WHILE ABOUT 3.3% of novel coronavirus (COVID-19) patients in India have died so far, 75.3% of those who died were over 60 years old. In 83% of the deaths, the patients had co-morbidities like diabetes, hypertension and heart disease.
According to the Union Health Ministry’s analysis, 42.2% of the deaths occurred in the over 75 years age group, 33.1% in 60-75 years, 10.3% in 45-60 years, and 14.4% below 45 years.
With 36 deaths and 957 cases being reported in the last 24 hours, the total count has gone up to 488 deaths and 14,792 cases (2,015 recovered). The number of new cases was 1,076 on Friday, 826 on Thursday, and 1,118 on Wednesday.
At the daily briefing, Joint Secretary, Health Ministry, Lav Agarwal said 21.8% of the COVID-19 cases in the country have been traced to the Tablighi Jamaat congregation in Delhi in March.
Giving a state-wise break-up, he said 84% cases in Tamil Nadu are linked to the gathering, 63% in Delhi, 79% in Telangana, 59% in Uttar Pradesh, 61% in Andhra Pradesh, 91% in Assam, and 83% in Andaman and Nicobar Islands. These are among the states which have reported the most cases.
Three districts — Patna (Bihar), Nadia (West Bengal) and Panipat (Haryana) — which had not reported any new cases for over 14 days, have seen fresh cases in the last 24 hours.
However, 22 new districts, spread across 12 states and Union territories, have not reported any fresh cases in the last 14 days. These are Lakhisarai, Gopalganj and Bhagalpur in Bihar; Dholpur and Udaipur in Rajasthan; Pulwama in Jammu and Kashmir: Thoubal in Manipur; Chitradurga in Karnataka; Hoshiarpur in Punjab; Rohtak and Charkhi Dadri in Haryana; Lohit in Arunachal Pradesh; Bhadrak and Puri in Odisha; Karimganj, Golaghat, Kamrup Rural, Nalbari and South Salmara in Assam; Jalpaiguri and Kalimpong in West Bengal; and Visakhapatnam in Andhra Pradesh.
Kodagu in Karnataka has not reported any new case in the last 28 days.
Agarwal showcased the containment measures undertaken in Kasaragod (Kerala), which involved extensive use of technology and effective public awareness campaigns. “Drones were used for surveillance and GPS was used to track people on home quarantine. There was 100% house-to-house survey,” he said.
Dr R R Gangakhedkar, head of epidemiology and infectious diseases at the Indian Council of Medical Research (ICMR), said the council has started an observational study on 480 patients to look at the efficacy of hydroxychloroquine in preventing COVID-19.
“This is not a trial. But we are also doing a study on the side-effects that healthcare workers who took the medicine (average age 35 years), have reported. Ten per cent reported abdominal pain, 6% had nausea, some had hypoglycaemia,” he said.
He said that 22% of the people who took the medicine already had diabetes, blood pressure and respiratory illnesses, and that’s why they took it. “However what’s worrying is that despite being health workers, 14% did not even do an ECG before taking the medicine,” Dr Gangakhedkar said.
Hydroxychloroquine is recommended for use among healthcare workers as a preventive medicine against COVID-19. One of its known side effects is irregular heart rate.
Dr Gangakhedkar also said that if the trials of Remdesivir — originally developed as a drug against Ebola — are successful, there are options such as patent pooling in a pandemic situation to make it available here.
Meanwhile, a Group of Ministers (GoM) met under the chairmanship of Defence Minister Rajnath Singh Saturday. The GoM reviewed measures being initiated to allow partial economic activity in “non-hotspot zones” from April 20.
The ministers were of the view that the Centre could adopt the best practices followed by states for a lockdown exit strategy. “Many sectors have already opened and many more will have relaxations post-May 3. For the post- lockdown period, the best practices followed by some states can be adopted,” said a source. “But everything will be done on the basis of data analysis.”
This is the fifth meeting of the GoM on COVID-19 since March 25.
Sources said the government will launch a massive social media campaign on the post-lockdown protocol. “The threat would not be over by May 3, and the people have to be aware of this. All social distancing protocol, wearing masks etc will have to be continued,” said the source.
Home Minister Amit Shah also reviewed the working of the Ministry of Home Affairs control room.
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