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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.

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Boris Johnson says UK at ‘critical moment’ in Covid-19 fight

Addressing a briefing from 10 Downing Street in London, Johnson struck a sombre note as he called for “collective forbearance, common sense and willingness to make sacrifices” in order to avert another nationwide lockdown, even as he warned that he would not hesitate to impose further restrictions if needed.

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Boris Johnson

Prime Minister Boris Johnson on Wednesday said the UK is at a “critical moment” in its fight to control the spread of coronavirus, as a further 71 deaths took the country’s death toll from the deadly virus to 42,143.

Addressing a briefing from 10 Downing Street in London, Johnson struck a sombre note as he called for “collective forbearance, common sense and willingness to make sacrifices” in order to avert another nationwide lockdown, even as he warned that he would not hesitate to impose further restrictions if needed.

His warning of a high number of infections and “tragic increase” in deaths came as this week marked the biggest rise in daily cases since the pandemic began, with a further 7,108 infections recorded on Wednesday and the number of patients with Covid-19 on ventilators hitting 312.

“These figures show why our plan is so essential. We have to stick to it together and we should stick to it with confidence,” said Johnson.

“I know some people think we should give up and let the virus take its course despite the huge loss of life that may entail. I profoundly disagree. I don’t think the British people want to throw in the sponge, they want to fight and defeat this virus,” he said, adding that the UK will “get through this”.

He was joined by his scientific and medical experts who reiterated that the coronavirus cases were “heading in the wrong direction”.

Johnson’s briefing came as the House of Commons passed by 330 votes to 24 an extension to the Coronavirus Act, the emergency legislation which needs parliamentary approval every six months.

UK Health Secretary Matt Hancock pledged to the members of the Parliament that they would be given votes “wherever possible” on any new coronavirus rules before they come into force in future. The assurance comes amid growing disquiet within Johnson’s own Conservative Party over some of the tough and hard to interpret localised lockdown measures being imposed in large parts of the country.

In a rare intervention, Commons Speaker Lindsay Hoyle delivered a harsh rebuke on the government for its failure to seek parliamentary approval for these measures.

“The way in which the government has exercised its powers to make secondary legislation during this crisis has been totally unsatisfactory,” he said. Hoyle warned that he was “now looking to the government to rebuild trust with the House and not treat it with the contempt it has shown”.

As a result, any further tough lockdown moves are likely to be first tabled for a vote in Commons.

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Cities

10,453 new cases take K’taka’s Covid tally to 5,92,911

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Coronavirus India

Bengaluru, Sep 29 : A whopping 10,453 new Covid-19 cases were registered across Karnataka till Monday midnight, taking the state’s tally to 5,92,911 till date, including 1,07,737 active cases, the state health bulletin said on Tuesday.

“As many as 6,628 people were discharged on Tuesday, taking the total number of recoveries to 4,76,378, while 8,777 have succumbed to the virus so far, including 19 a day ago,” said the bulletin.

The epicentre of the pandemic, Bengaluru, registered 4,868 fresh cases, taking its Covid tally to 2,28,437, including 46,610 active cases, while 2,373 were discharged till Monday midnight, taking the city’s total number of recoveries to 17,89,143 since March 8.

With 67 succumbing to the virus on Monday, the city’s death toll rose to 2,912.

Of the 815 patients admitted to intensive care units (ICUs) across the southern state, 261 are in Bengaluru, followed by Dharwad (93), Ballari (80), Hassan (62) and Kalaburagi (40).

Among the districts, Hassan reported 475 cases on Monday, followed by Mysuru (414), Dakshina Kannada (362), Shivamogga (347), Udupi (319) and Ballari (313).

Among the districts with high discharges, Tumakuru reported 519, followed by Mysuru (350), Koppala (324), Bengaluru Rural (304), Ballari (295) and Dakishna Kannada (232).

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Official COVID-19 death toll probably underestimates true total – WHO

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World Health Organisation

GENEVA: The official global toll of deaths from COVID-19 probably underestimates the true total – suggesting it could be over a million already, a World Health Organization official said on Monday.

“If anything, the numbers currently reported probably represent an underestimate of those individuals who have either contracted COVID-19 or died as a cause of it,” Mike Ryan, the WHO’s top emergencies expert, told a briefing in Geneva.

“When you count anything, you can’t count it perfectly but I can assure you that the current numbers are likely an underestimate of the true toll of COVID,” he said.

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