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  1. 1,000 FMC Dockyard staff members living, working on-site in Chattogram The dockyard is also providing its staff with essentials such as food, accommodation, protective clothing, hand sanitiser, and medical checkups Around 1,000 staff members of FMC Dockyard Ltd in Chattogram are living and working on-site to tackle the threat of the coronavirus pandemic. The company has arranged to accommodate and feed its staff at the dockyard's dormitories – to minimise their risk of coming in contact with coronavirus patients. The dockyard is also providing its staff with essentials including protective clothing and hand sanitiser. A medical camp has been set up on-site, and the staff are undergoing body temperature checks twice a day. The dockyard, which is located in Boalkhali upazila of the port city, is now off limits to all visitors from outside. The shipbuilding company has announced that it will bear all the staff's expenses throughout their stay at the dockyard. The company launched these special measures on Saturday, which will continue till March 31. The FMC dockyard is spending around Tk2 lakh every day to implement these special measures. Speaking to The Business Standard, FMC Group's Chairman Mohammad Yasin Chowdhury said, "The prosperity of the company and its staff must be upheld. We had to implement these measures to remain competitive and safeguard our business. "If we shut down the company, the staff will suffer. So, we opted to continue with daily operations while ensuring the staff's safety. We also granted leaves-of-absence to anyone unwilling to work. All staff will get their salary and allowances during their leave period." Assistant Engineer Abdullah Al Mahmud, working at the FMC Dockyard Ltd, said, "I used to commute from home to my office every day. Under the special measures our company implemented, I settled into the dockyard dormitory on Saturday." "We undergo health checkups every day, and work is progressing according to schedule. Anyone feeling ill is receiving the treatment they need," he continued. Foreman Pavel Barua, of the company's production department, said, "I used to live at the dormitory before the special measures began on Saturday. We are now working while maintaining social distance from each other. Physicians are doing regular checkups. "The company has distributed masks and hand sanitiser to everyone." Meanwhile, FMC Dockyard Ltd's Deputy General Manager Uttam Ghosh said, "Around 1,000 staff members – including engineers, welders and technicians – are working to build ships here. We have two dormitories with a capacity of at least 1,000 beds. "Under normal circumstances, around 500 staff members live at the dormitories, while the rest commute from home. After the coronavirus outbreak began, we made arrangements to accommodate around 1,000 staff members at the dockyard and installed equipment to ensure their safety." Uttam Ghosh continued, "Apart from supplying protective clothing and hand sanitiser to the staff, we are producing hand sanitiser at the FMC chemical lab. It will be distributed to the staff and their family members." Praising the initiatives taken by FMC Dockyard Ltd, Dr Sheikh Fazle Rabbi, civil surgeon of Chattogram said, "The dockyard staff must maintain at least 1 metre of space between each other, and frequently use hand sanitiser and masks." He added, "Anyone suffering from symptoms [of coronavirus] should seek immediate medical attention." The FMC Dockyard Ltd is located on 80-bighas of land near the bank of the Karnaphuli River. The company manufactures: container ships, tankers, passenger ships, fishing trawlers, dredgers, tug boats, and pontoons. The dockyard also exports ships when local demand is met.
  2. Coronavirus outbreak to cost airlines almost $30bn Airlines stand to lose $29.3bn (£23.7bn) of revenue this year due to the coronavirus outbreak, the global airline industry body has warned. The International Air Transport Association (IATA) predicts demand for air travel will fall for the first time in more than a decade. Airlines in China and other parts of the Asia Pacific region are expected to take the vast majority of the impact. It comes as carriers around the world have been forced to reduce flights. In total, airlines in the Asia Pacific region are set to see a $27.8bn revenue loss in 2020, while those outside Asia are expected to lose $1.5bn in revenue, IATA has forecast. Of that figure, IATA predicts that carriers in China are set to lose revenue of $12.8bn in their home market alone. "Airlines are making difficult decisions to cut capacity and in some cases routes," said IATA's director-general Alexandre de Juniac. "This will be a very tough year for airlines." However, IATA cautioned it was too early to predict what this expected revenue loss would mean for airlines' profitability this year. IATA said it had based its estimates on the slump in demand that was seen during the Sars (severe acute respiratory syndrome) outbreak in 2003. That was characterised by a six-month period that saw a sharp fall in demand followed by an equally quick recovery. That year Sars was responsible for the 5.1% fall in demand for airlines in the Asia-Pacific region. The forecast also assumes that the virus remains centred on China, but IATA warned the effect could be far worse if the infection spreads further in the region. IATA has previously forecast that the Asia Pacific region would be the biggest driver of air travel demand between 2015 and 2035, with four of the five fastest-growing markets in terms of passengers being from Asia. On Thursday, two major airline groups warned of a severe financial impact as a result of the coronavirus hitting demand for travel in Asia. Australia's Qantas said the outbreak would cost it up to 150m Australian dollars ($99m; £76m), while European carrier Air-France KLM put the cost at up to €200m ($213m; £168m) for the period between February and April. https://www.bbc.com/news/business-51499779
  3. Bangladesh approves low-cost test kit to detect Covid-19 The Government of Bangladesh has approved the production of a locally developed low-cost coronavirus (Covid-19) testing kit to tackle the pandemic. Public health organisation Gono Shasthaya Kendra that runs hospitals and medical research work in the country developed the kit, which requires some chemical reagents that need to be imported. The Directorate General of Drug Administration (DGDA) granted the approval to import raw materials. The organisation will also submit the kit to the DGDA for final approval of the World Health Organization (WHO) after producing it. The full-scale production is expected to begin in the next two weeks. The kit uses the Rapid Blot-Dot technique to detect coronavirus positive cases within 15 minutes. The technique looks for antibodies created in the body in response to the virus infection. According to the Gano Shasthaya Kendra, the kit will cost approximately BDT250-300. The standard method of diagnosis of coronavirus is by reverse transcription-polymerase chain reaction (rRT-PCR), which uses sequencing from a nasopharyngeal swab or sputum sample. Meanwhile, the country reported its first coronavirus death this week. The total positive cases of the disease stand at 20, while three people have recovered. Bangladesh Government has adopted strong measures to stop the spread of Covid-19 in the country. The government has closed down all schools and banned mass gatherings. Travel bans have been imposed in all the popular tourist destinations. https://www.medicaldevice-network.com/news/bangladesh-low-cost-covid-19-test/
  4. China virus death toll leaps to 80 despite massive lockdown AFP, Wuhan, China The toll from China's viral epidemic spiked on Monday to 80 dead with hundreds of new infections despite unprecedented quarantines and travel lockdowns, as foreign governments scrambled to help their trapped citizens. The virulence of a contagion causing fear nationwide has prompted authorities to impose transport curbs around China to cut off transmission routes, and extend a national holiday to delay people travelling back to work. With many thousands of foreigners trapped in the ground-zero city of Wuhan, which is under a virtual lockdown, the United States and France were among several countries formulating plans to evacuate their citizens by plane. With the coronavirus also expanding globally, World Health Organization chief Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus headed to Beijing to meet with government officials on the crisis. "My WHO colleagues and I would like to understand the latest developments and strengthen our partnership with China in providing further protection against the outbreak," he said on Twitter. Tedros last week stopped short of declaring the outbreak an international public health emergency, which would have prompted more concerted international action including possible trade or travel restrictions. Cases have been reported as far afield as France, the United States and Canada, with various countries in Asia also detecting cases. Those infected had previously been in China. The new additions to China's death toll came entirely from the epicentre province of Hubei, which on Monday reported 24 fresh fatalities. Most fatalities and overall cases have been in Hubei, and the government says the deaths have largely been elderly or people already weakened by pre-existing health conditions. - Thousands of cases - But China's National Health Commission said on Monday that in addition to 2,744 confirmed infections nationwide -- an increase of 769 -- there were nearly 6,000 suspected cases and more than 30,000 people under medical observation. Hardest-hit has been Hubei's capital Wuhan, where the virus is suspected to have come from animals in a market selling a wide range of exotic wild game. Wuhan has been under virtual lockdown for days, with transport halted and citizens told to stay at home. The national government decided it would extend the Lunar New Year holiday and related school closures beyond the original January 30 end date to "reduce population flows," state media reported. The holiday was extended to February 2. Several cities responded, with new school terms delayed in Beijing until further notice, and Shanghai postponing until February 17. The city of Suzhou in eastern Jiangsu province also ordered companies to extend the end of the holiday until February 9. Hundreds of millions of Chinese travel long distances to gather with family members for the holiday, a key concern for authorities struggling to corral the highly contagious pathogen. The previously unknown virus has caused global concern because of its similarity to Severe Acute Respiratory Syndrome (SARS), which killed hundreds across mainland China and Hong Kong in 2002-2003. - 'Getting stronger' - At a press briefing in Beijing on Sunday, the head of China's disease control agency, Gao Fu, said it was "not as powerful as SARS," but officials warned it could be getting stronger. Shandong province in the east and four cities -- Beijing, Shanghai, Xi'an and Tianjin -- have announced bans on long-distance buses entering or leaving, while some provinces and cities made it mandatory to wear face masks in public. The United States and France were among a host of countries making arrangements to get their citizens out of Wuhan, a major industrial and transport hub of 11 million people. The crisis has overwhelmed Wuhan's hospitals prompting authorities to send hundreds of medical reinforcements including military doctors, and start construction on two field hospitals. Speaking at a press conference and wearing a face mask, Wuhan's mayor Zhou Xianwang said Sunday the city's medical staff were "very strained and tired". Some foreigners in Wuhan pleaded to be evacuated, saying they were short on supplies. "We want to be evacuated as soon as possible, because either the virus, the hunger or the fear will kill us," Mashal Jamalzai, a political science student from Afghanistan studying in Wuhan told AFP. The Wuhan meat market at the epicentre sold a vast range of unusual dinner fare including rats, snakes and hedgehogs. On Sunday, the government said it was banning all trade in wildlife until the emergency is over, but conservationists called for Beijing to make the ban permanent to reduce the possibility of future outbreaks.
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