India Coronavirus Dispatch: Rural districts see surge as India unlocks

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Delhi commuter stats: Only 2.3 per cent of those who entered Delhi by bus or train between September 4 and 14 tested positive for Covid-19. The data is part of an affidavit sent to the Delhi High Court by the Delhi government. A total of 15 testing teams have been deployed across three railway stations and four Inter State Bus Terminals (ISBT). The affidavit was sent to the court a week after it directed the Kejriwal government to arrange for testing at ISBTs and railway stations. 23,351 people were tested across these places in the period under review. The affidavit also states that 79 mobile testing teams have been deployed across all the 11 districts in Delhi. The government also plans to bolster up its testing numbers as the number of trains increases. Read more here

Chandigarh patients complain: Residents of Chandigarh who tested positive for Covid-19 are complaining that they have had to wait for days to receive any kind of treatment. A bank employee, who tested positive on September 16, has been dialling up helpline numbers given by the administration but is yet to receive any help. An elderly patient, meanwhile, was told to isolate at home until a medical team would arrive but that never happened. He has been made to call different numbers but all his attempts have gone in vain so far. A team empowered by the centre to identify gaps in Covid management had flagged the issue of delay in availing treatment for patients. Read more here

Company with no ventilator model gets PM CARES order: In April, a Chennai-based company, Trivitron Healthcare, got government orders to build 7,000 “basic” and 3,000 “advanced” ventilators. However, the company did not have models for either type of ventilator or even a prototype. The procurement for ventilators, required for the battle against Covid-19, was to be paid for by PM CARES fund. The prices for the models were set according to those offered by the firm’s competitors. The ventilator procurement process itself proved to be riddled with anomalies and the company had to bear the consequences. Till date, not a single ventilator has been supplied under the contract. Read more here

Chhattisgarh opts for lockdowns: Even as the rest of the country moves towards ‘unlocking’, Chhattisgarh has preferred to do the opposite. 16 of the state’s 28 districts are under lockdown to curb the spread of Covid-19. The state government has empowered district collectors to take the call. The lockdown in Raipur is in fact stricter than the nationwide lockdowns imposed by the Centre as even shops selling essential goods have been forced shut. This decision follows a spurt in cases in the state. The week-long lockdown, authorities say, is to ‘instil a sense of discipline’ among the public. Further, all government offices have been shut following a high number of cases from the secretariat and other offices. Read more here

In Numbers

Rural districts report surge: As on September 23, 85.7 per cent of Maharashtra’s Covid-19 cases were outside of Mumbai. This is a huge shift from the situation on June 1 when only 41 per cent of the cases were from regions outside Mumbai. Experts warn that as the country continues to ‘Unlock’, the rural districts will see a surge. Based on factors such as positivity rate and doubling time, an analysis of data from the three-most affected states shows that almost all districts are now at risk of a surge in cases. Experts warn that as the unlock process progresses, all areas with high population densities are at equal risk. Read more here

Understanding Covid-19

Nasal vaccines: Bharat Biotech announced it would be manufacturing up to a billion doses of a single-dose intranasal vaccine. This single-shot intranasal Covid-19 vaccine aims to overcome difficulties associated with mass vaccination and cut costs by doing away with the need for needles and syringes. Given the scale of the pandemic, the logistics of shipping vaccines and then training personnel to administer them would be complex. A nasal vaccine, on the other hand, is easy-to-deliver. However, it’s not a particularly popular vaccine type as only 5 Covid vaccine candidates out of the 187 listed by the WHO are intranasal in nature. This is primarily because there is very little evidence of the efficacy of these vaccines. Read more here

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