India coronavirus dispatch: Social measures to raise public consciousness

A medic collects a swab sample of a man from a new swab testing cabin at Podar hospital in Worli during a nationwide lockdown in the wake of coronavirus pandemic, in Mumbai. Photo: PTI
Here’s a round-up of important coronavirus-related articles from across Indian publications. From risk stratification approach, to a game-changing vaccine, and what precautions you should take when visiting a shop – read these and more in today’s India dispatch

Citizens Under Lockdown

NGO feeds 30,000 slum dwellers daily during lockdown: The Mumbai Roti Bank (MRB), a non-governmental organisation, founded by Sivanandan in January 2018, has tied up with the Mumbai Police to ensure that the city’s daily-wage earners and the poor living in areas like Dharavi, a containment zone, do not go without food.

Covid lockdown takes a toll on India’s red-light areas: Most residents of red-light areas live in cramped quarters, with poor sanitation and often no running water, ruling out social distancing and other hygiene measures that are supposed to contain the virus. Should a case of Covid-19 be detected in these areas, it would spread like wildfire, social workers as well as residents of red-light districts fear.

Long Reads

Essential outreach services hit in states with worst health indicators: Six of the eight most socioeconomically backward Indian states — together called the empowered action group — which have among the highest infant and maternal mortality rates have discontinued health outreach services during the lockdown, multiple government and media reports show. Immunisation, antenatal checks (ANCs) and nutrition drives have been halted in all these states except Odisha, which continues apace, and Uttarakhand, which has kept its immunisation services open.

As India considers how to exit lockdown, ‘risk stratification’ approach may offer a solution: One idea that has been proposed is that of risk stratification – hospitalisation risks for Covid-19 increase with age and pre-existing chronic conditions. Therefore, allowing for greater movement among the young and healthy while protecting our elders will allow the resumption of economic activity and gradually build up immunity in our population, even though the young will remain more likely to be infected.


A shot of hope with a game-changing vaccine: A social vaccine is a metaphor for a series of social and behavioural measures that governments can use to raise public consciousness about unhealthy situations through social mobilisation. Social mobilisation can empower populations to resist unhealthy practices, increase resilience, and foster advocacy for change. on how this can drive political will to take action in the interests of society and hold governments accountable to address the social determinants of health by adopting progressive socio-economic policies and regulatory mechanisms that promote health equity and reduce vulnerability to disease.

Managing Covid-19

Mathematical models warn several lockdowns needed to beat Covid-19: A common conclusion among many academics was the insufficiency of a 21-day lockdown and the need to have several periods of sustained lockdowns to flatten the curve and eliminate the transmission of the virus. The verdict on the effectiveness of the extended 40-day lockdown is yet to be measured.

What the first Covid-19 autopsy reports tell us: An autopsy report highlights the importance of the fact that a person can die from a condition removed from SARS-CoV-2 – that is, the virus can be a bystander. Another person can die because of SARS-CoV-2. to understand why this distinction cannot be easily made by clinical judgment alone.

How TN has gone from low testing to highest number of tests in South: As of April 19, Tamil Nadu had tested 40,876 samples belonging to 35,741 persons, making it the highest among the southern states in total tests done. However, as far as tests per million are concerned, Kerala is still ahead of Tamil Nadu – with 579.58 samples, against the latter’s 566.62.

Avoid large gatherings, follow physical distancing – WHO issues guidelines for Ramadan: With the holy month of Ramadan starting this week, the World Health Organization (WHO) has issued interim guidelines on safe practices to follow in view of the Covid-19 pandemic.

Understanding Covid-19

How pooled testing works, and when it helps: Faced with criticism about insufficient testing and the reality of limited resources, India has decided to go for pooled testing in districts where no cases have been reported. on how this would on the one hand give data on whether these really are zero-case districts, and on the other, save resources.

What precautions should I take when visiting a shop these days? Maintain a reasonable distance — one metre at least, and preferably six feet — from other shoppers. Wear a face cover, given that the new recommendation worldwide is to keep the mouth and nostrils covered.

The novel coronavirus circulated for 40 years before jumping species: So how do new viruses actually emerge from the environment and start infecting humans? Every virus has a unique origin in terms of its timing and mechanism, but there are some general facts that are true for all species of an emerging virus. In order for a virus to successfully jump into a new species of host it must be able to do several things.

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