India coronavirus dispatch: Why some Covid-19 patients lose sense of smell

Migrants wait in queues before boarding a bus to the railway station, during the ongoing nationwide COVID-19 lockdown, in Surat
Here is a round-up of important Covid-19-related articles from across Indian publications. From recovery of supply chains, to working from home after lockdown, and what happens if a co-passenger on a flight tests positive for Covid-19 — read these and more in today’s India dispatch.

Managing Covid-19

69% urban professionals want to continue working from home after lockdown: Urban working professionals across 10 cities in India — Delhi-NCR, Mumbai, Chennai, Bengaluru, Hyderabad, Kolkata, Jaipur, Ahmedabad, Pune and Surat — would like to continue working from home after the Covid-19 lockdown, a survey has found. As many as 69 per cent respondents said they would like working from home if that would mean less commute and cleaner air, among other things like more flexibility and family time. Read more here

Bihar’s Rs 1,000 relief not reaching broke & hungry migrants: A total amount of Rs 203.28 cr has been paid to 20,32,800 persons so far after scrutiny and verification of applications. Remaining eligible beneficiaries will also be paid soon after scrutiny and verification of their applications,” a government release said on May 24. However, the small-print of this aid makes it clear that anyone who does not hold a Jan Dhan bank account based in Bihar and all those under 18 years of age are not eligible. This explains why millions of stranded workers will not be able to benefit from this scheme. Read more here

Karnataka govt cancels trains citing ‘no passengers’, even as thousands yearn for home: Even as hundreds of migrant workers flock to police and railway stations in Bengaluru in the hope of getting on trains that will take them home, it has been learnt that the Karnataka government has cancelled trains citing ‘lack of passengers.’ Read more here

There will be more than one coronavirus vaccine, and that will be a merry situation: The Covid-19 crisis will end with vaccines, not a vaccine. More than one horse can win this race. Some of us might end up getting a shot of a more traditional vaccine, which uses parts of an inactivated virus to stimulate immunity. Others might get vaccines based on emerging technologies that use synthetic versions of the virus’ genetic code. Read more here

Is it safe to fly yet? And how can you minimise the risk of infection?: While there is no way to make air travel 100 per cent safe, there are ways to make it safer. It’s important to think through the particulars for each trip. One approach to your decision-making is to use what occupational health experts call the hierarchy of controls. This approach does two things. It focuses on strategies to control exposures close to the source. Second, it minimises how much you have to rely on individual human behaviour to control exposure. It’s important to remember you may be infectious and everyone around you may also be infectious. Read more here


Helping supply chains recover: As economies emerge out of the lockdown, entrepreneurs, workers, and consumers must adjust to the new reality. The world supply chain must adapt. Firms may, for instance, choose to source inputs from suppliers in their geographical proximity to minimise the risk of future disruptions. This involves building productive capacity at new locations, all of which requires investments fuelled by savings. Read more here

Government intervention, yes, but make it more decentralised and digitally inclined: Demand has fallen because of a lack of jobs, and loss in livelihood. Supply-side disruption is arising as firms have stopped manufacturing and importing from intermediate inputs. For the economy to revive, these demand and supply-side shocks need to be addressed simultaneously. Read more on what should be done to address this

Census migration data released on time could have helped policymakers during migrant crisis: The government has started easing restrictions, allowing stranded migrant workers to return to their home states. Since a lot of movement will be a point-to-point occurrence, this initiative requires collaboration among states to map migration networks, in order to facilitate massive logistics requirements, and also to plan the quarantine and testing procedures for migrant workers who have returned. Read here on why the latest Census migration data must be released to reduce the information gap in internal migration networks.

Understanding Covid-19

What Covid-19 does to central nervous system: As a respiratory disease, Covid-19 primarily attacks the lungs, but other effects too have been emerging, including in the abdomen, the skin and the brain. A new study has reviewed the existing evidence about the last: the virus’ impact on the central nervous system. Altered mental status and stroke have been found to be the most common neurological symptoms in Covid-19 patients. Read more here

What happens if a co-passenger tests positive for Covid-19? Within two days of domestic flight services resuming in India, a 24-year-old man who took the Chennai-Coimbatore flight, and another passenger who boarded the Delhi-Ludhiana flight tested positive for coronavirus. So did two passengers who had travelled with SpiceJet from Ahmedabad to Guwahati. As the two undergo treatment, the question arises – what happens if you travel in the same flight as a person who is infected with Covid-19? And should you be tested if the person seated next to you tests positive? Read more here

Why do some Covid-19 patients lose their sense of smell? Loss of the sense of smell (and taste), one of the more recently identified symptoms of Covid-19, is now recognised as such by the World Health Organization (WHO) and the health authorities of some countries, including the US. A new study in mice has sought to explore why this symptom appears in some Covid-19 patients. They have reported their findings in the American Chemical Society’s journal ACS Chemical Neuroscience. Read more here

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