(dpa) Pakistani Authorities, On Wednesday said investigation showed that dust from soybeans was behind more than a dozen deaths in the port city of Karachi, local official said.
Local Official, Hassan Sajid, said at least 14 people had so far died and more than 200 hospitalised since Sunday, after the toxic gas engulfed the Kemari Town area near the port.
The cause of the leak remained a mystery until Tuesday, causing speculation of damage to a nuclear power reactor in the city that triggered panic.
Several dozen families fled the area.
Pakistan’s International Centre for Chemical and Biological Sciences, however, identified soybean dust as a possible cause.
A Nuclear scientist, Atta Rahman told Geo television that initial findings showed that soybean dust was the cause of deaths, adding that the country needed more concrete evidence.
Maritime Minister, Ali Zaidi, said that the soybean imported from the U.S. was being offloaded from a ship docked at the port.
“The ship has now been removed from the terminal.
“Offloading was put to a halt on Tuesday due to panic in the region,” Zaidi said.
According to Doctor Seemin Jamali, at the city’s Jinnah Hospital, where most of the ill people were taken to, soybean dust can trigger severe allergic reaction and can be deadly for people with lungs infection.
However, Rahman said that although the ship had been removed from the terminal, the impact of the dust would take at least four days to vanish.
Edited By: Yahaya Isah/Emmanuel Yashimhttps://nnn.ng/soybean-dust-investigated-as-cause-of-series-of-deaths-in-karachi/
Red Cross warns coronavirus is driving discrimination in Asia
The International Federation of Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies (IFRC) on Thursday warned the novel coronavirus is driving discrimination towards vulnerable communities in Asia, including migrants and foreigners.
The humanitarian agency surveyed 5,000 people in Indonesia, Malaysia, Myanmar, and Pakistan and found about half blamed a specific group for spreading the coronavirus, with many mentioning Chinese people, immigrants and foreigners.
“It is particularly concerning that both national migrant and foreign workers are blamed for the spread of COVID-19 as they are quite vulnerable already,” Dr Viviane Fluck, one of the lead researchers and the agency’s Asia Pacific community engagement and accountability coordinator, told Reuters.
She said there should be more focus on combating rumours that are linked to underlying power dynamics and structural issues of inequality.
Over half of the Indonesians surveyed blamed “foreigners and rule-breakers” while in Myanmar, the groups most often thought to be responsible were people from China and other foreigners.
“In Malaysia, two-thirds blamed a specific group, most frequently mentioning migrants, foreign tourists and illegal foreigners,’’ the researchers said.
Malaysian authorities arrested hundreds of undocumented migrants and refugees in May in a crackdown the United Nations said could push vulnerable groups into hiding and prevent them from seeking treatment.
Police said at the time the operation was aimed at preventing people from travelling amid movement curbs.
In Pakistan, most people surveyed blamed inadequate government controls on the Iranian border, followed by nationals including pilgrims coming back from Iran and then people from China.
In all four countries, higher education had a small impact on whether respondents blamed a specific group, with university graduates slightly less likely to hold certain people responsible, the researchers said.
Edited By: Abiodun Oluleye/Emmanuel Yashim
NDLEA intercepts 1.6 kilograms of hard drugs en-route Turkey
The National Drug Law Enforcement Agency (NDLEA), Nnamdi Azikwe International Airport, Special Area Command, has intercepted 1.6 kilogramme of controlled drugs suspected to be Tramadol and Flunitrazepam.
The Head of Public Affairs, NDLEA, Mr Jonah Achema, disclosed this in a statement made available to the News Agency of Nigeria on Wednesday in Abuja.
Achema said that the drugs, which were destined for Istanbul, Turkey, barely few days after resumption of international flights, was an unusual drug trafficking trend.
He said that the command made the seizure from Mr Michael Chukwuka, during the outward clearance of passengers boarding the Turkish Airline flight to Istanbul, Turkey.
According to him, the usual trend is the illegal importation of Tramadol from Pakistan and India into the country and not the exportation of illicit Tramadol.
“The seizures are made up of 1.250 kilograms of Tramadol and 350 grams of flunitrazepam and were concealed in two Ghana-must-go bags.
“The Tramadol are in 200, 225 and 250 milligrams, respectively. These are above the 100 milligram threshold permissible for legitimate use and anything above is illegal.
“Chukwuka, aged 36 and an indigene of Imo State, claimed to be ignorant of the content of the bag.
“And that he was given the bags at the Airport entrance in Abuja to deliver to a Nigerian woman who deals in food stuff in Istanbul.
“He said he did not know the woman but one Mr Paul, her husband in Warri, gave the consignment to one man to bring to him at the airport,” Achema quoted him as saying.
Achema, however, said that the suspected drug trafficker who worked in a Cargo Office in Istanbul, had lived there together with Paul for many years.
He said that the suspect travelled to Nigeria in March and got trapped by the Coronavirus pandemic during which period, he equally became cash-strapped and had to reach out to friends to enable him validate his return-ticket.
The Commander, NDLEA, Nnamdi Azikwe International Airport, Mr Kabir Taskuwa, said that the arrest and seizure coming less than a week after the resumption of international flights at Abuja International Airport was a clear indication that the drug traffickers were desperate.
According to him, we are equally determined. Most importantly, we need to be extra-vigilant because smuggling Tramadol to Turkey was strange.
“This is suggesting that there is an emerging tramadol market in some of these countries,” Tsakuwa noted.
Edited By: Ifeyinwa Okonkwo/Idonije Obakhedo
Pakistan’s educational institutions reopen after 6-month break over COVID-19 – Reports
All the educational institutions across Pakistan reopened on Tuesday after a six-month break over the spread of the coronavirus infection, media reported.
The decision to shut schools, universities and other educational institutions was made by the country’s government back in March in a bid to curb the spread of COVID-19, while the Sindh province took the same measure in February after detecting the first case.
Earlier in September, Education Minister Shafqat Mahmood announced that all higher education institutions would reopen from Sept. 15, with children studying from the ninth to 12th grades also returning to school the same day, the Geo News broadcaster reported.
The decision also applies to over 30,000 religious seminaries across the country that also gradually resumed operations from Tuesday.
At the same time, the use of masks remains mandatory for all teachers and students, while all educational institutions need to ensure the supply of hand sanitiser at the entrance, as well as social distancing measures, the broadcaster added.
Coronavirus lockdown measures have partially or fully closed schools for over 60% of the world’s student population across 186 countries and territories, according to UNESCO.
After closing schools to prevent the spread of the coronavirus, a handful of countries like Denmark, Japan, and the United States have started reopened them.
Reopening strategies range from keeping windows open for ventilation to spacing desks six feet apart and resuming classes for students of a certain age.
While reopened schools have been mostly successful in avoiding any further coronavirus outbreaks among younger students so far, as The Washington Post story stated, doctors and public health officials warn that there is still a lot we don’t know about how the virus spreads in schools, and asymptotic children aren’t likely to be tested.
Edited By: Emmanuel Yashim
Pakistani students return to school as COVID-19 caseload drops
Tens of thousands of students in Pakistan returned to educational institutions on Tuesday after a six-month break, as the country’s new coronavirus caseload continues to decline.
Universities and colleges reopened and school classes for the ninth and 10th grade restarted in the first phase of a three-stage plan announced by the the government earlier this month.
School classes for younger pupils were set to resume by the end of September, Education Minister Shafqat Mahmood said.
A sharp decline in new COVID-19 infections since July has encouraged authorities to reopen educational institutions under strict guidelines for teachers and students, including the wearing of face masks.
“It was a difficult decision but we have to take it sooner or later,” said Saeed Ghani, Education Minister in the worst-hit southern province of Sindh.
Student unions in the conflict-ridden provinces of Khyber-Pakhtunkhwa and Balochistan welcomed the resumption of in-person learning, as many students had not been able to join online classes due to a lack of internet access.
Pakistan had ordered schools to close in February, following the lead of other countries in the region, after the first COVID-19 infections were reported.
The country has reported more than 300,000 COVID-19 infections and more than 6,000 related deaths.
More than 95 per cent of patients have recovered.
The ratio of new infections among those tested recently declined to 2 per cent, according to health authorities.
The minister said the government would order schools to close again if infections spread once more.
Edited By: Fatima Sule/Sadiya Hamza