India Coronavirus Dispatch: Students turn to Sweden for overseas education

Mumbai: People walk outside CSMT during Unlock 4, at Bhaucha Dhakka in Mumbai, Wedesday, Sept. 30, 2020 (PTI Photo/Kunal Patil)
Indian students turn to Sweden and other alternatives: Rising cases of Covid-19 in the US, a favourite destination for Indian students looking to pursue higher education, has benefited smaller nations such as Sweden which have managed to stave off the coronavirus. Countries such as Sweden and Israel, have seen a sharp rise in college applications from India. This is in line with a decline in international applications to colleges in the US, UK, Canada, and Australia.  The number of applications for undergraduate courses in Sweden from Indians has soared from 3,526 in 2019 to 6,811 this year, according to the Swedish embassy. Post-graduate applications too have registered a small rise to 2,111 applicants from 2044 in the year 2019.  Israeli universities also have seen a similar jump in applications from Indians. The University of Haifa, Israel alone has seen a 25 per cent jump. Read more here

Covid-19 deals a blow to Indian mental health patients: The lives of thousands of Indians with chronic mental illnesses and that of their caregivers have taken a turn for the worse since the outbreak of coronavirus. The pandemic has unraveled an already overstretched mental healthcare system in India.  Patients with chronic mental health illnesses struggled to gain access to care at state mental hospitals. A lack of beds meant new patients had to be turned away. Read more here 

AIIMS warns against the use of Remdesivir, other drugs: New Delhi’s All India Institute of Medical Sciences (AIIMS) has warned against the overuse of currently popular drugs for treating Covid-19 such as Remdesivir and Tocilizumab until more evidence that establishes their efficacy is found. The doctors also said Hydroxychloroquine has failed to show any efficacy in three randomised control trials, a critical requirement in evaluating new therapies. India, however, still recommends Hydroxychloroquine to treat mild cases of Covid-19. Read more here


Public health investment: Women's access to education and their reproductive health has been dealt a blow since the start of the Covid-19 lockdown, says Poonam Mutterja, executive director of the Population Foundation of India (PFI), a New-Delhi based NGO. Mutterja says the country could have used its system of grassroots health workers to provide these services door-to-door. Mutterja stresses the need to invest heavily in public health. “We have to invest more in our public health system, not just in terms of finances but in human resources,” she explained. She also says schools in "coronavirus-free" areas should be kept open, even if it is partially. Read more here

Safeguard frontline workers first: Ensuring essential workers such as health workers working on the frontlines of the fight against Covid-19 are vaccinated first is a sensible strategy to follow, says Devi Sridhar, a public health expert, and professor at the University of Edinburgh. She called the approach a “strategy of suppression”, where those who are most likely to be exposed to the virus, such as essential workers are safeguarded first. Sridhar says vaccinating the elderly is hard with this virus as the SARS-CoV-2 is fatal for those under the age of 50. She also thinks the Indian government's proactive efforts may have better helped to keep the caseload in check than some high-income countries. Read more here

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