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Government announces curfew in Kabul

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(Last Updated On: March 27, 2020)

The government announced to impose a three-week-long curfew in the capital Kabul on Friday, effective from Saturday aimed to contain the spread of coronavirus.

To prevent the outbreak of the COVID-19 pandemic, all administrations, schools, universities, educational centers, public baths, parks, swimming pools, wedding halls, markets, and other public sites, except for the Ministry of Health and security apparatus, will remain closed for at least three weeks.

In addition, the government banned wedding parties, mourning ceremonies and public transports.

Meanwhile, President Ashraf Ghani said, based on needs, all schools and Darulaman Palace could be used as emergency health centers for isolation of the infected.

According to the plan, entities providing health services, security services, grocery stores, restaurants providing delivery services and parts of the Kabul municipality can continue their activities.

“The Ministry of Public Health had suggested the emergency committee to impose restrictions on movements. This has been approved by the government and would be effective from tomorrow,” Feruzuddin Feruz, the Public Health Minister said in a briefing conference.

The Acting Interior Minister Massoud Andarabi said Kabul police would implement the plan, warning people to abide by the curfew rules during the period.

Following the western Herat, Nimroz and Farah provinces, Kabul is the fourth province put into partial quarantine.

It comes as the total number of positive cases in Afghanistan has hiked to 91 with four confirmed deaths.

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Pollution likely to cut 9 years of life expectancy of 40% of Indians

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(Last Updated On: September 1, 2021)

Air pollution is likely to reduce the life expectancy of about 40% of Indians by more than nine years, according to a report released by a U.S. research group on Wednesday.

More than 480 million people living in the vast swathes of central, eastern and northern India, including the capital, New Delhi, endure significantly high pollution levels, said the report prepared by the Energy Policy Institute at the University of Chicago (EPIC).

“Alarmingly, India’s high levels of air pollution have expanded geographically over time,” the EPIC report said.

For example, air quality has significantly worsened in the western state of Maharashtra and the central state of Madhya Pradesh, it said.

Lauding India’s National Clean Air Program (NCAP), launched in 2019 to rein in dangerous pollution levels, the EPIC report said “achieving and sustaining” the NCAP goals would raise the country’s overall life expectancy by 1.7 years and that of New Delhi 3.1 years, Reuters reported.

The NCAP aims to reduce pollution in the 102 worst-affected cities by 20%-30% by 2024 by ensuring cuts in industrial emissions and vehicular exhaust, introducing stringent rules for transport fuels and biomass burning and reduce dust pollution. It will also entail better monitoring systems.

New Delhi was the world’s most polluted capital for the third straight year in 2020, according to IQAir, a Swiss group that measures air quality levels based on the concentration of lung-damaging airborne particles known as PM2.5.

Last year, New Delhi’s 20 million residents, who breathed some of the cleanest air on record in the summer because of coronavirus lockdown curbs, battled toxic air in winter following a sharp increase in farm residue burning in the nearby states of Punjab and Haryana, Reuters reported.

According to the EPIC’s findings, neighbouring Bangladesh could raise average life expectancy by 5.4 years if the country improves air quality to levels recommended by the World Health Organization.

To arrive at the life expectancy number, EPIC compared the health of people exposed to different levels of long-term air pollution and applied the results to various places in India and elsewhere.

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WHO concerned about worsening access in Afghanistan

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(Last Updated On: July 9, 2021)

The World Health Organization is concerned about worsening access to provide life-saving medicines and supplies in Afghanistan and attacks on health care facilities, as Afghan forces fight Taliban insurgents, a WHO official said on Friday.

Rick Brennan, WHO regional emergencies director for its Eastern Mediterranean regional office, said that aid supplies would arrive next week including 3.5 million COVID-19 vaccine doses and oxygen concentrators.

“It is a terribly concerning situation and it’s very fluid right now,” Brennan, speaking from Cairo, told a U.N. briefing in Geneva. “We are concerned about our lack of access to be able to provide essential medicines and supplies and we are concerned about attacks on health care.”

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China reports first ever human case of H10N3 bird flu

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(Last Updated On: June 1, 2021)

A 41-year-old man in China’s eastern province of Jiangsu has been confirmed as the first human case of infection with the H10N3 strain of bird flu, China’s National Health Commission (NHC) said on Tuesday.

Reuters reported the man, a resident of the city of Zhenjiang, was hospitalised on April 28 after developing a fever and other symptoms, the NHC said in a statement.

He was diagnosed as having the H10N3 avian influenza virus on May 28, it said, but did not give details on how the man had been infected with the virus.

The man was stable and ready to be discharged from hospital. Medical observation of his close contacts had not found any other cases, Reuters reported.

H10N3 is a low pathogenic, or relatively less severe, strain of the virus in poultry and the risk of it spreading on a large scale was very low, the NHC added.

The strain is “not a very common virus,” said Filip Claes, regional laboratory coordinator of the Food and Agriculture Organization’s Emergency Centre for Transboundary Animal Diseases at the Regional Office for Asia and the Pacific, Reuters reported.

Only around 160 incidents of the virus were reported in the 40 years to 2018, mostly in wild birds or waterfowl in Asia and some limited parts of North America, and none had been detected in chickens so far, he added.

No other cases of human infection with H10N3 have previously been reported globally, the NHC said.

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