India coronavirus dispatch: The next phase needs less fear, more governance

Navi Mumbai Municipal Corporation (NMMC) doctor collects swab sample of police personnel for COVID-19 Rapid Antigen Test at Navi Mumbai Police Headquarters
Covid crisis underlines false urban-rural binary, Kolkata residents face week’s wait or more for test, and how safe and efficacious are the drugs prescribed to Indians for Covid-19 — a roundup of articles in Indian news publications on how India is dealing with the Covid-19 pandemic.

Managing Covid-19

Covid symptoms, prescription not enough, Kolkata residents face week’s wait or more for test: A 46-year-old diabetes patient from north Kolkata was prescribed a Covid-19 test on 17 July after he started experiencing severe symptoms. The next few days saw him shuttle from one ICMR-certified laboratory to the next — he altogether approached eight facilities, government and private, but couldn’t get a test. Read more here.

For Indian cities to be resilient against disease, housing codes for the poor must not be diluted: In May, as the pandemic spread across India, the Mumbai municipal corporation decided to allot 11 empty buildings in the eastern Mahul neighbourhood to be used as a quarantine facility for suspected Covid-19 patients from the Arthur Road Jail. The proposal resulted in a court battle. Though the buildings were finally not used to isolate the patients, the story of Mahul’s township for project affected persons put the spotlight on the flaws in the city’s policy of relaxing building codes to construct tenements to rehouse slum dwellers. Read more here

Kerala CM Pinarayi Vijayan keeps statewide lockdown option open: The CM has said that the public should not wait for a formal announcement from the government. They should stay indoors as far as possible and venture out only for emergencies. Non-disabled and healthy persons should report for voluntary social work. Students should actively participate in the State’s bid to retard the momentum of the pandemic. Read more here.

Unable to get drugs during lockdown, Punjab’s addicts are quitting. But this may not last: Singh is among the 129,000 individuals who enrolled in 341 government and private de-addiction centres across Punjab over a span of 89 days, from March 23 to June 19, during the lockdown. The state government has claimed that these individuals constitute 24 percent of the 544,000 people who have sought de-addiction treatment in the state since 2017. Doctors and social activists in the state believe the Covid-19-induced restrictions offer a golden opportunity for the administration to stem the state’s drug menace. Read more here.


Results of sero survey offer hope. Next phase needs less fear, better governance: The results of the survey offer us hope, and perhaps mark a beginning of the end. The initial lock-downs did provide us some time to understand the virus, if not to prepare for it. And it did provide our poor, the first patients, the first crack at our public systems. But the next phase requires a widespread understanding of the disease, of less fear and better governance. Read more here

Covid crisis underlines false urban-rural binary, neglect of urban areas: Small towns that are urban in nature but rural in character are the most neglected in the current policy environment. They are forced to exist with poorer services and policy neglect while having to meet the demands of a large population. They are most prone to plunge into distress, as the current crisis has revealed. Read more here

Lift lockdowns, protect the vulnerable, treat Covid like a health issue and not a disaster:
A decentralised approach involving all levels of primary, secondary and tertiary medical infrastructure, will be suited to manage the pandemic. It is important to handle it as a public health issue and not a disaster or law and order issue. Police forces must be taken off completely, the Disaster Management Act should be lifted, and constitutional liberties fully restored. There must be a transparent disclosure of the widespread nature but very low true mortality of this disease, quite like many other diseases we live with in our day-to-day lives. Read more here.

Understanding Covid-19

Why We Should Look for the Novel Coronavirus in Our Sewage: Traces of the novel coronavirus have also been detected in sewage, according to studies from at least 10 countries, although researchers’ efforts have been concentrated in a few developed countries. These efforts have typically been led by a government department in charge of regulating water use. Read more here

Indians can be prescribed 5 drugs for Covid-19. How safe and efficacious are they? As coronavirus cases continue to rise in India, the Central Drugs Standard Control Organisation has approved five drugs to treat Covid-19 patients. Out of these, two are antiviral drugs – Remdesivir and Favipiravir, and the remaining three – Dexamethasone, Tocilizumab and Itolizumab – are for easing symptoms. Since trials to determine the drugs’ safety and efficacy are either underway or have ended with negative results, experts have questioned their approvals. Read more here

Homemade face masks work best with multiple layers, study finds: Homemade face masks should ideally be made from multiple layers of fabric to trap the viral-laden droplets from the nose and mouth associated with the spread of Covid-19, a study found. Scientists in Australia compared the effectiveness of single and double-layer cloth face coverings with a surgical mask. Using a tailored LED lighting system and high-speed video camera, they showed a single layer reduced the spread of droplets from speaking, but less than a double layer. Read more here

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