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Nipah scare pushes several states to issue alerts

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Nipah Virus

New Delhi, May 26 (IANS) Nipah virus may not have spread beyond Kerala but its scare has spread across the country with several states investigating suspicious cases and issuing advisories on precautions and travel to Kerala.

With another death in Kerala on Saturday, the total number of deaths due to Nipah virus has reached 13. The majority of the deaths have been reported from Kozhikode district with some from the nearby Malappuram district in Kerala.

Even as incidence of fresh cases in Kerala has come down, state health authorities claim things are under control and the Union Health Ministry maintains virus outbreak is a localised occurrence and there is no need to panic, fear runs high across the country.

Panic gripped Himachal Pradesh when several bats were found dead at Government Senior Secondary School in Barmapapri in Sirmaur district this week. However, tests at the National Institute of Virology in Pune ruled out that the bats were carrying Nipah virus.

Himachal Pradesh Additional Chief Secretary B.K. Agarwal has advised people not to panic about the Nipah virus and said that all medical colleges in the state are prepared to deal with the situation, if it occurs.

Similarly, in Telangana, two persons, including one who visited Kerala recently, were admitted to hospitals on Friday with suspected Nipah virus infection. The state health authorities without taking any chances have sent their samples to Pune for investigation.

K. Shankar, Director, Institute of Preventive Medicine (IPM), Hyderabad said that people should postpone their plans to visit Kerala in view of the situation. The authorities are conducting awareness campaigns and are also screening people at airport, railway and bus stations.

Telangana Director of Medical Education K. Ramesh Reddy, however, said there was no need for panic as the state had not recorded any confirmed case of Nipah virus.

The Bihar government issued Nipah virus alert on Saturday, asking people to take precautions. An advisory has also been issued to people with the dos and don’ts as preventive measures.

“The government has issued an alert of Nipah virus in view of its outbreak in Kerala,” said health department official R. D. Ranjan. “People have been advised to keep distance from bats and pigs. They have been asked not to consume fruits without washing them.”

Madhya Pradesh issued its advisory on Friday. While saying there was no reason to worry as the virus is generally limited to a place, Health Services Director B.N. Chouhan advised against eating fruits that are fallen on the ground or appear to have animal teeth or claw marks.

Those living in areas with a bat population or where travellers from Kerala are staying should contact the nearest government hospital if any symptoms of Nipah are found, Chouhan said and added the symptoms are headaches, fever, bodyache, cough, problems in breathing, vomiting, diarrhoea, laziness and others.

Nipah virus is transmitted to humans through infected fruit bats, pigs or other Nipah-infected persons.

With test results showing that a particular variety of bats, found in and around Kozhikode and mostly at the worst-affected Perambara town, is not carrying the virus, a special team from Pune will see how best they can take samples from other varieties of bats also found in the district.

Cities

Cyclone Titli: Odisha Congress demands Rs 10 lakh to each deceased’s family

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Cyclone Titli

Bhubaneswar, Oct 16 : The Odisha Congress on Tuesday demanded that the state government should pay Rs 10 lakh ex gratia to the family members of each deceased in the cyclone and subsequent floods.

Pradesh Congress Committee (PCC) President Niranjan Patnaik, who visited several affected areas, said the state government has completely failed to tackle the twin calamities.

“24 casualties have occurred in different parts of the state and it is increasing. Also, thousands of families have lost everything. If the state government had prepared itself as per the advice of Met department, the huge destruction would have been avoided,” said Patnaik.

He demanded that the Odisha government should pay a minimum Rs 10 lakh to the family members of each deceased in this disaster.

Also, the injured must be provided with all the help by the government, he added.

The state should continue relief and primary rehabilitation work on a war footing in affected areas, said the PCC President.

He said the government must prepare a detailed and accurate report of destruction and repair the roads and bridges immediately and construct houses for those who have lost everything.

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Disaster

Rescue efforts continue in US amid hurricane Michael devastation

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Hurricane Michael

Miami, Oct 14 (IANS) Amid the devastation caused by hurricane Michael, rescue operations in the southeastern US have focused on Mexico Beach and Panama City, two Florida towns that were nearly flattened and that could raise the death toll from the storm, which has taken at least 17 lives.

Florida Governor Rick Scott accompanied the National Guard on Saturday to survey the devastation by air, centering on the counties of Franklin, Holmes, Washington and Gadsden, in the northwestern part of the state, where Michael made landfall on Wednesday as a Category 4 hurricane, reports Efe news.

The search for victims has been slow because numerous roads and highways have been blocked by rubble or destroyed, while cell phone service outages have prevented authorities and family members from locating missing people.

The destruction has been especially severe in Mexico Beach, where the water, sewage and communications systems were destroyed, which could take months to repair.

“Not one single store is left,” Mexico Beach Mayor Al Cathey told the media.

Cathey himself had been unable to communicate with state authorities and has relied on satellite phones brought by media outlets.

Authorities have been inspecting every house and boat – or what is left of them – with the help of search and rescue dogs to find people who are unaccounted for.

Some 30 km west of Mexico Beach, the school gym of Panama City has become the symbol of the devastation caused by Michael in this Florida town, where residents began to return on Saturday to search for their belongings among the rubble.

So far, eight people have been reported dead in Florida, five in Virginia, three in North Carolina and one person was killed in Georgia.

Authorities, however, have not been able to identify any of the victims yet.

The death toll from Hurricane Michael is expected to increase, especially as rescue operations continue in Mexico Beach, one the hardest-hit towns.

Meanwhile, 750,000 homes and businesses continue to be without power in Florida, Virginia, North Carolina and Georgia.

Earlier this week, President Donald Trump declared a state of emergency in Florida, which authorises the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) and the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) to coordinate rescue efforts and make federal funding available to address the situation.

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Disaster

Storm kills 9 climbers on Nepal mountain

Kim Chang-ho was the fastest person to summit the world’s 14 highest mountains without using supplemental oxygen.

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Himalayan snowstorm

Kathmandu, Oct 13 : Nine climbers, including five South Korean nationals, who were part of a trekking expedition, were killed after a snowstorm destroyed their base camp on a Himalayan peak in western Nepal, the police said on Saturday.

Wangchu Sherpa, Managing Director at Trekking Camp Nepal said that five Korean climbers — of Koreanway Gurja Himal Expedition 2018 — including their team leader Kim Chang-ho were killed when the storm struck their camp on Mount Gurja on Friday evening, the Himalayan Times reported.

Kim Chang-ho was the fastest person to summit the world’s 14 highest mountains without using supplemental oxygen.

Other four climbers were Nepali. All the dead people were identified by the authorities, the report said.

The heavy snowstorm followed by a landslide buried the base camp at 3,500 metre on the 7,193 metre-high mountain when the climbers were awaiting a fair weather to head towards the high camp, Sherpa quoted the eyewitnesses as saying.

A helicopter with rescuers was sent to the site in the morning, but it failed to land at the base camp due to bad weather, said a police official.

A police rescue team was later making its way on foot to the site.

Mount Gurja sits in Nepal’s Annapurna region, next to avalanche-prone Dhaulagiri, the world’s seventh highest mountain.

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