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Thousands flock to New Zealand for Diwali celebrations

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Wellington: Thousands of people flocked to Auckland on Sunday to get a first-hand experience of traditional-cum-contemporary Indian culture in a celebration of the Diwali festival, a media report said.

The two-day Diwali celebrations concluded at the Queen St’s Aotea Square with a fireworks finale on Sunday night and included events like workshops, live dance, music, puppet and theatre performances, New Zealand Herald reported.

The event is the largest vegetarian festival in the city and recorded a footfall of 35,000 people last year.

The event was organised by Auckland Council’s Tourism, Events and Economic Development arm in collaboration with the Asia New Zealand Foundation.

The celebrations were spiced up by the availability of traditional food while arts and crafts and dancing gave an insight into the multi-hued Indian culture.

The festival had more than 60 food and craft stalls — the largest in the festival’s 14-year history.

Many Indian performers, including Indian puppeteer and master storyteller Mahipat Kavi, and Mudra Creation — a Lavani folk dance group from Maharashtra, performed at the event.

Other highlights included a ‘bhangra’ (Punjab folk dance) performance by a group of policemen (and a woman). The dance was coordinated by New Zealand’s first Indian female police officer Mandeep Kaur.

Smita Upadhye, an India-born Auckland-based contemporary artist, supervised the colourful, geometric ‘rangoli’ patterns at the kids’ rangoli workshops.

“It is especially used during Diwali, because of a belief that goddess Lakshmi likes colourful decoration, and if you decorate your house with rangoli on Diwali, she will be pleased and come into the house,” she said.

Indian and Kiwi artists, Harpreet Singh and Brydee Rood, in collaboration have displayed their works at the Auckland Art Gallery in Kitchener.

The collaboration was aimed at reflecting Indian traditions and contemporary concerns about migration and refugees, and the cultural diversity of Auckland.

(IANS)

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Cepheid to Establish Manufacturing Unit for TB Diagnostics in India

Rifampicin is a drug commonly used in treating TB bacteria in first line of treatment

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The GeneXpert Edge is developed specifically for near-patient testing, to help support a one visit test-and-treat approach.
The GeneXpert Edge is developed specifically for near-patient testing, to help support a one visit test-and-treat approach. (IANS)

Expanding its footprint in India, US-based molecular diagnostics company Cepheid Inc on Thursday announced its plans to establish a manufacturing unit in the country to improve Tuberculosis (TB) diagnostics.

Cepheid’s GeneXpert MTB/RIF test is a closed-cartridge-based system that is easy to operate by minimally trained staff and gives results in approximately two hours, speeding the conventional backlog that used to exist in traditional diagnostic methods.

The new manufacturing unit would produce MTB/RIF test cartridges, contribute to the government’s “Make in India” initiative and thus bringing the company’s global expertise in TB diagnostics to India, the company said in a statement.

As part of the plan, Cepheid also unveiled its latest portable, easy-to-use TB-testing system — the GeneXpert Edge — which is expected to be available in India later this year, the company said.

The GeneXpert Edge is developed specifically for near-patient testing, to help support a one visit test-and-treat approach.

“Cepheid recognises the need for technological advancement and is committed to contributing significantly to India’s goal of TB eradication,” said Peter Farrell, Executive Vice President, Worldwide Commercial Operations, Cepheid.

Cepheid's Xpert MTB/RIF test has the potential to detect Mycobacterium tuberculosis(MTB)
Cepheid’s Xpert MTB/RIF test has the potential to detect Mycobacterium tuberculosis(MTB).

“We are hopeful that GeneXpert Edge will help eliminate delays in TB diagnostics by providing definitive results within hours and facilitating fast and easy last-mile delivery even in the remote villages of India,” he added.

India has nearly one-fourth of the global TB patients and an estimated 4.8 lakh lives are lost every year due to delayed diagnosis and inadequate treatment and there are above 2.5 million new cases of TB every year. The country aims to eradicate TB by 2025.

Approved by the World Health Organisation (WHO) in 2010, more than 1,200 Cepheid’s GeneXpert Systems have been installed in the last two years at various Revised National Tuberculosis Control Programme (RNTCP) sites in the country and more than 2.5 million cartridges were supplied last year at various centres of Central TB Division (CTD).

Also Read: Fruit Bats Identified As Source Of Nipah Virus Outbreak in Kerala

Cepheid’s Xpert MTB/RIF test has the potential to detect Mycobacterium tuberculosis(MTB) and rifampicin-resistance mutations, which are markers for MDR-TB strains in under two hours.

Rifampicin is a drug commonly used in treating TB bacteria in first line of treatment.

Xpert MTB/RIF tests also have excellent negative predictive value, which allows clinicians to manage TB-negative patients more effectively to prevent unnecessary and costly respiratory isolations. (IANS)