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India coronavirus dispatch: Why Mumbai became the worst-hit Indian city


Here is a round-up of articles from Indian news publications on how the country is dealing with the Covid-19 pandemic. From a cleaner air policy, to what made Mumbai the worst-hit Indian city, and how the type of diabetes you have can impact how you react to the virus — read these and more in today’s India dispatch.


India can use the coronavirus crisis to frame a cleaner air pollution policy: The newly clean skies have stirred hopes that regional action on South Asia’s lethal air pollution may be possible despite years of false starts and failure. Read here on why links between poor air quality and chronic health conditions that jeopardise the survival of Covid-19 patients now make tackling pollution more pressing than ever. Read more here

Paging the private sector in the Covid fight: The Covid-19 pandemic is unlikely to disappear in the immediate future. Managing the epidemic and ensuring a full complement of health care will require extraordinary resources and investment. India’s public health sector has already spread itself thin in tackling the pandemic. This unprecedented crisis has highlighted the critical need to mobilise available resources, in both public and private sectors. Read more here

It could help government to get closer to doubling farmers’ incomes by 2023: If the PM can convert food and fertiliser subsidies into direct cash transfers, he will come closer to doubling farmers’ real incomes by 2022-23. If he bites this bullet, it will give him even better results than agri-marketing reforms. Read more here

Managing Covid-19

As Covid cases and deaths rise, govt directed to make list of designated hospitals public: Accurate and updated information about Covid hospitals and treatment centres across the country and accessible in the public domain, at the click of a button, is not available. In one of its orders released on June 5, the Central Information Commission (CIC) has issued an advisory to the Union Ministry of Health and Family Welfare (MoHFW) to fill this information gap in the battle to combat Covid-19 by compiling and publishing a list of all Covid treatment facilities designated across the country. Read more here

How many migrant workers displaced? A range of estimates: Last week, the Chief Labour Commissioner put the figure of migrant workers displaced and stranded across the country at 2.6 million. Of them, 10 per cent are said to be in relief camps, 43 per cent on work sites and 46 per cent in other clusters. The Solicitor General, on the other hand, informed the Supreme Court of 9.7 million who had been transported back home. A problem in dealing with issues related to migrant labour after the imposition of a lockdown on March 25 has been the absence of firm estimates of the number of displaced. Read more here

From financial capital to Covid-19 capital — What went wrong in Mumbai? Some of the missteps that made Mumbai, India’s financial capital, the worst-hit Indian city, are illustrated in this piece. The government was late in starting surveillance in slum clusters and when it did, it put healthcare workers, without adequate protective equipment, at risk. Criteria were often changed to restrict testing, especially for asymptomatic patients, while the public health system that was already struggling with a high patient load before Covid-19 became quickly overwhelmed. Read more here

How one man struggled for eight hours to find a Covid bed in Delhi hospitals: As cases in Delhi soar, several patients developing symptoms or testing positive for the virus have found themselves struggling to find beds in the city’s hospitals. Relatives of some patients said officials in both public and private hospitals told them that all their beds were occupied. Many of them claimed that the Delhi government helpline to inform patients about vacant beds was unresponsive, while the bed availability status on the government’s Delhi Corona app did not tally with what hospital authorities told them. Read more here

As economy reopens, streamlining access to testing, health facilities will be key to arresting anxiety: The re-opening of restaurants and malls this week onwards will kick-start a crucial segment in the service sector. Given the general panic in the public mind, the nature and extent of the reopening in this sector, to which social contact/gathering is intrinsic, will be a barometer of public confidence. So watch for markers in your neighbourhoods/surroundings. Read more here

Understanding Covid-19

The type of diabetes you have can impact how you react to coronavirus: In early 2020, it seemed like people with diabetes were disproportionately dying with Covid-19, but the data provided more questions than answers. What type of diabetes did people have? Were people dying because the condition itself put them at greater risk, or because those with it tend to be older and have other illnesses? And what should people with diabetes do to protect themselves? Read more here

The Lancet’s HCQ study — Why it was retracted, and the status now: Last week, The Lancet published a retraction from three of four authors of a study that had said neither chloroquine nor hydroxychloroquine (HCQ) with antibiotics held any significant promise as a treatment for Covid-19. The World Health Organization (WHO), which had suspended enrolment for the HCQ arm of the Solidarity Trial following the original study, has reinstated it following the retraction. Solidarity is an international clinical trial on possible Covid-19 treatments, including HCQ, which is an anti-malarial drug. Read more here

AstraZeneca’s cancer drug shows early signs of promise in treating severe Covid cases: Calquence, a blood cancer drug manufactured by the British-Swedish pharmaceutical company AstraZeneca, has shown initial positive results in the treatment of severe Covid-19 patients, according to a preliminary study. Published in the science journal Science Immunology Friday, the study was conducted on 19 Covid patients who were started on a 10-14-day course of calquence, whose generic name is acalabrutinib. Eleven of these patients were on oxygen. Nine of them were discharged. Read more here


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