Here is a round-up of important articles from across Indian publications on Covid-19. From social media infodemic, to trends shaping post-Covid-19 world, and why the need for labour reforms must not be conflated with complete deregulation – read these and more in today’s India dispatch.
How paediatricians, obstetricians are dealing with Covid-19 cases and fears: The city of Mumbai has been seeing increased cases of Covid-19, and some hospitals and doctors are reporting more cases of pregnant women and children who have contracted the virus. Read this interview with Ravindra Chittal, consultant paediatrician and neonatologist at Hinduja Hospital and Lilavati Hospital, and Kiran Coelho, head of department, obstetrics and gynaecology, at Lilavati Hospital, to find out how this affects the overall problem in terms of capacity to respond and attend to these cases, and the treatment path that is being followed.
The need for labour reforms must not be conflated with complete deregulation: While some easing of rigid labour laws has long been overdue, a note of caution must be sounded on the proposed ordinance of the Uttar Pradesh government. There can be little doubt that many of the labour law provisions in India are excessively intrusive, and have strengthened licence-inspector-raj and rent-seeking. Rationalisation of existing laws is imperative, for the sake of both labour flexibility for employers, and universal legal protection for workers. However, there is a need for more clear-sighted thinking on some of the lazy assumptions and sweeping generalisations that have been part of the case for labour reforms. Read more here.
The infodemic on social media around Covid-19 calls for a multi-pronged approach: The outbreak requires the global community to adopt a two-pronged approach to tackle both information overload and misinformation about the virus. Misinformation is information not based on facts inadvertently sent to influence public opinion or obscure the truth. Its perils are far-reaching and carry serious implications. Read here about how in an 'infodemic' crisis, a “cocktail approach” to tackle the spread of misinformation, where systemic initiatives have to be leveraged with individual efforts, can be the way forward.
The trends shaping the post-Covid-19 world: As the Covid-19 pandemic spreads rapidly across nations, country after country has responded with a lockdown, triggering a global economic crisis. Certain geopolitical trend-lines were already discernible but the Covid-19 shock therapy has brought these into sharper focus, defining the contours of the emerging global (dis)order. Former diplomat Rakesh Sood highlights six trends that include the retreat of the US, intra-European fission, and fading multilateral organisations, among others. Read what each of them means.
PMJDY cash transfers will exclude many of India’s poorest: India has launched its largest ever cash transfer programme targeting women, with Pradhan Mantri Jan Dhan Yojana (PMJDY) accounts and increased food subsidies. Given the scale of economic distress, many have called for an increase in cash transfers. Cash is easy to carry and widely accepted. An analysis of nationally representative survey data suggests that these transfers will exclude many of India’s poorest, and come too late for others. Read here on why the immediate need is to focus on distributing adequate food support to all the poor who need it.
Citizens Under Lockdown
Bihar’s weavers caught in the warp and weft of crisis: The looms in Gaya and Bhagalpur districts were already facing problems like high yarn price and scarce availability of dyes in the local market. Still, the informal sector was managing to function. Read here how about 11,000 power looms in Gaya, and 4,000 handlooms and 15,000 power looms in Bhagalpur, lay idle after a lockdown came into force.
6 questions you can ask to spot coronavirus misinformation: Sensational videos, memes, rants and more about Covid-19 are likely to keep coming. With society polarised and deep distrust of the media, the government and other institutions, such content is a way for bad actors to sow discord. This piece offers some criteria for sifting through all the content we see every day, so we can tell the difference between fair reporting and something so biased that it should not be taken seriously.
For dialysis & chemo patients, Covid-19 test every week is a forced ‘rule’ at private hospitals: Private hospitals in Delhi and Mumbai are demanding weekly coronavirus tests from their dialysis and chemotherapy patients, despite orders by the central and state governments directing all hospitals to treat non-Covid-19 patients without these tests. Read more here.
Returning migrants spike Bihar’s Covid-19 numbers, state scrambles for faster testing: The return of migrant labourers to their home state of Bihar has resulted in a spike in Covid-19 cases. The state registered its biggest single-day jump in cases of 105 on Sunday, and all of them were labourers returning from other states. Read here on the state’s response and testing.
ICMR’s indigenous Elisa antibody test approved for mass production: National Institute of Virology, Pune, has developed "India's first indigenous" anti-SARS-CoV-2 human IgG ELISA test kit – ‘Kavach Elisa’ – for antibody detection of Covid-19. The technology has been transferred to Zydus Cadila for mass scale. Read more here.
Obesity puts younger people at risk for severe Covid-19: Obesity could make Covid-19 infection more severe, a new study in the medical journal The Lancet says. “[I]n populations with a high prevalence of obesity, Covid-19 will affect younger populations more than previously reported.” Read more here.
Covid-19’s vitamin D link: A new study has found an association between low average levels of vitamin D and high numbers of Covid-19 cases and mortality rates across 20 European countries. The research, led by scientists from the UK’s Anglia Ruskin University (ARU) and Queen Elizabeth Hospital King’s Lynn NHS Foundation Trust, is published in the journal Aging Clinical and Experimental Research. Read more here.