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Tuesday, March 10, 2020

Corona virus and reaction of Nations !

Corona is dreaded ! ~ it has suddenly made people realise about personal hygiene – this morning I heard that some Offices have cancelled ‘bio-metric’ attendance to avoid hand-to-hand contact and have resorted back to old physical marking.

Coronaviruses (CoV) are a large family of viruses that cause illness ranging from the common cold to more severe diseases such as Middle East Respiratory Syndrome (MERS-CoV) and Severe Acute Respiratory Syndrome (SARS-CoV).  Coronaviruses are zoonotic, meaning they are transmitted between animals and people.  Detailed investigations found that SARS-CoV was transmitted from civet cats to humans and MERS-CoV from dromedary camels to humans. Several known coronaviruses are circulating in animals that have not yet infected humans.  

Common signs of infection include respiratory symptoms, fever, cough, shortness of breath and breathing difficulties. In more severe cases, infection can cause pneumonia, severe acute respiratory syndrome, kidney failure and even death. Standard recommendations to prevent infection spread include regular hand washing, covering mouth and nose when coughing and sneezing, thoroughly cooking the food.   Avoid close contact with anyone showing symptoms of respiratory illness such as coughing and sneezing.

Corona fear has pushed up sales of masks, sanitizers, handwash and more .. however, wearing face mask is not iron-clad guarantee that one  won’t get sick – viruses can also transmit through the eyes and tiny viral particles, known as aerosols, can penetrate masks. However, masks are effective at capturing droplets, which is a main transmission route of coronavirus.  Masks  will probably make little difference if you’re just walking around town or taking a bus so there is no need to bulk-buy a huge supply. Stop – this is no Corona advisory or health post – you can read most of them in WA or any other social media – but some thoughts on reactions .. .. !

A number of football teams are postponing matches and cancelling training after a player recently tested positive for coronavirus.  South African cricketers could avoid the customary handshakes during their stay in India, head coach Mark Boucher. The South African team will “strictly adhere” to the healthcare protocols. “With regards to handshakes and type of stuff that’s of concern, it’s (avoiding handshakes) a way to stop anything from happening to our guys,” Boucher told the media. “I think it’s out of respect for players around you and not to pass on something that you might have,” the former Proteas stumper added.

Miles away in Italy, there is a different crisis.  Italy began one of the largest-ever attempts to restrict the movement of people in a democracy, with a lockdown of a northern region affecting about 16 million people and fuelling questions about whether citizens would comply. Israel imposed a 14-day quarantine on anyone arriving from abroad. Saudi Arabia on Monday closed off air and sea travel to 14 countries. The kingdom had earlier closed off its land borders as well. Riots broke out Sunday afternoon in half a dozen prisons after the Italian government enacted a draconian decree that has locked down 16 million people and curtailed movement across the entire country to try to contain the spread of COVID-19. By Monday, the riots had spread to nearly 30 detention facilities.

The number of coronavirus cases in Italy reached 9,172 on Monday, the highest number outside of China. At least 463 people have died in Italy with the virus, the second highest number of fatalities after China. In Modena, now part of the extended outbreak red zone designated by the government, prisoners were able to take two guards hostage Sunday and steal keys before climbing a barrier fence to try to escape. They were eventually pushed back by riot police, but the prison had been so damaged that all inmates had to be moved to temporary facilities. In a prison in Pavia, inmates lit mattresses on fire, causing a wing of the facility to be evacuated Sunday. Flames coming from the prison could be seen more than a half-mile away. In Rome, where nearly 90 people have tested positive for the disease across the province, prisoners have been prohibited from congregating in open areas for recreation. In the Regina Coeli prison in central Rome, inmates could be heard yelling and banging objects in their cells on Monday. Prisoners in the city’s Rebibbia prison also set that facility on fire on Monday afternoon, after which around 30 prisoners escaped. Helicopters were flying low over the city center, and sirens wailed for most of the afternoon as the inmates were apprehended.

Most criminal trials that have not been suspended across the country will be held in closed courtrooms without prisoners present—out of fear of them contracting the virus in court and spreading it to other inmates. The murder trial involving American teens Finnegan Elder and Gabe Natale for the stabbing death of an Italian police officer last July was in session behind closed doors Monday, but the suspects were not allowed to leave the prison to attend the hearing. Italian prisons are severely overcrowded, with 61,230 inmates in detention centers meant to hold a capacity of no more than 50,950.

Mainland China, where the outbreak began, had 40 new cases as of Sunday, down from 44 cases a day earlier. Total confirmed cases rose to 80,735, while the death toll touched 3,119.  China and South Korea both reported a slowdown in new infections. China, outside Hubei province, centre of the outbreak, reported no new locally transmitted coronavirus cases for the second day on Monday. Of the new cases, 36 were in Wuhan, the provincial capital of Hubei, while the remaining four in Gansu province were imported from Iran. South Korean President Moon Jae-in expressed guarded hope for the country’s fight against the coronavirus on Monday, saying a downward trend in new infections could lead to a “phase of stability”.

President Donald Trump, who has repeatedly played down the threat posed by the flulike virus, was planning to meet with treasury secretary Steven Mnuchin and other members of his economic team to weigh possible action, an administration official said. Paid sick leave is among policy steps being considered, the official said on condition of anonymity. In the Gulf region, where most cases stem from travel from Iran, the emphasis has been on border control.

Back home,  Indian companies are hunkering down to take all possible precautions against Coronavirus. Multi-factory and facility corporations like Hyundai Motor India and Rolls Royce among others are taking measures that include screening employees while entering the premises with thermal sensors, asking them to say namaste instead of the handshake, punching attendance with cards than biometrics. Hyundai Motor India, with 30,500 people (directly and indirectly employed) at its Sriperumbudur plant, is screening everyone who walks on to its premises apart from sanitising hands at all checkpoints and canteens. A release stated that for the past 15 days, they had started habit of ‘namaste’ and all employees were being screened with non-touchable thermometers at the gates.   Apart from this all foreign travels are being cut down and many activities have been replaced by video conferencing.

Same is true for aerospace major Rolls Royce. “We have thermometers and we will scan everybody both at the factories and other facilities. All meeting tables have hand sanitisers as do office receptions,” said President of  Rolls-Royce. Not just factories, IT parks across Chennai are making temperature check with handheld thermometers on employees mandatory. “There were checks for Coronavirus on Monday at the gate. We had to wait in a long queue. The security had placed hand sanitiser at the entrance for use,” said a TCS employee.

Strange are the ways of people !

With regards – S. Sampathkumar
10th Mar 2020.

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