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  • 2.5 vs 406 infected: Study reveals lockdown’s benefit | India News – Times of India

  • NEW DELHI: One person infected with coronavirus can possibly infect 406 others in just 30 days in the absence of a lockdown and social distancing measures, but this can dramatically come down to 2.5 people with a 75% reduction in social exposure, a recent study conducted by the Indian Council of Medical Research (ICMR) shows.
    “If one person does not follow lockdown and so-cial distancing norms, he can infect 406 people in 30 days. However, if social exposure is reduced by 75%, then the same infected person can spread it to just 2.5 people,” Lav Agarwal, joint secretary in the health ministry, said on Tuesday.
    “It is, therefore, our appeal to all of you to follow the lockdown and social distancing measures. We should understand that this is a very important intervention in the management of Covid-19,” Agarwal added, citing the study to underline the importance of observing the national lockdown.
    At present, the mathematical component that represents the number of persons to whom an infected person can spread the disease is between 1.5 to 4 for Covid-19, Agarwal said and added that Union health minister Harsh Vardhan was right in stating that “social distancing is social vaccine” in managing the infection.
    However, recent reports also suggest that the novel coronavirus often infects clusters of family members and friends. In China, almost 80% of the transmission appears to have occurred within families. A similar pattern has been reported in the United States, too.
    These trends assume significance in India where family members often stay together and members comprise different age groups, making social distancing a difficult proposition. While the elderly are at a higher risk of severe illness from the disease, the younger members of their family are more likely to be asymptomatic carriers.
    With 354 new cases of Covid-19 and eight deaths reported in the last 24 hours, the total count of coronavirus positive cases in the country has gone up to 4,421, while total deaths stood at 117, the health ministry said.

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  • Donald Trump Removes Top Official Overseeing Coronavirus Relief Spending

  • Donald Trump largely shrugged off a question about the removal, saying it was his prerogative.


    US President Donald Trump removed the inspector general (IG) who was to oversee the government’s $2.3 trillion coronavirus response, a spokeswoman for the official’s office said on Tuesday, fueling concerns in Congress about oversight of the relief package.

    It was the Republican president’s most recent broadside against the federal watchdogs who seek to root out government waste, fraud and abuse following his removal on Friday of the intelligence community’s IG and his sharp criticism of the one who oversees the Department of Health and Human Services.

    Glenn Fine, acting Defense Department inspector general, was named last week to chair a committee acting as a sort of uber-watchdog over the federal government’s response to the new coronavirus, including health policy and the largest economic relief package in U.S. history.

    But Trump has since designated the Environmental Protection Agency’s inspector general to be the new acting Pentagon IG, a spokeswoman said, meaning Fine is not eligible for the role overseeing the coronavirus package, known as the Cares Act.

    Politico first reported Fine’s ouster, saying he would resume his post as the Pentagon’s principal deputy inspector general.

    Congressional Democrats said Fine’s removal, less than a week after his appointment, reinforced their determination to strictly oversee the massive spending package passed last month to prop up the economy as the country grapples with the disease.

    House of Representatives Speaker Nancy Pelosi called it “part of a disturbing pattern of retaliation” by Trump.

    “We will continue to exercise our oversight to ensure that this historic investment of taxpayer dollars is being used wisely and efficiently,” she said in a statement.

    Trump largely shrugged off a question about Fine’s removal, saying it was his prerogative, that he had recently nominated a number of people to serve as agency IGs and suggesting he was removing those appointed under his Democratic predecessor, Barack Obama.

    “We have a lot of IGs in from the Obama era. And, as you know, it’s a presidential decision,” Trump told reporters.

    The fiscal stimulus bill is unleashing a flood of money for families and businesses, and has created three watchdog groups consisting of federal officials and lawmakers. Pelosi announced a fourth oversight body, a select House committee, last week.

    On Friday, the White House said Trump intended to nominate Jason Abend, a senior policy adviser at the Customs and Border Protection office, to be inspector general at the Pentagon.

    It also said Trump planned to nominate Brian Miller, a White House lawyer and former General Services Administration IG, to be special inspector general for pandemic recovery, responsible for overseeing the Treasury Department’s handling of funds.

    (Except for the headline, this story has not been edited by NDTV staff and is published from a syndicated feed.)

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  • Cases cross 5,000; 1-year-old among 165 dead | India News – Times of India

  • NEW DELHI: Covid-19 cases in India crossed 5,000 on Tuesday, having doubled in the past five days, even as the death toll from the virus went past 150 to end the day at 165, as per the latest reports from states.
    The total count of coronavirus cases stood at 5,325 at the time of going to press, with 568 fresh ones reported during the day. Cases have more than doubled since April 2, when the countrywide count was 2,580. Maharashtra alone recorded 150 new cases — the highest single-day count for any state — and its total number of infections crossed 1,000.
    As many as 25 deaths were reported on Tuesday. Among them was a 14-month-old boy, possibly the youngest Indian victim of the virus who died at the state-run hospital in Jamnagar, Gujarat.
    Delhi has 576 Covid-19 cases and nine deaths, with two fatalities recorded on Tuesday.
    One of the worrying facts about Covid-19 situation in Delhi is that as many as 35 patients admitted in various hospitals currently require ICU support. Another 27 are on oxygen, which shows that their lung function is compromised.
    The Jamnagar toddler who died on Tuesday night was on life support since April 5, when he had tested positive. His parents, both labourers, however, tested negative for the virus. Health officials are yet to ascertain the source of the baby’s infection.
    In Telangana, a 23-day-old infant is among 40 new coronavirus cases reported on Tuesday, taking the number of positive cases to 404.
    Gujarat recorded three other deaths due to Covid-19 in the past 24 hours, taking the death toll to 16.
    With 12 deaths accounted for on Tuesday, Maharashtra’s coronavirus toll rose to 64 — nearly 40% of all deaths from the virus in the country. Six of the 12 are from Mumbai, three from Pune and one each from Nagpur, Satara and Mira-Bhayandar. The fatality rate of the state as on Tuesday was 6.2%, among the highest in the country, said government officials.
    After Maharashtra, where 150 new cases were recorded, states reporting a high number of fresh infections were Tamil Nadu (69), Madhya Pradesh (63), Delhi (51), Rajasthan (42), Telangana (40) and Haryana (33).
    UP too reported a high number of new cases, 32, pushing the state’s tally to 340. Of the new cases, 25 were related to the Tablighi Jamaat meetings, taking the total number of cases in UP linked to the Nizamuddin events to 190.
    Agra reported the maximum 10 cases on Tuesday — six of them had TJ links and others were contacts of old patients. With the new cases, Agra’s tally reached 63 and overtook Gautam Budh Nagar, which did not report any new case for the third consecutive day, its tally remaining static at 58.
    Rajasthan has reported 42 new Covid-19 cases, taking the state’s tally to 343.
    Kerala, which was among the worst affected states, has been recording lower count of Covid-19. On Tuesday, the state reported nine fresh Covid-19 cases, taking the total cases in Kerala to 336. Among the nine, four came from abroad, two had attended the Nizamuddin prayer meet and three were infected due to direct contact, officials said.
    The number of active Covid-19 cases in the northeast increased to 33 on Tuesday with three more persons — two from Assam and one from Tripura — testing positive in the last 24 hours. Meghalaya and Nagaland are the only two NE states which have not recorded any active case yet.
    Tripura CM Biplab Kumar Deb tweeted, “First #COVID19 positive case detected in Tripura. The patient is from Udaipur. Don’t Panic, we are taking proper care of the patient. Stay Home Stay Safe.”
    Jammu and Kashmir has recorded one more Covid-19 death and 15 positive cases on Tuesday, taking the death count to three and overall patient tally to 125. Karnataka has recorded 12 new cases taking the state Covid-19 count to 175. On a brighter note, 25 patients have been discharged in the state.

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  • Japan declares month-long state of emergency in 7 prefectures as COVID-19 cases continue to rise

  • Image Source : AP

    Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe, right, declares a state of emergency during a meeting of the task force against the coronavirus at his official residence in Tokyo

    Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe has declared a month-long state of emergency for Tokyo and six other prefectures to ramp up defenses against the spread of the coronavirus. The announcement came on Tuesday as the number of COVID-19 positive cases in the country continue to rise. However, the move came in the form of a stay-at-home request — not an order — and violators will not be penalized. The COVID-19 outbreak is now rampant and rapidly spreading, threatening people’s health, their daily lives and the economy, Abe said.

    The state of emergency, which is until May 6, will only permit Tokyo Gov. Yuriko Koike and heads of the six other prefectures to do more to reinforce calls for social distancing.

    “The most important thing is for each one of us to change our activity,” Abe told a government task force. He urged everyone to cut contacts with others by 70-80% for one month, calling the coronavirus pandemic “the biggest postwar crisis.”

    The announcement follows surges in new cases in Tokyo, including consecutive rises exceeding 100 over the weekend. By Tuesday there were 1,196 confirmed cases in the metropolitan region of 14 million people. Nationwide, Japan has reported 91 deaths from COVID-19 and 3,906 confirmed cases, plus another 712 cases and 11 fatalities from a cruise ship that was quarantined earlier at Yokohama port near Tokyo.

    Abe has been under pressure to declare a state of emergency to get better compliance with calls for social distancing amid rising alarm over the number of cases without any known contact with other patients.

    Tokyo Gov. Yuriko Koike welcomed the emergency measures, saying she expects they “will prevail widely and deeply among the people.” She said her immediate request under the state of emergency is “stay home.”

    Japan’s limits on official action during a state of emergency stemming from its experience with repression and disasters stemming from fascist governments before and during World War II. The public is doubly wary due to the push by Abe’s ultra-conservative ruling party and its supporters for a constitutional amendment to include a state of emergency clause for disaster and wartime contingencies.

    Abe’s government is thought to have delayed declaring a state of emergency out of fear of how it might hurt the economy. But as fear of the pandemic has grown, the public and medical experts have increasingly supported taking more drastic action.

    The state of emergency includes a stay-at-home request; guidance to schools on temporary closures and requests to close nonessential businesses and stores and to cancel or postpone events and exhibits. Violators cannot be penalized unless they fail to comply with orders on providing or storing emergency relief goods, such as surgical masks and medical equipment.

    Still, the state of emergency could significantly limit the movement of people around and out of the city. Takahide Kiuchi, an economist at Nomura Research Institute, said in a recent report that a state of emergency could cause consumer spending to fall nearly 2.5 trillion yen ($23 billion), leading to a 0.4% drop in Japan’s annual GDP.

    Abe’s government also announced a 108 trillion yen ($1 trillion) stimulus package to help the country to survive the economic downturn and to protect businesses and jobs.

    The government overcame controversy over risks to civil rights to gain the approval of a special law last month enabling Abe to declare a state of emergency.

    Earlier, Japan sought to curb infections by closely monitoring clusters of cases and keeping them under control, rather than conducting massive testing as was done in neighboring South Korea. That strategy appears to be failing given the sharp rise in cases not linked to previously known infections.

    As is true in many places, there are fears over shortages of beds and ICU units for patients with severe symptoms. 

    Also Read | Indian seafood exports to grow as Japan lifts inspection order for shrimp

    Also Read | COVID-19: Japan moves to declare emergency in 7 cities including Tokyo, Osaka​

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  • Urvashi Rautela turns up the heat with a bedroom picture


    Urvashi Rautela turns up the heat with a bedroom picture

    Urvashi Rautela made her debut in 2013 with actor Sunny Deol in the film Singh Saab: The Great. After this, she gained a lot of popularity for her dancing skills, exceptional fitness, and fashion sense. Like us, Urvashi Rautela is also spending time in lockdown and is doing the best she can to keep people entertained. The former beauty queen has done it again! Maintaining current form, she has uploaded yet another fresh oomph-loaded picture for her fans. This time the actress strikes a sultry pose in her bedroom. Urvashi took to Instagram, where she shared the photograph. In the picture, she can be seen lying on a bed in a pose that clearly aims to raise the heat.

    She flaunts her svelte figure in all-white lacy-satin nightwear Instead of giving a caption, she asked for one from her fans.

    “Best caption wins,” she teased her fans.

    There were suggestions galore of course, as captions for the pic that is currently drawing over 970K likes.

    A user wrote: “Hot”.

    Another quipped: “Take it easy Urvashi”.

    “Always sexy,” said a fan.

    One called her the “vaccine for coronavirus”.

    Urvashi, an ardent social media user, keeps updating her fans about her life through the platform.

    She regularly shares sexy pictures of herself. Just recently she shared a photograph of herself in a black dress with a thigh high slit which went viral on social media.O

    On the work front, Urvashi Rautela was last seen in Pagalpanti alongside the likes of Anil Kapoor, John Abraham, Arshad Warsi, Ileana D’Cruz. She will next star in Virgin Bhanupriya directed by Ajay Lohan where Rautela plays the titular character. The film is slated to release on 12th June this year.

    (With IANS Inputs)

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  • Singer-songwriter John Prine passes away following coronavirus complications

  • By: AP |

    Updated: April 8, 2020 8:24:38 am

    John Prine coronavirus John Prine was 73. (Photo by Amy Harris/Invision/AP, File)

    John Prine, the ingenious singer-songwriter who explored the heartbreaks, indignities and absurdities of everyday life in “Angel from Montgomery”, “Sam Stone”, “Hello in There” and scores of other indelible tunes, died Tuesday at the age of 73.

    His family announced his death due to complications from the coronavirus. He died at Vanderbilt University Medical Center in Nashville, Tennessee, where he had been hospitalized last month.

    Winner of a lifetime achievement Grammy earlier this year, John Prine was a virtuoso of the soul, if not the body. He sang his conversational lyrics in a voice roughened by a hard-luck life, particularly after throat cancer left him with a disfigured jaw.

    He joked that he fumbled so often on the guitar, taught to him as a teenager by his older brother, that people thought he was inventing a new style. But his open-heartedness, eye for detail and sharp and surreal humor brought him the highest admiration from critics, from such peers as Bob Dylan and Kris Kristofferson, and from such younger stars as Jason Isbell and Kacey Musgraves, who even named a song after him.

    In 2017, Rolling Stone proclaimed him “The Mark Twain of American songwriting.”

    John Prine began playing as a young Army veteran who invented songs to fight boredom while delivering the U.S. mail in Maywood, Illinois. He and his friend, folk singer Steve Goodman, were still polishing their skills at the Old Town School of Folk Music when Kristofferson, a rising star at the time, heard them sing one night in Chicago, and invited them to share his stage in New York City. The late film critic Roger Ebert, then with the Chicago Sun-Times, also saw one of his shows and declared him an “extraordinary new composer.”

    Suddenly noticed by America’s most popular folk, rock and country singers, Prine signed with Atlantic Records and released his first album in 1971.

    “I was really into writing about characters, givin’ ’em names,” John Prine said, reminiscing about his long career in a January 2016 public television interview that was posted on his website.

    “You just sit and look around you. You don’t have to make up stuff. If you just try to take down the bare description of what’s going on, and not try to over-describe something, then it leaves space for the reader or the listener to fill in their experience with it, and they become part of it.”

    He was among the many promoted as a “New Dylan” and among the few to survive it and find his own way. Few songwriters could equal his wordplay, his empathy or his imagination.

    “I try to look through someone else’s eyes,” he told Ebert in 1970. His characters were common people and confirmed eccentrics, facing the frustrations and pleasures anyone could relate to. “Sam Stone” traces the decline of a drug-addicted Vietnam veteran through the eyes of his little girl. “Donald and Lydia” tells of a tryst between a shy Army private and small-town girl, both vainly searching for “love hidden deep in your heart:”

    They made love in the mountains, they made love in the streams

    they made love in the valleys, they made love in their dreams.

    But when they were finished, there was nothing to say,

    ’cause mostly they made love from ten miles away.

    “He writes beautiful songs,” Bob Dylan once told MTV producer Bill Flanagan. “I remember when Kris Kristofferson first brought him on the scene. All that stuff about Sam Stone the soldier-junkie-daddy, and Donald and Lydia, where people make love from ten miles away — nobody but Prine could write like that.”

    John Prine’s mischief shined in songs like “Illegal Smile,” which he swore wasn’t about marijuana; “Spanish Pipedream,” about a topless waitress with “something up her sleeve;” and “Dear Abby,” in which Prine imagines the advice columnist getting fed up with whiners and hypochondriacs.

    “You have no complaint,” his Abby writes back:

    You are what you are and you ain’t what you ain’t

    so listen up Buster, and listen up good

    stop wishin’ for bad luck and knocking on wood!”

    Prine was never a major commercial success, but performed for more than four decades, often selling his records at club appearances where he mentored rising country and bluegrass musicians.

    “I felt like I was going door to door meeting the people and cleaning their carpets and selling them a record,” he joked in a 1995 Associated Press interview.

    Many others adopted his songs. Raitt made a signature tune out of “Angel from Montgomery,” about the stifled dreams of a lonely housewife, and performed it at the 2020 Grammys ceremony. Bette Midler recorded “Hello in There,” John Prine’s poignant take on old age. Prine wrote “Unwed Fathers” for Tammy Wynette, and “Love Is on a Roll” for Don Williams.

    Others who covered Prine’s music included Joan Baez, Johnny Cash, John Denver, the Everly Brothers, Carly Simon, George Strait, Miranda Lambert, Norah Jones and Old Crow Medicine Show.

    John Prine himself regarded Dylan and Cash as key influences, bridges between folk and country whose duet on Dylan’s country rock album “Nashville Skyline” made Prine feel there was a place for him in contemporary music. Though mostly raised in Maywood, he spent summers in Paradise, Kentucky, and felt so great an affinity to his family’s roots there he would call himself “pure Kentuckian.”

    Price was married three times, and appreciated a relationship that lasted. In 1999, he and Iris DeMent shared vocals on the classic title track of his album “In Spite of Ourselves,” a ribald tribute to an old married couple.

    In spite of ourselves we’ll end up a-sittin’ on a rainbow

    Against all odds, honey we’re the big door-prize

    We’re gonna spite our noses right off of our faces

    There won’t be nothin’ but big ol’ hearts dancin’ in our eyes

    John Prine preferred songs about feelings to topical music, but he did respond at times to the day’s headlines. Prine’s parents had moved to suburban Chicago from Paradise, a coal town ravaged by strip mining that inspired one of his most cutting protest songs, “Paradise.” It appeared on his first album, along with “Your Flag Decal Won’t Get You Into Heaven Anymore,” which criticized what he saw as false patriotism surrounding the Vietnam War.

    Many years later, as President George W. Bush sent soldiers to war, Prine had a song for that, too. In “Some Humans Ain’t Human,” he wrote: “You’re feeling your freedom, and the world’s off your back, some cowboy from Texas, starts his own war in Iraq.”

    John Prine’s off-hand charisma made him a natural for movies. He appeared in the John Mellencamp film Falling From Grace, and in Billy Bob Thornton’s Daddy and Them. His other Grammy Awards include Best Contemporary Folk Recording for his 1991 album “The Missing Years,” with guest vocalists including Raitt, Tom Petty, Bruce Springsteen and Phil Everly. He won Best Traditional Folk Album in 2004 for “Beautiful Dreamer.”

    Prine didn’t let illness stop him from performing or recording. In 2013, long after surviving throat cancer, he was diagnosed with an unrelated and operable form of lung cancer, but he bounced back from that, too, often sharing the stage with DeMent and other younger artists. On the playful talking blues “When I Get to Heaven,” from the 2018 album “The Tree of Forgiveness,” he vowed to have the last laugh for all eternity.

    When I get to heaven, I’m gonna shake God’s hand

    Thank him for more blessings than one man can stand

    Then I’m gonna get a guitar and start a rock-n-roll band

    Check into a swell hotel; ain’t the afterlife grand?

    His survived by his wife, Fiona, two sons Jack and Tommy, his stepson Jody and three grandchildren.

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  • ‘It’s Horrific’: Hundreds of Animals are Dying in Pakistan’s Pet Shops During Coronavirus Lockdown

  • Abandoned when Pakistan’s largest cities went into lockdown, hundreds of caged cats, dogs and rabbits have been found dead inside pet markets hurriedly shuttered as the coronavirus spread.

    Survivors from the specialist corner of Karachi’s sprawling Empress Market were only rescued after activists appealed to the authorities for access.

    Two weeks into the shutdown, Ayesha Chundrigar could hear the cries of the pets from outside the shops, which together housed up to 1,000 animals.

    “When we got inside, the majority of them were dead, about 70 percent. Their bodies were lying on the ground,” Chundrigar, who runs ACF Animal Rescue, told AFP.

    “It was so horrific, I can’t tell you.”

    Starving and locked in cages with no light or ventilation, the survivors sat amongst the dead, trembling.

    As the virus pandemic grew, Pakistan’s major cities were plunged into lockdown, forcing many shops to close. Only stalls selling essential goods such as food and medicine were allowed to continue operating.

    It left pet shop owners blocked from their businesses, some resorting to sneaking in at night to feed the animals.

    After the desperate rescue, Chundrigar has now convinced the Karachi authorities to allow pet shop owners and her team daily access to the animals.

    In the eastern city of Lahore, animals met with a similar fate.

    The bodies of about 20 dogs were found dumped in a sewer near Tollinton Market, a hub for pet businesses which had closed leaving animals to starve.

    Kiran Maheen was able to rescue more than two dozen dogs, rabbits and cats after convincing officials at the market to let her in, but a large number had already died.

    “When the police opened up the shutters, a lot of animals were already lying dead inside,” Maheen told AFP, adding that many had suffocated from a lack of air.

    Pakistani authorities have confirmed about more than 3,800 cases of COVID-19 and 54 deaths, though the tally is thought to be many times larger because of testing limitations in this impoverished country of 215 million.

    Around 25 percent of the population already live under the poverty line, but millions more who earn a daily wage have joined them since the lockdown began, experts say.

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  • Sensex surges record 2,476 points on global cues – Times of India

  • MUMBAI: A strong market rally across the globe on slowing daily coronavirus infection numbers, talk of a phased exit from the lockdown in India, expectations of foreign fund inflow aggregating $1.3 billion into the country after MSCI rejigs its indices and some short covering by speculators combined to lift sensex by 2,476 points on Tuesday, its biggest-ever single-session points gain, to close at 30,067. The day’s gains came on the back of strong buying in heavyweights like RIL, HDFC Bank, ICICI Bank, Infosys and HUL, BSE data showed.
    The day’s 9% gain was the sensex’s biggest percentage rise since May 18, 2009 when it had closed almost 20% higher after Manmohan Singh was re-elected to lead UPA-II government at the Centre. Tuesday’s rally also added about Rs 8 lakh crore to investors’ wealth with BSE’s market capitalisation now at Rs 115.8 lakh crore.
    Wall Street rally boosts Asian markets’ opening
    On Monday, the Dow Jones and S&P500 indices on Wall Street had each rallied over 7% after data showed slowing growth of the spread of the pandemic across the US and Europe. This led to a strong opening for Asian markets on Tuesday with Dalal Street getting an additional boost from indications from the government that it may partially relax lockdown rules for districts where the virus has not spread.
    According to Gaurav Dua, senior VP, head — capital market strategy & investments, Sharekhan, the daily addition has dropped to below 10% levels in the last couple of days and is showing flattening of curve in hotspot countries like Italy and Spain.
    “Along with this, the weightage of India in the MSCI Emerging Market index is expected to increase by 55 basis points (100 basis points=1 percentage point), which means possible inflows of $7 billion into some large-cap companies,” Dua said. On Tuesday evening too, the rally in Dow Jones and S&P500 indices continued with European markets too joining in. According to a note by Angel Broking, the Nifty, which closed at 8,792 points, is now most likely to head towards the 9,000-9,050 level and then if the strong buying continues, could break above that mark. “Looking at today’s sharp broad-based move, we will not be surprised to see the Nifty marching towards 9,200–9,400 levels. On the flipside, 8,550-8,360 level now becomes a sacrosanct support for a while,” the note said.

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  • Average age of India’s Covid deaths 60; diabetes, BP common co-ailments | India News – Times of India

  • NEW DELHI: The average age of 125 people who had died in India from Covid-19 till Monday was 60 years, data collated by TOI from states shows. While this is significantly lower than in countries such as Italy, where the average is closer to 80, this is due to a younger population in India than in most Western countries. Age-wise case fatality rates (deaths as a percentage of confirmed cases) worked out on the basis of official data for 4,097 cases and 109 deaths put out on Monday confirm this.
    Against an overall CFR of 2.7%, the figure for those below 40 years was 0.4%. It was 2.4% for those between 50 and 60, and 8.9% for those over 60. This is in line with the trend in other countries.

    The data collated by TOI also showed that the most common co-morbidities among those who died of Covid-19 so far were diabetes and hypertension, and in a large number of cases both conditions were present together. This too is not unlike the rest of the world though there are variations. In China, for instance, the death rate was highest among people with heart diseases or those with lung diseases, followed by diabetes and hypertension.
    Information on co-morbidities was available for 86 people who died. This showed that more than half of them (56%) were diabetic and almost half (47%) had hypertension. Over a third of the 86 had both diabetes and hypertension. One in five suffered from asthma or lung disease. Only 16% had cardiac disease along with diabetes and/or hypertension. Renal disease too was reported in several of those who died.
    The data does not record how severely diabetic or hypertensive the person was or how serious the lung disease was. It is not possible to say, therefore, how much of a bearing the extent of pre-existing morbidities had on the probability of death.
    More than 40% of the cases examined had two pre-existing disease conditions, while over 17% had more than three co-morbidities. Only about a third of those who died (35%) had just one co-morbidity.
    The fact that diabetes emerged as the leading co-morbidity among those felled by the disease in India is significant given the fact that an estimated 9.4% of the country is diabetic — 12% of the urban population and nearly 8% of rural — according to an ICMR study on prevalence of diabetes and hypertension. The same study also showed that up to 30% of the population — 33% in urban and 28% in rural had higher than normal blood pressure levels.
    While a combination of diabetes and hypertension is bad enough as a risk factor, what makes it worse is that this risk increases with age. The prevalence of hypertension was over 60% in the above 55 years age group and that for diabetes was almost 30% in the same age group.

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  • COVID-19: Germany Caught Up in Multi-million Euro Mask Fraud Scheme

  • Medical staff inform people lining up for a test in a coronavirus disease (COVID-19) clearing-up centre in Dresden, Germany, March 16, 2020. (Reuters)

    Authorities in Germany have fallen victim to a multi-million-euro fraud involving masks much needed in the coronavirus pandemic, prosecutors said on Tuesday.

    Berlin: Authorities in Germany have fallen victim to a multi-million-euro fraud involving masks much needed in the coronavirus pandemic, prosecutors said on Tuesday.

    North Rhine-Westphalia, Germany’s most populous state and one of the hardest hit, paid 14.7 million euros for some 10 million masks in March only to discover they did not exist, according to prosecutors in Traunstein, Bavaria.

    The German managing director of two distribution companies based in Zurich and Hamburg raised the alarm after realising he had been tricked.

    According to the man’s police report, he received an offer from companies allegedly based in Asia in mid-March to supply the masks and subsequently attracted the large order from North Rhine-Westphalia.

    State authorities transferred 14.7 million euros to the company, which then made a 2.4 million euro down payment.

    According to the Bavarian investigators, 52 vehicles had been lined up to pick up the coveted masks in the Netherlands and deliver them under police protection.

    The distribution company has refunded 12.3 million euros to the state authorities.

    However, it remains unclear whether the remaining 2.4 million euros, which has been frozen in foreign bank accounts, can be recovered.

    Masks and other protective medical gear have become hot commodities worldwide as they are required by tens of thousands of health workers in the frontlines of the war against COVID-19.

    Chancellor Angela Merkel said Monday a lesson to be learnt from the pandemic was that Europe needed to develop self-sufficiency in the production of critical medical gear like masks.

    “Regardless of the fact that this market is presently installed in Asia… we need a certain self-sufficiency, or at least a pillar of our own manufacturing” in Germany or elsewhere in the European Union, Merkel told reporters in Berlin.

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