India Coronavirus Dispatch: Recoveries continue to outpace fresh cases

A healthcare worker wearing PPE collects a swab sample from a policeman, during a check-up campaign for the coronavirus disease set up inside a police station, in Mumbai.
Recoveries continue to outnumber fresh cases: It has been 34 days since recoveries have outnumbered the detection of new infections, the strongest indication yet that India's coronavirus epidemic is steadily declining. In this time, active cases nearly halved, the fresh cases on a daily basis fell to less than half of the September peak, and the growth rate dropped to just about 0.5 per cent per day.

The exact reasons behind this turnaround are not completely clear, since the country is in the middle of a festive season. Health authorities and experts cautioned against lowering the guard as the festive season coupled with deteriorating air quality in the winter could erase gains that have been made.

Hackers target Indian pharma: Mumbai-based drugmaker Lupin became the second major Indian pharma maker to be hit by a cyber attack after larger peer Dr Reddy’s Laboratories suffered a similar attack two weeks ago. Experts said cyber-attacks have become more prevalent as the world tackles Covid-19. Indian drugmakers have become a special target because of how critical they are in the global supply chain for potential Covid-19 vaccines, the experts said, warning that more such attacks could be on the anvil. Over the last decade, Indian drugmakers have moved most of their data on documentation and processes to the cloud. Lupin is not developing a vaccine for Covid-19. However, it launched a version of favipiravir, a drug that is used to treat a mild infection of the virus. Both Lupin and Dr Reddy’s have said that their core operations were not affected by the attacks.

Fresh concerns as schools and colleges reopen: Schools and colleges are waiting and watching as states debate whether to reopen them or not. Odisha put on hold an earlier decision to reopen after November 15, while Maharashtra said it was looking at restarting physical classes in schools from November 23. Gujarat also said it was preparing a standard operating procedure (SOP) for senior grades from November 18. Alarm bells went off among parents and administrators in Uttarakhand and Andhra Pradesh after reports of cases among teachers and students. In Uttarakhand, where classes for Class X and Class XII restarted on Monday, over 80 teachers in 20 government schools in Pauri Garhwal district tested positive. In Andhra Pradesh where schools reopened on Monday, about 600 students and 830 teachers tested positive since restarting. The state plans to continue the classes.

Cash transactions fall amid Covid-19: India's cash transactions have slumped by about 50 per cent, according to a survey by community social media pltform LocalCircles. The survey took in over 45,000 responses across 300 districts. 51 per cent of respondents were from tier 1 cities, 34 per cent from tier 2, the rest were from tier 3, 4, and rural districts. Around 69 per cent respondents were men and the rest women. Covid-19 accelerated the shift towards digital payments that was kickstarted by demonetisation in 2016, the survey said. The majority of the cash was paid for groceries and domestic helpers, the survey found.

Which states have banned firecrackers? A number of states have banned firecrackers this Diwali season. While some states have announced an outright ban, others have only clamped down on the use of “imported” firecrackers. A few other states are reportedly mulling restrictions. Here’s a list of some states where firecrackers have been restricted, in one form or another.

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