Poor air quality in India’s capital triggers health concerns

admin   •   November 12, 2018   •   3123

 

New Delhi in smog | REUTERS

Pollution levels in New Delhi, the capital of India, are over 50 times more than the allowed limits, raising people’s concerns over health especially for children.

Four-year-old Avyan suffers from severe wheezing and chest infections, which often leading to multiple hospitalizations. Although he is under the protection of air purifiers and anti-pollution masks, his mother still worries about his health condition because the pollution in the city shows no sign of improving.

“Whenever I put a mask on him for doing the nebulizer, every time some part of me inside me cries. Because once I am pumping him with all those strong medicines, just to manage those symptoms, the other is his body really needs that to survive in this environment. So we would want him to have a very nice happy healthy childhood, but it’s sad that we are not able to give him that, just because we’re in a place which has so much of pollution,” said Anchal Garg Karanth, mother of Avyan.

Recent studies have shown that one in every three children in Delhi has impaired lung function according to the Center of Science and Environment. Doctors also say newborn babies in Delhi take in gulps of polluted air equivalent to smoking 25 cigarettes on the first day of their lives.

According to the World Health Organization, over 100,000 children died below the age of five due to the air pollution in India in 2016, which is the record high in the world. Children are particularly vulnerable to bad air because they breathe more rapidly than adults and absorb twice as many pollutants.

“If you are not oxygenating very well, your cognitive function in terms of behavior, intelligence, has a major impact, especially if it happens in the younger years because that is when the neurological system is really developing. Other than that, any chronic lung issue can impact the cardiovascular system as well,” said Anupama Gupta, a pediatrician.

Delhi’s smog is said to be a toxic mix of vehicular pollution, construction dust, and fumes from crops burnt by farmers in neighboring states. This year, the Delhi government banned all construction, digging and excavation work when the pollution levels started rising. The government might also act by taking private cars off of Delhi’s roads if pollution levels deteriorate further.

“In emergency response, you are not really solving the problem, but what you are doing is you are stopping from adding more where the situation is already very bad. But the more fundamental solution will come when you are doing a round-the-year plan and with stringent implementation of that plan,” said Anumita Roy Chowdhary, an environmentalist.

The Indian government is currently working on a national clean air plan and has suggested it aims to reduce air pollution by 30 percent in the next five years. — Reuters

Locusts swarm across parts of India, attacking agricultural lands

UNTV News   •   May 26, 2020

Huge swarms of locusts took over the skies of Northern and Central India on Monday (May 25) and Sunday (May 24), affecting agricultural lands.

The pests were mostly seen across large states of Uttar Pradesh, Madhya Pradesh, and Rajasthan.

On Sunday, actions were taken in the city of Mandsaur, in central India, to contain the swarm by spraying pesticides.

One of the deadliest pests for farms produce, locusts are known to destroy crops and vegetables, and whatever they find in their way, in search of food.

Animals also get affected by eating the same leaves as the locusts and can suffer from diarrhoea.

Locust swarms are not new in East Africa, the Middle East and South Asia. But climate scientists say erratic weather linked to climate change has created ideal conditions for the insects to surge in numbers not seen in a quarter of a century.

If allowed to breed unchecked in favourable conditions, locusts can form huge swarms that can strip trees and crops over vast areas. (Reuters)

(Production: ANI, Hanna Rantala, Gabriela Boccaccio)

WHO pauses hydroxychloroquine trial over safety concerns

UNTV News   •   May 26, 2020

The World Health Organization has suspended testing the malaria drug hydroxychloroquine on COVID-19 patients due to safety concerns, WHO Director-General Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus said on Monday.

Hydroxychloroquine has been touted by U.S. President Donald Trump and others as a possible treatment for the disease caused by the novel coronavirus.

Earlier this month, Trump said he was taking the drug to ward off the virus.

The WHO has previously recommended against using hydroxychloroquine to treat or prevent coronavirus infections, except as part of clinical trials.

The decision to pause the trial was done out of an abundance of caution while safety data is reviewed.

The WHO said that other arms of the so-called ‘Solidarity trial’ – a major international initiative to hold clinical tests of potential treatments for the virus – were continuing. (Reuters)

Countries around globe plan further easing of restrictions as cases pass 5.2 million

UNTV News   •   May 25, 2020

Countries around the world are considering to further ease restrictions imposed to stem the spread of the novel coronavirus disease (COVID-19) despite that the global confirmed infections surpassed 5.2 million.

According to a report from the World Health Organization (WHO), the global confirmed cases of COVID-19 reached 5,206,614, including 337,736 deaths, as of 19:07 CEST Sunday.

The United States continues to be the country with the most confirmed cases and deaths caused by COVID-19 in the world, followed by Brazil and Russia.

The number of COVID-19 cases in the U.S. topped 1.64 million as of 23:32 EST on Sunday, reaching 1,641,585, and the death toll of COVID-19 rose to 97,686, according to the Center for Systems Science and Engineering (CSSE) at Johns Hopkins University.

Brazil has emerged as world’s second-worst hit country for coronavirus cases, with 363,211 confirmed cases registered.

Brazil registered 653 deaths from the novel coronavirus in the last 24 hours, taking the death toll to 22,666, the Ministry of Health reported Sunday evening local time.

The largest country in Latin America also registered 15,813 new cases in the last 24 hours.

Russia confirmed 8,599 new COVID-19 cases in the last 24 hours, raising its total number of infections to 344,481, its coronavirus response center said in a statement Sunday.

The death toll climbed by 153 to 3,541, while 113,299 people recovered, including 5,363 over the last 24 hours, according to the center.

As of Sunday, more than 8.6 million COVID-19 tests had been conducted in Russia.

Russian Health Ministry’s chief epidemiologist Nikolai Briko said on Sunday that Russia currently is not ready to lift all restrictions.

Russian Prime Minister Mikhail Mishustin signed an order to subsidize regional budgets in the amount of 100 billion rubles to compensate for the reduction in regional fiscal revenue, according to a report from TASS on Sunday.

The funds will be distributed among 56 entities of the Russian Federation, whose tax and non-tax receipts as of May 1, 2020 were below those in the previous two years.

In the United Kingdom, another 118 COVID-19 patients died as of Saturday afternoon, bringing the total coronavirus-related death toll in the country to 36,793, British Prime Minister Boris Johnson said Sunday.

The figures include deaths in all settings, including hospitals, care homes and the wider community.

Chairing Sunday’s Downing Street daily press briefing, Johnson confirmed that primary schools in England will partially reopen for pupils from June 1, including the Reception, Year One, and Year Six in primary schools.

He added that he intends for secondary schools to provide some contact for Year 10 and Year 12 students to help them to prepare for exams next year from June 15.

Italy’s Civil Protection Department said on Sunday that another 50 COVID-19 patients died in the past 24 hours, bringing the country’s death toll to 32,785, out of total infection cases of 229,858.

The number of recoveries rose to 140,479, an increase of 1,639 compared to Saturday. Nationwide, the number of active infections fell by 1,158 to 56,594, according to the department.

Of those active infections, 553 are being treated in intensive care, a decrease of 19 compared to Saturday, and 8,613 people are hospitalized with symptoms, down by 82 over the past 24 hours.

The remaining 47,428 people, or 84 percent, are in isolation at home without or with only mild symptoms.

Italy has about 60 million population, and about 21.98 million of them have conducted COVID-19 test.

Italy entered the second phase of its coronavirus lockdown on May 4. Stores, restaurants, barber shops and museums reopened last Monday. Staring from this Monday, gyms will reopen as well.

The Spanish Ministry of Health, Consumer Affairs and Social Welfare said on Sunday that the coronavirus death toll rose by 70 to 28,752 in the country.

According to the ministry, 70 people lost their lives in the 24 hours until midnight on Saturday, 22 more than the number reported a day earlier.

Meanwhile, the number of confirmed cases in the country rose to 235,772 from 235,290, it said.

Starting Monday, Spain will further ease some COVID-19 lockdown restrictions, allowing some shops and stores at commercial centers, as well as schools in some areas to reopen. It will also reduce restrictions on travel.

The Community of Madrid and the city of Barcelona – areas that did not move from Zero to Phase One before – will also start to reopen parks, museums, religious sites, and outdoor dining places under strict prevention measures.

The number of patients hospitalized for the COVID-19 infection in France rose by seven to 17,185 in the last 24 hours, the first such increase since mid-April, according to data released on Sunday by the Health Ministry.

The number of patients in intensive care continued the downward trend, falling by 10 to 1,655.

The number of confirmed cases, meanwhile, rose to 144,921, an increase of 115 – the lowest daily increase since mid-March.

The overall death toll in hospitals increased by 36, while the death toll in social and medico-social establishments will be updated on Monday.

The French government this week will announce plans on loosening restrictions, especially plans for the summer vocation, French Transport and Environment Minister Elisabeth Borne said in an interview on Sunday.

People can travel within the country, but may still face restrictions on traveling abroad.

The Japanese government plans to fully lift the state of emergency in the Tokyo metropolitan area and Hokkaido on Monday, economic revitalization minister Yasutoshi Nishimura said Sunday.

The decision came as the number of new COVID-19 cases is on a declining trend and the medical system also improved.

Tokyo, Kanagawa, Chiba, Saitama and Hokkaido were the last remaining areas under the state of emergency among the country’s 47 prefectures.

The confirmed COVID-19 cases in the country increased by 26 to reach 16,569, according to the latest figures from the health ministry and local authorities on Sunday.

The number excludes the 712 cases from the Diamond Princess cruise ship that was quarantined in Yokohama near Tokyo.

In Tokyo, 14 new infections were reported on Sunday, raising the total number in the prefecture to 5,152 so far, while nine deaths were confirmed on the same day. (Reuters)

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