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Indonesia volcano erupts, spews ash cloud

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Indonesia Volcano
Mount Sinabung on Sumatra spewed thick plume after activity picked up recent days (Photo Credit- AFP)
Jakarta, May 7: A volcano erupted in Indonesia’s North Sumatra province on Tuesday, spewing a dark ash cloud about 2,000 metres in height, above the crater.

The Mount Sinabung eruption lasted 42 minutes and the ash led to an orange aviation alert, the second highest after red and which warns of potential flight risks in the area, said Sutopo Purwo Nugroho, spokesperson for the National Board for Disaster Management.

Images released by Nugroho showed the dark cloud moving in a southwest direction towards villages that have been covered by a white layer of ash, Efe news reported.

Sinabung is currently the only volcano in Indonesia on the highest level of eruption alert.

Authorities have established a security radius of between 3 and 7 km from the crater and have evacuated thousands of people from the danger zone.

The eruption was not accompanied by any incandescent material, but Nugroho warned residents of lava flows.

The intermittent eruptions of the 2,460-metre Sinabung killed 16 people in 2014 and seven in 2016, although they have never exceeded grade 2 on a scale of 8 in the Volcanic Explosivity Index.

The Indonesian archipelago sits within the Pacific Ring of Fire, an area of high seismic activity with 127 active volcanoes, which experiences thousands of tremors a year.

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Global coronavirus infections top 13 million

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RUSSIA CORONAVIRUS

Worldwide coronavirus infections passed 13 million on Monday, according to a Reuters tally, marking another milestone in the spread of the disease which has killed more than half a million people in seven months.

The first case was reported in China in early January and it took three months to reach one million cases. It has taken just five days to climb to 13 million cases from 12 million recorded on July 8.

The number of cases is around triple that of severe influenza illnesses recorded annually, according to the World Health Organization.

There have been more than 568,500 deaths linked to the coronavirus so far, within the same range as the number of yearly influenza deaths reported worldwide. The first death was reported on Jan. 10 in Wuhan, China, before infections and fatalities surged in Europe and then later in the United States.

Many hard-hit countries are easing lockdowns put in place to slow the spread of COVID-19. Other places, such as the Australian city of Melbourne, are implementing a second round of shutdowns.

The Reuters tally, which is based on government reports, shows the disease is accelerating the fastest in Latin America. The Americas account for more than half the world’s infections and half the deaths.

The United States reported a daily global record of 69,070 new infections on July 10. In Brazil, 1.86 million people have tested positive, including President Jair Bolsonaro, and more than 72,000 people have died.

India, the country with the third-highest number of infections, has been contending with an average of 26,000 new infections each day since the beginning of July.

In countries with limited testing capacity, case numbers reflect only a proportion of total infections. Experts say official data likely under-represents both infections and deaths.

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Rail Bhawan shut for 2 days after officials test Covid positive

However, if there is specific urgency that requires an official to attend office, specific directives will be given to the official concerned, the ministry said.

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Rail Bhawan

New Delhi, July 13 : The Railways Ministry will remain closed for the next two days as a matter of “precaution” after some officials were found to be positive for coronavirus, an official statement said on Monday.

“Some officials of the Railway Board have tested Covid positive during the rapid antigen testing camp organised at Rail Bhawan on 9th, 10th and 13th July, 2020. Accordingly it has been decided to close all offices at Rail Bhawan on 14th and 15th July, 2020 to carry out intensive sanitisation of rooms and common area,” read a circular issued by the Ministry.

During these two days, all officials will work from home. They are also asked to remain available not only through phone but other electronic means of communication.

However, if there is specific urgency that requires an official to attend office, specific directives will be given to the official concerned, the ministry said.

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Study reveals new strategies to control Covid-19 pandemic

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Social Distancing in Mizoram

London, July 13 : Strategies for the safe reopening of low and middle-income countries (LMICs) in response to the ongoing Covid-19 pandemic must recognise that preserving people’s health is as important as reviving the economy, say researchers, including one of Indian-origin.

In the study, published in the European Journal of Epidemiology, the research team examined three community-based exit strategies, and recommended their scopes, limitations and the appropriate application in the LMICs.

The three approaches considered are sustained mitigation, zonal lockdowns and rolling lockdowns. “Successfully re-opening a country requires consideration of both the economic and social costs,” said study lead author Rajiv Chowdhury from the University of Cambridge in the UK.

“Governments should approach these options with a mind-set that health and economy both are equally important to protect – reviving the economy should not take priority over preserving people”s health,” he added.

The study also revealed that strategies need to be based on the local epidemic growth rate at the time, social and economic costs, existing health systems capabilities and detailed plans to implement.

Sustained ”mitigation-only” approaches such as those adopted in the UK, Switzerland and other European countries, involve basic prevention measures such as mask-wearing, physical distancing and the isolation of positive cases after testing.

Zonal lockdowns approach involves identifying and ”cordoning off” new outbreak clusters with a high number of cases, keeping contact between zones and containing the disease within a small geographic area.

However, the authors point out that any successful implementation of zonal lockdown requires regular data feedback operations in real-time to identify hotspots, including information on newly confirmed cases, updated region-specific reproduction and growth rates, and deaths by age.

Additionally, control of transmission within zones may be an enormous undertaking. For example, in India, where this approach has been employed, the infection size within a cordoned zone can be as high as 100-200 times outside the zone.

Intermittent rolling lockdowns are now advocated by the World Health Organisation (WHO) in various LMICs. These involve implementing strict social distancing for a set number of days before a period of relaxation. Rolling lockdowns may be particularly useful in LMICs with dense populations, where this is a high potential for contact, weak health systems and poor contact tracing.

“These three strategies should not be considered as one or the other. A country should further adapt and could combine them as needed,” the authors wrote.

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