First coronavirus fatality in Europe reported: Chinese tourist dies in France

The death adds to a rising toll of over 1,500 — with the overwhelming majority in China — and is the first fatality reported in Europe.

An employee at a Kolmi-Hopen factory warehouse in Saint-Barthelemy-d’Anjou, France, on February 5, 2020. Kolmi-Hopen makes medical face masks.

HIGHLIGHTS

  • France has recorded 11 coronavirus cases
  • Worldwide: Over 60,000 cases; more than 1,500 deaths
  • Novel coronavirus was first detected in Wuhan, China

A elderly Chinese tourist has died of a novel coronavirus infection in France, Health Minister Agnes Buzyn said Saturday.

The death adds to a rising toll of over 1,500 — with the overwhelming majority in China — and is the first fatality reported in Europe.

France has recorded 11 cases of the coronavirus, out of a global total of over 60,000.

EFFORTS TO CONTAIN CORONAVIRUS IN WUHAN

The new strain of coronavirus causing Covid-19 is a cousin of the pathogens causing SARS and MERS. The current outbreak began in Wuhan, a Chinese city of 11 million people and the capital of Hubei province.

The Chinese National Health Commission says Beijing will maintain efforts to contain the spread of the virus in Wuhan, with a focus on cutting rates of infection and fatalities.

The city has been under virtual lockdown for three weeks, but daily figures have given little indication that restrictions are stopping the spread of Covid-19, or that it is nearing a peak.

Inputs from Reuters

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To utar jayein: CM Kamal Nath responds to Jyotiraditya Scindia’s street agitation call

Responding to the media over Jyotiraditya Scindia’s threat to take to the streets if the Madhya Pradesh government fails to fulfil its promise to waive off the farm loans, CM Kamal Nath said “to utar jayein [do it]”.

Madhya Pradesh Chief Minister Kamal Nath. (Photo: PTI)

Acrimony between Jyotiraditya Scindia and Madhya Pradesh Chief Minister Kamal Nath came to the fore yet again with the latter saying that the former was free to take to the streets to force the government to fulfil its farm loan waiver promises.

Responding to the media over Jyotiraditya Scindia’s threat to protest if the state government fails to fulfil its promise to waive off the farm loans, the party had promised in its election manifesto, Kamal Nath said “to utar jayein [do it]”.

Kamal Nath had earlier showed displeasure over Jyotiraditya Scindia’s leadership and targetting him over manifesto promises made to the public.

A day after Scindia warned that “he will become shield and sword of guest teachers” in Madhya Pradesh if their demands were not met, Kamal Nath responded saying: “Manifesto is for five years, right? It is not for five months”.

WATCH: TOH UTAR JAAYEIN, SAYS CM KAMAL NATH

On Friday, Jyotiraditya Scindia vowed to protest saying “sadak par utarna padega” if the Madhya Pradesh government fails to fulfil the loan waiver promises the party had made in its manifesto before the Assembly polls in the state.

Speaking to news agency ANI, Jyotiraditya Scindia said it was impossible for the Congress party to not fulfil the promises.

“It is impossible that Congress party makes a promise and does not fulfill it. If Congress has promised something then it is very important to fulfill it…nahi to sadak par utarna padega [otherwise we’ll take to the streets]” Jyotiraditya Scindia said.

Jyotiraditya Scindia’s statement came just hours after Congress leader and Madhya Pradesh minister Govind Singh said his party could not waive the farmer loans due to a “difficult situation”.

“Rahul Gandhi had said that after we form the government, we’ll waive off farmer loans up to Rs 2 lakh in 10 days, but we could not,” Govind Singh said, adding, “The opposition says that we betrayed you. I want to say that situation is difficult that’s why there is a delay in waiving off loans.”

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Government closely monitoring agriculture credit given by banks: Finance minister

NEW DELHI: Finance minister Nirmala Sitharaman on Saturday said the government is monitoring farm credit given by banks in rural areas, adding that she expects to meet the increased target of Rs 15 lakh crore for the next fiscal.
The government in Budget 2020-21 has raised the farm loan disbursal target by 11 per cent to Rs 15 lakh crore for the next fiscal and allocated Rs 1.6 lakh crore to implement various plans in agriculture and allied sectors as it chases the goal of doubling farmers income by 2022.
The government has allocated Rs 75,000 crore for the PM-KISAN scheme for the next fiscal, which is same as the budget estimate for this fiscal but higher than revised estimate of Rs 54,370 crore.
“Credit limit has been expanded. I am sure it is based on local ground level requirement…we expect the demand to grow and credit requirements to also meet up with it. I am actually closely monitoring banks and their extension of credit facility particularly to rural areas. So I think we’ll be able to meet that,” she told reporters after addressing the central board of RBI here.
The farm credit target for the current fiscal has been set at Rs 13.5 lakh crore.
Normally, farm loans attract an interest rate of 9 per cent. But the government is providing 2 per cent interest subsidy to ensure farmers get short-term farm loan of up to Rs 3 lakh at an effective rate of 7 per cent per annum.
With regard to proposed mega consolidation of public sector banks, the finance minister said there was no discussion on the issue at the RBI board meeting on Saturday.
“I don’t see any reason to go back or any reason which is particularly causing any delay for any notification…you will hear on it as it when it comes,” she said.
Last year in August, the government announced merger of 10 public sector banks into four. United Bank of India and Oriental Bank of Commerce are to be merged with Punjab National Bank, making the proposed entity the second largest public sector bank (PSB) from April 1 this year.
It was also decided to merge Syndicate Bank with Canara Bank, and Allahabad Bank with Indian Bank. Similarly, Andhra Bank and Corporation Bank are to be consolidated with Union Bank of India.
In April 2019, Bank of Baroda, in the first three-way merger exercise, amalgamated Vijaya Bank and Dena Bank with itself.
SBI had merged five of its associate banks — State Bank of PatialaState Bank of Bikaner and Jaipur, State Bank of Mysore, State Bank of Travancore and State Bank of Hyderabad as well as Bharatiya Mahila Bank with itself effective April 2017.

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OnePlus 7T Pro, OnePlus 7 Pro, OnePlus 7 Start Receiving New OxygenOS Updates With Jio VoWiFi Support

OnePlus 7T Pro, OnePlus 7 Pro, and OnePlus 7 have started receiving new OxygenOS updates that bring the January 2020 Android security patch. The latest updates also add VoWiFi calling support to the OnePlus 7T Pro, OnePlus 7 Pro, and OnePlus 7, specifically for Jio users. OnePlus has also optimised RAM management through the fresh OxygenOS update. The new updates have been released as a staged rollout and are reaching a limited number of users initially — with a broader rollout set for the next few days.

In India, the OnePlus 7T ProOnePlus 7 Proand OnePlus 7 are receiving OxygenOS 10.3.1. The users in Europe and global markets are, however, receiving OxygenOS 10.0.4 on the OnePlus 7 Pro and OnePlus 7 models and OxygenOS 10.0.7 on the OnePlus 7T Pro.

As per the changelog provided on the official forum, the latest OxygenOS versions for the OnePlus 7T Pro, OnePlus 7 Pro, and OnePlus 7 include identical changes. The updates bring the January Android security patch, and optimise RAM management. Specifically for Indian users, the updates include VoWiFi support for Jio network and a cloud service to enable synchronisation with Contacts and Notes.

There is also an upgraded Work-Life Balance mode with optimised message notification, app selection, and added support for location, calendar, and auto-track feature. The Indian users can additionally avail cricket scores as a card in their Shelf to access live match scores and team updates.

The new updates improve black/ blank screen issues that occurred with some apps. There is also a feature to support reminders for privacy alerts. Besides, the updates improve system stability and fix general bugs.

“The OTA will be received by a limited number of users today and will have a broader rollout in a few days after making sure there are no critical bugs,” the OnePlus team wrote in the forum posts.

You can check the availability of the latest updates on your OnePlus device by visiting the Settings menu.

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UV radiation blinding rural folk, finds study

CHENNAI: Why is every alternate person in rural India above the age of 40 blinded by cataract when only one in five in cities has the disease? This was the question that troubled a group of researchers at Sankara Nethralaya in the city nearly two years ago. Today, they have an answer exposure to ultraviolet radiation.
The team, comprising optometrists and ophthalmologists, found that though the level of ultraviolet radiation was higher in Chennai than in neighbouring Tiruvallur due to pollution, ocular exposure to these rays was higher in the rural areas than in the city, increasing the risk.

“Our study shows that it’s clearly because of the lifestyle changes most city residents have adopted,” said Dr Ronnie George, consultant, Sankara Nethralaya. Screening the profiles of over 800 people equally divided in urban and rural areas the team calculated “the lifetime ocular UV exposure” in rural and urban areas.
“The study proved that no matter where they are or what they do agriculture, poultry or construction labour hats and/or sunglasses are required to block ultraviolet rays from the eye. It has got to do more with common sense than style,” he said.

Arivunidhi K, 47, an agricultural labourer who was operated for cataract in June, understands this very well. “Almost every working member of my family has disease. It progressed faster in my wife and she was operated last year,” he said. While Arivunidhi and his wife Kalaiselvi are among the few lucky ones, many aren’t.

A cataract is a clouding of the lens. India is now home to more than 15 million blind, the bulk of which is due to cataract and therefore reversible. A recent study on cataract conducted by the hospital, in which 7,774 patients were screened, showed that nearly 50% of rural citizens above 40 years were affected. In the urban areas, nearly 20% were affected.

Cataracts are classified according to where they occur. The cataract linked to ultraviolet exposure is the cortical cataract and forms in the outer layer of the lens. People with higher lifetime ocular exposure were more at risk for this type of cataract than those with the lowest exposure.

Lifetime ocular exposure is calculated with formulae the scientists developed based on an individual’s case history, including profession, hours of stay in the sun and place of residence. The hospital sourced the dosage of ultraviolet radiation from Tropospheric Emission Monitoring Systems. According to the international initiative that studies ozone depletion, the UV index in Tiruvallur was 6.9 and in Chennai 7.1.

Since January, the team also measured the extent of ultraviolet radiation in Chennai and the neighbouring districts. “We exposed polysulfone strips, which are capable of absorbing the UV flux from sunlight, and then read the measurement under a collimator, a device that narrows a beam of particles or waves. The gap between the city and the rural areas was evident in this as well,” said Rashima Asokan, an optometrist.

Studies have shown that extensive exposure to sunlight, particularly ultraviolet B radiation, could increase the risk of a major form of cataracts, besides skin cancer. UV-A radiation is more associated with tanning of the skin.

Going by the radiation level, Chennai should have been at a greater risk. “‘We looked at the wherefore, not the why,” Dr George said. The analysis gave the answers. The lifetime ocular exposure for an urbanite was 1.32 against 3.16 for those in the rural areas.

That clearly explained why people in rural areas got the disease at least five years earlier than their counterparts in the city or why the incidence was more than double.

“Where there is enough sun to give sunburns, it’s only wise to block the sun. If glasses are not affordable, we would prescribe at least a hat,” said Rashima.

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Hope it helps in winning IPL: Vijay Mallya as RCB undergoes brand makeover

As RCB kept on making new announcements across their social media platforms, former owner of the franchise and Liquor tycoon Vijay Mallya kept reminding the team about winning their maiden IPL trophy.

IPL 2020: Vijay Mallya's cheeky reply to RCB's new logo announcement

( Courtesy by BCCI)

HIGHLIGHTS

  • Vijay Mallya asked RCB to win the IPL trophy as the franchise underwent a brand makeover
  • IPL on Friday unveiled their new team logo after strange social media activities
  • RCB finished last in the last edition of the IPL

A couple of days back, IPL franchise Royal Challengers Bangalore (RCB) removed the team logos across their social media handles as they decided to start afresh in the new decade ahead of the 13th season of the cash-rich league. After their strange social media activities where they deleted old posts and photographs, RCB finally unveiled their new logo with a caption “New Decade, New RCB, New Logo.”

However, as RCB kept on making new announcements across their social media platforms, former owner of the franchise and Liquor tycoon Vijay Mallya kept reminding the team about winning their maiden IPL trophy. In one of his Twitter comments, Mallya also wished for the long overdue wait of the fans for the IPL trophy to come to an end with RCB’s brand makeover.

Meanwhile, Mallya also asked RCB to give freedom to skipper Virat Kohli.

According to media reports, the Royal Challengers Bangalore (RCB) is planning to change the name of the franchise. However, no update was given on the reports through RCB’s social media activity.

RCB’s actions came a day after the IPL franchise signed Muthoot Fincorp as their title sponsor for IPL 2020. RCB on Tuesday announced a three-year partnership with Muthoot Fincorp Ltd, a part of the Muthoot Pappachan Group, popularly known as Muthoot Blue, a diversified conglomerate in the financial services industry.

After finishing as runners-up in IPL 2016, RCB’s performances in the following seasons have been far from impressive. The Virat Kohli-led franchise finished last in 2017, 6th in 2018 and once again last in 2019.

With the likes of Mike Hesson (Director of Cricket) and Simon Katich (head coach) on board, RCB are hoping for a change of fortunes in IPL 2020.

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Another 67 people test positive for coronavirus on cruise ship in Japan

The US State Department will evacuate American citizens and their families aboard the Diamond Princess cruise ship that has been quarantined in a Japanese port for nearly two weeks as many passengers are infected with the novel coronavirus.

Passengers stand on the deck of the cruise ship Diamond Princess, as they continue to be tested for coronavirus. (Photo: Getty)

Another 67 people have tested positive for the coronavirus on the Diamond Princess cruise ship in Japan, Health Minister Katsunobu Kato said on Saturday.

The United States said earlier on Saturday it would send an aircraft to Japan to bring back U.S. passengers on the quarantined Diamond Princess, where the most coronavirus infections outside China have occurred.

The cruise liner’s quarantine is set to end on Feb. 19.

The Diamond Princess cruise ship, owned by Carnival Corp, has been quarantined since arriving in Yokohama on Feb. 3, after a man who disembarked in Hong Kong before it travelled to Japan was diagnosed with the virus.

A total of 138 Indians, including 132 crew and 6 passengers, were among the 3,711 people on board the quarantined ship that arrived at the Japanese coast earlier this month.

It was quarantined after a passenger who de-boarded last month in Hong Kong was found to be the carrier of the COVID-19 on the ship.

The Indian Embassy is in contact with Japanese authorities, the ship management company and Indian nationals on board the ship.

“We have continued our efforts with all of them for early disembarkation of our nationals after the end of the quarantine period and subject to favourable results of their tests for COVID – 19,” an embassy official told PTI on Saturday.

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VD Sharma appointed as BJP MP chief. What it means for state’s politics

The Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) on Saturday appointed Vishnu Dutt Sharma as the Madhya Pradesh state president. Sharma replaced Jabalpur Lok Sabha MP Rakesh Singh, who had been serving as the state BJP president from April 2018.

Presently, Vishnu Dutt Sharma is the Lok Sabha MP from Khajuraho and is general secretary in the MP unit of BJP in Rakesh Singh’s team. The appointment of a new state BJP president in Madhya Pradesh had been pending ever since Rakesh Singh’s term came to an end.

Speculations were rife in the state BJP that Rakesh Singh, an MP from Jabalpur, might get another term. He had last month organised a grand pro-Citizenship (Amendment) Act rally in his constituency, which was attended by Amit Shah.

The BJP leadership, however, picked Sharma for the post, a move that has come as a surprise to many.

Sharma, who is popularly known as VD, is a staunch follower of the RSS and began his political career with the Akhil Bhartiya Vidyarthi Parishad (ABVP). He is credited for strengthening the ABVP, the students’ wing of the RSS, in Madhya Pradesh in the 1990s.

Sharma was trying for a ticket from the Govindpura constituency in Bhopal before the 2018 Madhya Pradesh Assembly elections. He did not get the desired ticket and was given the charge of the Rewa constituency instead.

BJP did exceedingly well in the Baghelkhand region where constituencies of the Rewa division are located and it was largely seen as a result of VD Sharma’s efforts.

In fact, the Rewa division was the only region in MP where BJP did better than the Congress. Had Congress averaged the same number of seats in the Rewa division, as it did in the other regions of the state, it would have formed the government with a comfortable majority.

In the Lok Sabha elections, VD Sharma was seen as a probable contender for the Bhopal constituency. However, the ticket was finally given to Pragya Thakur but Sharma, nonetheless, managed to secure a party nomination from Khajuraho seat which lies in the Bundelkhand region.

Even though he was an outsider in the region, Sharma managed to win by a thundering majority from Khajuraho by securing about 5 lakh votes.

What does VD Sharma’s appointment signify for other BJP leaders?

VD Sharma’s appointment clearly points to an influence of the Sangh in organisational decisions. Sharma is also popular with party workers.

The central unit of the BJP feels that in Sharma, the party has a leader who commands the loyalty of common workers and will have a street fighter to oppose the local Congress government — something that the party found owing to being in government for 15 years in the state.

Caste-wise, Sharma is a Brahmin and the BJP appears to be Brahmin-heavy with the leader of opposition Gopal Bhargava also being a Brahmin. Political watchers suggest that with VD Sharma’s appointment, Gopal Bhargava may now be replaced with someone else.

Sharma is also not perceived to be close to former CM Shivraj Singh Chouhan, perhaps the tallest BJP leader in the state, but someone who has clearly fallen foul of the central BJP leadership.

Local BJP leaders in MP are also maintaining a studied distance from Chouhan, given that they are aware of the central leadership’s aversion to him.

In Sharma’s appointment, there is a clear anti-Shivraj message. The Shivraj group is, however, taking solace in the fact that Rakesh Singh, the outgoing BJP state president did not secure a second term. Shivraj Singh Chouhan had been opposed to Singh being given another term.

In days to come, with VD Sharma’s appointment, one can expect more agitations and aggressive street style politics unfolding in the state.

How will Sharma’s appointment impact the appointment of the next Pradesh Congress Committee (PCC) president which has been due for some time now too?

The Congress, in its true style, has been delaying the appointment of the next PCC president to replace Chief Minister Kamal Nath who is holding the post presently.

Former Union minister Jyotiraditya Scindia is a contender for the post as are a number of other state leaders close to CM Kamal Nath.

The appointment of VD Sharma as PCC chief will dent the chances of any Brahmin leaders who were harbouring hopes of being appointed PCC president. It will brighten the chances of an aggressive, youthful leader for the post.

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Transmission of rate cuts to improve further, says RBI governor Shaktikanta Das

NEW DELHI: Reserve Bank of India (RBI) governor Shaktikanta Das on Saturday said momentum is gathering pace on credit growth and expressed hope that transmission of rate cuts will improve further in the coming days.
His comments come against the backdrop of concerns over growth of the economy, which has also registered spike in inflation and slowdown in industrial production.
Addressing the media after RBI board meeting, which was also addressed by finance minister Nirmala Sitharaman, Das said he does not agree that rate cut transmission is plateauing out.
Transmission of rate cuts is slowly and steadily improving and it is expected to improve further, he said.
“We do expect credit growth to pick up in coming months,” Das said, adding that momentum is gathering pace on this front.
On February 6, the six member-Monetary Policy Committee (MPC) headed by Das, for the second meeting in a row, kept repo rate unchanged at 5.15 per cent but maintained the accommodative policy stance which implies it was biased in favour of cutting rate to boost growth.
“Monetary policy framework is in operation for the last 3 years. Internally, we are reviewing and analysing how the MPC framework has worked. At an appropriate time, if required, we’ll have dialogue and discussion with the government. At the moment it is under review within RBI,” the RBI governor said.
He further added that RBI’s growth projection of 6 per cent for the next year is in line with Economic Survey projection.
Prior to going for status quo on rates in December, the central bank had slashed rates five consecutive times that resulted in a cumulative 1.35 per cent decline in repo rate.
“Economic activity remains subdued and the few indicators that have moved up recently are yet to gain traction in a more broad-based manner. Given the evolving growth-inflation dynamics, the MPC felt it appropriate to maintain status quo,” the MPC had said.
On Supreme Court’s order to telecom companies regarding AGR (adjusted gross revenue) dues, Das said it will have internal discussions in case there are any issues arising out of the order.
The RBI governor did not offer any specific comments about the order — which might have ramifications on banks in terms of their exposure to the financially-stressed telecom companies.
On Friday, the Supreme Court threatened contempt proceedings against top executives of Bharti Airtel, Vodafone Idea and other telecom firms for failing to comply with its directive to pay an estimated Rs 1.47 lakh crore in past dues.

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Google Pixel 5 XL Purported Render Surfaces Online, Triple Rear Cameras, Matte-Finish Glass Back Indicated

Google Pixel 5, or what we can simply believe as the successor to the Pixel 4, isn’t likely to be launched anytime soon. But ahead of any official announcements or teasers, a render that is believed to be of the Google Pixel 5 XL has surfaced. The render suggests some similarities between the Pixel 4 and Pixel 5 XL. Also, it hints at the presence of a triple rear camera setup on the new Pixel phone. Some recent reports have suggested the development of the Pixel 4a that could come as the successor to the Pixel 3a phones. However, we are yet to hear any no rumours around the debut of the Pixel 5 or Pixel 5 XL.

YouTuber Jon Prosser has showcased the purported render of the Google Pixel 5 XL through a video posted on his YouTube channel. Prosser notes in the video that the source of the leaked render is “extremely trustworthy,” though the YouTuber himself spent a couple of days to verify it before making the render public through the YouTube channel.

The texture, suggested by the render, at the back of the Pixel 5 XL looks quite similar to what is featured on the Pixel 4 — with a soft matte glass back and a glossy camera module. Particularly, the camera module appears to have three distinct image sensors, along with a wide-angle lens. The camera setup seems to feature a divisive design that isn’t been loved by everyone.

Just like any other smartphone maker, Google usually tests multiple prototypes before finalising a new smartphone design. It is, therefore, possible that the actual Pixel 5 XL would come with several changes over what we see in the render.

During the narration in the video, Prosser has mentioned that apart from seeing the back, the YouTuber was able to see the front of the Pixel 5 XL that has a forehead — just like the existing Pixel phones. Prosser, however, didn’t provide any renders suggesting the front panel of the smartphone.

Google is hosting its I/O 2020 starting May 12 where it is likely to unveil the Pixel 4a. This would be relatively affordable over the Pixel 5 and Pixel 5 XL flagships that are expected to unveil at a hardware-focussed event sometime in October.

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