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Details of flu pandemic strategy released

first_imgWASHINGTON (AP) – A flu pandemic that hits the United States would force cities to ration scarce drugs and vaccine and house the sick in hotels or schools when hospitals overflow, unprecedented federal plans say. The Bush administration’s long-awaited report Wednesday on battling a worldwide super-flu outbreak makes clear that old-fashioned infection-control will be key. Signs that a super-flu is spreading among people anywhere in the world could prompt U.S. travel restrictions or other steps to contain the illness before it hits America’s shores. If that fails, the Pandemic Influenza Plan offers specific instructions to local health officials: The sick or the people caring for them should wear masks. People coughing must stay three feet away from others in doctors’ waiting rooms. People should cancel nonessential doctor appointments and limit visits to the hospital. A day after President Bush outlined his $7.1 billion strategy to prepare for the next pandemic, the details released Wednesday stress major steps that state and local authorities must begin taking now: Update quarantine laws. Work with utilities to keep the phones working and grocers to keep supplying food amid the certain panic. Determine when to close schools and limit public gatherings such as movies or religious services. “This is a critical part of the plan,” because states will be at the forefront of a battle that could have “5,000 fronts,” said Health and Human Services Secretary Mike Leavitt, who will work with governors in coming weeks to push local preparations. “Every community is different and requires a different approach.” Also Wednesday, the government for the first time told Americans not to hoard the anti-flu drug Tamiflu, because doing so will hurt federal efforts to stockpile enough to treat the sick who really need it. Tamiflu’s maker recently suspended shipments of the drug to U.S. pharmacies because of concern about hoarding. A key question is how much of the financial burden of preparing must be shouldered by cash-strapped states. Bush’s plan provides $100 million to update state pandemic plans, but also requires states to spend about $510 million of their own money to buy enough Tamiflu for 31 million people to supplement the federal stockpile. Some states might not be able to buy the drug, said Rep. Nita Lowey, D-N.Y. “This is a national emergency. I believe very strongly it should not depend upon where you live as to what sort of protection you get,” Lowey told Leavitt on Wednesday. Lawmakers also grilled Leavitt – who appeared before House and Senate health appropriations panels _ on why it took the administration more than a year to issue its plan. “Could we have acted sooner to avoid the situation we are in now, in effect running for cover?” asked Sen. Arlen Specter, R-Pa. Pandemics strike when the easy-to-mutate influenza virus shifts to a strain that people have never experienced before, something that happened three times in the last century. It’s impossible to predict when the next pandemic will strike, or its toll. But concern is rising that the Asian bird flu, called the H5N1 strain, might trigger one if it eventually starts spreading easily from person-to-person. The new HHS pandemic plan outlines the worst-case scenario: If the next super-flu resembles the 1918 pandemic, up to a third of the population could get sick and 1.9 million Americans die. The illness will spread fastest among school-aged children, infecting about 40 percent of them. At the outbreak’s peak, about 10 percent of the work force will be absent because they’re sick or caring for an ill loved one, wreaking economic chaos. Health costs alone could reach $181 billion. A cornerstone of Bush’s preparations is to modernize the vaccine industry, so that one day scientists could spot a novel influenza strain and quickly produce enough vaccine for everybody. That, however, will take years. So the administration is also beefing up attempts to detect and contain a brewing pandemic wherever it starts in the world – with restrictions on international travelers attempting to enter the country as one potential step. Here, HHS has the legal authority to order quarantines, if health officials think they would help stem infections. It’s unclear how much quarantines would help fight influenza, as people can spread the virus a day before they experience symptoms, but the federal plan orders communities to get their own quarantine procedures in order just in case. Also in the plan: Telling states how to prioritize who will get limited stockpiled doses of medication and vaccine. The government wants to stockpile enough vaccine against today’s version of the bird flu to treat 20 million people, with vaccine manufacturers, health workers and the medically frail first in line for shots. It also plans to stockpile enough of the anti-flu drugs Tamiflu and Relenza for 81 million people, provided states come up with their share – enough for 31 million. Most of the drugs will be reserved for the sickest patients. Associated Press Writer Kevin Freking contributed to this report. AD Quality Auto 360p 720p 1080p Top articles1/5READ MOREWalnut’s Malik Khouzam voted Southern California Boys Athlete of the Week160Want local news?Sign up for the Localist and stay informed Something went wrong. Please try again.subscribeCongratulations! You’re all set!last_img read more

Will Pucovski released from Australia squad due to mental health concerns

first_imgHighly-rated Australia batsman Will Pucovski, who will turn 21 on Saturday, has been released from the Test squad playing Sri Lanka due to mental health concerns, the country’s cricket board said on Friday.Pucovski played just eight first-class matches but scored 243 for Victoria earlier this season before he opted to take a break from the game to receive treatment for a mental health-related illness.”Will Pucovski has been released from the men’s Test squad and will return home to Melbourne to continue managing his wellbeing,” Cricket Australia Doctor Richard Saw said in a statement from the board.”He reported some challenges over the past few days, and the decision has been made that the best thing for Will’s welfare is for him to return home to Melbourne.”Will has been proactive in this process and while he has made significant progress, he feels this is the best course of action to get ready to play cricket for Victoria.”Pucovski consulted his family and Cricket Victoria before arriving at the decision, the board said.”Will’s decision to speak up and continue to ask for assistance in managing his ongoing mental health is extremely positive,” Saw added.”Cricket Australia and Cricket Victoria will continue to support Will, and we kindly ask that Will’s privacy is respected so he can continue working towards a return to Premier Cricket and the next round of First Class cricket.”Pucovski did not make the team for Australia’s first-Test victory in Brisbane and was also overlooked for the ongoing second and final Test against Sri Lanka at the Manuka Oval.advertisementAlso Watch:last_img read more

India to ease Kashmir restrictions in phased manner

first_imgSecurity personnel stop an auto-rickshaw for questioning at a roadblock during a lockdown in Srinagar on 12 August 2019. Photo: AFPIndia’s government said Tuesday it is easing its lockdown in Kashmir in a “phased manner” after cutting phone and internet access for over a week to prevent protests over its decision to end the Himalayan region’s autonomy.Fearing unrest, India cut communications and imposed a curfew in the sector of Kashmir it controls on 4 August, a day before its surprise presidential decree to strip the Muslim-majority region of its special status.An Indian home ministry spokesperson said on Twitter that the restrictions “are being eased out in a phased manner” in the tinderbox Kashmir Valley.Normal communication in the more peaceful Jammu division of the region “has been restored after assessment by relevant local authorities”, the spokesperson added.There was no independent confirmation of the easing of restrictions. On Tuesday afternoon people in Kashmir could still not be reached by phone and the internet still appeared to be inaccessible.The spokesperson said that medical services are being provided “without any hindrance” and the availability of medicines has “been ensured” in every hospital in the valley.Security personnel stand guard a street during a lockdown in Srinagar on 12 August 2019. Photo: AFPA main highway through the region “continues to function normally”, with 100 heavy vehicles “plying daily” carrying fuel and other essentials.Earlier, attorney general KK Venugopal told India’s Supreme Court security appeared to be improving in Kashmir.”The situation in J&K (Jammu & Kashmir) is being reviewed every day and there are signs of improvement,” Venugopal said, as the court heard a plea by a political activist against the lockdown.Kashmir has been split between India and Pakistan since their independence from Britain in 1947.Rebel groups have for decades fought against Indian soldiers deployed in the part of Kashmir controlled by New Delhi, seeking the territory’s merger with Pakistan or outright independence.The conflict has left tens of thousands dead, mostly civilians.last_img read more

How the Contraceptive Equity Act Will Work in Maryland

first_imgGov. Larry Hogan, center, with supporters signing one of 196 bills into law. (Photo courtesy of the Executive of the Governor)On Tuesday, Gov. Larry Hogan signed 196 bills into law. One of those was the Contraceptive Equity Act, which will make birth control more affordable and accessible to Maryland residents.Maryland’s insurance companies will now cover all forms of over-the-counter birth control and male vasectomies. Along with reducing the cost of contraception by removing copayments, the act makes it easier to obtain contraception as well. Women can now receive their birth control for up to six months at a time, and a prescription is no longer necessary to receive over the counter birth control. The bill also removed preapproval requirements for long-term reversible contraception including the implant and the intrauterine device (IUD).The bill, which will go into effect in January 2018, expands on the policies in the Affordable Care Act which require insurance companies nationwide to offer at least one type of birth control without a co-payment. The Contraceptive Equity Act goes even further by requiring all forms of birth control to be covered solely by insurance.Reproductive rights are often seen as a women’s issue, but the measure allows men to be more involved in family planning by removing the copayment for male vasectomies.“For the first time ever, men are included in these contraception laws,” said Karen J. Nelson, president and CEO Planned Parenthood of Maryland. “The modern guy knows that he has a role in reproductive rights.”Maryland’s bill also covers the morning-after pill, making Maryland the first state to require insurance companies to include emergency contraception. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, between 2006 and 2010 about one in nine sexually experienced women between the ages of 15 and 44 have used emergency contraception. Rather than paying $25 to $60, women can now get Plan B without a prescription or a copayment.While residents won’t pay for birth control out of their own pockets, the contraceptives are not entirely free. Some worry that insurance companies will raise their rates to compensate for the lack of copayments.Brian Griffiths, co-founder of the conservative network Maryland Red and co-host of Red Maryland Radio said he is worried about the economic impact of this decision. “It’s going to drive the cost of insurance up. Health insurance is already not affordable,” said Griffiths.Griffiths was also concerned about the bill conflicting with conservative values. He suggested that people who are not sexually active or do not believe in contraception will be at an “economic disadvantage” because they are paying higher insurance rates for something that they don’t believe in. Religious organizations are exempt from including these policies in their employee insurance plans.The bill will apply to all insurance plans statewide including Care First Blue Shield, a company with about 2.1 million consumers. The policies will also be enforced for Medicaid, a federal state insurance program for low-income citizens.“The state of Maryland is going to protect women and make sure residents in this area will have access to health care,” said Nelson.last_img read more

Researchers using GPS and accelerometers in base stations to create early warning

first_imgCredit: AGU This document is subject to copyright. Apart from any fair dealing for the purpose of private study or research, no part may be reproduced without the written permission. The content is provided for information purposes only. GPS solution provides 3-minute tsunami alerts More information: fallmeeting.agu.org/2013/press … blic-safety-threats/ Southern California, due to its unique geography, is subject to both earthquakes and fast moving storms that can cause flashfloods. Predicting when either or both may strike is critical to saving lives. To study earthquake behavior, various research organizations have installed monitors at locations throughout the southern part of the state. GPS is used because it allows for noting ground movement. Now, in this new effort, the researchers from the three groups have been using the GPS data for a different purpose and have also been installing accelerometers to more precisely measure ground movement in near real-time.GPS, the researchers told the audience, in addition to location information, also contains an additional data element—humidity level. The degree of water in the air impacts the time it takes for a GPS signal to travel to and from a satellite—higher levels, or a sudden increase in moisture may indicate that a storm is developing. Monitoring levels in real time can help predict such storms and thus flashfloods. That information , the team hopes, could then be relayed to media outlets, emergency workers, and even regular people via their cell phones, offering local citizenry an opportunity to take proactive measures to ensure their safety. Currently, weather balloons serve in this capacity, but they can’t provide data in real time. The addition of GPS data has already proven its worth—it’s predicted several flashfloods in the San Diego area.Meanwhile, adding accelerometers allows for monitoring very slight ground movement (and P-waves) which under the right circumstances can mean an earthquake is likely to happen—when combined with existing GPS data more information is available, making for a more reliable system—information that could be disseminated giving people some small amount of warning before a quake strikes, potentially saving many lives. If the system proves to be as accurate as the researchers believe it could be, it could become part of the western United States’ tsunami early warning system as well.To date, seventeen stations in southern California have been upgraded—more will be modified as money comes available, and presumably, as the upgraded monitors prove their worth. (Phys.org) —Teams of researchers with the Scripps Institute, NASA’s JPL laboratory and NOAA are working together, representatives from each have reported at this year’s meeting of the Geophysical Union, to upgrade monitoring stations in parts of southern California—the aim is to use existing monitoring stations as an early warning system for earthquakes and flashfloods. Explore further Citation: Researchers using GPS and accelerometers in base stations to create early warning system in southern California (2014, January 6) retrieved 18 August 2019 from https://phys.org/news/2014-01-gps-accelerometers-base-stations-early.html © 2014 Phys.orglast_img read more

Rep Bellino Investing in Michigans economy means investing in young people

first_img State Rep. Joe Bellino released the following statement tonight in response to the governor’s State of the State address:“The people of Michigan need more than canned promises – they need results. We need to build up our skilled workforce – with training, with jobs, and with social supports, like opioid addiction care, that will put more of our kids in high quality careers at home.“Tonight the governor missed an opportunity to address the opioid epidemic plaguing many Michigan communities and families. It’s important to me that Michigan families know their lawmakers are listening and responding to their needs. Opioid abuse affects families across Michigan and I want the state to be on the side of protecting people’s wellbeing and offering helping hands where needed. We have to ask ourselves, what’s the cost of doing nothing?“The toll this crisis is taking on our families and young people is too high. If we are going to keep investing in Michigan’s economic future, we need to make sure we are investing in the next generation.” 12Feb Rep. Bellino: Investing in Michigan’s economy means investing in young people Categories: Bellino Newslast_img read more

Modern Times Group MTG is to acquire US games pu

first_imgModern Times Group (MTG) is to acquire US games publisher and developer Kongregate from its current owner GameStop Corp for US$55 million.San Francisco-based Kongregate, which began life as a browser-based games developer but expanded into mobile and ‘Steam’ games and recently acquired San Diego-based games studio Ultrabit, grew its net sales by 38% last year to US$35 million. Mobile revenue generated from in-game purchasing and advertising grew by 74%.According to MTG, Kongregate is expected to grow its revenues to at least US$50 million this year. The company, which shares revenues with games developers, will, together with MTG, move to acquire further first-party games developers.Kongregate games attract up to 14 million monthly active users. Its web gaming portal has over 100,000 free-to-play games, and it has published 45 mobile games to date that have been downloaded over 100 million times.MTG’s latest foray into games as it seeks to diversify away from traditional pay and free TV follows its recent acquisition of a majority stake in Hamburg-based InnoGames.Jørgen Madsen Lindemann, MTG president and CEO.Jørgen Madsen Lindemann, MTG President and CEO, said: “This investment is in line with our strategy to invest in relevant, complementary and scalable digital content and communities. Online gaming is one of our three digital entertainment verticals, and we are establishing a presence in a gaming industry expected to be worth some USD 130 billion in 2020, of which mobile gaming is the fastest growing segment. Almost a third of the time people spend on mobile devices each day is spent gaming. We look forward to welcoming the high quality, hugely talented and well proven Kongregate team to MTG.”Arnd Benninghoff, MTG EVP and MTGx CEO, said: “MTG’s ambition is to create a next-generation publisher hub and acquiring Kongregate is the next step in this journey. They have a multi-platform business and a global audience network, and are now developing and acquiring their own high value game studio IP. This will enable us to screen a wide range of gaming companies at an early stage, in order to find additional investment opportunities.”last_img read more

OTEowned Greek pay TV service Cosmote TV has secu

first_imgOTE-owned Greek pay TV service Cosmote TV has secured exclusive rights to Champions League and Europa League football until 2021.All Champions League and Europa League matches will air exclusively on Cosmote Sports channels.The pay TV operator has secured rights to 137 Champions League matches and 205 Europa League matches as well as the UEFA super Cup between the winnersof the two competitions.As well as being available through the linear sports channels, matches will be available through the Cosmote Replay TV time-shift service and the Cosmote TV Go multiscreen service.Cosmote previoiusly held the rights to the two competition in Greece.“We are delighted that the premium UEFA football leagues, the UEFA Champions League and the UEFA Europa League will continue to air on Cosmote Sport channels over the following three years. And furthermore, under an enhanced agreement that secures for Cosmote TV the exclusive rights for all matches of both competitions. At Cosmote TV, we constantly invest in upgrading and enhancing our sports content, with new channels and new tournaments across all sports, for our subscribers”, as said Dimitris Michalakis, Cosmote TV executive director.last_img read more

Vivendi has condemned what it describes as timew

first_imgVivendi has condemned what it describes as “time-wasting tactics” employed by Telecom Italia (TIM) board members backed by hedge fund Elliott Advisors who have successfully resisted its call for an immediate shareholders meeting, with the meeting now scheduled to take place on March 29.Vivendi  said that it notified the board on December 11 of its intentions and formally make a request on December 14 to convene the meeting as soon as possible.In the latest move in its long-running  battle with Elliott for control of TIM, Vivendi proposed the nomination of Franco Bernabè, Rob van der Valk, Flavia Mazzarella, Gabriele Galateri di Genola and Frencesco Vatalaro to replace Elliott-nominated directors Fulvio Conti, the company’s chairman, Alfredo Altavilla, Massimo Ferrari, Dante Roscini and Paolo Giannotti de Ponti in a move that followed the forced departure of Vivendi-backed CEO Amos Genish.TIM’s board delayed a decision on Vivendi’s request until January 14 before announcing a two-month delay in scheduling the meeting.“These time-wasting tactics are negatively impacting TIM’s financial results every day, as is sadly reflected by the more than 40% drop in the share price since May 4, 2018. These tactics constitute a genuine denial of shareholder democracy and run counter to the most basic and fundamental principles of good corporate governance,” said Vivendi. The company said it reserved the right to request a new shareholders meeting in the summer if TIM’s performance and governance did not improve.Elliott responded by saying that Vivendi’s request was “yet another attempt to regain control of TIM to return to running the company in its own individual interest” and added that it was “confident that this intent has little chance of success even if Vivendi perseveres in his attempts.”The pair have been battling to control the future direction of the company for over a year, with Elliott taking control of the board after securing the support of independent shareholders in a vote last May.While Elliott initially expressed support for Genish to continue as CEO, the latter’s resistance to plans to break up the company by selling off its network arm – a move that chimed with the new Italian government’s ambition to create a unified national infrastructure company – resulted in Genish’s ousting in November.last_img read more