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India coronavirus dispatch: Pandemic's impact on South Asian countries

From the driving force behind economic policies in the coming future, to problems faced by the elderly, and whether or not you should switch on the AC - read these and more in today's India dispatch

Coronavirus | healthcare | Health crisis

Sarah Farooqui  |  New Delhi 

Medics prepare to collect samples for swab tests from a COVID-19 mobile testing van, during the nationwide lockdown to curb the spread of coronavirus, at Ramakrishna Mission area in New Delhi. (PTI Photo/Manvender Vashist)
Medics prepare to collect samples for swab tests from a COVID-19 mobile testing van, during the nationwide lockdown to curb the spread of coronavirus, at Ramakrishna Mission area in New Delhi. (PTI Photo/Manvender Vashist)

Here is a selection of pieces from across Indian publications on Covid-19. From the driving force behind economic policies in the coming future, to the problems faced by the elderly under lockdown, and whether or not you should switch on the air conditioner during this pandemic – read these and more in today’s India dispatch.

Expert Speak

Condition of the poor an emergency, govt must open sluice gates: Nobel laureate Abhijit Banerjee, says in this interview that the two most urgent needs of migrant workers and the urban unemployed that the government must tackle immediately are food and housing. He explains why the government must issue temporary ration cards for three or six months and give them food. He also says the government must also open the sluice gates and get money out to these people.

Citizens Under Lockdown

At helplines for the elderly, distress calls for fear of dying alone: The problems of elderly callers ranged from a shortage of medicines and physical support to anxiety, fear and anxiousness. There were those with few resources to survive, while others who were entirely dependent on domestic help no longer available. Some were sick or vulnerable to infections and disease, and many complained of loneliness and anxiety. The biggest fear: dying alone with no family or friends around. Read here about how the has impacted the elderly citizens.

28 Indian scientists returning from an Antarctica expedition are stuck in Cape Town: The expedition to the Arctic this year is cancelled, while as many as 28 homeward-bound scientists who were part of the country’s 39th scientific expedition to Antarctica are in quarantine in Cape Town, South Africa, owing to the in India. Read here on the efforts being made to bring them home.


In the foreseeable future, politics will drive economic policies, not market-based rationality: Ashutosh Varshney in this piece explains why for the foreseeable future, economic efficiency, the cornerstone of market-based systems, will have to go into a lower gear and why politics, not market-based rationality, will drive new economic policies. Read more here.

Pandemics without borders, South Asia’s evolution: As the region from the Indian Ocean to the Himalayas is hit by recession, more than half a century’s effort against poverty could be wasted. The coddling of the middle class and neglect of the majority underclass, so starkly seen during the pandemic response, points to all that has gone wrong in our electoral democracies. Kanak Mani Dixit highlights the impact of the pandemic on South Asian countries and what each needs to do in the coming future. Read more here.

Managing Covid-19

As Covid-19 spreads, a TB survivor describes the trauma India’s health system puts patients through: Treating patients as people, with dignity and confidentiality, should be the first basic change. Improving efficiency, not only by providing people access to the latest diagnostics and drugs, but also respecting their time in facilities, is another. Good care also needs new and more flexible forms of service delivery, increased private sector engagement in disease management and care. Read more here on how India’s health care system can be more patient friendly.

Looking for Covid-19: Have you tried the sewage? Scientists say tracking wastewater for the novel SARS-CoV-2 can serve as an early warning system alerting the public health community to when and where infections are prevalent and if the virus is re-emerging in communities. They stress that “too little is known about the possible infectious activity of (SARS-CoV-2) particles in sewage water”. Read more here.

Covid-19 goes viral in cities, shadow looms over the countryside: What has been the trajectory of the epidemic, and what is the current nature of disease transmission? How do Maharashtra’s strategies compare with those of other states like Kerala, which have achieved better containment? Can refocusing strategies now help seize what opportunities remain? The Maharashtra Public Health Analysis Group has attempted to address some of these questions by rapidly analysing Maharashtra- and national-level Covid-19 data. Read here.

Understanding Covid-19

How remdesivir tricks coronavirus: Remdesivir is designed to obstruct the stage of replication, when the virus creates copies of itself, followed endlessly by the copies creating copies of themselves. Research last month concluded that remdesivir indeed works this way, and a new paper last week described the exact mechanism of interaction between the virus and the drug. Read more here.

AC in the time of Covid – the apprehensions, and what the guidelines say: The guidelines compiled by the Indian Society of Heating Refrigeration and Air Conditioner Engineers (ISHRAE) say a temperature between 24-30 degrees Celcius should be maintained while operating ACs at home, and that relative humidity levels in the range of 40-70 per cent is considered most suitable. Read the reasoning behind this here.

Study shows you are 4 times more likely to catch indoors than outside: A study by Chinese researchers conducted early this year has shown that a majority of the infections is trans-mitted indoors. Currently awaiting peer review, the study was conducted by researchers of the Southeast University in China’s Nanjing, the University of Hong Kong and the University of Beijing. Using data from 320 cities in China between 4 January and 11 February, they found a higher number of infections occurred in closed spaces, though more people likely got infected in a single instance outdoors. Read more here.


Air travel will cost more, says former Air India executive director: What would it be like to travel by air after Will social distancing be a new normal on flights? Will air travel become expensive? Will the several next months be a survival battle for the aviation industry? Read this interview with aviation expert and former Air India executive director Jitender Bhargava.

First Published: Tue, May 05 2020. 06:35 IST