Fire kills 7 coronavirus patients in India COVID-19 facility

Relatives grief for their loved one outside the mortuary room of the Civil Hospital in Ahmedabad on August 6, 2020, after a fire broke early in the morning in the intensive care unit of the Shrey Hospital killing 8 coronavirus patients. (File/AFP)
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Updated 09 August 2020

Fire kills 7 coronavirus patients in India COVID-19 facility

  • The blaze at Hotel Swarna Palace in the city of Vijayawada in Andhra Pradesh state broke out at 5 a.m.
  • Fires are common in buildings in India because of poor safety standards with inadequate fire extinguishers

HYDERABAD, India: A fire killed seven coronavirus patients early Sunday at a southern Indian hotel being used as a COVID-19 facility, officials said, in the second such incident this month.
The blaze at Hotel Swarna Palace in the city of Vijayawada in Andhra Pradesh state broke out at 5 a.m. Rescue teams evacuated those trapped in the multistory building, said Senior police officer Srinivasulu, who uses only one name.
At least 22 people were brought to hospitals, he said.
The fire was brought under control but the smoke was still billowing out from the building, he said.
Srinivasulu said that an electrical short-circuit appeared to be the cause of the fire.
Prime Minister Narendra Modi expressed his condolences and assured survivors of all possible support.
This the second fire incident at a COVID-19 facility in India this month. On Thursday, eight people were killed in a fire in the intensive care unit of a private COVID-19 designated hospital in Ahmedabad in Gujarat state.
Fires are common in buildings in India because of poor safety standards with inadequate fire extinguishers, smoke detectors and fire alarm systems.


UK science advisers warn public on COVID-19 rates

Updated 21 September 2020

UK science advisers warn public on COVID-19 rates

  • Prime Minister Boris Johnson huddled with ministers over the weekend to discuss how the government will respond to the recent rise in cases
  • The UK reported a seven-day average of 21 deaths a day last week

LONDON: Britain’s top medical adviser says the country has, in a “very bad sense,” turned a corner on COVID-19 infection rates, with figures suggesting there will be an exponential growth in the disease unless action is taken.
Chief Medical Officer Chris Whitty told the public on Monday that rates are going in the “wrong direction” amid expectations the government is preparing to announce new measures to control the pandemic.
“We have in a very bad sense, literally turned a corner,” after weeks of increasing infection rates.
Whitty said that if nothing is done, new infections will rise to 49,000 a day by mid-October. Hospitalizations are also doubling in seven to eight days — leading to more deaths.
There was also no indication that the virus had lessened in severity, he said. “We see no evidence that this is true.”
Prime Minister Boris Johnson huddled with ministers over the weekend to discuss how the government will respond to the recent rise in cases, which has pushed infection rates to levels last seen in May. Later this week the government is expected to announce a slate of short-term restrictions that will act as a “circuit breaker” to slow the spread of the disease.
The government is hoping to keep that number from climbing back to the peak levels of early April, when more than 5,000 cases a day were being reported.
While death rates have remained relatively low so far, public health officials warn that deaths are likely to rise in coming weeks.
The UK reported a seven-day average of 21 deaths a day last week, compared with a peak of 942 on April 10.
The government last week imposed tighter restrictions on communities in northeastern England, where the infection rate first began to rise. Bars and restaurants in those areas must now close between 10 p.m. and 5 a.m. and people are prohibited from socializing with individuals from other households.
The rise in infection rates comes as lawmakers across the political spectrum criticize the government’s testing program. While government ministers tout the record numbers of tests being performed, there are widespread reports of people having to travel hundreds of miles for tests and tests being voided because it is taking labs too long to process them.
An effective testing program is seen as essential to controlling the pandemic because it allows the government to track infections and inform people when they should self-isolate.