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Centre flags pollution role in Covid mortality, spike in 3 states

Union Health Secretary Rajesh Bhushan pointed out at the weekly briefing that in the last 24 hours, 49.4 per cent of the new cases came from five states and UTs -- Kerala, West Bengal, Maharashtra, Karnataka and Delhi.

Written by Kaunain Sheriff M | New Delhi | Updated: October 28, 2020 7:50:06 am
Centre flags pollution role in Covid mortality, spike in 3 statesICMR DG Dr Balram Bhargava flagged that evidence from scientific studies conducted abroad reveal that pollution is contributing to Covid-19 mortality. (Express photo by Tashi Tobgyal)

Against the backdrop of rising pollution levels being reported in the national capital region, ICMR DG Dr Balram Bhargava on Tuesday flagged that evidence from scientific studies conducted abroad reveal that pollution is contributing to Covid-19 mortality and that rapid adoption of masks is the only effective approach to this twin public health problem.

“It is well-known that pollution is one of the most important aspects of death. First being malnutrition, then tobacco, high blood pressure, and pollution… On pollution related to Covid-19 mortality, there have been some studies in Europe and the United States. They have looked at polluted areas, and have compared the mortality during lockdown and correlation with pollution, and have found clearly that pollution is contributing to the morality in Covid-19. That is well established by these studies,” Dr Bhargava said at a briefing.

Read | Air pollution linked with 15 per cent COVID-19 deaths worldwide: Study

“…rapid adoption of masks is the most inexpensive but effective approach to this situation,” he said.

Days after Finance Minister Nirmala Sitharaman announced free Covid-19 vaccine for people of Bihar and at least two states announced that they will offer free vaccine, NITI Aayog Member Dr V K Paul said the expert committee has requested state governments to “wait for the overall picture to become clear”.

Also Read | Pollution may increase virus transmissibility making people more vulnerable to COVID-19, say experts

“Vaccine scenario is dynamic because we don’t have a single vaccine which has been licensed for use… let us remember that today there is no vaccine… we are working on vaccine scale-up… in that regard the access to the vaccine will be in such a way that if the vaccine supply is not unlimited, prioritisation has to be done… overall we can say that resources will not be an issue in ensuring the access to vaccine as it unfolds,” Paul said.

“…we have requested the state governments to wait for the overall picture to become clear and to take a national approach towards engaging with companies, deciding the criteria for the vaccine, etc. The state governments have made these statements and they need to be respected,” he said.

Read | Low Covid-19 fatality rates in countries with poor hygiene, low-quality water: study

Meanwhile, Union Health Secretary Rajesh Bhushan pointed out at the weekly briefing that in the last 24 hours, 49.4 per cent of the new cases came from five states and UTs — Kerala, West Bengal, Maharashtra, Karnataka and Delhi.

“Our trend (of decline in cases) is a good sign. However, the trend in three states, in Kerala, West Bengal, and Delhi are worrisome. Delhi is having a third peak…,” Paul said.

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