, would also be registered in the near future, Sputnik news agency reported.

Russian Deputy Prime Minister Tatyana Golikova said that she tested EpiVacCorona vaccine herself and experienced no side effects, said the report.

“The Vector centre is also initiating post-registration clinical trials in the various regions of Russia that would include 40,000 volunteers,” she was quoted as saying.

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