India Coronavirus Dispatch: Why many hospitals are facing oxygen shortage

Photo: Bloomberg
Problems in oxygen management: The centre has identified three major problem areas in the management of oxygen supply inventory that have led to a shortfall in many parts of the country. The centre held meetings with state officials over the past week to ascertain the causes of the oxygen crisis. The first problem area is the ‘less than efficient’ management of inventory at the hospital level. Hospital authorities have been asked to estimate the number of mild cases and those that will require oxygen supply. The second problem area is the knee-jerk reaction of state authorities who panicked over high number of cases and immediately stopped oxygen supply to other states. The third area identified is the duration for which a patient should be on oxygen supply. Doctors have been noticed trying to achieve 100 per cent oxygen saturation level, which is not required. Read more here

Frontline doctors’ woes: Frontline doctors are complaining about rising anxiety, disturbed sleep patterns and constant feeling of helplessness. These symptoms, however, are just a tip of the iceberg as far as the mental health issues the doctors face go. Working shifts that last beyond 12 hours and being witness to a large number of deaths has taken a toll on doctors fighting against a pandemic that has entered its 8th month even as cases and deaths continue to rise. According to a psychiatrist at Panchkula’s civil hospital, at least 40 per cent of the doctors at the hospital have consulted him so far. An anaesthetist says that watching patients die has been so frustrating and disturbing that he had to resort to antidepressants as the last resort. Further, some doctors have even noticed a deterioration in their physical health as a result of working long hours in PPE. Read more here

Assam’s higher positivity rate: Assam has been recording a higher positivity rate compared to August despite conducting fewer tests. Officials attribute this trend to a change in testing strategy. In August, the state saw a positivity rate of around 4.8 per cent and in September so far, the positivity rate has risen to 6.7 per cent.On an average, the number of samples tested daily in August was higher than that seen in September so far. Officials say the state is now conducting ‘targeted’ tests only on those who are symptomatic and their contacts. This, they say, has led to a higher positivity rate. Their next goal is to enhance the number of ‘targeted’ tests to 100,000 per day. Read more here


National sero-survey: The results of the second national sero-survey are out. The writer, however, warns against building any narrative on the basis of this survey as there are far too many uncertainties, omissions and errors. Among other things, he says, assumptions and details have been left out which makes it very difficult or even impossible to cross-check calculations. Demographic data used for some calculations, for example, has not been provided. Uncertainties pertaining to tests such as specificity and sensitivity are not fully explored. Further, he says, the study itself raises some scepticism over reliability of death count. Lastly, the study has been marred by allegations of suppression of critical data like infection prevalence in containment zones. Read more here

Bad education: The pandemic has rendered an already faulty education system even more susceptible to inequality and bias. The pandemic has made access to education for the poorest even more difficult as most of them do not have the digital infrastructure necessary to attend online classes. What’s perhaps more worrying is that the trend of online classes will stay even post-pandemic as made clear by the NCERT itself. Secondly, online classes have always been criticised for not providing the same conceptual depth as provided in a physical classroom. This applies especially to subjects like mathematics where guidance of a teacher physically present around you is required. The importance of an institutional environment is also extremely essential. It’s important that the most vulnerable sections of our society aren’t left behind by this new trend. Read more here

Understanding Covid-19

Can glasses protect you? While face masks protect us from the virus, they leave the eyes exposed. A recent survey among people hospitalised with Covid-19 has shown that the proportion of people with glasses is far lower than the rest of the population. This seems to validate the belief that coronavirus can enter the body through the eyes. Surveys from across the board suggest that wearing glasses for long periods can actually make you less susceptible to Covid-19. Experts, however, say that drawing any conclusions on the basis of these surveys alone is premature. The glasses do, however, form a barrier that stop us from touching our eyes which is a route for the virus to enter the body if it were present on the hand. Read more here

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