India coronavirus dispatch: Experts for staggered public transport timing

Here is a round-up of articles from Indian news publications on how the country is dealing with the Covid-19 pandemic. From stepping into the domain of healthcare, to everything you need to know about international cricket’s return, and how doing science will change in India after Covid-19 — read these and more in today’s India dispatch.

Expert Speak

How will doing science change in India after Covid-19? The Covid-19 pandemic has brought science and scientists to the forefront of public scrutiny. At the same time, it has forced many scientists to take a step back and introspect as lockdown procedures are implemented throughout the country. Read this interview with Jyotsna Dhawan, Emeritus Scientist at CSIR-Centre for Cellular and Molecular Biology (CCMB), Hyderabad, about the impact the current situation has had on the way scientific research is conducted in our country, and the lessons scientists can take away from it for the future. Read more here.


India needs to urgently step into the domain of healthcare: The state is staging a comeback everywhere in the world in the context of the Covid-19 crisis. In India, one of the domains where it has to step in is public health. A debate on the lack of investments in public health is bound to take place in the country after the dust has settled. But the return of the state does not necessary mean more centralisation. Some state governments are doing a better job than the Centre today and the most effective ones are the most decentralised ones — Kerala, for example. Read more here.

The critical role of decentralised responses: The novel coronavirus pandemic has brought home the critical role of local governments and decentralised responses. In terms of information, monitoring and immediate action, local governments are at an advantage, and eminently, to meet any disaster such as Covid-19. While imposing restrictive conditions on states availing themselves of the enhanced borrowing limits (3.5 per cent to 5 per cent of gross state domestic product, or GSDP) for 2020-21 is unwarranted, the recognition that local governments should be fiscally empowered immediately is a valid signal for the future of local governance. Read more here.

Managing Covid-19

More than 7,000 people have died of Covid-19 in India so far: India is the fifth-worst-hit nation by the Covid-19 pandemic — behind only the US, Brazil, Russia and the UK — according to Johns Hopkins University data. The number of active novel coronavirus cases stands at 125,381, while 124,094 people have recovered and one patient has migrated. Read more here.

Workers who fled Punjab weeks ago are now flown, bussed back by industrialists, farmers: Ludhiana, aptly named ‘the Manchester of India’ for its dominance in the manufacture of hosiery products, knitwear, and textile, is in the throes of a deep crisis. In happier times, June was the month when Ludhiana’s 117-year-old famous hosiery industry – big or small units – booked orders for winter products and ran factory operations at full capacity so as to flood the market before November. This time, there is an all-pervading panic in the industry which normally employs about 1 million migrant workers, most of whom left the city during the lockdown – many on foot, some on cycles and others on crammed Shramik Specials. Industrialists have been pushed to the wall due to labour shortages and hence the move on the part of many of them to explore all means to bring the workers back. Read more here

To resume public transport, experts suggest staggered timings, bus lanes, tech systems: As India’s cities gradually revive their public transport services halted during the lockdown, technology-enabled systems, the optimal use of existing capacities and staggered commuting can help ensure social distancing and crowd management to prevent the spread of Covid-19. With an emphasis on physical distancing and as a measure to save time, this would mean increased use of automatic and digital payment systems, and mobile-phone-based applications to provide alerts on vehicular traffic and crowd congestion. Read more here.

Day 1 of reopening — some malls abuzz, others see tepid turnout: Even as malls reopened in the second phase of Unlock 1 on June 8, after nearly three months of remaining shut, security and social distancing remained the priority for everyone from customers to store managers. While footfalls remained limited during the first half of the day, with only a fraction of the usual crowds entering the malls, it picked up pace in a few places. Read more here

Everything you need to know about international cricket’s return: Three Test matches, 20 days, 2 venues and a bio-secure environment – cricket is finally set to make a comeback 4 months after nearly every sport was cancelled due to the coronavirus pandemic. England is leading the way and bringing international cricket back this July, with a three-match Test series against the West Indies. But with nearly 300,000 cases and almost 2,000 new positive cases every day, how is the ECB planning to pull off this series? Read more here.

Understanding Covid-19

Blood type plays role in Covid infection, O group less susceptible, study shows: Scientists have been looking at genetic factors to try to determine why some people who contract the new coronavirus experience have no symptoms, while others become gravely ill. In April, 23andMe launched a study that sought to use the millions of profiles in its DNA database to shed light on the role genetics play in the disease. Read more here.

Health ministry staff face flak for research paper claiming Covid will end in India by Sept: A research paper, authored by representatives of the health ministry, has come under fire for claiming that the ongoing coronavirus epidemic will come to an end in India by September this year. The paper — by Anil Kumar, deputy director general (public health) in the Directorate General of Health Services (DGHS), and Rupali Roy, deputy assistant director (leprosy), DGHS — claims that by mid-September “the number of infected will be equal to the number of removed patients”. Removed patients here refers to those who have recovered or died after being infected with Covid-19. Read more here.
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