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Uttarakhand Glacier Burst: Death toll climbs to 34, over 200 missing

(Asian News Hub) – The death toll in the Uttarakhand glacier burst incident has mounted to 34 and 204 persons are still missing, informed the State Secretariat on Thursday (February 11).
Out of the 34 recovered dead bodies, 10 have been identified while 24 of them are yet to be identified.

The Secretariat reported that the two persons working in the Rishi Ganga company informed to be missing before, have safely reached their homes.

The rescue operations are underway inside Tapovan tunnel in Chamoli.

“There is a possibility that some more people could be stuck inside the tunnel, National Thermal Power Corporation Limited (NTPC) team using vertical drilling to find their whereabouts,” said Aparna Kumar, Deputy Inspector General of Police (DIG) of the Indo-Tibetan Border Police (ITBP).

The ITBP troops are helping to construct Jhula Bridge across disconnected villages in Chamoli.
The bridge will be used to transport ration from one side of the bridge to another side.

A glacier broke in the Tapovan-Reni area of Chamoli district of Uttarakhand on Sunday, which led to massive flooding in Dhauliganga and Alaknanda rivers and damaged houses and the nearby Rishiganga power project.

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Second Covid wave cases are less severe than first: ICMR

(Asian News Hub) – Indian Council of Medical Research (ICMR) chief Dr Balram Bhargava on Monday said the Covid cases in the second wave of Covid 19 are less severe than the first one.

“If you see the symptoms, severity is very less this time. In this wave, we have witnessed more cases of breathlessness while in the last wave, symptoms like dry cough, joint pain, headaches were more,” news agency ANI cited Bharagava as saying.

He said that in the present wave there are more cases of breathlessness while in the last wave, symptoms like dry cough, joint pain, headaches were more.

The ICMR chief also said that the RT-PCR is a gold standard test that measures two or more genes in the body, and there is no chance of it missing the detection of a Covid-19 mutant through the test.

“I would like to emphasise that the RT-PCR test that we are utilising, they measure two or more genes and they never miss a test… We have always used two or more genes for testing and therefore missing is absolutely impossible… It can find any kind of mutant because it measures two or more genes at different sites,” he said.

It is not yet clear if the surge in the spread of infections is the result of the double mutant found in India or the higher rate of transmissibility, he added.

Explaining the present wave, Dr Bhargava said that only a marginally high proportion of Covd-19 patients are of younger age and that the average of patients in the first wave was 50 years and in this wave, it is 49 years. The older population continues to be more vulnerable and are admitted in the hospital in the current wave. He pointed out that in both the waves, 70% of infected patients were above 40 years.

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Link claiming to change Whatsapp in Pink is a virus, can hack mobile phone: Cyber experts

(Asian News Hub) – Cyber experts have warned users from falling into the prey of a virus link which claims to turn Whatsapp in pink colour and comes with new features.

According to cyber security experts, clicking on the link claiming to be an official update from Whatsapp will hack users phone and they may lose access to their Whatsapp.

“Beware of WhatsApp Pink!! A Virus is being spread in whatsapp groups with an APK download link. Don”t click any link with the name of #WhatsappPink. Complete access to your phone will be lost,” cyber security expert Rajshekhar Rajaharia posted on social media platforms.

Several Whatsapp users were seen sharing the malicious link.

Cyber intelligence firm Voyager Infosec director Jiten Jain said that users are strictly advised never to install any APK or mobile app other than those available on official App store of Google or Apple.

“Such malicious apps can be used to compromise your phone and steal personal data like photos, sms, contacts etc. Keyboard based malwares can be used to track everything you type. It can be used to capture and steal banking passwords. The current case of Pink Whatsapp or Whatsapp Gold is also a case of malware impersonating as fake whatsapp feature apps,” Jain said.

When contacted, Whatsapp said, “Anyone can get an unusual, uncharacteristic or suspicious message on any service, including email, and anytime that happens we strongly encourage everyone to use caution before responding or engaging. On WhatsApp in particular, we also recommend that people use the tools that we provide within the app to send us a report, report a contact or block contact.”

PTI

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COVID-19: India has emerged as the new epicentre of the global pandemic

Hospitals on the brink, thousands dying on a daily basis, and new variants spreading rapidly across the country – India has emerged as the new epicentre of the global pandemic

(Asian News Hub) – India was hit hard by coronavirus last year, recording one the highest caseloads in the world alongside the US and Brazil. But numbers started declining rapidly after last summer and by January this year, as vaccines started to roll out, the health minister proclaimed the country had reached the end of the pandemic.

But after months with few restrictions, and just as life was starting to look normal again, cases have suddenly exploded, with a tsunami of infections sweeping the country and putting ICUs into what doctors have called a “war-like” situation.

With many other nations making rapid progress on vaccinations, the country is now the global epicentre for the disease, while concerns are mounting about the new variants involved. Doctors in the Indian states facing the worst pressure paint a grim picture, describing a chaotic and overwhelming intake of desperately sick patients.

Loved ones wailing outside hospitals, ambulances queued up with patients, crematoria and graveyards drowning in dead bodies, failed resuscitations and families scrambling for beds, plasma, and even basic medical supplies such as oxygen, stretchers and ventilators.

“Patients are dying suddenly of hypoxia. There are more patients here than the doctors could attend and all the monitoring equipment has been exhausted. We are suffering,” a resident doctor from Mumbai’s state-run Sion hospital tells The Independent, on condition of anonymity.

Maharashtra, the state where Mumbai is located, has for several weeks been painted as an outlier in terms of the new outbreak, but the situation is now no better in the capital Delhi, where Dr Atul Gogoi of Sir Ganga Ram Hospital says ICU beds and even general wards are out of capacity. He says the situation is becoming increasingly difficult with each passing day.

Having to remain “aloof” during this “war-like” fight against the disease is taking its toll, he says. “We are worn out physically as the workload is constantly increasing, [but also] mentally as we regularly deal with emotional breakdowns of elderly people.”

India’s outbreak is worse now than it was at any point last year, with the country registering a series of grim milestones in the past few weeks. As well as overtaking Brazil in total caseload, the country has recorded daily spikes of more than 200,000 new infections over a 48-hour period in the last week.

While there remains insufficient data to attribute the new wave to any one cause, scientists say an indigenous variant of the virus called B.1.617 is likely to be fuelling the flames, coupled with a fatigue with safety precautions that has seen a return to crowding and a reluctance to wear masks across the country.

It may be that multiple more infectious variants are at play here. Testing has shown the presence of the UK’s B.1.1.7, South Africa’s B.1.351 and Brazil’s P1 spreading among the population. These variants have been found in Maharashtra, Punjab, Kerala, Delhi, and Karnataka states, which between them contribute a high proportion of new cases.

However, the greatest concerns swirl around India’s B.1.617, which has been dubbed the “double mutant” variant in media reports, although it actually has 15 mutations from the original virus. This is because it carries two specific and concerning mutations in its spike protein that have cropped up elsewhere during the pandemic – known as E484Q and L452R. It is the first time that these genetic changes have evolved together in a single variant.

With inputs from Independent

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