Saturday, February 29, 2020

Entries close at National Geographic Traveller Photography Competition 2020

By Abdul Qadir Qureshi
(Pakistan News & Features Services)

The entries for the highly sought-after National Geographic Traveller Photography Competition 2020 have closed down as the final time for submission was 11.59 pm (GMT) on February 23. The event is being promoted by the London-based APL Media Limited. 

Although the entrants had to be residents of the UK or Ireland only, the iconic annual competition generated global interest, catching the imagination of the photographers as well as the travelers. 

In order to enter the competition, the entrants had to submit their photograph using the entry form available as online entries were acceptable only. The photographic entries had to be below 25MB and .jpg format. 

It was mandatory to have all submissions to be the entrant’s own work, and they had to own the copyright to the photographs entered. It was also essential to have the photographs clicked within two years before the date of entry. 

The competition, in an effort to find the best talent in the country, had invited photographers of all levels from across the UK and Ireland to submit their travel images taken in the past year in one of four categories of cities, landscapes, nature and people. 

Becky Redman, Art Director, National Geographic Traveller (UK), is the designated head judge of the competition. All entries will be moderated by him before compiling a shortlist of top entries in each category. 

The National Geographic Traveller (UK) team will be sending the shortlist of entries to each independent judge. The independent judges will in turn select their three top entries for each of the four categories, who will become the finalists. The judges’ finalists will be announced on April 13 at which point the finalists will be notified. 

The head judge, Becky Redman, will then collate the judge’s votes to determine the overall grand-prize winner, who can be selected from any of the four category winners. 

The winners will be notified by e-mail before April 30. The grand-prize winner will head to Mexico with National Geographic Journeys and the category winners will receive a Manfrotto tripod. The selected entrants will also be included as part of a global press and media campaign, and featured on the National Geographic UK website. It has been announced that the prizes must be taken by December 15.

Coronavirus may be transmitted from computer keyboard, cell phone

By Abdul Qadir Qureshi
(Pakistan News & Features Services)

The Coronavirus has been hitting headlines the world over for all kind of reasons. All aspects relating to the virus are being deliberated at all levels and the experts are sharing whatever information they may be having with them in this regard. 

The fear factor has gripped literally the whole world, particularly those countries where the virus has been suspected to have found its way. While the authorities are in the process of taking preemptive measures, there are all sorts of warnings coming from different sources. 

The scientists in China, from where it all started, have reportedly detected the Coronavirus appearing in the outside environment. It’s a kind of information that should be followed with caution by the regular visitors to the the net shop for gaming. 

According to the Chinese scientists, the virus could be in door handles, cell phones, computer keyboards and water valves. So you should pay attention often clean your phone, computer keyboard offline. 

Reportedly, the scientists in Guangzhou City, Guangdong Province in southeast China, on February 2 discovered the nucleic acid of the new strain of Corona virus (2019-nCoV) on a door handle at a patient's home, believed to have been infected with this new virus. 

The People's Daily claimed that this was the first time that the scientists in Guangzhou had discovered the new strain of Coronavirus in the outside environment. 

According to the findings, the nucleic acid of the new corona virus strain appeared on the door handle which showed that the houses must be cleaned and the hands must be washed regularly as the virus mainly transmitted through droplets and contact.

“But if the virus appears on the surface of an object, you can become infected by indirect exposure. That's when you touch the infected surface, then use your hands to eat or rub your eyes,” the report said. 

“In fact, having a computer keyboard or a phone with lots of viruses is something scientists have long proven. This is because we constantly touch them with our hands, while eating, typing or maybe sneezing into them and making them become the place to attach to different viruses for a long time,” it added. 

“The advice is to use alcohol solution to regularly clean your phone, computer keyboard and even wash your hands with alcohol solution to reduce the risk of infection with Coronavirus,” the report suggested.

New typhoid protecting vaccine found

By Abdul Qadir Qureshi
(Pakistan News & Features Services)

An emergency vaccination campaign in Sindh following the outbreak of typhoid in the province has found the typhoid conjugate vaccine to be effective in preventing new cases of the disease. 

The researchers of a recent event at Aga Khan University (AKU), Karachi, revealed that over 10,000 cases of extensively drug resistant (XDR) typhoid, a strain of the disease resistant to an unprecedented range of antibiotics, have been reported since 2016 in Karachi and Hyderabad which led to the launch of an emergency vaccination campaign in January 2018 in the worst affected areas of Hyderabad which saw 207,000 children between 6 months and 10 years of age receive the new vaccine. 

At the same time as the campaign, researchers set up a surveillance system in the same area over an 18-month period to screen a cohort of over 20,000 children, who received the vaccine, to detect cases of typhoid. They found that 9 out of 10 children in the cohort, or 89 per cent, did not contract the disease. 

“The results of the vaccine’s effectiveness are in line with a study in Nepal. This strengthens the case for the national rollout of the vaccine,” Dr Farah Qamar, an associate professor in paediatrics and child health at AKU, remarked.

During the event, Dr Farah Qamar spoke about how lessons from the Hyderabad campaign had been applied in Lyari, Karachi, and during the Sindh-wide rollout, conducted in November 2018, which aimed to reach over 10 million children during a three-week period. 

A mop-up campaign is now being planned in Sindh in March 2020 to immunize children between the age of 9 months and 15 years missed during the previous drive. 

The researchers noted that parents, whose children haven’t receive the vaccine, are keen to participate in the forthcoming immunization campaign. 

The speakers at the event revealed that cases of typhoid were being reported in parts of the Punjab province such as Lahore and Multan. The province is yet to launch the vaccine. 

The Punjab EPI Director, Dr Muhammad Saeed Akhtar, informed that cases of XDR typhoid and multi-drug resistant typhoid had been noticed to date.

“The Punjab government plans to include the vaccine in its routine immunization programme between September and October 2020. We will study the lessons learned from the Sindh campaign in order to ensure the success of our drive,” he shared. 

Dr Anita Zaidi, director of vaccine development, surveillance, and enteric and diarrheal diseases at the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation, expressed her support for efforts to generate evidence of the efficacy for this vaccine against typhoid fever. 

She added that a strategy to combat typhoid requires an integrated approach that covers access to clean water, improved sanitation, and immunization. 

During the event, the researchers from the AKU explained how their collaboration with the health authorities in Hyderabad helped trace the cause of the outbreak. 

“Our research involved geographic mapping which highlighted how the majority of typhoid cases were reported around sewage lines. Household water samples also tested positive for contamination showing that the drinking of contaminated water was the most likely cause for the outbreak,” Dr Momin Kazi, an assistant professor (research) in paediatrics and child health at AKU, mentioned. 

The research and policy advocacy efforts supporting the vaccine’s launch were backed by a team at AKU including Professor Rumina Hasan, Professor Zahra Hasan and Dr Sadia Shakoor from the department of pathology and microbiology, Dr Farah Qamar, Dr Tahir Yousafzai and Dr Momin Kazi from the department of paediatrics and child health at AKU.  

The control and prevention of water-borne diseases such as typhoid is a global health priority with targets under goal 3 of the Sustainable Development Goals calling for the eradication of such diseases by 2030.