India coronavirus dispatch: Are we doing better than other countries?



Inside India’s migrant crisis, better engagement of the public and private sectors in healthcare, and are we really doing ‘better’ than other countries?— here is a roundup of articles in Indian news publications on how India is dealing with the Covid-19 pandemic.


EXPERT SPEAK



India could have 10 million undetected Covid-19 infections, says disease modelling expert: It’s hard to know what to make of the government’s claim that perhaps 2.9 million Covid-19 cases and 78,000 Covid-19 related deaths have been averted, because this is based on un-transparent mathematical modelling which the country has been asked to trust and not question. We don’t know what went into these mathematical models and, therefore, we have no way of judging the outcome they have produced. Watch this interview with Gautam Menon, one of India’s most highly regarded experts in disease modelling, professor of physics and biology both at the Institute of Mathematical Sciences in Chennai and Ashoka University in Sonepat.


Centre has offered nothing against jobs lost by informal workers, circular migrants: Millions of migrant workers have had to walk across states and cities to reach their homes, showing that policy makers ignore them. They have few rights and entitlements and are treated as irritants or nowhere citizens. Virtually nothing has been provided against the jobs lost by the informal workers and circular Read this interview with Ravi Srivastava, director of the Centre for Employment Studies at the Institute for Human Development, who along with other economists have advocated an emergency income transfer of Rs 6,000 per month to each household.


MANAGING COVID-19


Is India really doing ‘better’ than other countries? The number of cases in India has been increasing even after two months of lockdown and many states of India are running out of hospital beds and staff. The epidemic curve of Covid-19 cases in India doesn’t seem to be flattening while other countries like Russia, the UK, Spain, Italy, Germany, Turkey, Canada, Belgium have almost bent the curve. MoHFW press conferences should also focus on highlighting the steps they are taking to change the curve, other than presenting anecdotal evidence. Read more here.


Lessons from a pandemic: How India can reform its private healthcare sector: The novel pandemic is the most devastating public health emergency in the last century of human history. It is making countries around the world take a hard look at their health systems. In India, instead of just planning a “return to normal” once we are past the immediate crisis, it is time to begin a society-wide debate about the need for a paradigm shift in our health system. Read the second in a two part series here on India’s healthcare sector, which looks at what lessons can be drawn from the epidemic for better engagement of the public and private sectors.


India’s largest wholesale medicine market closed until 4 June due to sudden Covid -19 outbreak: Shop owners have decided to temporarily shut Bhagirath Palace in the national capital’s Chandni Chowk — India’s largest wholesale market for medicinal drugs — until 4 June after at least 12 people from the area tested Covid-positive over the last 10 days. Read more here.


Fifth phase of lockdown begins Monday. Here’s what you must know: The guidelines issued by the Ministry of Home Affairs say that the lockdown is being extended until June 30 only in containment zones. These containment zones will be demarcated by states, depending upon the severity of the outbreak in an area. Malls, hotels, and restaurants; places of worship; schools and colleges, all have been allowed to open in a phased manner over the next couple of months. Malls, hotels, and restaurants, and religious places such as temples, mosques, and churches will reopen from June 8. Read more here.


CITIZENS UNDER LOCKDOWN


For Mumbai’s security guards, the Covid-19 lockdown has made work both harder and riskier: Thousands of security guards in Mumbai’s housing societies were among the few low-income workers who still had stable jobs, but some of them chose to join the migrant exodus out of the city. A few have remained back and have been dealing with a whole new set of responsibilities and anxieties at work. Read more here.


How many casual workers in the cities have sought to go home? There has been no count of the number of workers returning to their home states. An analysis of NSS data tells us that the first wave of returnees is likely to be mainly urban casual workers who lost their livelihoods and lived in insecure accommodation. Read more here.


UNDERSTANDING COVID-19


Everyone is cherrypicking studies on HCQ. But scientists are divided: People currently prescribing hydroxychloroquine and those taking it should do so with the full knowledge that it is completely experimental for Covid-19 and not without risks. Cherry picking a few studies that fit your preconceived idea about hydroxychloroquine’s benefits or safety and disregarding the rest isn’t good science and shouldn’t guide health decisions. Read more here.


28% of 40,184 Covid-19 positive cases in India till 30 April were asymptomatic:At least 28 per cent of 40,184 people who had tested positive for Covid-19 between January 22 and April 30 in India were asymptomatic, a study found, raising concerns about the novel being spread by those who show mild or no symptoms. Read more here.


VIDEO


Refugees at home – inside India’s migrant crisis: We cannot understate the psychological trauma that this time has presented for thousands of people across the country. These factors are understandably drivers of one of the largest exoduses India has ever seen – a reverse migration of people from cities back to their hometowns en masse. One might imagine that such a crisis would invoke nothing but empathy across the spectrum. But unfortunately, there has been a certain section of our society that has responded to this reverse migration with resentment towards for leaving “just as the economy needs them most.” Watch this documentary by Malaika Vaz on the issue.


How has the lockdown to battle Covid-19 changed India’s environment and biodiversity?


Covid-19 has impacted every system and process on our planet. On one hand, millions have been left jobless while on the other, the air has never been cleaner. The pandemic is urging India to prioritise the understanding of various sources of environmental pollution, and some of the better known culprits, industrial and vehicular pollution are re-examined. Watch the video here.


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