PARIS (AP) — France is bracing for a potential new lockdown as the president prepares a televised address Wednesday aimed at stopping a fast-rising tide of virus patients filling French hospitals and a growing daily death toll.
The main accused Mustafa is a close relative of dentist Behjat Hussain’s (56) wife. He had hatched the plot to get Rs 10 crore in ransom to recoup his losses in business. While seven have been arrested, including six from city and one from the vehicle in Anantapur, Mustafa and 5 others are absconding.
Hussain, a resident of Kismatpura, was abducted from his under-construction clinic at Bandlaguda by four burqa-clad men on Tuesday afternoon. On being alerted by locals, Cyberabad police launched a manhunt to nab the kidnappers by forming 12 special teams.
A few hours after the kidnap, the accused sent a voice message to Hussain’s family through WhatsApp demanding Ra 10 crore as ransom in the form of bitcoins.
They also threatened to kill the victim and his family if the ransom was not paid in 48 hours. Police analysed the call details from the WhatsApp message and tracked their movement.
A few suspects were detained including Md Raheem (18) of Chandrayangutta, who kept a watch on the movement of the dentist, Sumit Chandrakanth Bhosale (28), Akshay Balu Vairekar and Vicky Datta Shinde of Pune, Md Imran and Md Irfan from Yellammabanda for giving logistical support. Based on the confession of the accused and technical evidence, Cyberabad police alerted Anantapur cops about the movement of the accused in a Bolero vehicle towards Karnataka.
Rapthadu sub inspector PT Anjaneyulu and his team first spotted the gang near Marur toll plaza in Anantapur district at 2 am on Wednesday. After an an hour long chase, police surrounded the gang, forcing the accused to abandon the vehicle along with the dentist. Police managed to arrest one of the kidnappers, Sanjay, 19, a student from Udipi in Karnataka.
“Anantapur police intercepted the kidnappers while they were escaping towards Kanaganapalli and rescued the victim,” Cyberabad commissioner V C Sajjanar said.
“Mustafa used to stay in Australia and he incurred huge loss in business. Subsequently, he returned to India and started real estate business in Hyderabad and Pune. Mustafa, who knew about the financial condition of Hussain, hatched a plan to kidnap him along with his friend Mubashir alias Khaled,” Sajjanar said.
The duo roped in other accused from Hyderabad, Pune and Karnataka to execute the plan.
Hussain, who suffered minor injuries on his hands while trying to resist the kidnappers at Bandlaguda, thanked the cops at the press conference.
“I would have been a dead today. I think within 10 minutes of being chased they decided to kill me, but the rescue team saved me,” Hussain said.
Six other accused including Mistafa, Ganesh, Mubashir, Puneet, Prithvi and Siri are absconding. Police seized three cars, seven cell phones, toy pistols and other incriminating evidence from the accused.
By SARAH RANKIN, Associated Press
RICHMOND, Va. (AP) — Southwest Virginia is seeing a sustained, troubling increase in cases of COVID-19 driven partly by small family gatherings, the governor and top health officials said Wednesday, as one area health system issued a stark warning that its resources were being stretched thin.
“To be quite frank, today our region is in a really bad place in this pandemic,” said Jamie Swift, the chief infection prevention officer for Ballad Health, which serves southwest Virginia, as well as adjacent parts of Tennessee, North Carolina and Kentucky.
Gov. Ralph Northam said at a news conference in Richmond that Virginia overall is among just a handful of U.S. states not reporting large increases in COVID-19 cases. But the seven-day testing percent positivity rate in the region’s westernmost localities is about twice the rate of the rest of the state’s 5.1 % and has been increasing for 15 days, Northam said.
“I strongly urge everyone in the southwest — look at these numbers and step up your precautions,” Northam said.
The governor said there were no immediate plans to introduce new regional restrictions to reduce the spread of the virus, but he said such a move was a possibility if the numbers keep trending up.
Northam and Secretary of Health and Human Resources Dr. Daniel Carey said gatherings of extended family members not living in the same household were contributing to the spread. Virginia has so far reported nearly 177,000 cases of COVID-19 and just over 3,600 deaths since the start of the pandemic, according to health department data.
Dr. Karen Shelton, the director of a health department district that includes much of southwest Virginia, wrote in an email that other factors contributing to what she called a “surge” in cases included: outbreaks at churches, inconsistent mask wearing, in-person schooling, social gatherings of friends and coworkers, and relatively fewer people telecommuting due to less broadband access.
Shelton also said a surge in cases in neighboring Tennessee was contributing.
“Tennessee has fewer regulations and has had events, social gatherings, and sports. Friday night football has continued with fans gathering closely in stands without masks,” she wrote.
Swift, Ballad’s infection prevention officer, said at a news conference that it was “past time” for the area to change its behaviors.
The health system said it had seen a 43% increase in the cases across its region over the past week, 88.5% of its ICU beds were full, and it had 181 team members in quarantine or isolation.
“At this rate, we’re only going to be able to care for COVID-19 patients,” said Ballad’s Chief Operating Officer Eric Deaton.
Dane Poe, the administrator of Lee County, located in the furthest southwest tip of Virginia, said the county has been lucky so far to not have more than a few dozen cases requiring hospitalization. The county’s only hospital closed in 2013.
Still, having to be prepared for the additional hospital trips has further strained the six already-strapped volunteer agencies in the
As Britain is hit by a second wave of coronavirus infections and deaths, the country’s doctors and nurses are bracing for what is expected to be a deluge of new patients over the next six months. But this time, they say, the wave is coming without the same sense of caution among a coronavirus-weary public, nor with a clear government strategy to contain the virus and address rapidly filling intensive care units.
Politicians across the political spectrum in Britain largely accepted the need for the country’s first lockdown in the spring, and doctors limped through the crisis, fueled by adrenaline and the hope that the government could keep an eventual resurgence of cases from inundating the health service again.
That hope has not been realized. With 367 deaths and 22,885 confirmed cases on Tuesday alone, Britain has a second wave of infections that could test its overextended health service even more severely than the first did.
A decision by England’s health service to restore normal services has meant that there are fewer unoccupied hospital beds now than there were in the spring, and fewer doctors available to redeploy to coronavirus wards.
Making matters worse, hospitals are already receiving the usual wintertime stream of patients with influenza and other illnesses that can fill them above 95 percent of capacity even in a normal year.
“The first time around, it’s almost like a once-in-a-lifetime kind of medical challenge,” said Paul Whitaker, a respiratory doctor in Bradford, in northern England, where the number of coronavirus patients has returned to its early May peak.
“At the time, it felt like the thing to do, because it was unavoidable and we had to do our bit,” said Tom Lawton, an intensive care doctor in Bradford. “It was that kind of Blitz spirit. Whereas this time, it feels like this could have been avoided, and clearly it has been avoided in a number of countries.”
In other developments around the world:
President Cyril Ramaphosa of South Africa has gone into quarantine after a guest at a charity dinner he attended last weekend tested positive for the coronavirus. Mr. Ramaphosa was not showing any symptoms, his office said Wednesday. Before receiving the results of the test on Tuesday, Mr. Ramaphosa attended several public events in Johannesburg, although he and most of the attendees wore masks. With at least 717,000 total cases and 19,000 deaths, South Africa has been the hardest-hit country in Africa during the pandemic.
Hawaii will allow travelers from Japan to skip a mandatory 14-day quarantine beginning Nov. 6 if they present proof of a negative Covid-19 test, Gov. David Ige announced Tuesday. “Many of Hawaii’s residents trace their ancestry back to Japan, and welcoming our Japanese guests back to Hawaii is an important step in maintaining the close relationship between our two regions,” Mr. Ige said. To bypass quarantine, visitors from Japan must show a negative coronavirus result on a test taken no more than 72 hours before their departure.
In many ways, the U.S. cancer picture is getting better. Cancer is becoming increasingly curable or survivable as a manageable, chronic condition.
However, cancer health disparities persist. Barriers in access to care, noninclusive research, unequal use of preventive measures like cancer screening, and findings of different treatment and worse outcomes even for people with similar disease show there’s much work to be done. A new report details the state of cancer disparities today, and experts discuss what needs to be done to move toward cancer health equity.
- Cancer death rate remains disproportionate. For more than four decades, African Americans have had the highest overall cancer death rate of any racial or ethnic group in the U.S. Currently, when considering all cancers combined, death rates from highest to lowest occur among African Americans, followed by whites, American Indians/Alaska Natives, Hispanics and Asians/Pacific Islanders.
- Cancer mortality gap is narrowing. In 2016, the overall cancer death rate was 14% higher for African Americans compared with whites – still not good. However, that contrasts with a 33% higher rate for African Americans in 1990.
- Cancer death rates are declining overall. Since 2000, cancer death rates have been steadily declining for every racial and ethnic group for whom statistics are collected by the National Cancer Institute. The largest overall decline occurred among African Americans (30%) with the least decline among American Indians/Alaska Natives (11%).
- Sexual orientation disparities. Bisexual women are 70% more likely than heterosexual women to be diagnosed with cancer, according to the AACR report. However, more data is needed on disparities affecting the LGBTQ community. One issue is that patient intake forms used by hospitals and cancer centers don’t always ask how people identify their orientation, making it difficult for researchers to evaluate differences in cancer rates, treatments or outcomes.
- Breast cancer. African American women have a 39% higher risk of dying from breast cancer than their white peers. “African American women are nearly twice as likely as white women to be diagnosed with triple-negative breast cancer, which is one of the more aggressive ones,” points out Monica Baskin, a professor in the department of medicine and the associate director for community outreach and engagement at O’Neal Comprehensive Cancer Center at the University of Alabama at Birmingham.
- Colon cancer. African Americans with colorectal cancer have a more than 18% death rate, compared with a 13.5% death rate for whites. In August, actor Chadwick Boseman died of colon cancer at 43.
- Leukemia. Hispanic children are 20% more likely to develop leukemia than non-Hispanic white children, with this disparity increasing to 38% in adolescents.
- Cervical cancer. Cervical cancer is more lethal in African American women, with a death rate of 3.1%, compared with 2.2% in white women. For the past two decades, cervical cancer incidence and death rates among Hispanic women have been substantially higher than among white women.
- Prostate cancer. African American men have a higher incidence of prostate cancer and twice as high death rates from prostate cancer than
French markets opened lower on expectations that President Emmanuel Macron will announce some kind of lockdown Wednesday, though the government has not released details amid ongoing discussions about what measures would be most effective.
Many French doctors are urging a new nationwide lockdown, noting that 58% of the country’s intensive care units are now occupied by COVID patients and medical staff are under increasing strain.
“The government didn’t take into account what the first wave was and didn’t learn all its lessons,” Frederic Valletoux, president of the French Hospital Federation, said Wednesday on France-Inter radio.
He called for full, monthlong lockdown, saying “this wave will
Police in Andhra Pradesh’s Anantapur district rescued a Hyderabad-based dentist from kidnappers while they were taking him to Karnataka in a vehicle in the early hours of Wednesday.
Anantapur’s superintendent of police Dr Satya Yesubabu said when the kidnappers’ vehicle was intercepted at Rapthadu village the driver tried to divert the vehicle towards Kanaganapalli.
“But the police surrounded it from all sides. While they overpowered Sanjay, who was driving the vehicle, three others managed to escape into the fields. They could rescue the doctor – B Hussain (57), who was lying in the back seat with his hands and legs tied,” the SP said.
Hussain was kidnapped by five burqa-clad men from his clinic at Bandlaguda Jagir under Rajendranagar police station limits on the outskirts of Hyderabad on Tuesday afternoon when he was getting ready to go home for lunch.
The kidnappers, who were conversing in Marathi, beat up Hussain’s assistant Syed Salman and dumped him in the washroom. They later dragged the doctor into his Toyota Innova vehicle and proceeded towards Shankarpalli.
The SP said the kidnappers first detained Hussain in an undisclosed place till evening. Later, the gang leader handed him to four members of the gang and asked them to take him to Shimoga or Bengaluru in a Mahindra Bolero vehicle.
Meanwhile, Salman, who managed to escape from the clinic, informed Hussain’s family. The dentist’s wife then complained to Rajendranagar police.
“Since Hussain is also into real estate business and made big money, the kidnappers targeted him. They reportedly demanded a ransom of Rs 10 crore through Bitcoins,” Yesubabu said.
Based on the evidence collected, the Rajendranagar police came to the conclusion that the kidnappers had taken Hussain towards Bengaluru. They immediately alerted Anantapur police.
“We deployed special police teams on the national highway and kept a watch on the movements of vehicles coming from Hyderabad. In the early hours, Rapthadu police managed to intercept the vehicle and take it into their possession,” the SP said.
He said Hussain was rescued and was safe. “We have seized the vehicle and a pistol from the accused. We have launched a manhunt for other kidnappers. Investigation is on,” he said.
Andhra Pradesh Director General of Police Gautam Sawang complimented the Anantapur police for their quick action in rescuing the dentist from the kidnappers.
Following the alert by the Telangana police regarding the movement of kidnappers’ vehicle with the victim dentist, Behjaat Hussain, who was abducted from his house in Rajendra Nagar police station limits of Telangana, was rescued. The Ananthapuram police intercepted the kidnappers’ vehicle, saved the victim and took two kidnappers into custody, whereas the other two kidnappers managed to escape.
According to Anantapur police, Dr Behjaat Hussain, a resident of Kismatpur, was kidnapped from his hospital at Kismatpur on Tuesday at 1pm by five unknown persons who were burqa clad.
Initially, the kidnappers confined him in an unidentified location in Hyderabad. The kidnappers spoke in Marathi.
However, after kidnapping Hussain, who was a faculty at a Dental college in Hyderabad and also runs a small clinic from his home at Prestige Royal Villas in Kismatpur of Rajendranagar, the offenders called his family and demanded Rs 10 crore ransom in Bitcoins.
“Hussain has inherited properties and the offenders knew it. One of the accused is a relative of Hussain,” Cyberabad police said.
“The dentist was selected as a target as he is financially sound. Kidnappers demanded 10 crore through Bitcoins. Upon intimation from Hyderabad police, while we tried to intercept them at Anantpur, they escaped towards Kanaganapalli. After surrounding from all sides, the vehicle alongwith one accused, by name Sanjay, was caught on hot pursuit, while other three ran towards nearby fields. The victim’s hands and legs were tied. He was kept in car and later rescued,” said Anantapur SP Yesubabu.
Dr Hussain said, “I resisted kidnappers at my clinic and they inflicted injuries on my hand. They took my Innova. Later, they took me to a hideout. They asked me to cooperate. They gave me water and bed to sleep. Around 2am they put me in Bolera car and tied me up.”
The proportion of people with antibodies against the coronavirus in England waned over the span of three months, according to new research out of the U.K. that raises new questions about the achievability of long-lasting herd immunity.
The study, which hasn’t been peer-reviewed, found that the number of people with COVID-19 antibodies declined about 26% over the study period.
Researchers examined three rounds of finger-prick tests from about 365,000 people in England from June through September. They found that about 6% of people had antibodies after the first test, which dropped to 4.4% after the last round.
The findings “suggest the possibility of decreasing population immunity and increasing risk of reinfection as detectable antibodies decline in the population,” according to the study.
Photos: Daily Life, Disrupted
“This very large study has shown that the proportion of people with detectable antibodies is falling over time,” Helen Ward, one of the authors of the study and professor at Imperial College London, said in a statement. “We don’t yet know whether this will leave these people at risk of reinfection with the virus that causes COVID-19, but it is essential that everyone continues to follow guidance to reduce the risk to themselves and others.”
The finding that antibodies against COVID-19 wane is not unexpected, as declines in antibodies to other human coronaviruses after infection have been documented.
“This is consistent with evidence that immunity to seasonal coronaviruses declines over 6 to 12 months after infection and emerging data on SARS-CoV-2 that also detected a decrease over time in antibody levels in individuals followed in longitudinal studies,” researchers wrote in the study.
Still, many have questioned how strong the immune response is to the virus and how long it lasts.
A study out last month found that antibody levels rose for about two months after infection and then plateaued through the four-month mark. That research “provides hope that host immunity to this unpredictable and highly contagious virus may not be fleeting and may be similar to that elicited by most other viral infections,” experts from Harvard University and the U.S. National Institutes of Health, who did not participate in the study, wrote in a commentary published alongside the conclusions.
Massive virus surges across Europe and the U.S. are underway. Some have suggested the controversial idea of letting the virus spread to possibly reach herd immunity, which is generally considered to be around 70% of the population.
Many health officials have decried the notion, and the World Health Organization noted that “we don’t know enough about immunity to COVID-19” for it to be a viable option.
“Never in the history of public health has herd immunity been used as a strategy for responding to an outbreak, let alone a pandemic,” WHO Director General Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus said at a press conference earlier this month.
In the U.S., White House chief of staff Mark Meadows offered a glimpse into President Donald Trump’s coronavirus strategy on Sunday, saying the federal government would focus on developing vaccines
By Robin Foster and E.J. Mundell
TUESDAY, Oct. 27, 2020 (HealthDay News) — Testing of Eli Lilly’s antibody drug for hospitalized COVID-19 patients has been halted because the treatment doesn’t help them recover from their infection.
Two weeks ago, enrollment in the study was paused because of a possible safety issue, the Associated Press reported. But the U.S. National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases, which sponsored the Lilly study, pulled the plug on the trial Monday — not because of any safety problem, but because there was only a slight chance that the drug would be effective, the AP said.
Although it is a setback for one of the most promising treatment approaches for COVID-19, Lilly said in a statement that the government is continuing a separate study testing the antibody drug in mild to moderately ill patients, to try to prevent hospitalization and severe illness.
A similar, two-antibody cocktail from Regeneron Pharmaceuticals Inc. was given to President Donald Trump on an emergency basis when he was sickened with the coronavirus. Earlier this month, former New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie said he had received Lilly’s experimental treatment shortly after he was diagnosed with COVID-19, The New York Times reported.
Dr. Eric Topol, a clinical trial expert at the Scripps Research Institute who has been following the treatment’s development, told the Times that the news “tells us they stopped the trial due to futility, as suspected,” and that it “suggests that the timing of monoclonal antibody administration — early [in the illness] — will be important.”
Antibodies are proteins the body makes when an infection invades the body ; they attach to a virus and help eliminate it. The experimental drugs are concentrated versions of one or two specific antibodies that worked best against the coronavirus in lab and animal tests, the AP reported.
Lilly and Regeneron have both asked for emergency use authorization from the U.S. Food and Drug Administration while late-stage studies continue. Lilly said Monday that its request is based on other results suggesting that the drug helps patients who are not hospitalized, and that it will continue to seek the FDA’s permission for emergency use.
Hospitals feel the strain of surging COVID case counts
As the United States has witnessed record-breaking daily coronavirus case counts, public health experts have warned that hospitals may soon reach a breaking point.
More than 41,000 COVID-19 patients are hospitalized across the country, a 40 percent rise in the past month, Times reported.
But in sharp contrast to the early days of the pandemic, more of these patients are being cared for in sparsely populated parts of the country, where the medical infrastructure isn’t as strong as it is in metropolitan areas, the Times reported.
In Utah, hospital administrators have warned Gov. Gary Herbert that they would soon have to ration access to intensive care units, and requested state approval for criteria to decide which patients should get priority, The Salt Lake Tribune reported.
“We told him, ‘It
By Yves Herman and Marine Strauss
BRUSSELS (Reuters) – The Belgian government will convene on Friday to decide on a potential new national lockdown with the country now suffering the highest rate of coronavirus infections per 100,000 citizens, according to official data.
The nation of 11 million people had 1,390 new COVID-19 infections per 100,000 residents over the past two weeks, data from the European Centre for Disease Prevention and Control showed on Tuesday.
The Czech Republic is next with 1,379 per 100,000, while many other European countries are reporting soaring infection rates in a second wave of the global pandemic abetted by the onset of cold, damp winter weather.
New daily infections in Belgium, where the European Union and NATO have their headquarters, hit a peak of more than 18,000 on Oct. 20, almost a 10-fold rise from the high of a spring wave of the pandemic.
The number of patients in intensive care units (ICUs) is doubling every eight days – to 809 as of Monday – with 5,260 people in hospitals, which risk running out of beds. Belgian foreign affairs minister and former PM Sophie Wilmes was still in intensive care in Brussels, after testing positive to COVID-19 last week.
In Liege, the Belgian city with the highest number of COVID-19 infections, hundreds of patients are admitted daily, its main hospital said in a Facebook post.
If the rate of hospitalisation continues at this rhythm, the hospital said it would head “straight into a wall,” according to the Facebook post.
“What’s complicated is that we constantly have to open new units, put in place new teams of nurses and doctors, to take care of those patients, and this flow of patients is in the end continuous,” Christelle Meuris, an infectious disease specialist who oversees a COVID-19 unit at the hospital, told Reuters.
With 10,899 total deaths, Belgium has one of the highest per capita COVID-19 fatality rates in the world.
The federal cabinet will meet on Friday to further tighten measures to curb COVID-19 contagion, a week after tightening curbs on social contacts by banning fans from sports matches and limiting numbers in cultural spaces.
The government of the Wallonia region imposed a longer night curfew while in the capital Brussels, all sport and cultural facilities were ordered on Saturday to close and residents were subjected to a longer curfew from Monday.
(Reporting by Yves Herman and Marine Strauss with additional reporting by Kate Abnett; Editing by Mark Heinrich)
Copyright 2020 Thomson Reuters.