Delhi seconds Lucknow in low air quality measure

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New Delhi:  Air pollution in Delhi continued to choke its residents on Monday with the air quality index (AQI) touching the dangerous 408 mark.

The drop in air quality prompted environment experts to urge the government to issue health advisories.

The AQI of Delhi was second only to Lucknow, whose figure stood at 421, making it the city with the poorest air quality.

“The situation is really very bad and the quality of air in the coming days is going to be the same following the smog and stagnancy in the air,” Vivek Chattopadhyaya of green think tank Centre for Science and Environment (CSE) told reporters.

He urged the government to issue health advisories, as several people will suffer from breathing issues if the air quality remains the same.

The AQI of Delhi’s adjoining areas also remained severe at the 405 mark.

Residents complained of breathing problems due to the poor air quality.

Priyanka Rai, a student of Delhi University who has to travel from west Delhi’s Punjabi Bagh to Delhi University in the north, said, “I have never had breathing problems, but now I feel pain in my chest every time I step out of my house.”

Anjali Mirchandani of the South Delhi Municipal Corporation said, “I, being an asthma patient, have been using a mask every day while travelling to my office. My visits to doctors have increased.”

(IANS)

(Picture credit:www.huffingtonpost.in )

 

 

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National Capital Delhi Makes a Gradual Comeback

The city of Delhi has slowly and gradually reopened

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Shutters are lifted and shops spruced up as Delhi's markets open after two months as lockdown restrictions are eased. (Anjana Pasricha/VOA)

Signs are being spruced up and prayers performed as shops in the Indian capital open their shutters after two months with the gradual easing of a stringent lockdown.

Markets were allowed to reopen recently after the government signaled economic activity must resume, even as the fight against the COVID -19 pandemic continues. Traffic is humming on once-deserted streets as buses and auto rickshaws have been given the go-ahead to operate.

However, people in the city of nearly 20 million — one of the worst-hit in the country — remain hesitant about venturing out as cases of coronavirus touched record highs in recent days.

Shop owners, hoping to slowly emerge from the economic pain imposed by a weekslong shutdown, have instituted new rules to cope with the pandemic.

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Though markets are open, they are seeing few customers as people remain wary amid the COVID 19 pandemic. (Anjana Pasricha/VOA)

“We’ve restricted it to three people at a time for browsing, and then we have new checks and measures in place where we first check the person’s temperature, we give them hand sanitizer and we have started giving everyone a pair of gloves as well,” said Rajni Malhotra, owner of Bahrisons Booksellers, a 65-year-old landmark in one of the city’s most iconic markets.

The city is only partially open — shopping malls, restaurants, schools and colleges still remain closed and offices can only have limited staff.  Even in markets that have opened, only half the shops open every day to avoid crowding. Delhi accounts for about 10% of India’s infections.

“We have a twofold challenge — to reduce the transmission rate of the disease, and to increase public activity gradually,” Prime Minister Narendra Modi said in an address to the country two weeks ago. “Coronavirus is going to be part of our lives for a long time. But we can’t let our lives revolve around it,” he said.

Shop owners even sanitize customers’ purchases to reassure people still wary of entering markets. Among those that sold some goods is a store that sells kitchen equipment — in Delhi, like much of the world, cooking and baking have been therapy for some of those confined indoors.

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A customer turns up to buy baking tins — in Delhi, like much of the world, cooking and baking has been a therapy for people confined indoors. (Anjana Pasricha/VOA)

However, a sense of unease remains as once-buzzing markets see only a sprinkling of customers, who mostly visit shops selling groceries and other essentials.

“There is this feeling that complete your work fast and then return home,” said Aparajita Pant, a city resident who had come to buy food for her pets.

“Earlier one would like to linger around, there are so many interesting shops here but as of now, there is that cautious approach, at least in me,” she said.

That is not good news for some shop owners. Not a single person had walked into Leena Mehra’s shop selling handicrafts and silver jewelry during the first two days.

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Most customers head to shops selling essentials like groceries and medicines. (Anjana Pasricha/VOA)

“It’s depressing. We have to open the shop, we don’t have any choice,” she said.

“We know it is difficult for us to sell this product to the consumer because right now the mindset of the people is not at all in this direction, but we will try,” she said.

The pandemic has left its mark on a city whose love for shopping and being well turned out made it a retailers’ paradise.

“One would take more efforts to get maybe a little better dressed, but now you come here, avoid jewelry, avoid wearing even a watch, I am not even wearing my earrings,” Pant said ruefully.

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Shops display signs asking people to wear masks and take precautions as new rules are put in place to cope with the COVID 19 pandemic. (Anjana Pasricha/VOA)

Even budget accessories and clothes being sold from small stalls tucked in the market’s narrow lanes have few takers. That is disappointing for low-income workers who say they desperately need to start earning again.

“Everybody needs money. If customers don’t come and this atmosphere persists, it will not be easy to face the problem created by this pandemic,” said a despondent Lucky Arya, as he helped set up a stall to sell summer clothes.

The wait for customers is also long for auto rickshaw drivers waiting on sidewalks.

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Auto rickshaw drivers don’t see too many customers as most people still hesitate to venture outside. (Anjana Pasricha/VOA)
 A once-familiar sight as they skillfully negotiated their way through Delhi’s often chaotic traffic, they too have been scarred by the pandemic because of new rules allowing only one passenger instead of the customary two to ensure social distancing.

Also Read: COVID-19 Makes it Difficult to Manage Cancer Care: Oncologist

Mohammad Parvez Khan decided to brave the city’s sizzling summer temperatures to ply his auto rickshaw even during Ramadan because his savings were running out.

“Only we know how we passed these last two months,” he said.

“Every day, when I fasted, I prayed that let the coronavirus go quickly, and may everything come back to how it used to be,” he said. (VOA)

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Risk of Multiple Sclerosis High in Urbanites due to Air Pollution

Air pollution could be a risk factor for the development of multiple sclerosis (MS) among urbanites, says researcher

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Air pollution may up multiple sclerosis risk in urbanites. Pixabay

Air pollution could be a risk factor for the development of multiple sclerosis (MS), say researchers, adding that MS risk was 29 per cent higher among people residing in urbanised areas.

Multiple sclerosis (MS) is a disease in which the immune system eats away at the protective covering of nerves. Whilst MS can be diagnosed at any age, it frequently occurs between the ages of 20-40 and is more frequent in women.

Symptoms can change in severity daily and include fatigue, walking difficulty, numbness, pain and muscle spasms. The study, presented at the European Academy of Neurology (EAN) Virtual Congress, detected a reduced risk for MS in individuals residing in rural areas that have lower levels of air pollutants known as particulate matter (PM).

According to the researchers, it is well recognised that immune diseases such as MS are associated with multiple factors, both genetic and environmental. “We believe that air pollution interacts through several mechanisms in the development of MS and the results of this study strengthen that hypothesis,” said study lead researcher Professor Roberto Bergamaschi from the IRCCS Mondino Foundation in Italy.

Particulate matter (PM) is used to describe a mixture of solid particles and droplets in the air and is divided into two categories. PM10 includes particles with a diameter of 10 micrometres of smaller and PM2.5 which have a diameter of 2.5 micrometres or smaller.  Both PM10 and PM2.5 are major pollutants and are known to be linked to various health conditions, including heart and lung disease, cancer and respiratory issues.

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Air pollution could be a risk factor for the development of multiple sclerosis. Pixabay

The analysis was conducted in the winter, given that this is the season with the highest pollutant concentrations, in the north-western Italian region of Lombardy, home to over 547,000 people.

For the findings, the research team included over 900 MS patients within the region, and MS rates were found to have risen 10-fold in the past 50 years, from 16 cases per 100,000 inhabitants in 1974 to almost 170 cases per 100,000 people today. Whilst the huge increase can partly be explained by increased survival for MS patients, this sharp increase could also be explained by greater exposure to risk factors.

Also Read: Artificial Intelligence Capable of Identifying Personality Based on Selfies

“In the higher risk areas, we are now carrying out specific analytical studies to examine multiple environmental factors possibly related to the heterogeneous distribution of MS risk”, Professor Bergamaschi said. (IANS)

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“We Have to Learn to Live With COVID-19”, Says Delhi Health Minister Satyendar Jain

Initially it was believed that the coronavirus will die with the rise in temprature, but it didn't

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Delhi Health Minister Satyendar Jain says that we need to learn to live with COVID-19. Wikimedia Commons

Delhi Health Minister Satyendar Jain on Friday said while earlier it was believed that the coronavirus will die with the rise in mercury, but even in countries with very high temperature the infection is increasing and this shows that we have to learn to live with COVID-19.

Speaking to the media, Jain said while the cases are increasing, the rate of increase is just five per cent.

“There was a time when we all thought that this pandemic will be over by May 1 due to the summer. But now we have seen that in the Latin American countries also the pandemic is increasing. The temperature of these countries is very high. This shows that we have to learn to live with COVID-19,” Jain said.

He also said that in the last two months, in the lockdown, we have learned various lessons from the COVID-19.

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“If we wear masks, maintain social distancing and wash hands regularly then people will be 90-95 per cent safer,” he said. Pixabay

“If we wear masks, maintain social distancing and wash hands regularly then people will be 90-95 per cent safer,” he said.

Jain said on Thursday, India’s growth rate of COVID was five per cent and earlier there was a time when the growth rate was 20 per cent. “I believe that the numbers should be seen in terms of the percentage increase.”

He said the new cases in Delhi are coming from the containment zones as well as from outside the containment zones.

“We have received various suggestions from the residents of Delhi and based on those we have sent our suggestions to the central government regarding the relaxation of the lockdown. The key suggestions from the people are that every person should wear a mask in public place and social distancing should be maintained all the time. People have also suggested that public transportation should start for example, buses and metros with limited capacity.”

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“People have also suggested that public transportation should start for example, buses and metros with limited capacity.”, tells Jain. Wikimedia Commons

Regarding the malls, he said people have suggested that in the limited capacity of either 25 per cent or 50 per cent the malls of the city should be opened. They have also suggested that the markets should be opened following either odd-even rules or only three days a week.

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“The Delhi government believes that there should be a balance between the fight against COVID and economic activities. We are fighting against the COVID-19 with full effort, but now we have to start the economic activities, therefore, the measures should be followed. When the lockdown was imposed at that time we were not prepared to fight this pandemic, but now we are prepared to fight this pandemic.”

Regarding the issue of the migrant labourers, Jain said there are two kinds of people.

“One is the migrant labourer of Delhi and the second is the migrant labourer of other states who are passing through Delhi. For the migrants, the government has arranged stay and food across Delhi. Any such person you meet can be sent to the nearby shelter of the Delhi government. We are providing lunch and dinner to nearly 10 lakh poor people every day.” (IANS)