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India coronavirus dispatch: Fake news on the rise in country under lockdown

From patients delaying doctor visits because of stigma, to poverty spikes due to lockdown, and the risk of reinfection - read these and more in today's India dispatch

Coronavirus | Fake news | Delhi government

Sarah Farooqui  |  New Delhi 

Medics collect samples for Covid-19 swab tests in New Delhi. Photo: PTI
Medics collect samples for Covid-19 swab tests in New Delhi. Photo: PTI

Here is a selection of important articles on Covid-19 from across Indian publications. From patients delaying doctor visits because of stigma, to poverty spikes due to lockdown, and the risk of reinfection – read these and more in today’s India dispatch.

Citizens Under Lockdown

stories from Hindi heartland highlight gaps in public services: A few days into the lockdown, the central government announced free ration for three months for all ration cardholders. States like Bihar and Jharkhand topped this up with schemes of their own. But at least six in 10 respondents to this survey had not received rations, and they did not seem to be getting cooked food being distributed by government or civil society initiatives, either.

After the crisis, early career researchers will need a new ‘business as usual’: As funding will be slashed, so too opportunities for these individuals. Funders are likely to (rightfully) deploy resources to address Covid-19-related vaccine and drug research. However, the basic science that underpins much of research that eventually leads to cures still needs to go on. Read here on how early career scientists can survive.

Patients are delaying doctor visits because of stigma: Covid-19 patients are delaying visits to the doctor because of the stigma associated with the disease. It is necessary to change the mindset around the disease so that patients come early to doctors and their treatment is easier, they say. Read here on what Anita Mathew, a senior consultant, physician and infectious disease specialist at Fortis Hospital in Mumbai, and Rommel Tickoo, the associate director of internal medicine at Max Healthcare in Delhi, have to say about how Covid-19 has progressed in Mumbai and Delhi, the hospital capacity and stigma.


As poverty spikes due to lockdown, a separate package for urban distress is urgently needed: The pandemic has sharply spiked urban unemployment in India from 8 per cent in March to nearly 25 per cent in April, shows the latest CMIE report. As a longer-term intervention, the authors recommend rolling out an urban employment guarantee scheme, at least in select urban local bodies. Read more here.

A new phase of the fight-back: Given the scale and variation in infection control across the country, our strategy needs to be informed and calibrated. Currently, there are more than 300 districts in the country which have reported zero Covid-19 cases. This can be confirmed quickly with some random testing (we do have the capabilities to conduct these meaningfully) and the can be lifted effective immediately. Read more here.

Long Reads

Can India beat corona the way it beat smallpox? The eradication of smallpox in India in the 1970s may throw light on the evolving corona strategies. The attempts, then and now, operate against the backdrop of a destitute landscape, and increasingly a bigoted one, where some lives are more expendable than others. Read more here.

Managing Covid-19

Manipulative on the rise in India under lockdown: A team of doctors, health workers and revenue officials who had gone to identify the family members of a 65-year-old man who died of Covid-19 were attacked in Indore, Madhya Pradesh, on April 2, after fake videos claimed that healthy Muslims were being taken away and injected with the virus, reiterating the dangers and physical manifestations of misinformation. A study on misinformation in India by the University of Michigan, has shown a rise in the number of debunked stories, particularly after the announcement of janata curfew, and the countrywide two days later. Read more here.

Indian states must increase COVID-19 testing. But by how much? Testing will need to replace lockdown. It will involve adequate testing to detect positive cases as they emerge, tracing contacts of individuals who test positive and conducting tests on them, and isolating infected persons either at home or at quarantine facilities. If this strategy is implemented properly, it will keep transmission rates from spiking again in the post-lockdown period. Keeping transmission rates low, in turn, will be necessary to prevent case counts from increasing rapidly and overwhelming India’s weak health infrastructure. Read more here.

Understanding Covid-19

What is a pulse oximeter, and why is it now sought after? As healthcare systems around the world struggle to test as well as treat people for Covid-19, some experts have advocated the use of a medical device called the ‘pulse oximeter’ for testing those who have the disease, or those suspected of having it. The device, used to measure oxygen levels in the blood, is being recommended for the early detection of ‘Covid pneumonia’, a potentially deadly condition seen among the most severe cases. Read more here.

People who recovered from face risk of infection again: So far, there hasn’t been enough research to conclude why symptoms seem to re-emerge in some people, and whether they experience reinfection or if the virus persists for weeks. One possibility is that Covid-19 causes blood clots that may cause potentially dangerous complications, unless treated with anticoagulant medications. Read more here.


Covid-specific bond to help tackle crisis: The government should look at issuing Covid-19-specific perpetual bonds to partly finance the additional expenditure needed to fight the pandemic, says Rathin Roy, director at Institute of Public Finance and Policy. Read more here.

First Published: Mon, May 04 2020. 06:15 IST