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Air pollution linked to higher Covid-19 death rates

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New Delhi, April 8 (IANS) Long-term exposure to polluted air could lead to increase in death rate of people infected with deadly coronavirus, concluded a recent study which forms a clear correlation between the two factors.

The study, carried out by Harvard University T.H. Chan School of Public Health’s researchers, concluded that a small increase in long-term exposure to tiny particles in air known as PM 2.5 could lead to a large increase in COVID-19 death rate.

Speaking to IANS, D.J. Christopher who is the President of Indian Chest Society said, “The report is disturbing as it appears that air pollution exposure could affect Covid-19 disease severity and death. I am deeply concerned about the cities of our nation with high pollution, especially New Delhi.”

Dr. Christopher, who is also the professor of pulmonary medicine at CMC Vellore, further said that it will be great if such studies are conducted in India.

“But we may have to wait for more reports to come. We will then be able to see if the severity and the number of cases are more in polluted cities,” he added.

To carry out the study, Researchers at Harvard University collected data from approximately 3,000 counties in the United States up to April 4, 2020.

“We found that an increase of only 1 Ig/m3 in PM2.5 is associated with a 15 per cent increase in the COVID-19 death rate.”

The study results also underscored the importance of continuing to enforce existing air pollution regulations to protect human health both during and after the COVID-19 crisis.


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Delhi govt orders 28 ventilators, 435 oxygen concentrators

Delhi has 19 COVID Care Centres (CCC) with 5,716-bed capacity. The state has 50,000 PPEs in stock.

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New Delhi, May 26 : Amid rising coronavirus cases, the Delhi Health Department has placed orders for 30,000 PPE kits, 3.5 lakh N-95 masks, 28 ventilators and 435 oxygen concentrators, according to a statement by the Raj Niwas, here on Tuesday.

The Secretary (Health) also presented the ‘situational analysis of Covid-19 in Delhi’ to Lieutenant Governor Anil Baijal.

Up to May 25, there were 14,053 confirmed cases in Delhi. Of this, 6,771 patients recovered or migrated. The case fatality rate in Delhi is 1.96 per cent against the national average of 2.57 per cent.

As on May 25, the Lt Governor was informed, 34 labs were functional for Covid-19 tests. Till date, 1,74,469 cumulative tests had been conducted with the positivity rate as on May 25 being 8.06 per cent.

Adequate supply of medical essentials has been ensured and more ventilators are being procured. At present, 4,462 beds, 429 ICUs, 343 ventilators and 2,632 oxygen supported beds are available in the Covid hospitals.

Delhi has 19 COVID Care Centres (CCC) with 5,716-bed capacity. The state has 50,000 PPEs in stock.

The Secretary also informed Baijal about augmentation of the bed capacity by 25 per cent in private hospitals with 50 plus beds, earmarking of 20 per cent beds for Covid patients in these hospitals, daily health monitoring of the home isolated Covid patients and raising isolation beds in the CCCs.

The Lt. Governor asked the Health Department to review medical infrastructure capacity building and remove bottlenecks immediately. The trend of the past 10-15 days should be analysed for future management, Baijal said and advised monitoring of containment zones on a dynamic basis for focused action.

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9 murders to hide one, Bihari man’s macabre act in Telangana

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Hyderabad, May 25 : To hide the murder of a woman, a man from Bihar committed nine more murders by throwing the victims into a well in Telangana’s Warangal district last week, the police said on Monday.

Cracking the mystery behind the nine bodies recovered from an open well at Gorrekunta village near Warangal town on May 21 and 22, the police arrested Sanjay Kumar Yadav (24), who confessed to committing the gruesome crime to hide the murder of a woman with whom he had live-in relationship.

Revealing the details of the macabre murders, Warangal Police Commissioner V. Ravinder told a news conference that the accused killed nine persons, including six members of one family, by mixing sleeping pills in their food and then throwing them one by one into a nearby well.

As all the victims were sedated after having their food laced with sleeping pills, the accused put each person in a gunny bag, dragged them one by one and threw them into the well, about 100 metres away from a godown of a gunny bag making unit where the family of a migrant worker from West Bengal and two Bihari youth were living. Another migrant from Tripura, who was also present in the building, was also murdered.

The bodies of Mohammed Maqsood Alam (55), his wife Nisha (48), both natives of West Bengal working in the gunny bag manufacturing unit for the last 20 years, their daughter Bushra Khatoon (22) and Bushra’s three-year-old son were found in the well on May 21.

The next day after emptying the well, the police found the bodies of Maqsood’s sons Shabaaz Alam (20) and Sohail Alam (18), Bihari workers Sriram Kumar Shah (26), Shyam Kumar Shah (21) and a migrant from Tripura, Mohammed Shakeel (40).

Investigations revealed that Yadav, who was also working at the gunny bag unit, developed a relationship with Nisha’s niece Rafiqa (37), who had come from West Bengal with three children after separation from her husband and was employed in the same factory.

Yadav had taken a room on rent and was living with her. Police investigations revealed that Rafiqa had recently admonished him for trying to sexually exploit her daughter.

The accused hatched a plan to kill Rafiqa and informed Maqsood’s family that he is taking her to West Bengal to talk to her elders for marriage. They boarded the Garib Rath train to Visakhapatnam on March 6, but during the journey, he bought butter milk and after mixing sleeping pills, served it to Rafiqa. After she fell asleep, he strangulated her and threw the body from the train near Nidadavole in West Godavari district of Andhra Pradesh.

The accused got down from the train at Rajahmundry and returned to Warangal. When Nisha and her husband enquired about Rafiqa, he said she had reached her village and would come back later.

When Maqsood’s family threatened to approach the police, he hatched a plan to eliminate all of them.

As May 20 was Shabaaz’s birthday, he came to their house in the evening and mixed sleeping pills in the food prepared at home.

As two Bihari youth living in the same building had seen him at Maqsood’s house, he went to their room and mixed sedatives in their food to wipe out the evidence.

Shakeel, a native of Tripura who had come to Maqsood’s house at the latter’s invitation, too became Yadav’s victim.

The police commissioner said the CCTV footage of the accused leaving his house on the evening of May 20 and returning the next morning provided the vital clue to the investigating team.

“We have no evidence that there is any other person involved in the crime,” the police chief said, dismissing reports that four people were picked up in connection with the case.

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Mumbai crosses 1,000 deaths, MMR has over 40K cases

Though trailing a distant second after Mumbai, Pune Division fatalities touched 321, besides 6,933 patients.

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Coronavirus Treatment

Mumbai, May 25 : Exactly 65 days after recording the first Covid-19 death, Mumbai on Monday crossed 1,000-mark with 38 deaths, taking the death toll to 1,026, while the Mumbai Metropolitan Region notched over 40K cases, health officials said here.

Maharashtra recorded 60 Covid-19 deaths on Monday and the number of cases reached 52,667 with 2,436 new infections.

This comes to roughly one death every 24 minutes, and an average 102 new cases recorded every hour in the state on Monday.

The state has been recording fatalities above 50 and new patients over 2,000 daily for the past nine consecutive days now, and the previous highest 24-hour figure for infections was 3,041 cases on May 24.

With 60 fatalities — down by 16 from the highest ever 76 notched on May 19 — the state’s death toll has touched 1,695 and the total number of coronavirus patients increased from 50,231 on Sunday to 52,667 on Monday.

The health department said of the total number of cases declared Monday, 35,178 were ‘active cases’ — swelling by 1,190 over Sunday’s 33,988.

Of the total 60 fatalities, 38 were recorded in Mumbai alone, taking the city deaths up from Sunday’s 988 to 1,026 now, while the number of Covid-19 positive patients here shot up by 1,430 cases to touch 31,972 today.

Mumbai’s congested Dharavi slum continued to be a major hot spot with 42 new cases Monday, taking the total number of infectees to 1,583 there and 59 deaths till date.

Besides Mumbai’s 38 deaths, including one from Bihar, there were 11 fatalities in Pune, 6 in Thane (Navi Mumbai, Thane and Kalyan-Dombivali), 2 in Aurangabad, and one each in Ratnagiri and Solapur.

They comprised 42 men and 198 women, and nearly 78 per cent of them suffered from other serious ailments such as diabetes, hypertension, heart problems and asthma.

On the positive side, 1,186 fully cured patients returned home Monday, taking the number of those discharged to 15,786.

As part of the easing up of domestic air travel, Mumbai International Airport Ltd on Monday handled 47 incoming and outgoing flights by seven airlines catering to 14 national sectors.

They included 3,752 outbound passengers, maximum on the New Delhi sector and 1,100 arrivals, with full Covid-19 protocols implemented.

The Muslim community of Ichalkaranji, Kolhapur donated their Ramzan monthly expenses to sponsor a 10-bed intensive care unit at the Indira Gandhi General Hospital here which was dedicated online by Chief Minister Uddhav Thackeray.

Thackeray announced that by May 31, 2,475 Covid-19 beds, many with ICU-Oxygen, will be operational at the upcoming jumbo hospitals in Bandra Kurla Complex, NSCI Worli, and NESCO Goregaon, and in each ward in Mumbai 100-bed hospitals with 20 ICU beds have been taken over.

The number of ambulances in the city for Covid-19 has gone up from 100 to 450 now and their services will be available through a mobile app, while the availability of hospital beds data will be available real-time on a dashboard, the CM added.

The Maharashtra Industries Development Corporation (MIDC) Ltd distributed 2 lakh tonnes of foodgrains to the people of the worst-hit Dharavi, said Industry Minister Subhash Desai.

The MMR continued to cause grave concerns with 1,154 Covid-19 deaths and positive cases shooting to 40,438.

Though trailing a distant second after Mumbai, Pune Division fatalities touched 321, besides 6,933 patients.

The next major area of concern is Nashik Division with 103 deaths and 1,618 positive cases, followed by Aurangabad Division with 49 fatalities and 1,508 cases, and finally Akola Division with 34 deaths and 766 cases.

There’s Latur Division with 8 deaths and 249 cases, Kolhapur Division with 6 deaths and 527 patients, and finally Nagpur Division with 8 deaths and 577 cases.

Meanwhile, the number of people sent to home quarantine increased from 499,387 to 530,247 Monday — a jump of 30,860 — and those in institutional quarantine went up from 35,107 to 35,479, a spurt of 372 suspect cases.

The state’s containment zones increased from 2,283 to 2,391 on Monday and 16,106 health teams have carried out a survey of a population of around 66.1 lakh in the state.

(Quaid Najmi can be contacted at [email protected])

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