India coronavirus dispatch: By how much can distancing, masks lower spread?

The effects of the Covid-19 pandemic stand to be devastating particularly in African countries, where economic and public health conditions are vulnerable
Here is a round-up of articles in Indian news publications on how the country is dealing with the Covid-19 pandemic. From rebuilding trust in public transport, to whether face masks for all can help contain virus and end lockdowns, and how construction industry got away with not paying workers in lockdown — read these and more in today’s India dispatch.

Managing Covid-19

No space on trains, no rented homes to go back to: From Chennai to Gurgaon, workers across cities are left in a limbo. Word of mouth about possible trains home is getting more and more migrant workers to walk towards two of Chennai’s prominent railway stations — Central and Egmore. This has left the city’s police force overwhelmed, and its shelters crowded. Officials from the municipal corporation are scrambling to keep up with the numbers. Read more here.

17 districts in Maharashtra see a spike in cases: In 17 of Maharashtra’s districts, more than half the Covid-19 patients are returning migrant workers who came back home in the past month travelling by train, trucks or lorries. Maharashtra has 70,013 Covid-19 cases, 35.7 per cent of India’s burden. In four districts, the entire Covid-19 load is of migrants. A gradual shift of Covid-19 cases from urban to rural regions is taking place. People travelling from Mumbai, Pune, Thane and Malegaon have been the main source of infection in other districts of the state. Read more here

Chandigarh's response to a Covid-19 hotspot bares the city's elitist underbelly: Chandigarh is currently reeling from an outbreak of coronavirus infections in a slum rehabilitation colony. A full 222 out of 293 (76 per cent) of Chandigarh’s Covid-19 cases have surfaced in the congested Bapudham alone. Bapudham has emerged as the biggest hotspot not only in the Union territory of Chandigarh but also in the region, including the three neighbouring states of Punjab, Haryana and Himachal Pradesh. Murmurs among the city’s elite blame the people of Bapudham for discrediting their posh city. Read more here

For India to rebuild trust in public transport, it should adopt a Covid-19 safety labelling system: Amid the coronavirus crisis, two things must be noted. First, in the absence of a definitive treatment or vaccine, we will have to live with the pandemic for some time. And second, we cannot have an endless lockdown. With more than 5.6 million confirmed cases and at least 350,000 deaths as on May 27, countries around the world have used lockdown as a strategy to control the Covid-19 pandemic. However, if economic activity is to be revived, the lockdown has to end. Read more here


India, China and fortifying the Africa outreach: The effects of the Covid-19 pandemic stand to be devastating particularly in African countries, where economic and public health conditions are vulnerable. They are still woefully ill-equipped to cope with a public health emergency of such magnitude due to shortages of masks, ventilators, and even basic necessities like soap and water. Both India and China, through their respective health and donation diplomacy, are vying to carve a space and position for themselves as reliable partners of Africa in its time of need. Read more here

Citizens Under Lockdown

How construction industry got away with not paying workers in lockdown: Construction workers did not benefit from the central government’s March 29 order asking employers to pay full wages during the ongoing lockdown because there was no clarity in this heavily informalised sector about who the ‘employer’ was — the subcontracting companies that recruited the labour for realty or infrastructure companies or the petty contractors who did the actual hiring — showed two recent field studies. Read more here.

Understanding Covid-19

How far do distancing, masks reduce Covid-19 spread? A new study in The Lancet provides evidence on the optimum use of simple interventions to help flatten the epidemic curve. Part-funded by the World Health Organization and conducted by researchers worldwide, the paper pooled 44 comparative studies that involved 25,697 participants and performed a meta-analysis to understand how effective were social distancing, and wearing eye protection or masks in preventing the spread of Covid-19. Read more here

Face masks for all can help contain virus and end lockdowns, new global study says: Widespread use of face masks could help economies reopen safely from coronavirus lockdowns when combined with continued social distancing and other prevention measures, according to a new study. The risk of transmission is lower in households and among contacts of infected people when masks are worn, according to the study, published in The Lancet medical journal. For medical professionals in a health-care setting, respirator-type devices provide a higher level of protection than standard surgical masks, the report said. Read more here.

How blood clots are involved – and how they could be deadly: Severe Covid-19 infections are marked by severe pneumonia, acute inflammation, and blood clots. The inflammation and clots together cause organs to fail and ultimately lead to death. This ‘flow’ of processes is not entirely new. Any infection – viral, bacterial or fungal – causes the blood to coagulate. But sometimes, an overactive coagulative system could cause disseminated intravascular coagulation (DIC). This is a condition in which clots in the bloodstream are disseminated throughout the body. Read more here.

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