Sydney, June 23 (IANS) Australia's Sydney saw a further 16 locally acquired cases of Covid-19, the new one-day high in the latest outbreak.The health department recorded 10 new local cases in the past 24 hours till 8:00 p.m. Tuesday night, among which seven were already announced on Tuesday but included in Wednesday's figures. There were another 13 new local cases reported after 8:00 p.m. Tuesday night who will be counted in Thursday's official statistics. There are 31 cases linked to a local cluster, according to the health authorities, the Xinhua news agency reported.Eight out of the 13 cases that came in after 8:00 p.m. on Tuesday were linked to a party in Sydney's west."What I would say to our community is we have gone from that near and present danger to a very real and present danger not just in a shopping center but right across Sydney," said NSW Health Minister Brad Hazzard.NSW Health has increased restrictions across Sydney to curb local transmissions.From 4:00 p.m. on Wednesday, residents in Sydney and surrounding areas will only be allowed five visitors in their homes, restaurants will be restricted to sit-down dinners, and no singing or dancing will be allowed except for weddings which will be allowed a maximum of 20 people.Beyond this, outdoor seated events, including all sporting events, will have the capacity reduced to 50 per cent and residents in many of Sydney's metropolitan areas will be barred from non-essential travel outside Sydney."We know the effect. This will have on residents and venues but we must take this action now to ensure we keep on top of this outbreak," NSW Premier Gladys Berejiklian told the press.Despite the increased threat, Berejiklian continued to rebuff the idea of putting Sydney under lockdown."We know the virus is circulating in particular around those local government areas, the unlinked cases, all those cases that are under investigation are all from that geographic proximity, so this is important and proportionate action at that we are taking to prevent further spread," she said.In response to a call by NSW Health for more testing, 44,640 tests were conducted as of 8:00 p.m. Tuesday night, compared with 28,645 the previous day.With this latest uptick in cases across NSW, many states in Australia and neighbouring country New Zealand have imposed new travel restrictions on Sydney.The New Zealand government has suspended its travel bubble with Sydney for 72 hours from Wednesday, which came after an Aussie traveller tested positive after travelling from Sydney to New Zealand's Wellington on June 19.The Australian state of Queensland's government also announced that as of 1:00 a.m. on Thursday, Queensland will close its borders to a number of areas across Sydney and NSW.The Australian state of Victoria, after recording zero locally acquired cases on Wednesday, has also restricted travel from a number of areas in Sydney. --IANSint/rs
New York, June 16 (IANS) The US reached the grim milestone of 600,000 coronavirus deaths on Tuesday, according to the Center for Systems Science and Engineering (CSSE) at Johns Hopkins University.With the national case count topping 33.4 million, the death toll across the US rose to 600,012 as of 12:22 p.m. local time (1622 GMT), according to the CSSE data.California topped the national death toll list, standing at 63,191. New York reported the country's second largest deaths of 53,558, followed by Texas with 51,940 deaths and Florida with 37,265 deaths, the CSSE tally showed.States with more than 20,000 fatalities also include Pennsylvania, New Jersey, Illinois, Georgia, Michigan and Ohio, the Xinhua news agency reported. The US remains the nation worst hit by the pandemic, with the world's highest caseload and death toll, accounting for nearly 20 per cent of the global cases and over 15 per cent of the global deaths.Last year, US Covid-19 deaths hit 100,000 on May 27, topped 200,000 on September 22, and reached 300,000 on December 14. The number surged to 400,000 on January 19, 2021 and passed more than half a million on February 22, 2021.It took nearly four months for the national death toll to climb from 100,000 to 200,000, less than three months to jump from 200,000 to 300,000 and only more than one month to soar from 300,000 to 400,000 and from 400,000 to half a million, respectively.US Covid-19 deaths increased at a slower pace from 500,000 to 600,000 in nearly four months, according to data compiled by Johns Hopkins University. --IANSint/rs
Chennai, June 11 (IANS) Even as the number of active Covid-19 cases in Tamil Nadu dropped below two lakh with the state having reported 1,88,664 cases on Thursday, the number of active coronavirus cases in western Tamil Nadu districts of Coimbatore and Erode is a matter of concern for the state health officials and administration.On Thursday, the three western districts of the state -- Coimbatore, Erode and Tirupur -- claimed the first three spots in the number of active Covid-19 cases while Chennai occupied fourth place.Coimbatore with 21,184 active cases recorded the highest number followed by Tirupur with 17,485 and Erode with 13,102 cases. Chennai had 12,210 active cases on Thursday bringing it to fourth place in the number of active cases reported.Salem, another western district, was fifth in this list with 10,168 active cases.In the number of new Covid cases, Coimbatore with 2,236 cases and Erode with 1,390 cases were above Chennai with 1,223 cases on Thursday.Greater Chennai Corporation Commissioner, Gagan Singh Bedi, speaking to IANS said, "We had implemented a stringent and effective lockdown and this is the reason for the number of active cases coming down in the metro city."Madurai and Trichy recorded a lower number of cases leading to the fall in the test positivity rate of the state which came below 10 per cent for the first time in the past 22 days.Tamil Nadu Minister for Medical and Family Welfare, Ma Subramanian, told IANS, "We have brought down the test positivity rate in the state to below 10 per cent and this is a welcome sign even though the western districts are a matter of concern. Government and Public Health officials are making an all-out effort to curtail the active cases in the western districts of the state and we will achieve success in this."With the test positivity rates falling below 10 per cent, the availability of the number of oxygen beds has increased in various parts of the state.However, another matter of concern for the state health authorities is the increase in the number of deaths with the state reporting 358 deaths in the past 24 hours. With this figure, the total number of deaths in the state has touched 28,528, the third largest in the country.--IANSaal/khz/bg
Canberra, June 9 (IANS) Australia's peak medical body has called on the government to implement a tax on sugary beverages to combat obesity, diabetes and poor health.In an address at the National Press Club Wednesday, President of the Australian Medical Association (AMA) Omar Khorshid advocated for a tax that would reduce the consumption of sugary drinks, Xinhua reported."More than 2.4 billion liters of sugary drinks are consumed every year in Australia. That's enough to fill 960 Olympic-sized swimming pools," he said."Diabetes, obesity and poor vascular health are huge contributors to the burden on our health system.""Sugary drinks, and in particular those which have little or no nutritional value, fuel this problem. It is time for action."A study published by the Australian Institute of Health and Welfare in 2019 found that 9.1 per cent of Australian adults consumed sugar-sweetened drinks daily.According to the Australian Bureau of Statistics, an average Australian consumes 60 grams, or 14 teaspoons, of sugar every day.AMA has proposed that the retail price of sugar-sweetened beverages should increase by 20 per cent on average.According to Khorshid, this is in line with a recommendation by the World Health Organisation, and could, over a 25-year period, result in 16,000 fewer cases of type 2 diabetes, 4,400 fewer cases of heart disease and 1,100 fewer cases of stroke."It could save lives, and save millions of dollars in healthcare costs," he said. "It would also generate revenue - we estimate about 814 million Australian dollars (about 630 million US dollars) annually - which we believe could be spent on other preventative health activities."--IANSint/
Mysuru, June 8 (IANS) The University of Mysore (UoM) has jointly developed a self Covid detection kit in collaboration with Hyderabad-based Lorven Biologics Private Limited.Mysore University's former Vice Chancellor and a member of the All India Institute of Medical Sciences (AIIMS), K.S. Rangappa, who led the team of researchers, told reporters that the new Covid detection kit has an accuracy rate of over 90 per cent.UoM Vice Chancellor G. Hemanth Kumar and Rangappa jointly announced this at a press meet at Vijnana Bhavan on the varsity campus here.The kit has been developed by a research team comprising S. Chandra Nayak, Coordinator, and C.D. Mohan, Assistant Professor, Department of Studies in Molecular Biology, University of Mysore.Rangappa said that the kit is expected to be available at an affordable price since it has been developed by the state-run university, adding that the research team is sending the new kit for emergency use approval from the Indian Council of Medical Research (ICMR)."The unique feature of the kit is that a barcode strip is linked to an app. As soon as the barcode is scanned, the health status of the patient (whether tested positive or negative) is updated in the server, thereby enabling the governing agencies to monitor the cases immediately. The recent technologies in molecular biology, nanotechnology and Artificial Intelligence were used in the development of the kit," the research team explained in a press release.The release further added that any person suspecting to have Covid symptoms can use this kit to test the virus in body fluids, including sputum, nasal secretion and saliva. "The kit can be used in households too. It takes less than 10 minutes to detect whether the person is infected," said research coordinator Mohan.In response to a question, Rangappa said that the team was in negotiation with the manufacturer for keeping the price as low as Rs 100 per kit."During the current second wave, infection in some Covid patients could not be detected in RT-PCR tests. Therefore, there was a need to develop a kit that can detect all the mutated variants of the virus," the research team said."We are hoping that the kit will be able to detect the mutated virus in case of subsequent waves," Rangappa said.He also acknowledged that Venkataramana, the Director of Lorven Biologics, Hyderabad, was instrumental in the making of the kit by providing necessary scientific and logistic support.--IANSnbh/arm
New Delhi, June 2 (IANS) In keeping with its tradition of supporting its students since its inception 25 years ago, The NorthCap University (NCU) has stepped forward to aid its students adversely impacted by the pandemic. The University is launching a unique initiative offering financial assistance to existing NCU students who have lost an earning parent to COVID-19 in this year.While the University cannot take away the pain and suffering caused by the pandemic, it aims to alleviate the financial burden on NCU students whose families have been impacted. To help grieving students enrolled in under-graduate and graduate programs, NCU has set up a relief fund - CEASE (COVID Emergency Aid for Students Education) with a corpus of Rs 50 lakhs. The University has also constituted a Committee which will be responsible for reviewing all financial aid applications and finalising the list of beneficiaries. The benefits of financial grant-in-aid would be rolled out starting from AY21-22 till the recipient students graduate from their exiting program. Bikram Mohanty, Registrar NCU said, "During these unprecedented times, we take it as our collective responsibility to help the students bereft of hope as they endure the loss of a parent or both to the COVID-19 pandemic. CEASE is a small gesture by NCU to ensure that the student's learning doesn't stop due to financial difficulties. Our heart goes out for our students and their families who have been affected by this pandemic". NCU, renowned for its academic excellence, extensive degree courses, and relevant research programs, aims to create a more significant impact with its quick COVID response and relief fund. To expedite the process for disbursing the funds, the institution urges affected students to submit applications along with relevant supporting documents. --IANS san/in
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