Coronavirus update: Indian health workers spray migrants with disinfectant, Spanish cases surpass China


March 31, 2020 05:54:13

More than 741,000 people have been infected by the novel coronavirus globally and more than 35,000 have died.

This story is being updated regularly. You can also stay informed with the latest episode of the Coronacast podcast.

Tuesday’s key stories

Indians fight spread by hosing migrants

Indian health workers have sprayed a group of migrants with disinfectant, amid fears that a large-scale movement of people from cities to the countryside risked spreading coronavirus.

Footage from Reuters showed a group of migrant workers sitting on a street in Bareilly, a district in the northern state of Uttar Pradesh, as health officials in protective suits used hoses to douse them in disinfectant, prompting anger on social media.

Nitish Kumar, the top government official in the district, said health workers had been ordered to disinfect buses being used by the local authorities, but in their zeal had also turned their hoses on migrant workers.

“I have asked for action to be taken against those responsible for this,” Mr Kumar said in a tweet.

India imposed a nationwide lockdown on March 25, with thousands of labourers subsequently fleeing cities for their home villages after work — and public transport — vanished.

Australians there have called on the Morrison Government to get them out due to concerns about police brutality and growing tensions in the nation, where 29 people have died as a result of COVID-19

Adelaide company launching mass mask production

An Adelaide food packaging factory will be used to produce nearly 150 million surgical masks as coronavirus puts major pressure on Australia’s medical supplies.

Detmold Group has reached agreement with the Federal and South Australian governments to make 20 million masks a month by June.

Eventually, it hopes to produce 100 million masks for the National Medical Stockpile and 45 million for South Australia.

Industry Minister Karen Andrews said Australia currently has enough masks but the agreement would help to maintain supplies in the months ahead.

“This new production line won’t be up and running overnight, that’s why we’re attacking this challenge from all angles, including continuing work to secure further masks out there in the market,” she said.

Detmold Group said it would employ up to 160 extra staff and spend more than $1 million on local supplies.

Spanish cases overtake China’s

Spanish hospitals are stretched to their breaking point as the number of confirmed coronavirus infections there overtakes China’s tally.

With a population of only 47 million people to China’s 1.4 billion, Spain’s tally of infections reached 85,195 — an 8 per cent rise from the previous day, but down from earlier increases that had rocketed up to 20 per cent.

Spain also reported 812 new deaths, raising its overall confirmed death toll to 7,340.

At least six of Spain’s 17 regions were at their limit of ICU beds and three more were close to it, authorities said on Monday.

Despite the declining infection rate, Spanish health official Dr Maria Jose Sierra said there’s no end to the stay-at-home restrictions yet in sight.

“Reducing the pressure on the ICUs will be important for considering de-escalation measures,” said Dr Sierra, who took over Monday as the health emergency centre’s spokesperson after its previous director tested positive.

Nearly 15 per cent of those infected in Spain are health care workers.

In hard-hit Madrid, flags were hoisted at half staff for an official mourning period.

During a minute of silence for the dead, Madrid’s Puerta del Sol central square was empty as bells tolled.

Italy to remain under lockdown

In a situation unimaginable only a month ago, Italian officials were cheered when they reported only 756 deaths in one day.

Italy has 97,689 confirmed infections but said the number of positive cases in the last day increased just 5.4 per cent and the number of deaths have dropped about 10 per cent a day since Friday.

However, the nation is likely to remain under lockdown for at least two more weeks.

More than 10,700 people have died in Italy since February 21, the highest death toll from the virus in the world, while some 97,689 people have been infected in a little over five weeks — more than anywhere except the United States.

Underscoring the dangers of the disease, the national doctors’ association announced the deaths of 11 more doctors on Monday, bringing the total to 61.

Not all of them had been tested for coronavirus before they died, it said, but it linked their deaths to the epidemic.

Many were general practitioners in Lombardy, the worst-affected region in the north of Italy.

The governor of Lombardy, Attilio Fontana, said the government would have to extend the near total clampdown on movement and business activities, which were introduced nationwide on March 9 and are due to end on Friday.

“We have to agree on this with other regions, but I think we are talking about (maintaining the block) until at least mid-April,” he told reporters.

Prince Charles ‘in good health’

The Prince of Wales is out of self-isolation and in “good health”, after being diagnosed with coronavirus last week.

Clarence House said in a statement: “Having consulted with his doctor, The Prince of Wales is now out of self-isolation.”

He was in isolation for seven days after testing positive for COVID-19.

Camilla, the Duchess of Cornwall, remains in self-isolation in line with the advice from the UK Government.

She was also tested for coronavirus, but returned a negative result.

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“The tests were carried out by the National Health Service in Aberdeenshire where they met the criteria for testing,” the statement from Clarence House at the time read.

“It is not possible to ascertain from whom the Prince caught the virus owing to the high number of engagements he carried out in his public role during the recent weeks.”

The Prince, who is the eldest son of Queen Elizabeth II, was believed to have displayed mild symptoms after contracting the virus.

A statement from Buckingham Palace confirmed the 93-year-old monarch “remained in good health”.

In the last 24 hours, the United Kingdom recorded a drop in coronavirus deaths from the previous day, with the total now standing at 1,408.

The UK had 180 deaths in the 24 hours up to 5pm on Sunday, compared to 207 at the same time on Saturday.

The Department of Health says the total number of people infected with COVID-19 in the UK stands at 22,141.

England remains the worst affected country in the UK, with 1,284 deaths in total including 159 on Sunday, while Scotland recorded six deaths in the same period.

Wales recorded two more deaths and Northern Ireland just one.

Wuhan gets back to business

Shopkeepers in the city at the centre of the world’s coronavirus outbreak are reopening but customers were scarce after authorities lifted more of the anti-virus controls that kept tens of millions of people at home for two months.

“I’m so excited, I want to cry,” said a woman on one of Wuhan’s major shopping streets, the Chuhe Hanjie pedestrian mall, who would give only the English name Kat.

Kat said she was a teacher in the eastern city of Nanjing and was visiting her family when most access to Wuhan, a city of 11 million people and the manufacturing hub of central China, was suspended on January 23 to stem the spread of coronavirus.

“After two months trapped at home, I want to jump,” she said.

F1 engineers pitch in to help NHS

Mercedes, the Formula One team featuring star driver Lewis Hamilton, has helped to develop a breathing aid that could keep coronavirus patients out of intensive care and ease some pressure on Britain’s strained health service.

As part of a combined effort involving seven Britain-based teams, Mercedes worked with engineers at the University College London and clinicians at University College London Hospital to adapt and improve a device that bridges the gap between an oxygen mask and the need for full ventilation.

The device, known as continuous positive airway pressure, has been used extensively in hospitals in Italy and China to deliver oxygen to the lungs of coronavirus patients during the pandemic.

Your questions on coronavirus answered:

UCL said the adapted devices have been recommended for use in Britain and that 100 of them are being sent to its hospital for clinical trials.

There is the potential for quick roll-out by Mercedes to hospitals across the country.

Tim Baker, a professor from UCL’s department of mechanical engineering, said clinicians called on the “capability of Formula One” to reduce a process “that could take years down to a matter of days,” with the adapted device taking less than 100 hours to develop from an initial meeting.









First posted

March 31, 2020 04:52:26

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