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The Hindu Editorial Analysis | 25th March’20 | PDF Download

NEWS PM announces 21-day lockdown as COVID-19 toll touches 10

  • Stating that it was the only way for the country to break the chain of infection.
  • The lockdown will be in effect till April 14.
  • Modi said the pandemic was a huge challenge to every country.
  • “In such a situation we have learnt from the experience of the countries that have managed to get some control over the surge in cases, and these show that a lockdown for a sustained period of time is the only way to break the chain of infection,” he said.
  • India on Tuesday recorded 564 positive cases, with the number of positive patients in Kerala and Maharahstra crossing 100.

NEWS

  • Mr. Modi said the government had allotted ₹15,000 crore for the purchase of Personnel Protection Equipment for healthcare workers, setting up testing laboratories and quarantine centres.
  • “Draw a Laxman Rekha outside your house door and do not step outside of it. Stay where you are. This will be the decisive battle against coronavirus,” he said.
  • Sounding a note of caution, he said: “If we are not able to adhere to this lockdown sincerely for 21 days, believe me, India will go back 21 years.

Made in India testing kits

  • In a major development in the fight against novel coronavirus, Pune-based MyLab has become the first indigenous manufac-turer to be approved for deploying its kits for COVID-19 testing.
  • “Congratulations to our Biotech innovators first make in India COVID 19 diagnostic kit,” Renu Swarup, Secretary, Department of Biotechnology, tweeted. Ms. Swarup also leads the government’s Biotechnology Industry Research Assistance Council (BIRAC) that supports biotechnology companies, and MyLab was one of them.
  • Director General of ICMR Dr. Balram Bhargava on Monday said those approved by the NIV would be eligible for approval.

The race to find a cure for COVID-19

  • Novel coronavirus: infected more than 4,00,000, people worldwide and led to the deaths of more than 17,000.
  • The epicentre of the pandemic has shifted from Wuhan district in China to the highly developed Western world.
  • Countries which have some of the most advanced health systems in the world, have come under tremendous pressure and seem unable to deal with this health crisis.
  • At present: no specific therapy or vaccine available
  • Priority: fast-forward the development of efficacious vaccines and drug therapies against COVID-19
  • It must be emphasised that because vaccines are given to large populations, safety issues are paramount.
  • Speed of vaccine development is crucial
  • Phase-I safety trials of an experimental vaccine, jointly developed by scientists at the National Institute of Health and at Moderna, a biotechnology company, has already been administered to healthy volunteers for its safety and immunogenicity.
  • Another vaccine jointly developed by China’s Academy of Military Medical Sciences and CanSino Biologics has reportedly been cleared for early-stage clinical trials in which more than 100 healthy volunteers are scheduled to receive the vaccine.
  • The Serum Institute of India has also recently announced its readiness to start safety trials following animal experiments.
  • How long the acquired immunity in humans will last is another important question to be asked before experimental vaccines move forward. humans will be susceptible to reinfections
  • Before moving to Phase-II trials in a large number of healthy volunteers, we also have to ensure that the immune response induced by vaccination does not lead to any disease enhancement.
  • It is absolutely imperative that anti-COVID vaccines are developed as fast as possible and by pushing all reasonable vaccine candidates through animal and human clinical trials.
  • Given the urgency of finding a cure, it is absolutely necessary to find out unequivocally what works well and what does not. In a welcome move, the WHO has announced clinical trials called the ‘Solidarity Project’.
  • Under this four drugs or drug combinations will be tested in many countries around the world.
  • These candidates include the anti-Ebola drug, Remdesivir, Chloroquine, anti-HIV drugs, and the Ritonavir/Lopinavir combination, with or without Interferon-beta.
  • It is most heartening to see scientists in academia and industrial partners coming together to fight a monumental public health crisis. .
  • The battle between pathogens and humans will continue but let us hope that we win the present one sooner than later.
  • The reign of Shivraj Monday night: Shivraj Singh Chouhan sworn in as the Chief Minister of Madhya Pradesh.
  • Mr. Chouhan has said his government’s immediate focus would be in tackling the coronavirus crisis that is testing the capacity and will of the State.
  • He has also asked all MLAs to leave for their constituencies and take the lead in managing the crisis.
  • The actual strength of the government will be tested in and after the by-elections to these seats.

Ironing out wrinkles in India’s pandemic response

  • It is important to remember that the vast majority (80%) of COVID-19 cases will be mild.
  • The estimated mortality rate varies considerably between 3% to 0.25% of cases, and is much higher among the elderly.
  • Mathematical models and the experience of China, Italy, and now the United States, suggest that COVID19 is likely to infect a significant number of Indians, though this can change due to current physical distancing and lockdown measures.
  • In truth, we do not really know how widespread the epidemic is in India because such a small number of people have been tested and many mild cases go undetected.
  • To what extent India’s ongoing efforts to control COVID-19 using physical distancing and isolation will be successful is yet unknown.
  • It is likely that, as in other countries, there will be regional or sub-regional disease hotspots, rather than a nationwide outbreak.
  • The higher number of confirmed COVID-19 cases in States such as Kerala and Maharashtra suggest this (though this could also be due to more testing).
  • It is critically important to put in place wellfunctioning between-State and within-State coordination mechanisms that enable efficiently leveraging resources.
  • India has around 70 hospital beds and 2.3 ICU beds per 100,000 people. China has 420 hospital beds and 3.6 ICU beds per 100,000 people.
  • Italy has 340 hospital beds and 12.5 ICU beds per 100,000 people
  • Both these countries struggled to care for the severely sick.
  • It is critically important that India puts in place a strategy to ramp up hospital and ICU capacity, as well as provision for essential equipment such as ventilators and personal protective equipment for health workers.
  • Health-care workers are a critical resource for the COVID-19 response.
  • The success of countries such as South Korea and Singapore in controlling the spread and mortality due to COVID-19 has been credited to the ability of health workers to locate, test and treat cases.
  • India has around 3.4 qualified doctors and 3.2 nurses and midwives per 10,000 population; in contrast, China (Italy) has 18 (41) doctors and 23(59) nurses per 10,000 population.
  • Moreover, health workers in India are mostly concentrated in the urban areas and there are huge disparities between States (Bihar has 0.3 and Kerala has 3.2 doctors per 10,000 population).
  • Engaging primary-care providers in the COVID-19 response is important.
  • They are critical for contact tracing, a strategy that has been successfully used in South Korea and Singapore to contain the virus.
  • Because primary-care providers will encounter patients in early stages or with mild forms of the disease, they play a crucial role in treating and referring patients.
  • Health worker safety is particularly important.
  • Health workers also face physical and mental exhaustion, which affects their morale, in addition to the infection risk.
  • Procuring and ensuring the widespread use of personal protective equipment (e.g. masks, gloves, gowns, and eye wear) in the care of all patients with respiratory symptoms needs to prioritised.
  • Death by fireworks
  • Unsafe working conditions and improper handling of inflammable raw materials.
  • NEWS: Last week, 11 workers were charred at a fireworks unit in Tamil Nadu
  • Police data show that in the past decade, at least 239 people have perished and over 265 injured in 142 accidents in fireworks units.
  • Illegal cracker units functioning in a few other parts of the State have also led to loss of a significant number of lives.

 Major causes for past accidents

  • Manufacturing of firecrackers in makeshift unlicensed units
  • Rough handling of chemicals by untrained and unskilled workers
  • Spillage or overloading of chemicals during the filling process
  • Working outside permitted areas
  • Occasional accidents in an industry dealing in explosive materials may seem inevitable.
  • But the probability of such mishaps can certainly be reduced by adopting safe work practices.
  • Crackdowns against violators have been few.
  • Chaitanya Prasad Committee: Om Shakti Fireworks Industries in 2012 The governments must walk the extra mile to enforce rules in a hazardous industry and prosecute violators. The industry too must self-regulate in its own interest.

NEWS

  • Ensure tight surveillance, States told
  • The Centre warned of an “increasing trend” in COVID-19 cases — 519 active ones by Tuesday evening — in the country and called upon State governments to enhance surveillance and contact testing of those who may have been infected.
  • Meanwhile, complaints of shortage of Personal Protection Equipment for doctors and health workers poured in from across the country, indicating critical gaps in efforts to contain the pandemic.
  • Government extends tax deadlines to June 30  Deadlines for filing income tax and GST returns have been extended to June 30, as part of a slew of relaxations of financial year-end compliance announced by Finance Minister Nirmala Sitharaman on Tuesday.
  • The changes had been prompted by the shutdown of large parts of the country in a bid to control the spread of the COVID19 viral infection, so that taxpayers were not forced to endanger their health in a bid to meet compliance requirements, she said.
  • Bank account holders would not be charged extra for using a debit card to withdraw money from the ATMs of other banks for the next three months, and charges for not meeting minimum balance requirements would also be waived.  Bank charges for digital transactions were also being reduced.
  • The last date for linking Aadhaar with PAN has also been extended from March 31 to June 30.
  • Tokyo Olympics moved to 2021 over virus scare
  • The 2020 Tokyo Olympics, originally scheduled to be held from July 24 to August 9, has been postponed to 2021, the first such delay in the Games’ 124-year modern history, as the COVID-19 crisis wrecked the last international sporting showpiece meant for this year.

NEWS

  • Over 400 detained in Gujarat
  • The Gujarat police has detained 426 people in the last 24 hours for violating lockdown rules in force in the State, a senior official said on Tuesday.  They include those who came out despite being advised home quarantine, State Director General of Police Shivanand Jha said.  He said, “The lockdown met with around 90% success. We have lodged 238 cases related to the violation of police notification and 127 cases related to quarantine rule violation. In all, we have detained 426 persons.”
  • 118 labs ready to test for COVID-19, says ICMR
  • The COVID-19 death toll touched 10 on Tuesday with 564 confirmed cases nationwide (522 Indian and 42 foreign nationals); 40 persons have recovered and 1,87,904 are currently under surveillance.
  • Briefing the press, Joint Secretary, Health Ministry Lav Agarwal said the Centre has asked the States to ensure adequate, earmarked hospitals and ventilator facilities are made available.
  • The Government is also in talks with personal protection equipment manufactures to ensure that we have enough and steady supply of these commodities.
  • Dr. R Gangakhedkar, head, epidemiology and communicable diseases, ICMR said that currently 118 laboratories are testing for COVID-19.
  • Labour Minister urges CMs to pay workers directly
  • Union Labour and Employment Minister Santosh Kumar Gangwar on Tuesday wrote to all Chief Ministers and LieutenantGovernors asking them to directly release funds into the accounts of construction workers using the cess collected by their respective Building and Other Construction Workers’ Welfare Boards.

 

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