Indian monkeys snatch coronavirus samples

Indian authorities often have to grapple with primates snatching food and even mobile phones. (AFP)
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Updated 29 May 2020

Indian monkeys snatch coronavirus samples

  • Indian authorities often have to grapple with primates snatching food and even mobile phones
  • India’s coronavirus death toll passed neighboring China’s on Friday,

NEW DELHI: Monkeys mobbed an Indian health worker and made off with coronavirus test blood samples, spreading fears that the stealing simians could spread the pandemic in the local area.
Indian authorities often have to grapple with primates snatching food and even mobile phones.
After making off with the three samples earlier this week in Meerut, near the capital New Delhi, the monkeys scampered up nearby trees and one then tried to chew its plunder.
The sample boxes were later recovered and had not been damaged, Meerut Medical college superintendent Dheeraj Raj said on Friday, after footage of the encounter went viral on social media.
“They were still intact and we don’t think there is any risk of contamination or spread,” Raj said.
He added that the three people whose samples were stolen were retested for the virus.
Coronavirus has been detected in animals, though there is no confirmation that the disease can then be passed on to humans.
India’s coronavirus death toll passed neighboring China’s on Friday, with 175 new fatalities in 24 hours taking the total to 4,706, according to official data.
India, home to some of the world’s most packed cities and a creaking health care system, is emerging as a new hotspot with record jumps in new cases in recent days.
In many rural areas, farmers lose crops to monkey populations and have demanded local governments’ intervention to check their populations.
City authorities in New Delhi have famously used long-tailed langur monkeys to fight and scare away smaller primates from around the Indian Parliament.


Tired of Zoom calls? Company offers at-home hologram machines

Updated 36 sec ago

Tired of Zoom calls? Company offers at-home hologram machines

  • ‘We say if you can’t be there, you can beam there’
  • Device made by PORTL lets users talk in real time with a life-sized hologram of another person
LOS ANGELES: Looking for a new way to communicate during the pandemic? A Los Angeles company has created phone booth-sized machines to beam live holograms into your living room.
The device made by PORTL Inc. lets users talk in real time with a life-sized hologram of another person.
The machines also can be equipped with technology to enable interaction with recorded holograms of historical figures or relatives who have passed away.
Each PORTL device is seven feet (2.1m) tall, five feet (1.5m) wide and two feet (0.6m) deep, and can be plugged into a standard wall outlet. Anyone with a camera and a white background can send a hologram to the machine in what Chief Executive David Nussbaum calls “holoportation.”
“We say if you can’t be there, you can beam there,” said Nussbaum, who previously worked at a company that developed a hologram of Ronald Reagan for the former president’s library and digitally resurrected rapper Tupac Shakur.
“We are able to connect military families that haven’t seen each other in months, people from opposite coasts,” or anyone who is social distancing to fight the coronavirus, Nussbaum added.
Prices for the machine start at $60,000, a cost that Nussbaum expects will drop over the next three to five years. The company also plans a smaller tabletop device with a lower price tag early next year.
The devices can be equipped with artificial intelligence technology from Los Angeles-based company StoryFile to produce hologram recordings that can be archived. Adding that to the current device brings the cost to at least $85,000.
The companies are promoting to museums, which could let visitors question a hologram of a historical figure, and to families to record information for future generations.
People can feel like they are having a conversation with a recorded hologram, said StoryFile Chief Executive Heather Smith.
“(You) feel their presence, see their body language, see all their non-verbal cues,” she said. “You feel like you’ve actually talked to that individual even though they were not there.”