India coronavirus dispatch: Railway coaches redesigned for Covid patients

Railway employee prepares a train coach as an isolation ward for the new coronavirus patient, in Guwahati. Photo: ANI
India probably has tens of millions of Covid-19 infections already: with Ramanan Laxminarayan, director of the Washington-based Center for Disease Dynamics, Economics & Policy in which he says that that India probably already has tens of millions of Covid-19 infected people. He says the nationwide part of the ICMR’s recent serological survey which suggests that 0.73 per cent of the population has been exposed to the virus corroborates this. Laxminarayan says he believes India could have 200 million Covid-19 infected people by September.


Rural India, the new viral flash point: There is a pervasive and false confidence among the gen-eral public that, somehow, rural India will escape with minimal casualty. The recent (limited) resto-ration of public transport and a relaxation of restrictions on the movement of people are develop-ments that have set the stage for the inevitable and even more dangerous wave of this epidemic. Just as importations from other countries through air traffic set the stage for the urban blight, impor-tations from urban to rural India will set the stage for the rural wave. We need to remind ourselves that rural India is clearly unprepared to face this epidemic.

For better conditions of work: This is an opportunity to rebuild economic production through dif-ferent institutional arrangements. Arrangements that can provide an optimal solution to the workers as well as contribute to the GDP must be made. It will also rebuild an India where cities are not congested and where the standard of living in rural areas will improve.

Modi government’s ‘One Nation, One Ration’ is an attempt to deflect attention from actual so-lutions: From setting up community kitchens and providing dry ration kits to universalising the PDS, there are far more effective and obvious measures that the government could implement for urban workers. Universalising the PDS means extending central food subsidy to those, of the 50-odd crore people who are currently out of it, who want it. Some states, including Tamil Nadu, Himachal Pradesh, Chhattisgarh and Odisha, already cover such people to varying extent using state resources.


How are Covid-19 cases reported, and how did so many slip through the gap? A massive data rec-onciliation exercise in Maharashtra has found that at least 1,328 deaths of Covid-19 positive pa-tients went unreported across the state. Of them 862 are Covid-19 deaths in Mumbai, which the Brihanmumbai Municipal Corporation (BMC) had not reported. While the unreported deaths have led to the Opposition questioning the intent of the government and whether “it is an attempt to hide facts”, top state officials have insisted that they will remain transparent, and report all deaths once the final figures are matched.


Ministries told not to force junior staff to come to office as Delhi Covid-19 cases surge: After a spate of Covid-19 cases in government offices, including Defence Secretary Ajay Kumar, the De-partment of Personnel and Training has informally told ministries to “not force” junior staff such as peons and personal assistants to come to office. Department heads have been told only to get essen-tial staff to come to office, and let others work from home. The DoPT is also finalising a work from home framework, and an order is expected to be issued soon. Joint secretaries and higher ranks, however, have to continue to come to office every day.

How to enable MSMEs to recover from the lockdown: In the aftermath of the Covid-19 epi-demic and two months of stringent lockdown, India now faces the crises of unemployment and business closure, particularly in the micro, small and medium enterprise (MSMEs) sector. A new report by the Council on Energy, Environment and Water (CEEW) and the National Institute of Public Finance and Policy (NIPFP) has proposed that MSME recovery can be speeded along.


What is dexamethasone? The anti-inflammatory steroid being touted as new Covid-19 treatment hope: Dexamethasone is a corticosteroid commonly-used to reduce inflammatory conditions in the body such as allergic disorders and inflammatory bowel disease. It is used to treat autoimmune dis-orders such as lupus, rheumatoid arthritis and myasthenia gravis. about the ‘Recovery Trial’ that is being carried out by Oxford scientists, which recruited over 11,500 patients in over 175 NHS (National Health Service) hospitals in the UK.

Protecting yourself in the monsoon: Why an expert is suggesting you wear a three-ply surgical mask: Ever since health experts and agencies around the world started to stress the wearing of masks – or “face coverings” – as one of the best ways to restrict the spread of the nov-el coronavirus infection, the question has been asked: what kind of mask is the best? While research remains ongoing, most experts agree that N95 respirators provide the best protection against Covid-19; however, these masks are meant mostly for specialised use, and are expensive and uncomforta-ble to wear for long. However, with the monsoon having set in over some parts of India, and set to proceed northward and westward over the next few weeks, three-ply surgical masks present an ad-vantage.

Cases of pregnant women infecting baby with Covid-19 found uncommon: The fact that pregnant women with Covid-19 can transmit the virus to the foetus is now well documented: a few such cas-es have been reported from around the world. Now, a study has found that such transmission is un-common. Also, the rate of infection is no greater when the baby is born vaginally, breastfed or al-lowed contact with the mother. And babies that did test positive for Covid-19, were mostly asymp-tomatic.

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