Maha: 25 injured as lightning strikes village in Thane

Agencies
October 22, 2020

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Thane, Oct 22: At least 25 people were injured when lightning struck a residential area at a village in Maharashtra's Thane district, an official said on Thursday.

During heavy rains in Thane on Wednesday evening, lightning stuck Palaspada hamlet in Umbarmali village under Sahapur taluka around 7 pm, regional disaster management cell chief Santosh Kadam said.

A house in the locality was completely destroyed while some adjoining houses also suffered damages, he said.

"At least 25 people, including women and children, were injured due to the lightning strike and were rushed to the Sahapur rural hospital," Kadam said.

Their condition was reported to be stable, Thane's resident deputy collector Dr Shivaji Patil said.

Sahapur MLA Daulat Daroda visited the injured people in the hospital late Wednesday night.

Heavy rains along with thunder and lightning were experienced in Thane and neighbouring areas on Wednesday evening.

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Agencies
November 18,2020

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New Delhi, Nov 18: After the Diwali weekend and Bhai Dooj celebrations came to an end, India recorded more than 30 per cent jump in new cases of COVID-19 with 38,617 new cases reported in past 24 hours pushing the cumulative the tally to 89,12,907, data from the Union Health Ministry showed on Wednesday.

The toll rose to 1,30,993 with 474 more deaths in one day. The number of active cases stood at 4,46,805.

As many as 83,35,109 people have recovered from the disease so far.

On Tuesday, India reported 29,164 new COVID-19 cases and 449 deaths. The figure of Wednesday is almost 32 per cent more in the single-day spike.

However, the reason could be a rise in the testing as total 9,37,279 samples were tested on Tuesday after a long weekend of testing eight lakh samples on an average, testing data from the Indian Council of Medical Research showed.

The situation of COVID-19 in Delhi-NCR remained grim. The latest surge has left the healthcare system gasping for relief. The hospital, both government and private hospitals have 10 per cent ICU beds with ventilators, which are extremely crucial for patients with severity.

Apart from severe patients, the patients with moderate symptoms are made to wait hours before admission in the hospitals. Besides, non-Covid patients are running from pillar to post just to acquire a single hospital bed in the capital city.

The situation has forced the Delhi government to reconsider imposing restrictions it lifted months ago. Delhi Chief Minister Arvind Kejriwal has sent a proposal to Lieutenant Governor Anil Baijal and the Centre to consider allowing only 50 people to attend weddings and imposing lockdown in market areas which may emerge as hotspots.

Besides, the district administration of Gautam Budh Nagar decided to randomly test commuters going to Noida from Delhi for the coronavirus from Wednesday. The decision has come amid a surge in coronavirus cases in the capital.

Globally, the coronavirus has infected more than 5.55 crore people and killed 13,36,892, according to Johns Hopkins University.

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News Network
November 19,2020

Chinese officials have claimed that traces of Covid-19 were found on more cold-chain imports from different countries, including India, amid increasing criticism from several nations that the testing and restrictions are not based on science and would disrupt trade.

Cold-chain imports from India, Russia and Argentina test positive for Covid-19 in one day in China, state-run Global Times reported on Wednesday.

Two Indian frozen butterfish packages, one Russian frozen salmon packaging sample and two Argentina frozen beef samples tested positive for Covid-19, the report said.

Chinese officials said coronavirus traces were found on packages from 20 countries.

This is the second-time Chinese officials claimed to have found coronavirus on Indian fish exports.

On November 13, China's General Administration of Customs suspended imports of seafood products from an Indian company for one week starting from Friday after Covid-19 was found on the outer packaging of some samples of frozen cuttlefish.

On November 16, New Zealand Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern questioned Chinese officials' assertions that meat products from her country had traces of coronavirus.

“This is incredibly important to New Zealand. We are confident that our products do not, and are not, exported with signs of Covid on them given our status as essentially being Covid-free," Ardern said.

Asked for his reaction to the criticism by New Zealand and other countries that China's most recent Covid-19 restriction on imported products is not based on science and threatens to disrupt trade, Chinese Foreign Ministry spokesman Zhao Lijian said that the accusations are totally groundless and unreasonable.

“While the global Covid-19 pandemic remains severe, the competent authorities of the Chinese government have taken necessary, reasonable and justified testing measures on imported food in the spirit of putting people's life and health first," he told a media briefing here on Wednesday.

“We will adjust relevant measures in due course in light of the development of the epidemic situation and the need for prevention and control," Zhao said.

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News Network
November 19,2020

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Researchers in Denmark reported on Wednesday that surgical masks did not protect the wearers against infection with the coronavirus in a large randomized clinical trial. But the findings conflict with those from a number of other studies, experts said, and is not likely to alter public health recommendations in the United States.

The study, published in the Annals of Internal Medicine, did not contradict growing evidence that masks can prevent transmission of the virus from wearer to others. But the conclusion is at odds with the view that masks also protect the wearers — a position endorsed just last week by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

Critics were quick to note the study’s limitations, among them that the design depended heavily on participants reporting their own test results and behavior, at a time when both mask-wearing and infection were rare in Denmark.

Coronavirus infections are soaring throughout the United States, and even officials who had resisted mask mandates are reversing course. Roughly 40 states have implemented mask requirements of some sort, according to a database maintained by The New York Times.

Dr. Anthony Fauci, director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases, advocates a national mask mandate, as does President-elect Joe Biden.

“I won’t be president until January 20th, but my message today to everyone is this: wear a mask,” Biden recently wrote on Twitter.

From early April to early June, researchers at the University of Copenhagen recruited 6,024 participants who had been tested beforehand to be sure they were not infected with the coronavirus.

Half were given surgical masks and told to wear them when leaving their homes; the others were told not to wear masks in public.

At that time, 2% of the Danish population was infected — a rate lower than that in many places in the United States and Europe today. Social distancing and frequent hand-washing were common, but masks were not.

About 4,860 participants completed the study. The researchers had hoped that masks would cut the infection rate by half among wearers. Instead, 42 people in the mask group, or 1.8%, got infected, compared with 53 in the unmasked group, or 2.1%. The difference was not statistically significant.

“Our study gives an indication of how much you gain from wearing a mask,” said Dr. Henning Bundgaard, lead author of the study and a cardiologist at the University of Copenhagen. “Not a lot.”

Dr. Mette Kalager, a professor of medical decision-making at the University of Oslo, found the research compelling. The study showed that “although there might be a symbolic effect,” she wrote in an email, “the effect of wearing a mask does not substantially reduce risk” for wearers.

Other experts were unconvinced. The incidence of infections in Denmark was lower than it is today in many places, meaning the effectiveness of masks for wearers may have been harder to detect, they noted.

Participants reported their own test results; mask use was not independently verified, and users may not have worn them correctly.

“There is absolutely no doubt that masks work as source control,” preventing people from infecting others, said Dr. Thomas Frieden, chief executive of Resolve to Save Lives, an advocacy group, and former director of the CDC, who wrote an editorial outlining weaknesses of the research.

“The question this study was designed to answer is: Do they work as personal protection?” The answer depends on what mask is used and what sort of exposure to the virus each person has, Frieden said, and the study was not designed to tease out those details.

“An N95 mask is better than a surgical mask,” Frieden said. “A surgical mask is better than most cloth masks. A cloth mask is better than nothing.”

The study’s conclusion flies in the face of other research suggesting that masks do protect the wearer. In its recent bulletin, the CDC cited a dozen studies finding that even cloth masks may help protect the wearer. Most of them were laboratory examinations of the particles blocked by materials of various types.

Susan Ellenberg, a biostatistician at the University of Pennsylvania Perelman School of Medicine, noted that protection conferred by masks on the wearer trended “in the direction of benefit” in the trial, even if the results were not statistically significant.

“Nothing in this study suggests to me that it is useless to wear a mask,” she said.

Dr. Elizabeth Halloran, a statistician at Fred Hutchinson Cancer Research Center in Seattle, said the usefulness of masks also depends on how much virus a person is exposed to.

“If you show this article to a health care provider who works in a COVID ward in a hospital, I doubt she or he would say that this article convinces them not to wear a mask,” she said.

But Dr. Christine Laine, editor in chief of the Annals of Internal Medicine, described the previous evidence that masks protect wearers as weak.

“These studies cannot differentiate between source control and personal protection of the mask wearer,” she said.

Laine said the new study underscored the need for adherence to other precautions, like social distancing. Masks “are not a magic bullet,” she said. “There are people who say, ‘I’m fine, I’m wearing a mask.’ They need to realize they are not invulnerable to infection.”

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