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India Coronavirus Dispatch: Migrants slowly head back to cities they fled

Mumbai gets 610 more local train services, Docs want Mumbai's GT Hospital back as non-Covid, Covid patients prone to kidney injury--news on how the country is coping with the pandemic

Coronavirus
A health worker collects a nasal sample from a woman for a Rapid Antigen Test (RAT) for the Covid-19 coronavirus in Srinagar

Migration begins again: For nearly 60 per cent of households in southern Rajasthan, seasonal migration is the key livelihood strategy. Most of them fled the cities after the pandemic hit. However, a lack of rural employment opportunities has meant that residents of these regions are now forced to return to the urban areas. Migrant workers this time around have another layer of anxiety in addition to poor working conditions and low wages — the virus. Workers still recount their trauma of not having any access to food and being isolated from family for months. The situation is especially bleak for migrants hailing from tribal districts. Hundred per cent of the workers the writer spoke to had lost their jobs during lockdown, leading to starvation. Read more here

Mumbai local trains: From today, the Central Railway and the Western Railway will run an additional 610 local services in Mumbai. This effectively increases the daily services from 1,410 to 2,020. These additional services are still restricted only for essential service workers. Women commuters will be allowed as well for specific time periods during the day. The move comes as the state government included additional categories of workers in essential services leading to crowding in the limited number of local services. Railway officials say that this will ensure social distancing as trains will be less crowded after this. A decision on reopening local train services for everybody is expected soon. Read more here

Non-Covid facility: Doctors of Mumbai’s GT Hospital are now pushing the state govt to re-convert GT Hospital to a non-Covid facility. They say routine non-Covid procedures have been on hold since March. Officials say they have been given ‘an unofficial nod’ by state authorities to restart non-Covid procedures but the process will take a few days. GT hospital has reserved all 220 beds for Covid patients since April, of which 20 are ICU beds. Further, doctors say the hospital’s occupancy is lower than that of other hospitals as it’s treating only moderately ill Covid patients. Before the pandemic hit, GT hospital was a specialised centre for orthopaedic procedures. Several patients were discharged in March when lockdown began. Their surgeries, since they were non-emergency in nature, have been on hold. Read more here

In Numbers

Kidney injury among patients: An Ahmedabad-based private hospital conducted an observational study on Covid-19 patients. It has found that those admitted in ICU showed a greater predisposition of developing complications. Further, it also found acute kidney injury saw a high prevalence among these patients. Of the 159 Covid-19 patients admitted to the hospital’s ICU, 22 had ended up with serious kidney injuries. Further, the hospital also found that the proportion of males who succumbed to the disease was far higher than females. Nearly 17 per cent of Covid patients in ICU had underlying cardiac disease, while nearly 7.7 per cent of the ward patients had cardiac disease. Overall, 5.47 per cent of the patients studied had died. Read more here

Understanding Covid-19

N95 or cloth masks? What kind of mask will be most effective in battling the air pollution and Covid-19 combo? For starters, it must be kept in mind that masks don't guarantee 100 per cent filter against polluted air. A cloth mask may no longer be useful considering pollution is set to rise. People should consider a switch to N95 or N99 masks if they can afford and have access to them. It’s best to ditch single-layered cloth masks and bandanas at this point since they will not guarantee any protection against pollution. Experts say that N95 masks are the most basic and best option you have to protect yourself from both pollution and Covid-19. It’s advisable to buy 2-3 N95 masks and use them alternatively, say experts. Read more here