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China begins developing vaccine as coronavirus toll reaches 56

The National Health Commission said the disease has infected a total of 1,975 people so far. In its latest report, the Commission said 15 deaths and 688 new cases were reported on Saturday.

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Coronavirus

Beijing, Jan 26 : China has started developing a vaccine against the rapidly-spreading deadly novel coronavirus strain that has claimed 56 lives and infected nearly 2,000 people in the country.

Xu Wenbo, a scientist at the Chinese Center for Disease Control and Prevention, said on Sunday that scientists had successfully isolated the first strain of the virus, Efe news agency quoted the official newspaper People’s Daily as saying.

The news comes after Chinese President Xi Jinping, following a meeting on Saturday, warned that the spread of the deadly illness was accelerating amid a fast-rising death toll.

Shanghai, one of the biggest cities in China, reported its first death due to the pandemic that has triggered panic across the country with authorities scrambling to stop its further outbreak.

The National Health Commission said the disease has infected a total of 1,975 people so far. In its latest report, the Commission said 15 deaths and 688 new cases were reported on Saturday.

Some 324 patients were said to be serious, while 49 have been discharged from hospitals after recovery.

Hubei, the province where the disease was first reported in its capital Wuhan, reported 52 deaths. One person each has died in Hebei (around Beijing), Heilongjiang (northeast), Henan (centre-east) and Shanghai (east).

Health authorities have carried out checkups on nearly 23,500 people who have come into close contact with infected persons. Out of these, over 21,500 continue to be monitored for symptoms.

At least 25 of China’s 34 provincial divisions have been put on the highest-level health alert.

The southeastern city of Shantou has been partially closed down and interstate bus services in the cities of Beijing, Tianjin, Xian, and the Shandong province suspended.

Passengers at Beijing’s 55 metro stations, including those linked to railway stations and the international airport, will be subjected to temperature screening to detect potential suspect cases.

Those with abnormal body temperatures would be hospitalized, according to state-run news agency Xinhua.

Cleaning and disinfection efforts have begun in metro and bus terminals in Beijing, where at least 51 cases of the so-called “Wuhan pneumonia” have been reported, official daily Global Times said.

Hubei province and other major cities were locked down earlier.

Shanghai has also announced the suspension of the train service that connects the city center with the Anting suburb, bordering Jiangsu province.

The prevention efforts include a large-scale purchase of face masks, as the respiratory system is believed to be the primary method of the virus’ transmission.

Global Times said that 3.16 million face masks were shipped on Sunday to Wuhan.

Authorities have urged people who have recently visited Wuhan to stay inside their houses for 14 days and immediately contact health centres if they develop symptoms associated with the virus.

The disease has already spread to a dozen other countries with Canada confirming its first case on Saturday after a patient in Ontario tested positive. The man was said to have travelled from China recently.

Besides Canada, the cases reported outside China were six in Hong Kong; five each in Thailand and Macao; four in Australia; three each in South Korea, Taiwan, Singapore, Malaysia, Nepal and France; two each in Japan, the US and Vietnam.

Four Chinese nationals have been hospitalised in Pakistan for showing symptoms of the disease, but the country’s health authorities have clarified that there were no confirmed cases of coronavirus as yet.

The World Health Organization has decided not to declare an international health emergency due to strict measures carried out in China that include complete suspension of transport and cancelation of Chinese New Year celebrations.

The symptoms of the new coronavirus, provisionally designated by the WHO as 2019-nCoV, are similar to those of cold but may be accompanied by fever and fatigue, dry cough and dyspnea (shortness of breath).

Health

Running marathons may up heart attack risk

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WORLD HEART DAY

New York, Feb 26 (IANS) While aerobic exercise generally benefits health, extreme endurance exercise — like marathon and triathlon — can raise a person’s risk for sudden cardiac arrest and atrial fribrillation, according to a new study.

After reviewing more than 300 scientific studies, the research team found that physically active people, such as regular walkers, have up to a 50 per cent lower risk of heart attack and sudden cardiac death.

However, the team also identified potential risks with intense exercise training, according to the study published in the journal Circulation.

“Exercise is medicine, and there is no question that moderate to vigorous physical activity is beneficial to overall cardiovascular health. However, like medicine, it is possible to underdose and overdose on exercise — more is not always better and can lead to cardiac events, particularly when performed by inactive, unfit individuals with known or undiagnosed heart disease,” said Barry A Franklin, Professor at Oakland University in the US.

“More people are running marathons, participating in triathlons and doing high-intensity interval training. The purpose of this statement is to put the benefits and risks of these vigorous exercise programmes in perspective,” Franklin added.

The research group also reviewed a small study that concluded that the risk of sudden cardiac death or heart attack is low among people participating in high-intensity exercise such as marathons and triathlons.

However, over time, the risk of heart attack or sudden cardiac death among male marathon participants has risen, suggesting that these events are attracting higher risk participants (those who may have an underlying or undiagnosed cardiovascular condition such as heart rhythm abnormalities or a prior heart attack).

For women, who comprised only 15 per cent of the study’s population, the occurrence of sudden cardiac death was 3.5 fold less than in men.

Among participants in triathlons, almost 40 per cent of cardiac events occurred in first-time participants, indicating that inadequate training or underlying heart problems may be involved.

The research team also found that half of cardiac events occur in the last mile of a marathon or half-marathon, so maintaining a steady pace rather than sprinting is advised.

The risk of cardiac events is greater at high altitudes, but can be decreased by spending at least one day acclimating to the elevation prior to strenuous activity, the study said.

For people who want to become more active, the researchers suggested that most people can start a light programme of exercise and build up slowly to a moderate to vigorous exercise regimen.

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Cannabis use rises among the elderly, finds study

Women, and individuals who were married, had a college degree, or had higher income also significantly increased their cannabis use.

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Cannabis

New Delhi, Feb 26 : Cannabis use continues to increase in popularity among adults of 65 years of age and older in the United States, according to a new study.

Published in JAMA Internal Medicine, the study from NYU Grossman School of Medicine estimates that cannabis use in adults aged 65 and older increased from 2.4 percent to 4.2 percent in the United States — a significant increase of 75 percent — between 2015 and 2018.

With the legalization of cannabis for medical and recreational purposes in many states in the US, medical professionals are studying its use in treating a number of chronic health conditions. Since 1996, 31 states have legalized medical marijuana, while 11 states and Washington DC have legalized recreational use.

The survey categorized cannabis use by asking whether marijuana, hashish, pot, grass, or hash oil was either smoked or ingested.

Researchers observed trends in prevalence of past-year cannabis use, broken down by sociodemographic background, chronic disease, healthcare utilization, and other substance use among adults age 65 and older, in the United States, between 2015 and 2018.

Certain subsets of this population saw an even higher rise in prevalence. For example, researchers estimated that past-year use more than doubled by older adults with diabetes, among those who have received mental health treatment, and those reporting past-year alcohol use.

Women, and individuals who were married, had a college degree, or had higher income also significantly increased their cannabis use.

Researchers say they next plan to acquire more detailed information about how medical marijuana affects older populations, its risks and side effects.

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Health

US President says coronavirus problem to be over soon

Asserting that the situation in the US is under control, Trump said the US also does business with other nations and wants other countries to be “happy healthy and well”.

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Donald Trump

New Delhi, Feb 25 : US President Donald Trump on Tuesday said the coronavirus epidemic will soon be brought under control as China has been working very hard.

Addressing Indian CEOs here, Trump said the US plans to spend about USD 2.5 billion in fighting the deadly coronavirus.

“China is working very very hard, I have spoken to President Xi they are working very hard. They had a rough patch and right now it seems they are getting it under control, they are getting it more and more under control so I think it is a problem that is going to go away,” Trump said.

Asserting that the situation in the US is under control, Trump said the US also does business with other nations and wants other countries to be “happy healthy and well”.

“Let us see how it works out but I think it is going to work out fine. I hope so. We are working very hard, we are spending a tremendous amount of money also …about USD 2.5 billion on getting everything ready just in case something should happen and also helping other nations who are unequipped to do it,” Trump added.

The high profile CEO roundtable with Trump included captains of the Indian industry such as Reliance Industries Chairman Mukesh Ambani, Mahindra Group Chairman Anand Mahindra, Tata Sons Chairman N Chandrasekaran and Aditya Birla Group Chairman Kumar Mangalam Birla.

China reported the outbreak of novel coronavirus on December 31, 2019. On Monday, Chinese officials said the death toll has climbed to 2,592, while the total number of confirmed cases increased to over 77,000.

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