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India Coronavirus Dispatch: Mumbai sees a scramble for plasma donors

Covid blow for Telangana folk artists, how pollution and Covid make a deadly mix, mental health cases on the rise--news on how the country is dealing with the pandemic

Coronavirus | Coronavirus Tests | Community Transmission

Shreegireesh Jalihal  |  New Delhi 

Representative image | Three months after Delhi launched its first plasma bank, over 2,000 plasma units have been issued to Covid positive patients

Scramble for plasma: Families of Covid-19 patients in Mumbai are on a desperate chase for convalescent plasma. Even as the demand for plasma grows, very few recovered patients are willing to donate it. Official data, until Sept 30, shows that blood banks have sold 9,194 plasma units across Maharashtra and 1,216 units were in stock. Family members say the stress of finding the donor belonging to the right blood group is overwhelming. Even though Maharashtra has 1.25 million recovered Covid-19 patients, it has managed to tap only about 1 per cent of them for plasma donation. Social workers say they get at least 15 calls a day from families in need of a plasma donor. It takes multiple days to find the donor. A shortage of plasma units also means that hospitals have to ask families of the patient to arrange for a donor. Read more here

Death knell for folk arts: In Telangana, folk artists were facing an existential crisis much before the pandemic hit. Covid has now dealt them with a deadly blow. Much of their performances drew from Telugu epics and were performed in open public spaces by groups travelling from village-to-village. Given social distancing norms and bans on large public gatherings, experts say traditional street art forms are now headed towards certain extinction despite the Telangana government saying it is trying to arrange financial assistance. Folk arts are not just a source of income, however meagre, for families but are also responsible for instilling community pride and identity. Many of the current generation of artists, hit hard by the pandemic, have since decided to not pass on the tradition to their children. Read more here

Delhi’s plasma banks: Three months after Delhi launched its first plasma bank, over 2,000 plasma units have been issued to Covid positive patients. Plasma therapy has been administered when patients willing to opt for it. When the bank was first inaugurated by CM Kejriwal, the whole idea hit a wall with not many coming forward to donate over fears of contracting the infection. Experts say that the willingness of patients to be tested and monitoring oxygen levels using oximeters has changed the overall scenario of plasma donations in the national capital. Now, officials say, the plasma bank is doing well with close to 30-40 patients a day. Given the response, two more plasma banks have been set up at Delhi government’s Covid-only facilities. Read more here

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Pollution and Covid: This year, the pandemic has made Delhi’s annual bad-air challenge tougher. With temperatures set to drop, the situation becomes more complex. Further, people with respiratory ailments are more vulnerable to the With public transport affected by social distancing norms, the Odd-Even scheme may become tougher to implement this time around. The state government has launched a war room to gauge the particulate matter in real time caused by stubble burning. Diesel generators are set to be banned from October 15 and industries have been directed to use only ‘authorised’ fuels. However, these measures might not yield immediate desirable results. Authorities have a lot of dots to join for ensuring effective pollution control while not further inconveniencing the general public this year. Read more here

Mental health woes: Experts have compared the pandemic’s psychological effects on the public, essential workers and Covid survivors to those of large-scale disasters which lead to depression, PTSD and anxiety. A similar spike in mental health problems was seen after the 2003 SARS outbreak. Being quarantined compounds underlying psychological issues. The upending of a sense of normalcy has been worsened by grief over loss of loved ones and also of jobs. Further, a lot of stress is generated by the fact that a lot of people do not follow appropriate Covid norms for safety and hygiene. Burnouts will be more frequent and commonplace, especially in the case of frontline workers. Students and their parents are also a particularly vulnerable group amid the crisis. Read more here

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First Published: Mon, October 12 2020. 15:20 IST