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Beijing issues first major smog alert of winter

by UNTV   |   Posted on Tuesday, January 16th, 2018

FILE PHOTO: Vehicles using lights travel on a bridge amid heavy smog after the city issued its first ever ”red alert” for air pollution, in Beijing, China, December 8, 2015. REUTERS/Kim Kyung-Hoon

China’s capital Beijing imposed stringent measures to curb output of heavy industry as plunging temperatures spurred heating demand.

This, after Beijing, issued its first major smog alert of the winter for the capital.

The orange alert issued on January 11, the second-highest on China’s four-level system, comes after Beijing was reported to have made big improvements in air quality last year as industrial activity shifted away from the capital.

The ministry of environmental protection warned in a statement that heavy air pollution would envelop Beijing, Tianjin, Hebei and the surrounding area from Friday until January 17.

“I think it has greater impact on the lungs of old people and kids. For example, if an old person has chronic bronchitis, he [she] must react violently when he [she] come outside in the weather like this. about the kids, they are so little bodily still not fully developed, and that is why it has greater impact on them too,” said Yang Lilin, a local who works in Beijing.

The capital has been largely spared the notoriously bad air that typically blankets the north during the colder winter months when people crank up the heat in their homes in part to the government’s stringent anti-smog measures, including curbing factory output and banning coal burning in homes.

But this alert comes a month after the government was forced to reverse its ban on coal for heating as gas shortages left people freezing and after a prolonged bout of freezing weather across the north. — Reuters

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Pediatric deaths increase to 53 as US suffers from influenza outbreak — CDC

by UNTV   |   Posted on Wednesday, February 7th, 2018

The United States is facing worst flu outbreak in a decade.

Federal health officials said that at least 16 more children died of the flu over the past week and more states are reporting high levels of illness.

Based on the latest report by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), over the winter season, 53 children have died and flu-related hospital admissions are at an all-time high.

In Atlanta, Georgia, Grady Memorial hospital opened a temporary mobile emergency room enclosed in plastic tents to handle a 25 percent increase in visits in the month of January.

“We really need to bring in additional resources, and it really needs to be the best that it can be for our patients.” said medical director Dr. Hany Atallah.

The dominant strain during this flu season is called influenza a or H3N2 that in seasons past was linked with severe disease and death, especially in the elderly and young.

“The very old and the very young are the group that tends to be in the most danger of catching the flu,” said the director.

In January this year, New York already has 7, 779 flu-positive patients according to the New York state department. In Presbyterian Hospital, health measures are strictly implemented to prevent the spread of the virus.

“We promote and administer seasonal influenza vaccine to all our staff and patient. We added standard on droplet precautions. That’s very important. the most important is to wear a mask and wash your hands,” said Roberta Torre, a registered nurse at Presbyterian Hospital.

The United States is now 10 weeks into the current flu season, which is expected to last for at least several more weeks.

CDC continues to recommend the flu vaccine, not only to prevent flu but potentially lessen its severity. Strains of the flu with greater vaccine susceptibility are expected to become more common as the season progresses, according to the agency. — Reuters


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Philippines, China set to conduct second bilateral consultative mechanism next month

by UNTV NEWS   |   Posted on Tuesday, January 16th, 2018

DFA Secretary Alan Peter Cayetano

The Department of Foreign Affairs or DFA defended itself from allegations that it is not taking steps to stop China’s ongoing militarization of the West Philippine Sea.

Critics particularly refer to Beijing’s construction of military structures in the disputed territory, which they alleged, the DFA is not addressing.

Department of Foreign Affairs Secretary Alan Peter Cayetano said, “They are asking why there are many ships, whether coastguard or navy, near PAGASA, because the Chinese are just being sensitive that there should be no build up in the sandbars or in any features because there was an agreement that there should be no buildings.”

According to Cayetano, Philippines and China continue to discuss ways on how to resolve the dispute in a peaceful manner.

Manila and Beijing are set to tackle some sensitive information regarding the West Philippine Sea during their second bilateral consultation in February.

“All the issues, including the concerns of our fishermen, as well as how do we see the long-term: where we will be 5 years from now, 10 years, 15 years from now? If other countries are using militarization, how do you define militarization?” said Cayetano.

DFA noted the two countries may also discuss the possibility of joint exploration in the disputed waters.

“There are samples around the world where there were disputed areas and an agreement had been reached allowing both countries access. That was because they dealt with sovereignty rights or economic rights,” said the DFA secretary.  — Nel Maribojoc | UNTV News & Rescue

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Homeless people crowd Chicago shelters amid frigid weather

by UNTV   |   Posted on Monday, January 8th, 2018

As the city of Chicago comes under the grip of frigid weather conditions, homeless people are forced to look out for warm shelters providing daily necessities and security.

The once busy shopping areas turned quiet, with a few bundled-up pedestrians walking hastily.

Some homeless were still seen out on the streets, holding signs asking for help. While some are struggling veterans, others are with physical disabilities, and some are even with children.

The waiting lounge of Pacific Garden Mission Shelter Home was a crowded spot filled with homeless people who needed nothing more than a warm corner.

“We see an average of 700 to 800 people every single day. Sometimes, there are people who come in when it’s extremely cold, who won’t come in when it’s not so cold because they would prefer to stay outside in the tent or wherever. We buy a lot of food. That’s why I said our budget is almost nine million dollars annually. Our utility bills are very, very expensive, for electric, for water, for gas. These things are very expensive, and we buy food,” said Ervin McNeill, in-charge of the shelter.

He called for more donation from the society to help the homeless to get through the harsh winter.

The frigid weather is a threat for nearly 82,000 homeless in Chicago. The addresses and contact numbers of available shelter homes have even been put out by the local media.

Some residents have also come ahead in helping the homeless by donating food items and warm clothes.

“I have coats and shirts and pants, and some sweaters for the people here,”  said a local resident.

McNeill hopes more shelters can be built in the near future, and that the government should take actions to improve the living conditions of the homeless. He also pointed out that the government should provide education and training opportunities so that these homeless people can at some point stand on their own feet.

“You can hand them food and get them a bed. That only helps a little bit, but what the person needs is to learn how to help themselves,” noted the officer in charge. — Reuters

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