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California wildfire kills 9, ravages celebrity homes

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San Francisco, Nov 10: Two fast-moving wildfires that exploded in the Southern California hills have claimed nine lives and forced thousands to flee their homes, including the entire city of Malibu, a sprawling naval base and many Hollywood celebrity homes.

Fanned by ferocious Santa Ana winds and fueled by dry tinder, the fires immolated a mountain town and jangled the nerves of many tens of thousands of residents forced to evacuate their homes.

The blazes thus far have proved to be unstoppable, operating at flash-flood velocity. The big wildfire here in Southern California, known as the “Woolsey Fire”, quadrupled in size by Friday evening, covering more than 22 square miles, with no containment.

It easily jumped eight-lane Highway 101 and rambled over the Santa Monica Mountains to posh Malibu, where it torched homes and cars. The wildfire then finally ran into its only match so far: the Pacific Ocean, the Washington Post reported.

The bulletins from the northern part of the state were even worse. At least nine people died in or near their homes or vehicles as they tried to outrace the “Camp Fire” that started on Thursday morning, has devastated the mountain town of Paradise, about 90 miles north of the state capital, Sacramento.

Among the celebrity homes reportedly damaged — if not destroyed — was the home of Caitlyn Jenner, who posted an Instagram video reporting that she was in a safe house, but wasn’t sure what has become of her home.

Other celebrities in southern California who have reported on social media that they were evacuated from their homes due to the fast-moving fires include Lady Gaga, Kim Kardashian West, her sister Kourtney Kardashian and Mark Hammill.

Among the properties destroyed by the Woolsey Fire was the Paramount Ranch in Agoura, where hundreds of movies and television shows, including HBO’s “Westworld”, have been filmed, stretching back to the 1920s.

The freeway was closed in both directions near the Liberty Canyon Road exit due to “very active fire conditions”, authorities said.

The California fire season normally begins in late spring and lasts through summer.

But hot, dry weather has persisted this year well into autumn, and the winter rains have yet to arrive. The Santa Ana winds, which blow out of the Sierra Nevadas and toward the western coastline, are building into howling gales that dry the vegetation and the soil, creating potentially explosive fire conditions.

IANS

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‘Situation going out of control’: SC seeks Covid report from Delhi, Gujarat, Maharashtra and Assam

A bench headed by Justice Ashok Bhushan said the infections in these states are “going out of control” and asked them to submit a status report within two days.

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Coronavirus India

The Supreme Court on Monday sought a status report from Delhi, Gujarat, Maharashtra, and Assam on steps taken to control the spread of coronavirus infection, news agency PTI reported. A bench headed by Justice Ashok Bhushan said the infections in these states are “going out of control” and asked them to submit a status report within two days.

“Things have worsened in Delhi especially in November. You file a status report on what steps have been taken,”the court told Additional Solicitor General Sanjay Jain, who was appearing for the Delhi government. The bench, also comprising Justices R S Reddy and M R Shah, said that all efforts shall be made by the Centre and the states to mitigate the situation and to deal with the rising number of COVID-19 cases.

While fresh cases of coronavirus infections continue to decline — or remain stagnant — in the worst-affected states of Maharashtra, Karnataka, and Andhra Pradesh, on the other hand, Haryana, Punjab, Rajasthan, Gujarat, Madhya Pradesh and even Himachal Pradesh have been seeing a significant rise in active cases.

Amid the surge in a few states, the Centre on Sunday dispatched high-level teams to Uttar Pradesh, Punjab and Himachal Pradesh to help them tackle the spread of the disease. A few days ago, similar teams were sent to Rajasthan, Gujarat, Haryana and Chhattisgarh as well.

Part of the reason for the surge in cases in these states could be attributed to low adherence of physical distancing norms during the festival season, especially since it came after a prolonged phase of relative stability, which could have given rise to complacency amongst the public.

On Monday, India’s COVID-19 caseload went past 91 lakh with 44,059 coronavirus infections being reported in a day, while the recoveries surged to 85,62,641. The number of active cases remained below 5 lakh for the thirteenth consecutive day. There are 4,43,486 active cases of coronavirus infection in the country as on date which comprises 4.85 per cent of the total caseload.

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Global Covid-19 cases top 58.5mn: Johns Hopkins

Brazil currently accounts for the second highest number of fatalities at 169,183.

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Washington, Nov 23: The overall number of global coronavirus cases has topped 58.5 million, while the deaths have surged to more than 1.38 million, according to the Johns Hopkins University.

In its latest update on Monday, the University’s Center for Systems Science and Engineering (CSSE) revealed that the current global caseload and death toll stood at 58,542,174 and 1,386,454, respectively.

The US is the worst-hit country with the world’s highest number of cases and deaths at 12,226,643 and 256,741, respectively, according to the CSSE.

India comes in second place in terms of cases at 9,095,806, while the country’s death toll soared to 133,227.

The other countries with more than a million confirmed cases are Brazil (6,071,401), France (2,191,180), Russia (2,071,858), Spain (1,556,730), the UK (1,515,802), Argentina (1,370,366), Italy (1,408,868), Colombia (1,248,417) and Mexico (1,025,969), the CSSE figures showed.

Brazil currently accounts for the second highest number of fatalities at 169,183.

The countries with a death toll above 20,000 are Mexico (100,823), the UK (55,120), Italy (49,823), France (48,807), Iran (44,802), Spain (42,619), Argentina (37,002), Russia (35,838), Peru (35,549), Colombia (35,287) and South Africa (20,903).

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WHO COVID envoy fears third wave, calls Europe response ‘incomplete’

“You must wait until case numbers are low and stay low,” he said. “Europe’s reaction was incomplete.”

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David Nabarro
U.N. Secretary-General's Special Envoy for Ebola David Nabarro addresses the media on World Health Organization

ZURICH: A World Health Organization (WHO) special COVID-19 envoy predicted a third wave of the pandemic in Europe in early 2021, if governments repeat what he said was a failure to do what was needed to prevent the second wave of infections.

“They missed building up the necessary infrastructure during the summer months, after they brought the first wave under the control,” the WHO’s David Nabarro said in an interview with Swiss newspapers.

“Now we have the second wave. If they don’t build the necessary infrastructure, we’ll have a third wave early next year,” said Nabarro, a Briton who campaigned unsuccessfully to become the WHO director general in 2017.

Europe briefly enjoyed sinking infection rates that are now surging again: Germany and France on Saturday saw cases rise by 33,000 combined, Switzerland and Austria have thousands of cases daily, while Turkey reported a record 5,532 new infections.

Nabarro singled out Switzerland’s move to allow skiing – with masks required in gondolas – as other Alpine nations like Austria have shuttered resorts. Nabarro said Switzerland could reach a “very high level of sicknesses and deaths”.

“Once the infection rates sink, and they will sink, then we can be as free as we want,” Nabarro was quoted as saying by the Solothurner Zeitung. “But right now? Should ski resorts open? Under what conditions?”

Nabarro lauded the response of Asian countries like South Korea, where infections are now relatively low: “People are fully engaged, they take on behaviours that make it difficult for the virus. They keep their distance, wear masks, isolate when they’re sick, wash hands and surfaces. They protect the most endangered groups.”

Nabarro also said Asia did not relax restrictions prematurely.

“You must wait until case numbers are low and stay low,” he said. “Europe’s reaction was incomplete.”

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