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TCS introduces new 25/25 work model as post-covid precaution April 29, 2020 21:06

While the entire world is coping with the constant stress and pressure of the Covid-19 outbreak and lockdown, the biggest IT company in India, TCS has planned out its work schedule till 2025. The IT giant has planned to let go of its 20 years of work model and implement a new 25/25 model. Up till 2025, TCS is planning on asking 75% of its workforce globally to work from home instead of coming round to the office. The industry average was 20% up until now. The new model is likely going to require a lot less office space. "We don't believe that we need more than 25% of our workforce at our facilities in order to be 100% productive," TCS COO, NG Subramaniam said. For the post-lockdown phase, TCS has implemented what they are calling as the Secure Borderless Work Spaces (SBWS) which includes 90% of its employees out of the 4,48,000 employees. TCS has been investing on this platform for quite a few years now and it is time the same is put into use. TCS CEO and MD, Rajesh Gopinathan believes that with this operating model, they have come out stronger and their model has proven to be more beneficial than ever. Subramaniam further added that only 25% of the employees should spend working time in the office. This further narrates the fact that 75% of the project team is going to be in one place while the rest will be dispersed in different places around. With TCS implementing this, it is likely that the other IT companies in the country are likely going to follow through the footsteps. This is expected to bring in a lot of changes to the IT service firms and the way they work. While the experts say that only 15-20% of the employees worked from home before the lockdown, it is likely that things are about to take a complete U-turn after the lockdown is lifted. The lack of flexibility in human resources and the work from home options is likely going to change. By Somapika Dutta

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US health agencies report six new coronavirus symptoms April 27, 2020 18:40

Dry cough, fever and shortness of breath. These were some of the common symptoms that were clarified by the reputed health officials in the beginning of the coronavirus outbreak. While majority of the individuals kept an eye out on these primary symptoms, there were a few other symptoms that made a mark.Researchers shortly came up with the possibility that the loss of smell and taste could be linked with the coronavirus symptoms.Recently, the primary US health agency, Centre for Disease Control (CDC) has added six new symptoms to the list of the pre-existing symptoms. Some of them include chills, shaking with chills, constant muscle pain, persistent headache, sore throat and the loss of taste and smell.Aside from these symptoms, CDC also encountered the signs of trouble in breathing, constant pressure and pinching pain in chest, confusion and inability to decipher, lack of arousal, bluish tinge to the lips and face as some of the emergency symptoms of the condition.With the global death toll of the country surpassing 200,000 already, countries from across the world are now leveraging some of the best ways to keep the numbers down and their country protected. Majority of the countries have been taking cautious steps into the process of easing of the lockdown.But, the constant fear of the resurgence of the infection has left people in a constant dilemma of whether or not they should reopen the businesses. A few of the US states including Georgia, Oklahoma and Alaska have already started loosening up their restrictions and advised the businesses to open again despite constant warnings of the downsides to it.Aside from that, India has also advised on opening some of the neighbourhood stores, the mobile and electronic shops and such. But, the lenience is still not applied to majority of the red zones and quarantined towns that are the worst hit because of the covid-19. While the shopping malls have still be advised to remain close, the opening of the small stores have brought in some relief for these small scale businessmen.India has also allowed the manufacturing and the farming industry in the rural areas to get back in operation but with all the necessary precautions taken. The WHO has informed that there are no possible evidence that the person who has been infected with the novel coronavirus to be infected again. Sri Lanka has also lifted their monthlong day time curfew in 2/3rd of the country. But, with the increase in the number of cases again, the country imposed a 24-hours lockdown till Monday. Norway has imposed its ban on gatherings of 500 people till September 01.Spain authorities have reported that the people will be allowed to leave their homes for quick walks around in the neighbourhood but ensuring to follow all the safety protocols as suggested.The coronavirus has already infected over 3 million people and has caused over 200,000 deaths worldwide already.By Somapika Dutta

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PM Narendra Modi interacted with sarpanchs via video conferencing April 24, 2020 12:55

Prime Minister of India, Narendra Modi, interacted with the Sarpanchs from all across the country via video conference on the occasion of Panchayati Raj Day. Apart from interacting with the sarpanchs and getting an idea about the situation in each of the villages, PM Modi also launched e-Gram Swaraj portal and a mobile app. All the Sarpanchs have been advised to share their opinions on the situation with PM Modi and will have to join the interaction at one of the Common Service Centre that is situated close to them. PM Modi highlighted that this virus has taught every individual to become self-dependent which is why it is high time that the villages of the country become self-reliant on the things that they have around them. He further highlighted the growth of the country saying that while only less than 100 village panchayats had broadband connection a few years back, today the same has crossed 1.25 gram panchayats all across the country. The Common Service Centres have been opened up as well to help the villages fight the novel coronavirus. In order to make the villagers understand the concept of social distancing, PM Modi clarified that it is maintaining a distance of “do gaj door” among each other. This is expected to help them understanding this better. Speaking about the challenges that the novel coronavirus had thrown at people, PM Modi said that it has posed India in a very crucial and critical situation but it has also made everyone learn new things that they otherwise wouldn’t. The PM also lauded the kind of cooperation the entire country has shown, saying that it is the cumulative efforts on everyone’s part that is posing India as an example across the globe. “The members of the Panchayati Raj system, who are fighting in a committed manner against this challenge like brave warriors act as a source of inspiration for the rest of us. This combined force is our strength in this fight. We will definitely defeat this pandemic by staying strong through our unity,” said PM Modi to Panchayati Raj Minister Narendra Singh in a letter. By Somapika Dutta

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Novel coronavirus can withstand sustained exposure to heat: Study April 21, 2020 17:21

While majority of the people had the notion that the novel coronavirus doesn’t withstand heat and won’t infect the tropical countries, they have been proven wrong. Despite the prior suspicions, the new studies have found that the virus can very well thrive in higher temperatures.According to a study conducted by the researchers from the University of Aix-Marseille in France, they have found that the virus can live in prolonged exposure to heat as well.In the study, the researchers found that the standard temperature of 60 degrees celsius which is typically used for disinfecting the labs didn’t have any kinds of impact on the nature of the virus. The pathogen can only be killed when exposed to a high temperature of 92 degrees celsius for an extended period of 15 minutes.The samples were collected using swabs from the kidneys of an infected African green monkey. While one of the swabs was heated, the other one was used with animal proteins in order to mimic the biological contamination process that has been witnessed around.The researchers then heated one of the samples for an hour in 60 degrees celsius. The virus stayed intact and even replicated at a prolonged high temperature. This suggests that even after the proper disinfecting of the labs, it is likely that the virus may linger.When the same was disinfected at 92 degrees celsius for an hour, the virus was successfully killed but since it caused RNA damage, the sensitivity of the check was harmed. The team of researchers also suggested that the 60 degree temperature would be enough to kill the virus if the sample size is small. But, in case of the larger infection size, the near boiling point is a necessity to deactivate the virus.The researchers also concluded with it are the fact that it is always better to use chemicals to disinfect the labs instead of using heat. Some reports even suggested that the China lab workers were aware of the hazard which is why they made use of the hazmat suits. The study is yet to be peer reviewed or published in any of the scientific journals around.By Somapika Dutta

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Covid-19 positive case in Rashtrapati Bhavan; 125 families in self isolation April 21, 2020 12:28

One positive case has been reported in Rashtrapati Bhavan putting 125 families in self isolation at the moment. The same has been done with immediate effect following the guidelines put down by the Union Ministry of Health in India. According to the reports, the person who has been tested positive for the virus is a relative of a sanitation worker. The infected individual’s mother has also reportedly died because of the covid-19 complications. The entire house has been sealed and the family inside is under quarantine for the coming two weeks. Following the report, 30 families near the staffer’s house have been advised to stay in quarantine and that the food will be supplied to them by the government. In addition to that, another 95 families along with that have also been advised to quarantine themselves. The employees in these houses have also been advised to stay inside.The reports also suggest that amidst the 125 families containing around 500 people around the Rashtrapati Bhavan have been put under self quarantine. No official statement has been released by the Rashtrapati Bhavan yet.India currently has over 18,000 confirmed cases with over 500 reported deaths and over 3000 recoveries or migration.By Somapika Dutta

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India witness biggest single day rise in Covid-19 cases; tally cross 17,000 April 20, 2020 11:15

Entering the lockdown 2.0, while India was planning on implementing several relaxations on the lockdown measures, the country witnessed the highest spike in the confirmed cases in the past 24 hours. India reported 1,553 new cases of the novel coronavirus on Sunday, taking the total tally of the confirmed cases in the country above 17,000. The death toll due to Covid-19 currently stands at 543. The officials have reported that the country has tested over 4 lakh samples already. Union Health Minister, Harsh Vardhan stated saying, “The doubling rate of Covid-19 cases has increased from three days before imposition of lockdown in March to 9.7 days now.”Out of all the infected people, over 2000 people have recovered already. Kerala is the only state in the country which has reported more recoveries than the active cases now with just 2 casualties till now. They have been proactively working to flatten the curve effectively.At present, 14, 175 active cases of the novel coronavirus are still there in the country.Maharashtra is the worst hit state reporting over 4200 cases till now followed by Delhi, Tamil Nadu, Rajasthan, Madhya Pradesh, Gujarat and Telangana. These are some of the hotspot areas in the country.Aside from that, PM Narendra Modi informed that there might be relaxations in the lockdown restrictions from April 20, 2020 in the low infected areas. There are likely going to be more lenience in the work and the movement of the people but the same is going to be informed accordingly.The country has also been divided into red zones, green zones and orange zones, which are the markers on how the country might reopen its economy based on the cases reported.By Somapika Dutta

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US crosses 700,000 confirmed coronavirus cases; death toll at 36,000 April 18, 2020 14:08

The United States surpassed 700,000 cases on Friday, reporting over 36,000 deaths as per the John Hopkins University report. The country has the highest rate of confirmed cases as well as deaths. The country witnessed 3,856 reported deaths in the last 24 hours but the figure includes some which are “probable” virus related death that have not been counted priorly. Even New York City reported that they are going to add 3,778 deaths to the list of the probable deaths because of the virus. While the numbers have been consistently increasing in the country, President Donald Trump has reported about the possible reopening of the US economy by the first week of May in three stages. The final decision of the same lies in the hands of the Governors who are the one responsible for taking the decisions on the opening. President Trump also announced a relief package for the farmers amounting to $19 billion out of which majority of the payments are going to be done in case and the rest will go into buying the produce and the meat that the farmers have been having a hard time selling. By Somapika Dutta

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US reported over 4400 deaths in the past 24 hours; highest tally so far April 17, 2020 14:08

While United States has been planning for a reemergence and re-opening of the economy quite soon, the country reported the highest spike in the number of deaths with 4,491 deaths reported. The confirmed toll of the coronavirus deaths in U.S has crossed 32,000 already, as per the reports from the John Hopkins University. As of Thursday, the reports suggested a sharp peak in the deaths reporting 4,491 deaths in a single day, the highest so far. But, the numbers do include the “probable deaths” associated with Covid-19 that were not included before. Even New York City reported that they are likely going to add 3,778 new deaths to the coronavirus death toll. As of Thursday night, the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention has reported over 31,000 deaths, out of which 4,141 were “probable” deaths due to Covid-19. U.S currently has the highest coronavirus death toll in the world, followed by Italy and Spain. The country has already reported over 667,000 confirmed cases till now, and the death toll over 32,000. The epicentre of the disease in U.S, New York itself has reported over 12,000 deaths. President Donald Trump has already unveiled the plans of reopening of the economy on Thursday allowing a staggered three phase process. By Somapika Dutta

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Israel’s Covid-19 treated tested on U.S Patient April 17, 2020 12:04

Pluristem, which is Israel-based, treated its first American patient struggling with the Covid-19 symptoms and complications. This was done after a report issued by the company showed how six critically ill coronavirus patients recovered completely. They were designated as high risk cases for mortality. These patients were treated with the company’s placenta-based cell-therapy product and were cured of the virus successfully. These reports have been released in the preliminary data released by the company. In the United States, the patient was also treated with the same PLX cell therapy at Holy Name Medical Center located in New Jersey. Pluristem is already conducting a phase III critical limb ischemia study there. Much like the six patients in Israel, even the U.S patient was suffering from respiratory complications because of the respiratory distress syndrome. They were intubated in the ICU for three consecutive weeks. Yaky Yanay, CEO and President of Pluristem said that the company is focusing on creating a multinational clinical trial of this treatment for the treatment of Covid-19 and the complications that come along with it. This Israel based treatment was conducted in the U.S under the US Food and Drug Administration’s Single Patient Expanded Access Program which part of the U.S Coronavirus Acceleration program. This has been made to make the coronavirus treatment more accessible and faster for the patients. In Israel, the six infected patients received this treatment in three different medical facilities consistently for a week. The same was also deduced under the compassionate use program. Out of the six, four patients even showcases signs of other organ failures like the cardiovascular and the kidney failure. Following a week of the treatment, not only did the six patients recovered, they also showcased improvements in the respiratory parameters and the other complications that they had. Two of them even showcased improvements to their respiratory issues. Dr. Jason McCarthy, a senior managing director, Maxim Group stated saying, “Pluristem shows the COVID-19 world the first clinical data for stem cells. Pluristem is initially evaluating its cell therapy under compassionate use authorization in Israel and is also the first company to dose COVID-19 patients, as well as produce the first set of early stage data.” Some of the prior animal studies have shown significant therapeutic impacts in the animal studies of the conditions of pulmonary hypertension, lung fibrosis, and even some other conditions. “We are pleased with this initial outcome of the compassionate use program and committed to harnessing PLX cells for the benefit of patients and healthcare systems,” Yanay concluded saying. By Somapika Dutta

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International Monetary Fund appraises India’s nationwide lockdown decision April 16, 2020 16:34

While the entire world is struggling to contain the spread of the deadly coronavirus, India did one of the most impossible things to ever exist. It put 1.3 billion of its population on a lockdown to help contain the spread of the coronavirus. While this step does seem a lot complex, this decision has been praised by people all across the world. The International Monetary Fund also came forward to support this proactive decision taken by India to further fight Covid-19. Just a day earlier, IMF has estimated a growth rate of 1.9% for India in the year of 2020. “India entered the pandemic turmoil in the midst of a credit crunch-induced slowdown and its recovery prospect becomes more uncertain,” said Chang Yong Rhee, the Director of the IMF's Asia and Pacific Department. Rhee further went on to support the nationwide lockdown situation saying the India decided to opt for the same even when their economic status was not at its best. While the first lockdown of 21 days was supposed to end on April 14, the same was extended till May 03. IMF has stated that the impacts of the coronavirus on the Asia-Pacific region are going to be extreme and will likely end up affecting the overall economic growth and stabilities of the countries there. The same is believed to be worse than that of the annual average growth rates through the Global Financial crisis or even the Asian financial crisis. They further mentioned that Asia has not experienced zero growth in the last 60 years stating that Asia’s growth rate is still a lot better than the other options. For the coming year of 2021, IMF does believe that there is hope. If the containment policies are followed and things get back to normal, it is likely that there is going to be a rebound in the growth. But, owing to the situation that prevails, saying anything at this point is too soon. Rhee believes that since the businesses are experiencing such a drawback at this point, it is extremely important that the Asian countries make use of all the policy instruments present in their toolkits. IMF believes that the growth rate of China is going to increase by 1.2% by the end of 2020. The revisions to the growth include not just the domestic losses but also the activities induced because of the social distancing measures. Rhee further stated saying, “We expect a rebound in economic activity later this year. This is because China is emerging from the outbreak first. Nonetheless, there are clear risks: the virus could come back and normalization could take longer.” On the contrary, the economic status of Japan in 2020 is quite bad at the moment. There is an expected decline in the GDP by 5.2% which is a lot. The coronavirus impact is also going to leave a deterioration in the external demands, affecting the growth of South Korea by 1.2% in the process. Rhee believes that this is the time to come together as individuals and help each other out. Even though the imposed restrictions and lockdowns have been affecting people’s lives, it is important to support the hardest hit economies and firms. This pandemic is also impacting the financial marketing functioning. Addressing the ways to ease the financial stress on industries and SMEs, Rhee said, “We expect a rebound in economic activity later this year. This is because China is emerging from the outbreak first. Nonetheless, there are clear risks: the virus could come back and normalization could take longer." By Somapika Dutta

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India to export 3 million units of paracetamol to UK April 15, 2020 18:12

With the rapid spread of the novel coronavirus, countries are scampering to do everything to mitigate this situation and even fight back. Following India’s export of the anti-malaria drug, hydroxychloroquine to the United States, India is reported to next export 3 million units of paracetamol to the UK following talks. The same was reported by the foreign minister of the country on Wednesday. The Foreign and Commonwealth Office of the UK Government took to Twitter to share the message saying, “The United Kingdom to receive nearly 3 million units of paracetamol following talks with India. This will arrive in the next two weeks and will be stocked in the UK’s leader supermarkets.” The Prime Minister of UK, Boris Johnson, who himself tested positive for the virus was discharged from the hospital after being cared for by the NHS staff. In a video that he shared, Johnson thanked all the immigrant nurses who were responsible for saving his life. India, which is considered as one of the largest producer of drugs and pharmaceutical products lifted their ban on exports following threats of retaliation from the United States. United Kingdom currently has over 90,000 confirmed cases and over 12,000 reported deaths because of Covid-19. By Somapika Dutta

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Disney Animator Ann Sullivan dies of Covid-19 April 15, 2020 12:03

If you are a fan of Disney and have watched the Little Mermaid, it is likely that you have heard about Ann Sullivan, who was the animator of the movie. Sadly, she passed away at the age of 91 after contracting Covid-19 infection. Aside from The Little Mermaid, Sullivan’s contribution has been very profound in some of the other Disney movies as well namely The Lion King, Hercules, Lilo and Stitch and even Tarzan. Several people from the field of animation have shown their tribute to this amazing artist who took up the computerised animation approach later on in her life. Sullivan took her last breath in a renowned Los Angeles nursing home, where two other eminent personality deaths have already been reported. Sullivan moved to California after following her sister’s footsteps who wanted to come out and explore new things away from Fargo, North Dakota. Sullivan worked at the Art Centre situated in Pasadena following which she got a job at Disney in their animation paint lab back in the 1950s. She started her work with Hanna Barbera and went back to Disney. When reached out to Sullivan’s daughter, she said that her mom was nothing but a happy and free spirit, who was not just positive about things in her life but has an extreme sense of humor. She said that she touched people’s life and everyone who got to know her and be with her were the luckiest. Sullivan celebrated her 91st birthday this past Friday. Throughout the day, while she was in the hospital, the staff was generous enough to connect her with her family via Facetime so they could wish her and get to talk to her a little. Tributes from the animation world from all across have started pouring in to remember this amazing and talented person that the world lost. By Somapika Dutta

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