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India coronavirus dispatch: What it means to wear PPE as healthcare worker

From resuscitating multilateralism with India's help, to vaccine candidates from around the world, and just how reliable is our Covid-19 mortality data - read these and more in today's India dispatch

Coronavirus | healthcare | Health crisis

Sarah Farooqui  |  New Delhi 

Health workers, DOCTORS, nurses, screening, testing, dharavi, mumbai, coronavirus
Health workers screen the residents of Naik Nagar during a health survey, after detection of some positive cases in Dharavi, Mumbai. Photo: PTI

Here is a round-up of articles from across Indian publications on Covid-19. From resuscitating multilateralism with India’s help, to vaccine candidates from around the world, and just how reliable is our Covid-19 mortality data – read these and more in today’s India dispatch.

Expert Speak

In India, most deaths go unregistered. How reliable is its Covid-19 mortality data? In most developing countries, including India, the quality of data on the cause of death is very poor. This is because most people die in rural areas and at home, a medically certified death in a hospital is rare, and medical certificates are often filled incorrectly. Read this interview with Dr Prabhat Jha, founding director of the Centre for Global Health Research in Toronto, and one of the world’s leading experts, on mortality in India.

Citizens Under Lockdown

What if migrant workers don’t return? With the migrant workers’ crisis continuing – weeks after the announcement of the first led to panic-induced mass exodus of workers across the country – there are many pressing questions about the way forward. Watch this interview with economist and activist Jean Dreze on what makes migrant workers travel far away, and their post-future, among other questions.

As India begins to evacuate citizens from Gulf, many migrants are anxious about their future: The migrant workers’ return from the Gulf Cooperation Council region will, undoubtedly, prompt a tide of heartening coverage in the media. Read here to understand what these workers want.

Changed tastes may hurt craftspersons long past lockdown: Sanganer, the suburban hub of the hand-block printed textile industry near Rajasthan’s capital Jaipur, is shorn of its usual vibrancy and colour. Exporters of the prized Sanganeri textile say altered consumption patterns and diminished purchasing power in their primary markets in the US and western Europe will continue to hurt their livelihoods long after the is lifted and their workers return. Read more here.


Resuscitating multilateralism with India’s help: To reduce the further spread of the virus, to develop effective medical treatments, and to curtail the worst effects of the inevitable recession that is already in the offing, cooperation among nations will be necessary. But there is a problem: multilateralism is possibly at its weakest today, when the need for it is more pressing than ever before. Read here on why no meaningful fix will be possible unless the fundamental problem is addressed.

We need to question our addiction to cultural and political economy of alcohol: As the lockdown eased in India, and social distancing went for a toss at alcohol outlets, we were reminded of how difficult an issue alcohol is to rationally discuss in India. Read this piece by Pratap Bhanu Mehta on how alcohol has migrated from being a question of personal freedom and choice to an issue in broader cultural wars.

Managing Covid-19

Why it’s not so simple to calculate Covid-19’s fatality rate: It’s essential but utterly difficult to estimate the case fatality rate (CFR) of an ongoing pandemic. The data are continuously updated and we constantly receive new knowledge of the disease, especially if it’s a new disease caused by a new virus. Read more here.

Life inside the PPE – No food, no water and no loo break for at least 6-8 hours: workers say long hours in PPE suits give them rashes, make breathing difficult and, in this country, leave them at the mercy of stifling summer. Eating, drinking or even urinating is out of the question during duty hours that can last from 6 to 8 hours and may even stretch to 12 hours in states like Maharashtra, which has a significant number of cases. Read more here.

25 per cent Indians clear about lockdown rules, 74 per cent want no relaxation in ‘virus load’ areas: Only 25 per cent Indians have clarity about the rules pertaining to the third phase of the lockdown, a survey has found. It has also shown that many continue to remain confused about what is permitted during this lockdown and what isn’t. Read more here.

Karnataka govt restarts trains after outrage, but migrant workers are already walking home: Hundreds of migrant workers from states like Uttar Pradesh, Bihar, Jharkhand and West Bengal decided to start walking from Bengaluru on Thursday. With owners asking them to vacate their home and the police asking them to go back to where they were, the workers find themselves in a difficult situation. Read more here.

Air pollution will mean more Covid-19 deaths – the warning is loud and clear for India: Air pollution affects our lungs insidiously, indirectly, and gradually. But its effects are equally horrific, and the morbidity and mortality of the diseases it triggers are much higher. In fact, even when it doesn’t actually trigger a disease, air pollution ends up compromising and weakening human lungs, making us more vulnerable to respiratory viruses like the SARS, MERS and now the novel coronavirus, the SARS-CoV-2, which causes Covid-19. Read more here.

First Published: Fri, May 08 2020. 07:02 IST