Wednesday, October 28, 2020

Snifer dogs at Airport to detect Covid 19 affected !!

What do you do when you arrive in an airport – at Helsinki, after collecting their luggage, arriving international passengers are asked to dab their skin with a wipe. In a separate booth, the beaker containing the wipe is then placed next to others containing different control scents .. .. ..  baffling !!

The picture took the Twitter by storm.  A tan dog in a tactical vest, sitting up at the position of attention, perky ears framing a black face. The mouth wide open, the tongue hanging out the side of the mouth, the dog looks happy, almost goofy.

It was tweeted by the US President Donald Trump – and it was the dog that   chased down ISIS leader Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi in late October, leading to al-Baghdadi's death when he detonated a suicide vest he was wearing.  The “wonderful” Belgian Malinois was injured   in the blast, but has since returned to duty. Assigned to Delta Force, the dog's identity is classified, even as the dog is being hailed as a hero,  and named  Conan.

Dogs have an incredible sense of smell which have made them useful in the detection of diseases for decades.  The complex folded structure of their nasal cavity - which results in a huge surface area - is home to over 300million scent receptors compared to 5milllion in a human, according to researchers at London School of Hygiene & Tropical Medicine (LSHTM).  A detection dog or sniffer dog is a dog that is trained to use its senses to detect substances such as explosives, illegal drugs, wildlife scat, currency, blood, and contraband electronics such as illicit mobile phones. The sense most used by detection dogs is smell. The smell from the detection dogs are more enhanced than the average dog. They are trained to have this great sense of smell. A police dog is essentially a detection dog that is used as a resource for police in specific scenarios such as conducting drug raids, finding missing criminals, and locating stashed currency.

Frequently, detection dogs are thought to be used for law enforcement purposes; however, they are also used as a valuable research tool for wildlife biologists. In California, detection dogs are trained to discover quagga mussels on boats at public boat ramps because they are a harmful invasive species for the environment. Detection dogs also tend to be employed for the purposes of finding and collecting the feces of a diverse array of species, including caribou, black-footed ferret, killer whale, and Oregon spotted frog. This process is known as wildlife scat detection. .

And in July, researchers in Germany found trained sniffer dogs can detect the coronavirus in human swab samples with 94 per cent success rate. LSHTM, in collaboration with the charity Medical Detection Dogs (MDD) and Durham University, have been rigorously testing whether six dogs can detect coronavirus smells through an intensive training programme, which was announced in May. The researchers collect odour samples from people who are infected with COVID-19, and people who are uninfected. Then, they use those odour samples with six medical detection dogs.  If successful, the clever dogs could be deployed to places like airports within eight to ten weeks after training, the researchers said, where each dog can 'screen' 250 people per hour.

Canine scent detectors have been working at Helsinki-Vantaa Airport since 22 September in a pilot study to see if they can speed up the detection. Four Covid-19 sniffer dogs have begun work at Helsinki airport in a state-funded pilot scheme that Finnish researchers hope will provide a cheap, fast and effective alternative method of testing people for the virus. A dog is capable of detecting the presence of the coronavirus within 10 seconds and the entire process takes less than a minute to complete, according to Anna Hielm-Björkman of the University of Helsinki, who is overseeing the trial.

In UK, the Secretary of State (Matt Hancock) visited them in order to get an update on that trial. Health Minister Lord Bethell has previously said the method might provide speedy results as part of a wider testing strategy.  The team, who began testing the dogs in May, collect odour samples from people who are infected with Covid-19 as well as ones who aren't, and then train the dogs to tell the difference between them.  'Our previous work has shown that malaria has a distinctive odour, and with MDD, we successfully trained dogs to accurately detect malaria,' he said. 'This, combined with the knowledge that respiratory disease can change body odour, makes us hopeful that the dogs can also detect Covid-19. 'If successful, this approach could revolutionise how we detect the virus, with the potential to screen high numbers of people.' The dogs, a mixture of Labradors and Cocker Spaniels, can already identify deadly diseases including cancer, malaria and Parkinson's disease.  

Research has revealed the dogs are able to detect the odour of disease at the equivalent dilution of one teaspoon of sugar in an astonishing two Olympic-sized swimming pools of water. Dogs can pick up the scent in the tiniest shifts in hormones or 'volatile organic compounds' that are released by diseased cells in the body. Human scent consists of a mixture volatile organic compounds that are found in the blood, saliva, urine or breath. The United Arab Emirates (UAE) is thought to be the first country to put the method into trial after deploying sniffer dogs to airports in August.

It is hoped that some of the dogs - which have demonstrated they can pick out a positive result within 0.5 seconds from someone who isn’t even showing symptoms of the illness - could be employed in airports, train stations and sporting venues across the country as early as the new year. Camilla, who has backed the charity’s work since 2014, described the dogs as ‘simply remarkable, so impressive’.

Before concluding read that there are dogs that can detect diabetes.  A diabetic alert dog is an assistance dog trained to detect high (hyperglycemia) or low (hypoglycemia) levels of blood sugar in humans with diabetes and alert their owners to dangerous changes in blood glucose levels.  This allows their owners to take steps to return their blood sugar to normal, such as using glucose tablets, sugar and carbohydrate rich food. The dog can prompt a human to take insulin.When owners with diabetes begin to experience hypoglycemia, the detection dogs perform a predetermined task (e.g. bark, lay down, sit) to inform the person.

Interesting ! 

With regards – S. Sampathkumar

Monday, October 26, 2020

US Elections .. .. .. did Joe Biden forget the name of the President ?!?!

A few decades ago ~ elections in Tamil Nadu were different.  Before you read further – Thiru : A Subbarayalu; Panagal Raja; Dr P Subbarayan; P Munuswamy Naidu,  Ramakrishna Ranga Rao(Raja of Bobbili), PT Rajan,   Kurma Venkata Reddy Naidu, C Rajagopalachari [Rajaji], Tanguturi Prakasam &   O P Ramaswamy Reddiyar – were the Chief Ministers of Tamil Nadu prior to Indepedence and general elections in free India.

Remember in my younger days there would be public meetings at street corners, cycle rallies, candidate canvassing in open jeeps and some orators reeling out statistics and qualities of the candidate on the mike in auto rickshaw (I myself have spoken on that mike traversing the electoral village consisting of many a streets).  For every candidate, election manager, campaigner, speakers – good oratorical skills, eloquence, knowledge of the area, candidate, capabilities of the party and more were required .. .. (perhaps not any longer !) – remember what could happen if the candidate makes a guffaw in calling wrongly the name of Chief Minister himself ! – for sure, he would become object of ridicule.

Miles away, US elections are on the anvil.  The American presidential elections are always held on the Tuesday after the first Monday in November. Americans vote for people called "electors" in their state who are supporting the candidate they want to become president - this process is called the electoral college. The more people who live in a state, the more electors there are for that state. So California for example, with a population of 38.8 million, has 55 votes - while Delaware, (population 936,000), has just three votes. There are currently 538 electors in total, corresponding to the 435 Representatives (Congress men and women) and 100 Senators, plus the three additional electors from the District of Columbia. The Constitution prohibits any federal official, elected or appointed, from being an elector. The candidate with the most electors wins all the state's electoral college votes and the first candidate to win enough states to get to 270 electoral votes is elected to that office.

The 2020 US election is a week away. With the presidential debates over, we are into the final days of campaigning. But the coronavirus pandemic has thrown many aspects of the race into uncertainty. The virus has already dramatically affected the running of the election, including the chaos caused by Donald Trump being diagnosed with Covid-19. It is also unclear what election day itself will look like, given the risk of catching the virus by voting in person. A record number of people are expected to vote before November 3 by opting for postal votes. Election experts suggest this could mean the result may not be declared on election night, but may take several days - or even weeks - to emerge.   With the coronavirus pandemic expected to impact public life well into the autumn, the 2020 election is likely to go down in history as one of the most unconventional US presidential races ever held.

Media reports may not be conclusive in saying whether it would be Joe Biden or  Donald Trump in the national polls for the presidential election.  The leads as shown in the Press any way  doesn’t guarantee the candidate’s  victory. Hillary Clinton also had a clear lead over Trump in the polls for almost the entire 2016 campaign. She ended up losing in the electoral college. Because the presidential voting system assigns each state a number of electoral college votes, which go to the state’s victor regardless of the margin of victory, a handful of swing states will probably decide the election and be targeted heavily by campaigners.

In order to track how the race is developing in the areas that could decide the election, six of the eight states we focused on were those that flipped to Trump in 2016 after backing Barack Obama in 2012. Arizona and North Carolina were also added due to what they might tell us about a shifting electoral landscape – they could emerge as vital new swing states this year.

Donald Trump has mocked 'Sleepy' Joe Biden for apparently forgetting who was president after the Democrat candidate said 'we need to stop four more years of George.'  Biden was addressing a virtual concert when he said: 'Four more years of George, er, George, er, he - we're going to find ourselves in a position where, if Trump gets elected, we're going to be in a different world.' The 77-year-old appeared to receive a prompt from his wife Jill who was sitting beside him, muttering 'Trump' under her breath.

Hours later President Trump blasted Biden, tweeting: 'Joe Biden called me George yesterday. Couldn't remember my name. Got some help from the anchor to get him through the interview. The Fake News Cartel is working overtime to cover it up!' Many speculated that Biden was thinking of George W. Bush, president from 2001-09, or perhaps George H.W. who was in office from 1989-93.  Democrats however said that Biden was speaking to George Lopez, one of the hosts of the rally.  The blunder once again was used by Republicans to raise questions about Biden's mental capacity - a topic Trump has repeatedly referenced in the run-up to the election.  

Interesting ! 

With regards – S. Sampathkumar


Covid 19 ~ India has handled the situation better - reveals statistics !

Congress MP TN Prathapan has written to Kerala Health Minister KK Shailaja as he sought action into the alleged lapses in the treatment of a 67-year-old woman, a Covid patient. According to the patient's family, she was found lying on the floor - injured and bleeding - at the Thrissur Medical College. While the family has alleged her hands were tied to the hospital bed, the hospital administration has denied lapses, stressing the patient "was not tied down, but was physically restrained on the advice of a psychiatrist, so that she would not remove her cannula".

Though too early to celebrate, there are some good signs in the Covid 19 front in India.  As per the data released by Ministry of Health and Family Welfare, India on October 26 reported single-day spike of 45,149 new coronavirus cases in the last 24 hours. 480 deaths in the same period, pushing the COVID-19 toll in the country to 1,19,014. India’s confirmed cases of coronavirus stand at 79,09,960 which include 6,53,717 active infections after a decrease of 14,437 in last 24 hours.  Today (26.10.2020)  is the 217th day since India implemented a nationwide lockdown, to help curb the novel coronavirus pandemic. So far, India has recorded 79,09,960 confirmed COVID-19 cases, including 1,19,014 deaths. Maharashtra, Andhra Pradesh and Karnataka have reported the highest number of cases.  India’s recovery rate continues to rise and now stands at 90.2 percent.  

There was a time when couple of States were blamed and couple appreciated even winning awards. Now today’s statistics reveals the real picture .. .. one can see which States are badly affected  .. .. ..please see the new cases curve !

Globally, many countries are suffering in what is stated as second wave.  Britain is now recording more Covid-19 deaths each day for the size of its population than the US for the first time since June, data has revealed. Both countries are currently recording around two Covid-19 deaths for every million people — but Britain's rate stands slightly higher at 2.63, compared to 2.4 in the US. The UK suffered far higher daily death counts in the spring, relative to its population. But over the summer, while Britain's outbreak fizzled out, America's failed to improve.  Coronavirus cases have picked up once again in Britain as it battles a 'second wave' and deaths are climbing at a fast rate. Around 180 Covid-19 patients are dying every day, double the rate ten days ago. It can take infected patients several weeks to fall seriously ill and die, meaning there is always a lag between cases and fatalities.

The US currently has the highest cumulative death toll in the world at 228,477. And researchers warned last week that the grim tally could pass half a million by February, in a worst-case scenario. When looking at the total coronavirus death toll since the pandemic began, the two nations are on par with almost 700 deaths per million people so far. This is because the UK — which has endured around 45,000 Covid-19 deaths — is home to around 66million people, whereas the US' population stands at around 330million. The figures come amid soaring cases in both nations, with officials in the US posting a record-high of 83,757 new infections on Friday. Britain also posted its highest ever daily number of cases tally last week, registering 26,688 positive tests on Wednesday.  Officials in both nations have been highly criticised for their handling of the crisis. Donald Trump's administration was blamed for 'one of the greatest losses of American life in history' by his presidential election rival Joe Biden, while Boris Johnson was accused of failing to act quickly enough in March.

The Czech Republic is facing a 'catastrophic' Covid-19 outbreak and needs a 'miracle' to avoid new restrictions, its prime minister said last night with its infection rate now the highest of any major country in the world.  Andrej Babis said the current lockdown measures 'are not working yet' after the country's coronavirus deaths doubled in the space of two weeks. Like many countries which escaped lightly from the first wave, the Czech Republic is now seeing record numbers of fatalities, with average daily deaths rising from 14 at the start of October to 111 today - after a peak of just 10 in the spring. When adjusted for population, the Czech Republic's current rate of deaths is around four times higher than Britain's.  The light death toll in the spring means that many older and vulnerable people in the Czech Republic had yet to be exposed to the disease when the second wave struck.   The spike in deaths could also be linked to the rising average age of patients - with over-50s now making up 35 per cent of new infections compared to 22 per cent in early August.

In addition, the spread of the virus among doctors and nurses is worsening the strain on Czech hospitals, with as many as 1,000 medical workers being infected every day and medics having to be drafted in from abroad.  Saturday saw a new record of 126 deaths along with 15,258 cases, and the current Czech infection rate is the highest on the planet except for tiny Andorra. 

~ not everything is bad.  Down under, after New Zealand, Australia too is faring better.  Melbourne will finally exit lockdown this week after nearly four months as Australia's second biggest city today recorded zero new infections or deaths. The city will exit its coronavirus lockdown under onerous restrictions, authorities announced Monday, as zero cases were reported for the first time since June 8. Stay-at-home orders for Melbourne's five million residents will be lifted from midnight Tuesday into Wednesday while restaurants, beauty salons and retail stores will be permitted to throw open their doors.  Australia's Victoria state has spent months under tight restrictions after becoming the epicentre of the country's second wave of coronavirus infections

Melbourne and the surrounding Victoria state recorded the first 24-hour period without any new Covid-19 cases since June 8 - before security bungles at quarantine hotels housing returned international travellers sparked a major outbreak in July.  Victoria has seen 20,341 total Covid-19 cases and its coronavirus death toll stands at 817. Announcing the much-anticipated relaxing of restrictions, Victoria state Premier Daniel Andrews' voice cracked as he declared it an 'emotional day'.

Looking at all these Indian Government has certainly handled the crisis better.

With regards – S. Sampathkumar

26.10.2020 @ 10.55pm



will KKR take a preposterous decision of dropping !!


On Apr 27, 2019, United States of America played Papua New Guinea in ICC World Cricket League and lost the ODI  ! ~ Khan made his debut .. .. will KKR take a preposterous decision of dropping DK ??

Today on Vijayadasami day, we will watch the 46th IPL 2020 match at Sharjah with CSK only team out of contention for play-off.  Today Kolkata Knight Riders play  Kings XI Punjab.  KX1 were  at the bottom of the pile only 10 days ago. Suddenly, they have won  four games on the trot, and looking for a fifth that will vault them into playoff contention.  Kolkata Knight Riders will move up to 14 points with a win, and will open up a four-point lead between them and the fifth-placed Kings XI Punjab. If they lose,  KKR can still get up to 16 points if they win their two remaining matches, but Kings XI can also get there with two wins, and they will do so with a better NRR. Incidentally, both teams will play Rajasthan Royals and Chennai Super Kings in their last two matches.  If  KKR win only one of their remaining two games, then they will finish on 14, and will be at the mercy of other results going their way. If it comes down to NRR, they will probably lose out.

At this stage, will team management try any new face ? – unlikely it would appear .. .. there was a stray suggestion that they might drop Dinesh Karthik and bring in NZ Tim Seifert who has just joined them .. .. how ? is a long story !

Five days after his 28th birthday in Dec  2018, Ali Khan (who ?) was sitting on the front steps of a Florida mansion known as the Cricketplex Resort, sobbing. Minutes earlier, Khan and three friends - Maq Qureshi, Shawn Qureshi, and former Pakistan Test batsman Faisal Iqbal - had been watching the IPL auction on a giant plasma screen with climactic excitement. After waking up at 5am for the auction coverage from Jaipur, Khan and his pals had waited more than four hours for the moment his name would be put up. It only took another 29 seconds for the auctioneer to turn Khan's dream into a nightmare, slamming down his gavel to shout, "Unsold!"

Khan had performed well for  Trinbago Knight Riders (TKR) coming in  as a replacement for Ronsford Beaton in the Caribbean Premier League (CPL).  He took   16 wickets in a title-winning campaign.  .. .. then KKR roped   in USA's 29-year-old fast bowler Ali Khan as a replacement for the English seamer Harry Gurney. Gurney  was scheduled to have surgery related to a shoulder injury, and pulled out of both the IPL and England's Vitality Blast last month. Khan's signing made him the first USA player to feature in the IPL.

Muhammad Ahsan Ali Khan, was born in   Attock, Punjab, Pakistan and had hoped to play in IPL just as   Rashid Khan has done for Afghanistan.  Nicknamed 'The Yorker Machine' for his pinpoint accuracy, the 29-year-old was picked up by KKR after impressing in the Caribbean Premier League for the Trinbago Knight Riders. Born in the Attock region of Pakistan, Khan and his family moved to USA when he was 19. The idea of playing elite-level cricket was nothing short of a pipedream and then   flying with West Indies' Sunil Narine and coach Brendon McCullum in a private jet   was a surreal moment."

Leg-spinner Rashid Khan, the world's number one ranked T20 bowler, has undeniably put Afghanistan cricket on the map.  Khan wanted to replicate his success for America !   but all that hope fell flat as a   side strain that he had carried with him from the CPL to the UAE has forced him to return home.   New Zealand wicketkeeper-batsman Tim Seifert has been roped in as Khan's replacement.

A report in Stuff on Friday had mentioned that Northern Districts, Seifert's domestic team, had "confirmed" that the cricketer "was another absentee [for the Plunket Shield] in coming weeks, summoned to the IPL as a replacement player". Seifert, is a short-format specialist, who has turned out for New Zealand in three ODIs and 24 T20Is, and averages 22.85 with a strike rate of 139.75 in the latter.

IPL is no doubt interesting !

With regards – S. Sampathkumar

26.10.2020 @ 18:50 hrs.