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Taliban attacks peak as US eyes total exit, Afghan spy chief says

NEW DELHI: As India endured an alarming surge in coronavirus (COVID-19) cases last week, overwhelmed hospitals and medical facilities have found an ally in Muslim groups and individuals helping critical patients with oxygen supply and crucial bed space. On Tuesday, India reported 323,144 new infections for a total of more than 17.6 million cases, behind only…

NEW DELHI: As India endured an alarming surge in coronavirus (COVID-19) cases last week, overwhelmed hospitals and medical facilities have found an ally in Muslim groups and individuals helping critical patients with oxygen supply and crucial bed space.

On Tuesday, India reported 323,144 new infections for a total of more than 17.6 million cases, behind only the US. India’s Health Ministry also reported another 2,771 deaths in the past 24 hours, with 115 Indians succumbing to the disease every hour. Experts say those figures are likely an undercount.

The number of infections has doubled in the past 13 days as several states continue to suffer from an acute shortage of beds and medical oxygen supply at hospitals.

To deal with the uptick in numbers, Muslim groups have converted mosques into COVID-19 care facilities, like the Jahangirpura mosque in the western state of Gujarat’s Vadodara city. It was transformed into a 50-bed facility to treat patients suffering from the virus.

“The COVID-19 situation in the city is not good and people are not getting beds in hospitals, so we decided to open the facility to provide relief to the people,” Irfan Sheikh, trustee of the mosque, told Arab News.

“Within days of opening the facility, all 50 beds were occupied so you can imagine what kind of pressure the hospitals are under.”

Sheikh said the facility could add 50 more beds if the oxygen supply was dependable.

Gujarat, the home state of Prime Minister Narendra Modi, is one of the worst affected states in India. It reported close to 1,500 cases and more than 150 deaths on Tuesday.

Other major cities also witnessed chaotic scenes at hospitals while dozens of ambulances waited in queues for hours outside the facilities.

“We are facing difficulties in oxygen supply and the mosque has opened its space to serve the suffering humanity,” Sheikh said.

The Darool Uloom mosque in the same city also opened its doors to 142 beds fitted with oxygen as 20 nurses and three doctors are on site.

“We can make 1,000-bed COVID-19 facilities, but the oxygen supply is a constraint,” Ashfaq Malek Tandalja, a member of the mosque’s managing committee, told Arab News.

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To deal with the uptick in numbers, Muslim groups have converted mosques into COVID-19 care facilities, like the Jahangirpura mosque in the western state of Gujarat’s Vadodara city.

While these facilities are located in a predominantly Muslim area, patients from all faiths are admitted.

“Out of 50 at my center, around 15 are non-Muslims,” Sheikh said. “We serve humanity, not religion.”

The move is of particular significance in this city as it was one of the worst affected areas in 2002 when clashes broke out between Hindus and Muslims during religious riots. The unrest engulfed several cities in Gujarat while thousands — mostly Muslims — were killed in the attacks.

“Humanity knows no religion,” Sheikh said. “Common people understand each other and want to live in peace.”

Individuals such as Pyare Khan, of Nagpur, a city in the western state of Maharashtra, have come forward to help India emerge from the health crisis, too.

Khan, a billionaire transporter, reportedly spent close to SR506,271 ($135,000) to deliver 400 metric tons of medical liquid oxygen to government hospitals in and around the city when the crisis started. 

“My city was in trouble and I had resources, so I mobilized cryogenic tankers and oxygen from different parts of the country to support the city,” Khan told Arab News.

“Religion teaches us to be compassionate. I thought I must support people in this hour of crisis.” 

Khan also urged others to make use of their resources.

“A shroud does not have a pocket,” he said. “We leave everything behind when we die.”

Maharashtra is the worst affected state in India as it reported 65,000 cases and 500 deaths every day over the past week. Its capital of Mumbai, home to the globally famous Hindi Film Industry and Bollywood, is overwhelmed with critical cases.

To address the crisis, Shahnawaz Sheikh and his team of 20 volunteers have worked tirelessly to support the needy while establishing a “COVID-19 war room” where volunteers resolve issues on calls.

“We help people get hospital beds, oxygen supply if they need it and also support their family with our own resources,” he told Arab News.

Last year, Shahnawaz said he sold his personal SUV to raise money for oxygen cylinders in the city, which helped hundreds of people.

“This time, the intensity of the wave is very high and we are overwhelmed with calls. Every day we receive 500 distress calls and we try to address as many as possible,” the 32-year-old contractor said.

Shahnawaz said his team has faced a resource crunch because many of the people who donated last year have fallen ill or had families suffering.

“We will really appreciate any support,” he said.

On Monday, Chief of Defence Staff General Bipin Rawat met with PM Modi and recalled medical personnel from the armed forces who had retired in the past two years to help facilitate health workers in the country.

The World Health Organization (WHO) said it would send help to India as well.

“The situation in India is beyond heart-breaking,” WHO chief Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus said. “WHO is doing everything it can. It is providing critical equipment and supplies, including thousands of oxygen concentrators, prefabricated mobile field hospitals and laboratory supplies.”

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Arab League Council holds urgent session to discuss attack on Jerusalem

BEIRUT: All Lebanese doctors have stopped working from Monday until the end of the week in protest against a court verdict. The medical profession in Lebanon is protesting against the judicial decision to pay high compensation to Ella Tannous, who had her limbs amputated due to a medical error six years ago. The protesting doctors…

BEIRUT: All Lebanese doctors have stopped working from Monday until the end of the week in protest against a court verdict.

The medical profession in Lebanon is protesting against the judicial decision to pay high compensation to Ella Tannous, who had her limbs amputated due to a medical error six years ago.

The protesting doctors have been joined by private hospitals, which have stopped receiving patients, except in emergency cases.

The girl’s father Hassan Tannous, however, praised the “honest judiciary.”

Many doctors, including the head of Lebanese Order of Physicians, Dr. Sharaf Abu Sharaf, and the head of the Syndicate of Private Hospital Owners, Suleiman Haroun, staged a sit-in in front of the Palace of Justice in Beirut, calling the ruling “unfair.”

The Tannous case goes back to February 2015, when she was admitted to Hôpital Notre Dame des Secours in Jbeil due to her high temperature.​

Ella was diagnosed with a cold at the time, but her condition deteriorated and the child suffered septic shock, which led to gangrene that caused the amputation of her limbs.

The girl’s father had taken her to the Hotel Dieu Hospital, which refused to receive her.

He transferred her to the American University of Beirut Medical Center, where doctors decided to save her life by amputating her four limbs.

The tragedy led her parents to file a complaint in March 2015 before the Lebanese Order of Physicians against the doctor who examined her and Hôpital Notre Dame des Secours in Jbeil, on charges of neglecting the child’s health and not providing her with the necessary care.

More than one doctor was arrested and released on bail.

Those involved in the case exchanged accusations for years. The girl’s family objected to a medical report issued by the medical committee of the Lebanese Order of Physicians two months after the incident, calling it a “distortion of the facts.”

The final ruling, issued unanimously at the end of last week, by the Beirut Appeals Court, headed by Tarek Bitar, gave the girl’s family a positive surprise, while the Lebanese medical profession reacted to the ruling in a state of amazement and condemnation.

The ruling obligated the American University of Beirut Medical Center in Beirut, Hôpital Notre Dame des Secours in Jbeil and the two doctors — Essam M. and Rana Sh. — “to pay in joint and several liabilities to the child Tannous an amount of LBP 9 billion ($5.9 million) for damages, in addition to a monthly income for life estimated at four times the minimum wage.”

The ruling also stipulated “obliging the convicts to pay in joint and several liabilities an amount of LBP 500 million to the father of the child and LBP 500 million to her mother in exchange for damages.”

Medical errors committed against patients have often resulted in settlements. Some cases are still pending in the courts.

The head of the National Health Authority, Dr. Ismail Sukkarieh, told Arab News that the judicial ruling “is based more on emotions than wisdom, justice and scientific facts.”

Sukkarieh added: “The judiciary focused on the tragedy of the child’s condition, which cannot be compensated with money, without checking the stages of the disease and the accumulation of its causes.”

He said: “Hôpital Notre Dame des Secours in Jbeil was not equipped with intensive care for children. As for the doctors who saved the child through the amputation, they were spiritually affected.”

Hassan Tannous said that although the ruling “does not compensate for the loss of Ella to her limbs, it is a moral compensation.”

The father said the ruling “is a very strong message in the face of the perpetrators of medical errors, that there is an honest judiciary capable of restoring the rights of the owners.”

The girl’s family moved to France for her rehabilitation but continued to pursue the lawsuit until the end.

“It is a public rights issue to protect all Lebanese children from medical neglect,” said Hassan.

During the sit-in at the Palace of Justice on Monday, Dr. Abu Sharaf said: “There are complications that occur as a result of the medicines, and mistakes happen sometimes, but the doctors have no criminal intent. After today, no doctor will dare to work on difficult and rare cases.”

Dr. Ashraf called for “work to remove the effect of the judicial decision, and to establish a body specialized in medical matters in the judiciary to study medical problems.”

Hotel Dieu Hospital de France announced that it would stop receiving patients in all its departments and private clinics.

“It is unacceptable for doctors to pay the price for a health policy that does not exist in the first place,” said Elias Shallal, head of the hospital’s medical committee.

“It is unacceptable to applaud doctors for their role in the fight against coronavirus and after the Beirut Port explosion, and then attack them because of a medical error.”

The administration of Hôpital Notre Dame des Secours in Jbeil described the ruling as “unfair.”

It stopped receiving patients except in emergency cases.

The American University Medical Center in Beirut closed its clinics until further notice and stopped receiving patients, except for emergency cases.

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Zverev beats Berrettini to win his 2nd Madrid Open title

MADRID: Aryna Sabalenka is glad she changed her mind about playing at the Madrid Open.Two weeks after nearly withdrawing from the tournament because of a muscle injury, Sabalenka was standing on center court with the winner’s trophy in her hands on Saturday.Sabalenka defeated top-ranked Ash Barty 6-0, 3-6, 6-4 for her 10th WTA title —…

MADRID: Aryna Sabalenka is glad she changed her mind about playing at the Madrid Open.Two weeks after nearly withdrawing from the tournament because of a muscle injury, Sabalenka was standing on center court with the winner’s trophy in her hands on Saturday.Sabalenka defeated top-ranked Ash Barty 6-0, 3-6, 6-4 for her 10th WTA title — and first on clay.In the men’s final on Sunday, 2018 champion Alexander Zverev will face eighth-seeded Matteo Berrettini.Sabalenka’s victory, coming two weeks after she was hurt in a loss to Barty in the Stuttgart final, will move the Belarus player to No. 4 in the world next week.“To be honest, after the final in Stuttgart I was injured, I couldn’t even move, I really wanted to withdraw from here,” she said. “And I don’t know how, but my team … the recovery was really good. In four days they made me feel much better. Somehow I’m here standing as the champion of this tournament.”Sabalenka injured an adductor muscle in the three-set loss in Germany to Barty, who had won all of her three previous finals this year.It was the second title for Sabalenka this year after winning the season-opener in Abu Dhabi. She also lost to Barty in the Miami quarterfinals.In the men’s semifinals, Zverev followed his triumph over Rafael Nadal with a win over Dominic Thiem to reach another Madrid Open final. He will face No. 10-ranked Berrettini, who beat Casper Ruud 6-4, 6-4.No. 6 Zverev defeated No. 4 Thiem 6-3, 6-4 to reach the final again after beating Thiem for the 2018 title. He will be trying to win his second title this year after triumphing in Acapulco in March.Zverev broke Thiem’s serve once in the first set and twice in the second on the Magic Box center court.The German has yet to drop a set, including against Nadal in the Friday quarterfinals.“They’re probably the two clay-courters that you think of right now when you’re thinking about Roland Garros and the biggest chances of winning,” Zverev said of Nadal and Thiem. “Rafa is the favorite no matter what. Probably Novak (Djokovic) second, Dominic a close third. It’s been so far a good week for me. The job is not done yet.”Berrettini didn’t face a break point as he defeated Ruud to return to a final after winning Belgrade two weeks ago. He will be trying to win his first Masters 1000 final.“The key today was putting pressure on his serve,” Berrettini said. “I was always trying to get the momentum and attacking even his first serve. I know that he likes to have time, run around the forehand. I tried to do that. It worked out pretty well.”Thiem was playing in his first tournament since March after consecutive losses in Dubai and Doha. He has mostly struggled since winning the US Open for his first grand slam title.“In general I’m super happy with the week,” Thiem said. “I would have never expected to be in the semifinals, to play in the semifinals a player like him. I cannot complain about anything. Just, of course, there are many things to improve.”In the women’s doubles final, Barbora Krejcikova and Katerina Siniakova, both from the Czech Republic, defeated Gabriela Dabrowski of Canada and Demi Schuurs of France 6-4, 6-3.

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After outcry, BJP denies setting up COVID-19 help desks for cows

BEIJING: A large segment of a Chinese rocket re-entered the Earth’s atmosphere and disintegrated over the Indian Ocean on Sunday, the Chinese space agency said, following fevered speculation over where the 18-ton object would come down. Officials in Beijing had said there was little risk from the freefalling segment of the Long March-5B rocket, which…

BEIJING: A large segment of a Chinese rocket re-entered the Earth’s atmosphere and disintegrated over the Indian Ocean on Sunday, the Chinese space agency said, following fevered speculation over where the 18-ton object would come down.

Officials in Beijing had said there was little risk from the freefalling segment of the Long March-5B rocket, which had launched the first module of China’s new space station into Earth orbit on April 29.

But the US space agency NASA and some experts said China had behaved irresponsibly, as an uncontrolled re-entry of such a large object risked damage and casualties.

“After monitoring and analysis, at 10:24 (0224 GMT) on May 9, 2021, the last-stage wreckage of the Long March 5B Yao-2 launch vehicle has re-entered the atmosphere,” the China Manned Space Engineering Office said in a statement, providing coordinates for a point in the Indian Ocean near the Maldives.

It added that most of the segment disintegrated and was destroyed during descent.

The US military’s Space Command said the rocket “re-entered over the Arabian Peninsula at approximately 10:15 p.m. EDT on May 8 (0215 GMT Sunday).”

“It is unknown if the debris impacted land or water.”

Monitoring service Space-Track, which uses US military data, said that the location in Saudi Arabia was where American systems last recorded it.

“Operators confirm that the rocket actually went into the Indian Ocean north of the Maldives,” it tweeted.

The segment’s descent matched expert predictions that any debris would have splashed down into the ocean, given that 70 percent of the planet is covered by water.

Because it was an uncontrolled descent, there was widespread public interest and speculation about where the debris would land.

American and European space authorities were among those tracking the rocket and trying to predict its re-entry.

Objects generate immense amounts of heat and friction when they enter the atmosphere, which can cause them to burn up and disintegrate. But larger ones such as the Long March-5B may not be destroyed entirely.

Their wreckage can land on the surface of the planet and may cause damage and casualties, though that risk is low.

Last year, debris from another Chinese Long March rocket fell on villages in the Ivory Coast, causing structural damage but no injuries or deaths.

That, and the one that came down Sunday, are tied for the fourth-biggest objects in history to undergo an uncontrolled re-entry, according to data from Harvard-based astronomer Jonathan McDowell.

The uncertainty and risks of such a re-entry sparked accusations that Beijing had behaved irresponsibly.

US Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin suggested last week that China had been negligent, and NASA Administrator Bill Nelson echoed that after the re-entry on Sunday.

“Spacefaring nations must minimize the risks to people and property on Earth of re-entries of space objects and maximize transparency regarding those operations,” Nelson said in a statement.

“It is clear that China is failing to meet responsible standards regarding their space debris.”

To avoid such scenarios, some experts have recommended a redesign of the Long March-5B rocket – which is not equipped for a controlled descent.

“An ocean reentry was always statistically the most likely,” McDowell tweeted.

“It appears China won its gamble (unless we get news of debris in the Maldives). But it was still reckless.”

Chinese authorities had downplayed the risk, however.

“The probability of causing harm to aviation activities or (on people and activities) on the ground is extremely low,” foreign ministry spokesman Wang Wenbin said Friday.

Beijing has poured billions of dollars into space exploration to boost its global stature and technological might.

The launch of the first module of its space station – by the Long March rocket that came down Sunday – was a milestone in its ambitious plan to establish a permanent human presence in space.

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