India coronavirus dispatch: Why we must prepare for the long haul

Topics Coronavirus | Lockdown

Media personnel maintain social distance as they interview health workers sanitising an area near Nizamuddin, after people who attended the religious congregation at Tabligh-e-Jamaat's Markaz, tested positive for Covid-19, in New Delhi. Photo: PTI
Here is a roundup of articles from news publications in India on how the country is dealing with the Covid-19 pandemic — from a proposal for future lockdowns, to mapping of coronavirus hotspots, and how the civil society could aid government response to Covid-19.

Expert Speak

How Covid-19 will hit India: Why is India at such a grave risk from the coronavirus? What are the different ways in which the rural and urban India are likely to be affected? And what has the disease laid bare about the long-term consequences of insufficient health systems? Read this interview with epidemiologist and economist Ramanan Laxminarayan, who directs the Center for Disease Dynamics, Economics, and Policy in Washington, DC.

Citizens Under Lockdown

Lockdown causing further shortage at blood banks: The situation at blood banks has worsened during the lockdown, with hospitals making do with fewer employees, and fewer donors coming forward due to restrictions on people’s movement and the fear of contracting Covid-19 at a hospital or clinic. Read more on how hospitals and patients are managing this crisis.

Exodus shows essential role migrants play in functioning of Indian cities: Most migrant workers live in cramped rented rooms or must sleep on the footpath, lack documents to access benefits such as rations in the city, do not have family members in the city, and have little savings to draw upon. Read this interview with Tariq Thachil, associate professor at Vanderbilt University, on India’s migrant labourer during a lockdown.

Long Reads

Covid-19 – Are we ready for the long haul? Policymakers must be prepared to provide relief to adversely affected individuals. Read this proposal, which details a comprehensive approach for a combination of in-kind transfers and cash support to be provided to all households with ration cards, during any lockdown that takes place over the next 24 months.

Death of Assam doctor raises questions about malaria drug recommended for Covid-19 health workers: Many Indian medical workers are consuming hydroxychloroquine, despite lack of solid evidence about its efficacy. Read more about it here.


Policy support for Covid-19 crisis must be determined by extent of economic damage: The national lockdown, the incomes and credit support, and the three-month debt moratorium announced by the government and the RBI are the needed first steps to contain the outbreak on the one hand, and lessen the economic impact on the other hand. More needs to be done. Read here to understand just how much more.

The return of the expert: An unintended benefit of the pandemic is the return of facts, truth and experts. Both the prime minister and the health minister were recently seen imploring us to shun 0 (blind faith, superstition), disregard rumours and continually fact-check. Read more here.

Managing Covid-19

How Mumbai’s BMC is mapping coronavirus hotspots: Unlike containment zones, in the sealed area, all essential shops, like dairy and grocery, have been shut. The Mumbai civic body has said it will provide or arrange essentials for the residents of the sealed zones. Read more here.

Lessons from Hubei: The goal of the lockdown should not just be to keep the people indoors but to ensure that patients with symptoms are hospitalised and not just placed under home isolation, to make sure that the virus does not spread to the members of the infected individual’s family. Read more here.

India needs to realise that Covid-19 is a disaster, not a law-and-order problem: If India wants to create a meaningful response to the crisis, it needs to pool in and mobilise all the resources in the country. This needs to start at the top with the government, and percolate down to cover every public, private, and civil society actor. To do this India needs a framework that allows civil society to aid government efforts. Read more on what this can be.

Understanding Covid-19

Scientists, health experts urge government to expand tests, make post-lockdown plan: Once the lockdown is lifted, epidemiological models suggest, the epidemic would make a resurgence. To ensure that the rate of new infections is kept low in a sustainable manner, a detailed road map of a post-lockdown plan should be formulated and put in place. Read more here.

What doctors are learning about Covid-19 on the fly: For doctors, making the right call is crucial, but the problem is compounded by a lack of data to help rationalise choices. Read more about how doctors are coping and learning, as they deal with a pandemic.


Covid-19 and the global economy: An unprecedented situation that cannot be compared to any other moment in history. Instead of looking only at what can happen, it is important to understand in detail what has happened so far in the global, advanced, and developing economy. Watch this lecture and Q&A with professor Jayati Ghosh.


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