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Rural Telangana bearing brunt of COVID-19

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Rural Telangana bearing brunt of COVID-19.
Rural Telangana bearing brunt of COVID-19. Source : IANS

The rural areas in Telangana are bearing the brunt of COVID-19 even as the number of cases has considerably dropped in the state capital.

Districts outside Greater Hyderabad Municipal Corporation (GHMC) limits account for 80-85 per cent of the 2,200-2,300 new cases added to the state tally every day.

Till the first half of July, it was the state capital which was at the receiving end. With 700-800 cases every day, GHMC was accounting for 80-85 per cent of the daily infections at one point in time.

Thirty-two districts, excluding Hyderabad, accounted for 137 cases or 13.45 per cent of the 1,018 cases reported on July 1. The ratio of the districts jumped to 50.15 per cent on July 15 (801 out of total 1,597 cases).

The districts reported 1,364 or 72.65 per cent of the 1,891 cases on August 1. The case load in rural areas rose to 78.76 per cent on August 15 (868 out of 1,102 cases)

As many as 2,415 cases of the 2,892 (83.50 per cent) reported on September 1 were from these districts. A week later, the ratio climbed to 87.29 per cent (2,088 out of 2,392 cases). It slightly came down to 86.54 per cent (1,781 out of 2,058) on September 14 and further dropped to 85.6 per cent (1,818 out of 2,123 cases) on September 19 as authorities also reduced the number of daily tests by a few thousand.

An analysis of the current situation shows that the daily jump in cases has come down over the last two-three weeks but the numbers are dropping to below 2,000 only on weekends when fewer tests are conducted.

While there is definitely an improvement in the overall situation compared with last month, the spike in cases continues in Tier-II towns and rural areas, where the health infrastructure is still inadequate.

Considering the fact that Telangana is still adding 2,200-2,400 cases every day and 4-6 districts reporting a daily jump of over 100 cases, the health authorities meeting their ambitious goal of controlling the situation by the month-end appears doubtful.

Districts like Rangareddy, Medchal Malkajgiri, Karimnagar, Warangal Urban, Nizamabad, Khammam, Nalgonda, Suryapet, and Sangareddy are mostly reporting over 100 cases each every day.

Reports from these districts show that even small villages have over 100 positive cases. For instance, in Govindapur village of Karimnagar, 73 out of 90 families were affected.

Buoyed by the improvement in the situation in Hyderabad, Director of Public Health G Srinivas Rao exuded confidence on August 25 that the situation will be under control in the remaining districts by September-end. He was confident that the cases will be brought down to minimum.

Chief Secretary Somesh Kumar told Union Cabinet Secretary Rajiv Gauba during a videoconference on Saturday that the number of positive cases has started declining in Telangana.

“The government is keeping a close watch on the situation and fully geared up to handle the pandemic,” he said.

Explaining various measures taken by the state, the Chief Secretary said that testing has been ramped up. RT-PCR testing is being done on every person found symptomatic person detected through rapid antigen test. The government has formulated a strategy to make all hospital beds equipped with oxygen facilities. He also said that special focus is laid on managing the situation in the districts.

On August 25, the state reported a jump of 2,579 cases, taking Telangana’s total tally to 1,08,760. Nine deaths had pushed the cumulative death toll to 770. Since then, the state added over 60,409 cases till September 19 at an average of 2,400 cases per day. The state also witnessed 255 deaths during the period.

Officials said by ramping up testing and health infrastructure, they brought down the COVID-19 fatality rate and improved the recovery rate as well as tests per million population ratio.

The fatality rate came down from 0.69 per cent on August 25 to 0.60 per cent on September 19. The recovery rate improved from 75.27 per cent to 81.28 per cent during the same period. Samples tested per million population have gone up from 27,502 to 64,104.

Facing flak from all sides for low testing, the state government has ramped up the testing over the last two months. Currently, 50,000 to 60,000 tests are conducted every day in Telangana.

The number of laboratories conducting tests has gone up from 47 to 60. These include 43 private laboratories. There are also 1,076 centres for rapid antigen tests.

The number of private hospitals treating COVID-19 has also gone up from 170 to 219. The number of government hospitals treating COVIC-19 patients total 42.

Over 150 private hospitals are located in Hyderabad and adjoining districts. There are 102 hospitals in GHMC area, 35 in Rangareddy district, and 15 in Medchal Malkajgiri. They include large corporate hospitals, which are also catering to coronavirus patients from neighbouring states of Andhra Pradesh and Karnataka.

Large government facilities for COVID-19 treatment are also concentrated in Hyderabad and the beds in some district hospitals are not vacant, forcing patients to head to the state capital.

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Covid-19

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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