Here is a round-up of important Covid-19 articles from across Indian publications. From reviving a broken economy, to implementing personal protective steps as well as public health measures, and why it is important to determine whether Covid-19 can spread through sewage — read these and more in today’s India dispatch.
Covid-19 will set back India’s TB programme by a decade: As India emerges from its lockdown in phases, the healthcare system will see a “big surge” of patients such as those with more severe tuberculosis, uncontrolled hypertension and diabetes, and mild heart attacks that have been ignored due to Covid-19-related disruptions. Read this interview with Madhukar Pai, Canada Research Chair in epidemiology and global health, and director of the McGill International TB Centre in Montreal, Canada. He also says that the government needs to rope in India’s private health sector and pay them a fair tariff to overcome the crisis.
Now, nothing less than Rs 10 trillion of real spending will help: The prime minister announced a Rs 20-trillion package that would translate into a spend of almost 10 per cent of gross domestic product (GDP), in order to boost the economy. However, the figure has left many wondering what the sum total of spend might be. Watch this interview with former finance secretary Subhash Chandra Garg, who explains how the thrust of the package must be direct money transfers in order to make any meaningful impact on recovery. He also states that any direct transfer figure lower than Rs 10 trillion won’t make a difference to the current situation.
A plan to revive a broken economy: The announcements by the finance minister thus far involve no additional public spending, even though this is urgently required to revive the economy and prevent further contraction. Read here on what the government should do immediately in fiscal terms for reviving the economy and supporting livelihoods.
It’s not trade dependence that makes India vulnerable but inadequacy of its human capital: The key to 1991 was political articulation of a vision that went beyond platitudes. The economy needs such a macro policy articulation, stitching together the numerous micro policy steps to restore confidence in the government’s ability to pull the economy out of its pre- and post-Covid-19 morass. Read this piece on why for India to be truly self-reliant and self-confident, public investment in education, human capability and research and development has to increase.
It’s time to exit the lockdown, Says Dr K Srinath Reddy: It’s time to move on to the next phase where we continue to implement a large number of personal protective measures, as well as public health measures, in order to slow down the transmission, but with resumption of economic and social activities as appropriate to each region of the country and district of the country. Read this interview with Dr K Srinath Reddy, president of Public Health Foundation of India (PHFI), former head of Department of Cardiology at All India Institute of Medical Sciences (AIIMS), and an Adjunct Professor of Epidemiology at Harvard (2014-2023).
ICMR to fast-track WHO’s solidarity trial roll-out in India, test 4 Covid-19 treatments: The Indian Council of Medical Research (ICMR) has announced that it will fast-track the rollout of the solidarity trial launched by the World Health Organization (WHO) “to help in finding an effective treatment for Covid-19”. The solidarity trial is an international clinical trial to compare four untested treatment options against standard of care to assess their effectiveness. These treatment options include remdesivir, lopinavir/ritonavir, lopinavir/ritonavir with interferon beta-1a and chloroquine or hydroxychloroquine. Read more here.
Bihar is staring at another health crisis as encephalitis cases begin amid Covid-19 outbreak: In the midst of the fight against Covid-19, Bihar has been hit by another health crisis — Acute Encephalitis Syndrome (AES), locally known as ‘chamki bukhar’ — which inflames the brain cells and targets children in particular. Five children have so far died of the disease this year, while the number of cases reported until May 13 is 49, which is worrying, because the AES is believed to peak in June and July. Read more here.
Why it’s important to determine whether Covid-19 can spread through sewage: Researchers in Australia are developing a technology to help track the transmission of the novel coronavirus through water. The early warning surveillance system will identify the virus by its genetic material, or the RNA (Ribonucleic Acid). The researchers, from the University of Queensland and Australia’s national science agency CSIRO, were able to prove the presence of coronavirus in untreated sewage water in Queensland after taking samples from one suburban pumping station and two wastewater treatment plants. Read more here.
Dentistry and Corona — the ignored limb of public health system: Across the globe, news reports have put in the spotlight the vulnerability of dental professionals to infections of coronavirus during the pandemic – foregrounding equal attention to be paid to the profession of dentistry. Dentists are more prone to infections in an outbreak like this because they are exposed to aerosols and droplets coming out of the patient’s oral cavity. A study reported that a large number of dentists, like other health workers, feared getting infected with coronavirus by their patients or their staff and hence have been sceptical of providing treatment. Read more here.
Now, bowel abnormalities seen in Covid-19 patients: A new study, published in the journal Radiology, has identified yet another way in which the novel coronavirus SARS-CoV-2 can affect the body — by causing bowel abnormalities. According to the researchers, possible explanations for the spectrum of bowel findings in Covid-19 patients include direct viral infection, small vessel thrombosis, or “nonocclusive mesenteric ischemia”. Read more here.