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India Coronavirus Dispatch: Pandemic is far from over in the country

From cancer and other treatments being disrupted to a Covid-themed Durga Puja, here's a roundup of news on how the country is dealing with Covid-19

Topics
Durga Puja | Coronavirus Tests | Coronavirus

Shreegireesh Jalihal  |  New Delhi 

coronavirus
(Bloomberg)

Collateral damage: The story of this Delhi resident with a brain tumour is nothing short of tragic. He was denied critical treatment after he tested positive for Covid-19, which led to paralysis in parts of his body. His experience is echoed across the country by patients who found hospitals treating them shut down and critical healthcare services uprooted. Many even struggled to reach the hospital amidst the lockdown. Others had to run between many hospitals to finally avail even essential treatment like chemotherapy. A medical journal has pointed out that delays in cancer detection and treatment during the early months of the pandemic is likely to increase the cancer burden in the months to follow. Doctors say that delayed treatment in cases of dialysis patients or chronic liver disease or intestinal lesions, cardiac illness, orthopaedic ailments and so on are bound to have severe effects on the patients. Others have pointed towards the closure of primary health care centres as the biggest cause of concern as these remain the main point-of-contact for the masses. Read more here.

Durga to slay ‘Coronasura’: Kolkata’s Kumartuli, the potters’ colony, is readying up to celebrate a Covid-themed The colony houses over 500 artisans involved in idol-making. This year, they say, has been a financial disaster. They have received only 2,200 orders so far. Further, the price of each idol is now one-third the price they would get previously. The idea of ‘Coronasur’, meanwhile, emerged after one of the artisans tested positive for the virus. Some artisans have even decided to keep the idols they have made for the next year as the prices they’re being offered this year are bound to lead to huge losses. Even the demand among NRIs has fallen with only 30 orders having been so far been placed by the community. The situation has also prompted some artisans to incorporate themes of financial distress and migrant woes in their idols. Read more here.

Anganwadis open doors: has become the first state to decide to open its anganwadis. But the turnout so far has been very low. In an anganwadi in Birkoni village, for example, only 6 of the 63 students turned up. These six, workers say, were severely malnourished and hence turned up for hot meals. Aganwadis have remained shut in the rest of the country since March after the pandemic hit. Even in Chhattisgarh, the centres that fall inside containment zones are yet to open as residents have opposed their reopening. The centres still don't have thermal screening facilities. They have also been running Take Home Ration (THR) schemes to help the families who have not been able to visit the centre so far. Read more here.

Understanding Covid-19

Covid’s changing landscape: Clinical patterns, mortality rate, infectivity and complications of the Covid-19 pandemic seem to vary considerably over time and space. Over 50,000 scientific articles have been published to better characterise the virus. Over time it has been understood that the virus produces an excessive immune reaction which implies that the person’s immunity itself damages the body. In severe cases, the effects of the virus can be felt on any organ of the body but in vast majority of the cases, it’s largely predictable. Over time, experts have understood that about 15 per cent of the patients are asymptomatic. Secondly, contrary to early assumptions, cytokine storms are a rare occurrence. Thirdly, there is no group that is invulnerable to the disease. Read more here.

Indian kitchens help in Covid fight: Loss of smell has been identified as one of the symptoms of Covid-19. However, some Indian researchers have suggested that this loss is restricted only to certain odours. This hypothesis has led the team to devise a smell test that they claim can help screen out Covid-19 cases. The experts conducted an experiment with a test group to see if their hypothesis can stand the test. The study led them to conclude that Covid-19 patients are unable to smell peppermint and coconut oil scents. The team is now working on a kit that can be used to conduct this smell test. More importantly, they say this can also be employed at home and any abrupt loss of smell can then be taken as an indication of Covid onset. Read more here.

Comment

Epidemic far from over: This health expert says that the increase in daily Covid-19 cases corresponds to the general mood of the public which seems to have begun to ignore the threat of the virus. While the low death rate remains the silver lining, the fact that the pandemic has just begun picking up in the rural hinterlands is a cause for concern. He says that mass testing of asymptomatic individuals is on likelihood an impossibility. Some myths around testing need to be tackled as well, such as the belief that you need to be tested immediately after coming in contact with an infected person. The expert says that testing is required for close contacts after 5 to 14 days of exposure. The need to rationalise testing and treatment facilities is also an important step in the battle against the pandemic. Strengthening public health infrastructure is perhaps the most important thing that needs to be done. Read more here.

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First Published: Sun, September 13 2020. 15:07 IST
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