'Lack of expertise and staff major cause of covid deaths in rural Karnataka'

News Network
May 5, 2021

Bengaluru, May 5: Doctors from remote rural areas like Aland taluk in Karnataka's Kalaburagi where four Covid patients reportedly died due to shortage of oxygen have had their own harrowing experiences of dealing with the spreading pandemic.

Aland in Kalaburagi, which borders Covid-battered Maharashtra, has off late seen the contagion sweep the taluk indicating that Covid has penetrated even into interior parts of the state.

Doctors there reveal that lack of staff and required expertise are major reasons for increased death toll in rural parts of the state.

They said that most of the patients in rural areas come at last minute in most of the cases when their oxygen saturation level drops to below 80 per cent. "At this juncture, we are forced to administer them oxygen. Therefore, hospitals in interior parts do face 'constraint' in supplying oxygen," Aland taluk health officer Ratnakar Toran told reporters.

Aland is a dry area, with low rainfall and most of the population lives in poverty. It also witnesses large scale migration to cities due to lack of water, poor education facilities and employment opportunities besides power shortages. Aland is also one of taluks that records a high level of farmer suicides.

Aland Hospital surgeon, Abhay Kumar said that four patients who died on Monday were admitted only at 5 p.m. and all four had below 80 per cent oxygen saturation, while one of them had below 70 per cent, who was very critical. "All these four died past midnight. There was no oxygen shortage. But people tend to attribute all deaths to this factor," he said.

The doctors also feel that many people feel ashamed to disclose that their family member have tested Covid positive and continue to mingle with relatives and friends, thus becoming "super spreaders".

"Finally when they reach hospitals, their oxygen saturation level would have fallen drastically over which ill-prepared doctors like us have absolutely no knowledge about handling critical care patients... this either lead to overcrowding of neighbouring district hospital or by the time treatment is given to such patients, it would have been too late," Kumar said, terming himself ill-prepared to handle this contagion at critical stage. "I am a surgeon... all throughout my life I practiced and studied about surgery and related to this subject. Critical care has never been my forte," he said.

He also added that the majority of hospital staff is tested Covid positive, while he being surgeon, and Ratnakar being an ayurvedic doctor, it is very difficult to cope up with the pressure. "Our X-ray machine operator is Covid positive, and still we are managing to run it with the help of Class D employees. There is no one tp monitor in-patients. When we leave it to their relatives, they mishandle the oxygen outflow to patients," the doctor rued.

Aland town shot to limelight for all the wrong reasons on Tuesday when a report of families of four Covid patients alleging about their relatives dying due to lack of Oxygen supply in hospital, while district authorities including newly appointed district in-charge minister, Murugesh Nirani denied there was any oxygen shortage.

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Agencies
May 1,2021

Sydney, May 1: Australian residents and citizens who have been in India within 14 days of the date they plan to return home will be banned from entering Australia as of Monday and those who disobey will face fines and jail, government officials said.

The temporary emergency determination, issued late on Friday, is the first time Australia has made it a criminal offence for its citizens to return home.

The move is part of strict measures to stop travellers to Australia from the world's second most populous nation as it contends with a surge in COVID-19 cases and deaths.

The restrictions come into effect from May 3 and breaching the ban risks civil penalties and up to five years imprisonment, Health Minister Greg Hunt said in a statement.

"The government does not make these decisions lightly," Hunt said." However, it is critical the integrity of the Australian public health and quarantine systems is protected and the number of COVID-19 cases in quarantine facilities is reduced to a manageable level."

The government will reconsider the restrictions on May 15.

India's coronavirus death count passed 200,000 this week, and cases are nearing 19 million as virulent new strains have combined with "super-spreader" events such as political rallies and religious festivals.

Neela Janakiramanan, an Australian surgeon with family in India said the decision to "criminalise" Australians returning from India was disproportionate and overly punitive.

"Indian-Australians are seeing this as a racist policy because we are being treated different than people from other countries who have had similar waves of infection like the U.S., the UK and Europe. It is very hard to feel anything other than targeted as an ethnic group."

Human rights groups also voiced indignation at the ban, suggesting the government's focus should be on improving its quarantine system, not on punishment.

"This is an outrageous response. Australians have a right of return to their own country," Human Rights Watch's Australia director, Elaine Pearson said in a statement.

"The government should be looking for ways to safely quarantine Australians returning from India, instead of focusing their efforts on prison sentences and harsh punishments."

Australia, which has no community transmissions, on Tuesday introduced a temporary suspension of direct flights from India until mid-May. However, some Australians, including cricketers Adam Zampa and Kane Richardson, returned via Doha.

Tuesday's move had left over 9,000 Australians stranded in India, 650 of whom are registered as vulnerable, officials said.

Australia has all but stamped out the coronavirus after closing its borders to non-citizens and permanent residents in March 2020, recording just 29,800 cases and 910 deaths. 

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News Network
May 6,2021

dubai.jpg

After nearly three decades in London, Christophe Reech was fed up with the city's pandemic lockdowns. This spring, he sold his luxury townhouse and jetted off to the desert sheikhdom of Dubai to start a new life with his family.

There was no turning back, he said. The French business magnate's super wealthy foreign friends were doing the same, driving an unprecedented surge in sales of Dubai's most-exclusive properties.

“Here in Dubai, there's only one strategy: Business as usual,” said Reech, the chairman of an eponymous group that owns real estate and financial technology companies. The philosophy is simple: “Let's make sure everyone's vaccinated and keep everything open."

“Of course that attracts people like me," he said.

As vaccines roll out unevenly worldwide and waves of infections force countries to extend restrictions, foreign buyers flush with cash have flooded Dubai's high-end property market, one of the few places in the world where they can dine, shop and do business in person.

They're snapping up record numbers of luxury villas and penthouses, sending prices rocketing in this boom-and-bust market.

Sales of Dubai's upscale properties, once slow, soared 230 per cent in the first quarter of 2021, compared to the same period last year.

Prices in some top-end areas rose as much as 40 per cent, according to Property Finder, the country's largest real-estate website.

A record-breaking 90 properties worth 10 million dirhams each (USD 2.7 million) changed hands last month, on top of 84 in March, surpassing heights hit eight years ago, according to real estate consultancy Property Monitor. For comparison, there were 54 such transactions in all of 2020.

"Tons of people are coming in and buying multimillion dollar properties on the spot, with no due diligence time whatsoever,” said Matthew Cooke, a partner at consultancy Knight Frank, who manages penthouse sales on Dubai's Palm Jumeirah artificial archipelago.

As with previous cycles, cash buyers started snatching up homes at bargain prices and flipping them for profits. Analysts say that will continue until prices rise too high and returns diminish.

How long the craze lasts and what awaits the skyscraper-studded city then remains unclear. Home prices are still falling in the middle tiers of the city's saturated property market, which has seen values drop sharply since peaks reached seven years ago due to overbuilding.

Average residence sale prices in the Burj Khalifa, the world's tallest building, collapsed to USD 400 per square foot this month from USD 1,300 in 2013.

“The market is going through a boom time ... but people are very aware that Dubai can run too quickly and it all falls apart," said Jackie Johns, partner at Premier Estates, an affiliate of Christie's International Real Estate, referring to the debt-driven crisis that brought the city to its knees in 2008.

The hot streak in the luxury market isn't unique to Dubai, as ultra-low interest rates and families' desire for more space has seen the wealthy in cities like New York and Paris decamp to suburban mansions. But there are other factors at play in the glitzy emirate, home to the long-haul carrier Emirates and tallest tower on Earth.

Since first reopening to tourists last summer, Dubai has pitched itself as the world's pandemic-friendly vacation spot.

With no mandatory dayslong quarantines, foreign visitors now party in Dubai's bustling bars and on its beaches, their selfies at hotel-resorts and helicopter pads stirring resentment back home.

The tourist influx helped drive the country's dramatic surge in coronavirus cases in January, prompting the UK to suspend flights.

But the United Arab Emirates, with its young population and low mortality rates, has fared relatively well during the pandemic.

The country of over 9 million, which relied heavily on the Chinese state-backed Sinopharm vaccine for its inoculation campaign, has administered 10.6 million vaccine doses.

A global financial center known as an oasis in the volatile Middle East, Dubai long has benefitted from capital flight. Homeowners on the Palm Jumeirah — which saw 43 per cent of all April transactions — include Afghan warlords and the political elite from countries like Nigeria, Syria and Lebanon, all searching for a safe place to park their savings.

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News Network
May 3,2021

Bengaluru, May 3: Karnataka Deputy Chief Minister CN Ashwath Narayan has been named as chairperson of the Covid-19 Task Force, which has been reconstituted amid the raging pandemic.

The state-level Covid-19 Task Force will have Primary & Secondary Education Minister S Suresh Kumar, Information & Public Relations Minister CC Patil and Health & Medical Education Minister K Sudhakar as members, according to a government order.

The task force is authorized to review Covid-19 containment and management measures, besides creating awareness among citizens.

The ministerial task force was first constituted in March 2020 when the pandemic was in its initial stages in Karnataka. The task force was headed by the then Health Minister B Sriramulu, Sudhakar, Narayan, Home Minister Basavaraj Bommai and the then Chief Secretary TM Vijay Bhaskar.

Apparently, the task force became inactive after Sriramulu was divested of the health portfolio that was given to Sudhakar in October 2020. Chief Minister BS Yediyurappa was authorized to reconstitute the task force. Deputy Chief Minister and Public Works Minister Govind Karjol was appointed as head of the task force. Now, Narayan will replace him.

The chief secretary, additional chief secretary (health) and principal secretary (medical education) will assist the task force, the government order said.

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