HAMNET Report 26th January 2020

Pieter, ZL1PDT, has sent me a link to an article from Bundesnetzagentur, the German Federal Network Agency, quoted by Southgate Amateur Radio News, noting that the agency has banned the sale of around 3.5 million products in online market surveillance. These devices can cause radio interference or electromagnetic incompatibilities and must not be sold in the EU.

In 2019, the authority issued a further 600,000 products with sales bans or corrective measures for economic operators in Germany. In addition, the import of almost 400,000 non-compliant products to Germany was prohibited.

In 2019, the BNetA’s investigations were once again aimed at individual online retailers who offered large numbers of items on the Internet.

This enabled providers of so-called mini spy detectors – also known as bug finders – to be identified. The devices offered in millions of pieces were particularly noticeable due to formal defects, such as a lack of CE marking or a missing German operating manual. Devices that do not bear the CE mark are not intended for the European market and can pose a risk to consumers.

Among the total of 3.5 million non-compliant devices were, among other things, more than 600,000 Bluetooth speakers and almost 500,000 jamming transmitters, the sale and distribution of which is not permitted in Europe, because communication services (e.g. mobile radio or GPS Navigation services) and emergency calls can be prevented. Such devices are often used illegally to carry out crimes.

Consumers are ordering more and more products online directly from third party countries. Therefore, the Federal Network Agency works closely with customs. Customs reported a total of 13,000 suspicious shipments to the Federal Network Agency in 2019. In more than 90% of the cases, the products were not released for the German market. A total of around 400,000 products were affected.

The number of device types in German retail verified by the Federal Network Agency was over 5,400 in 2019. The authority has issued a total of 59 sales bans and 721 formal letters to remedy formal defects for non-compliant products. Around 600,000 products were affected.

Wouldn’t it be nice if these kinds of controls were applied throughout the world? We would all be able to purchase directly, or on-line, without a fear of receiving products deficient in adequate quality controls.

Now for some medical news concerning the worrying outbreak of an upper respiratory infection caused by a new Corona Virus in China. Corona viruses are relatively common causes for a snotty nose. Patients have all the usual runny noses, sore throat, dry cough, and sore body symptoms, and the disease usually gets better within the customary 5 days or so.

Not so, this Corona Virus. The symptoms are more severe, more prolonged, and with the tendency to descend into the chest with a severe cough, wheezing, shortness of breath, and possibly respiratory failure, requiring ventilation in an ICU. A small proportion of those patients don’t survive.

This copy of the Corona Virus arose in Wuhan, central China, and there have been about 40 deaths in a total of about 800 patients identified with the disease. Up until this week, no evidence had been found for person-to-person transmission, but the World Health Organisation has changed this view.

Univadis Medical News reported on last Monday that the number of people infected with the novel coronavirus (2019-nCoV) outbreak in Wuhan, central China, tripled over last weekend and the virus has now been detected outside China, in Thailand, Japan and South Korea. There have now been reports of human-to-human transmission, with two people contracting the virus from family members, while some medical workers have also tested positive for the virus.

The World Health Organization (WHO) collaborating centre for infectious disease modelling in London, UK, estimates that a total of 1,723 cases of 2019-nCoV in Wuhan had onset of symptoms by 12 January. Estimates are based on the catchment population of Wuhan, the incubation period, the detection period and the volume of international travel.

It is recommended that surveillance be expanded to well-connected Chinese cities.

Air passengers from the affected region are being screened at major airports in Singapore, Hong Kong, Tokyo and the US, although the WHO has not yet issued travel restrictions.

There is no evidence of this Corona Virus in South Africa yet. Let’s hold thumbs!

The ARRL Letter for January 23rd, reports that Puerto Rico’s Arecibo Observatory has been affected by the recent spate of earthquakes and aftershocks. The landmark Arecibo radio telescope and ionospheric radar facility was a victim of the devastation wrought by Hurricane Maria in 2017.

Members of the Nashoba Valley Amateur Radio Club (NVARC) have stepped up to assist in support and recovery efforts for the Arecibo Observatory radio telescope and ionospheric radar facility. NVARC members Phil Erickson, W1PJE; Rod Hersh, WA1TAC, and Jim Wilber, AB1WQ, participated in daily scheduled radio contacts with Arecibo’s lead telescope operator and spectrum manager, Angel Vazquez, WP3R. Other NVARC members volunteered to serve as back-up stations.

“All AO staff members are safe, and our technical teams have completed preliminary visual analysis of the primary structure and have found no immediate damage/issues, however a more detailed inspection needs to be completed once the aftershocks subside,” said Francisco Córdova, Arecibo Observatory’s director, at the University of Central Florida.

Site operations were suspended and access was limited to essential personnel, according to the latest information available from the Arecibo Observatory website.

Over several days, when commercial power and water were not available near Arecibo, club members inquired about potential assistance. Although conditions are slowly improving on the northern portion of the island where the observatory is located, Vazquez noted that thousands of people displaced from their homes in the hard-hit southern part of the island had to camp outside, due to extensive structural damage and ongoing aftershocks.

NVARC members were also able to provide messages of support from MIT’s Haystack Observatory in Westford, Massachusetts, and from program officers at the National Science Foundation (NSF) Geospace Facilities Division in Washington, DC. NSF funds the observation programs and scientific research at Arecibo Observatory. NVARC said the radio contacts would continue as the recovery proceeds.

Quietly remembering my Mother’s 109th birthday today the 26th, this is Dave Reece ZS1DFR reporting for HAMNET in South Africa.