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India coronavirus dispatch: Can RWAs really stop maids from coming to work?

From Mumbai migrant workers' struggle to get home, to rethinking school education, and why the coronavirus test costs Rs 4,500 in India - read these and more in today's dispatch

Coronavirus | healthcare | health care

Sarah Farooqui  |  New Delhi 

Employees of head post office resume work after Government offices opened with thirty per cent staff in attendance during the Covid-19 lockdown, in Jabalpur. Photo: PTI
Employees of head post office resume work after Government offices opened with thirty per cent staff in attendance during the Covid-19 lockdown, in Jabalpur. Photo: PTI

Here is a selection of pieces from across publications on Covid-19. From Mumbai migrant workers’ struggle to get home, to rethinking school education, and why the test costs Rs 4,500 in India – read these and more in today’s dispatch.

Expert Speak

Some Covid-19 patients are presenting with gastro symptoms: Some patients presenting with gastrointestinal or ENT (ear-nose-throat) symptoms are also testing positive for Covid-19. Every patient should be investigated for Covid-19 to reduce unnecessary exposure to workers and the larger community. Read this interview with Saibal Moitra, adjunct professor and senior consultant, Department of Allergy and Immunology at the Apollo Gleneagles Hospital, Kolkata, to understand more.

Long Reads

Why does the test cost Rs 4,500 in India? A debate has broken out over the price that private labs are charging for Covid-19 tests. The pricing question turned out to be complex. Would the costs have come down if the government had allowed labs to assemble their own kits instead of mandating that they buy ready-made ones? Read here to understand.

Citizens Under Lockdown

Confusion reigns as migrant workers in Mumbai struggle to get home: It took five weeks and two extensions for the government to finally announce measures to send migrant workers home. But the announcement has been followed by a slew of confusing orders, leading to more distress on the ground. Read more here.

Bihar’s litchi growers, traders, workers face with a bitter harvest in lockdown: The nationwide has created such a disruption in demand and supply that almost two-thirds of Bihar’s litchi production may remain unsold. The sorrows of the state’s 45,000-odd litchi farmers, labourers and traders involved in the production, packaging and marketing of the fruit have doubled. Almost 60 per cent of litchi growers in the state are small farmers. Read here on what the next few weeks may hold for them.


Covid-19 and India’s fiscal conundrum: India’s fiscal stimulus to date, estimated at Rs 1.7 trillion, is less than 1 per cent of the country’s gross domestic product – that is paltry when compared with the magnitude of stimulus injections undertaken by many East Asian countries like Japan (20 per cent), Malaysia (16.2 per cent) and Singapore (12.2 per cent). Given the acute constraints on fiscal policy in India, there is clearly a need to start re-prioritising expenditures away from low-priority, unproductive areas and towards greater spending on health and social safety nets for low-income households. Read more here.

Impasse caused by pandemic offers room to rethink board exams, find alternatives: News about how the different boards are consumed with somehow conducting the remaining exams and sending powerpoint presentations to children urging them to meditate/exercise will not help — adoption of student-sensitive decisions will. Read here about how the school education system should rethink and find alternatives to the present model.

India's reopening is a multi-coloured mess: India’s $2.7-trillion economy has so far had to satisfy itself with a token $22.6-billion stimulus package when it requires at least 5 per cent of GDP — or $135 billion — in federal government support to firms and families, plus at least half as much in extra spending by state governments. Read here to understand why any package of spending and loan guarantees the government announces will have to be tweaked and fine-tuned to actually work, and why red zones can’t stay frozen for even another month.

Managing Covid-19

How India can make its economic recovery clean and sustainable: In reviving its economy after Covid-19, India could turn a crisis into an opportunity by resetting its energy spending to favour clean energy, enabling citizens to continue enjoying the unprecedented clean air and blue skies bestowed by the Read more here.

Telemedicine is a good idea – but not without access: Issues like access, equity and quality in Indian can see improvement through telemedicine. But for that to happen, there has to be better infrastructure, training of doctors and pooling more of them, clarity on data protection and privacy laws, and evaluating these programmes regularly. Read more here.

Domestic helps are allowed at your home. And your RWAs can’t stop them. Here’s why: Even though media reports have suggested there is a go-ahead from the Centre, an impression has been created that RWAs will be the final authority in deciding whether these service providers can cross the colony/society gate. Has the Centre or state governments given such powers to RWAs? Can domestic workers freely come to your home now? Read here to understand.

Slowing infection, better recovery but mixed bag in states: While the latest phase of the lockdown ushers in a series of relaxations, the restrictions in place until May 4 meant a near-complete shutdown with just a few exceptions for essential services. The unprecedented lockdown over the past 41 days may have exacted a heavy toll on the economy, but it seems to have strengthened India’s fight against Covid-19. Read more here.

Understanding Covid-19

Does nicotine help fight Covid-19? Researchers in France have put forward a hypothesis that the presence of nicotine actually equips the body to fight Covid-19. And they are conducting trials to test the hypothesis. Read more here.

Doctors are discovering causes blood clots harming organs from brain to toes: Doctors around the world are noting a raft of clotting-related disorders — from benign skin lesions on the feet sometimes called ‘Covid toe’ to life-threatening strokes and blood-vessel blockages. Ominously, if dangerous clots go untreated, they may manifest days to months after respiratory symptoms have resolved. Read more here.

First Published: Wed, May 06 2020. 06:19 IST