Coronavirus April 23 Highlights: Stigma over COVID-19 increasing mortality, morbidity, says AIIMS director
A month into the nationwide lockdown enforced to contain the spread of the novel coronavirus, the total number of Covid-19 cases in India rose to 21,700, including 16,689 active cases, 4,325 recoveries and 686 deaths.
Social distancing in practice in New Delhi. (Express Photo: Amit Mehra)
Stigma over COVID-19 is resulting in increased mortality and morbidity, as patients are opting for treatment only when symptoms worsen, AIIMS director Dr Randeep Guleria said on Thursday. Stating that it is important to reach out to patients missing out on treatment because of the stigma, Dr Guleria urged all to see patients as symbols of hope and victory.
In its daily presser, the Union Health Ministry underlined that the recovery rate of India remains 19 per cent, and that no new cases have been reported in 12 districts in the past 28 days. It also said no new cases have been reported in 78 districts in the last 14 days.
After the nationwide lockdown was imposed, Covid-19 testing has increased 24 times while the number of new positive cases grew by 16 times, the central government has said.
Maharashtra Deputy Chief Minister Ajit Pawar on Thursday urged Railway Minister Piyush Goyal to run special long-distance trains from Mumbai and Pune after the lockdown ends on May 3, to ferry migrants workers stuck in Maharashtra to their native states.
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The ordinance to amend the Epidemic Diseases Act, 1897, will cover all healthcare personnel (Express Photo)
Earlier in the day, the Ministry of Finance issued a notification this afternoon freezing Dearness Allowance (DA) to its employees and Dearness Relief (DR) to pensioners at current rates till July 2021. The additional installments, due on January 1, 2020, July 1, 2020 and January 1, 2021, will not be paid. However, DA and DR at current rates will continue to be paid.
The government is likely to save Rs. 37,530 crore in the Financial Year 2020-21 and 2021-22 on account of this decision, sources told The Indian Express. As state governments normally follow the Centre's orders on DA/DR, it is estimated that states could save Rs. 82,566 crore by implementing similar orders. Thus, the total anticipated saving of the Centre and states will be Rs. 1.20 lakh crore, which will be used to fight the Covid-19 battle and its fallout.
In other news, a meeting of the Congress Working Committee (CWC) was held this morning, during which party president Sonia Gandhi said an extension of the lockdown would be even more devastating as it has caused acute hardship and distress to society. During the meeting, former PM Manmohan Singh said the key to success against the virus was cooperation between the Centre and states.
AMID INCIDENTS of violence against healthcare personnel deployed in fighting COVID-19, the Union Cabinet on Wednesday cleared an ordinance to make such attacks a non-bailable offence, with a maximum jail term of seven years and a fine of Rs 5 lakh.
Briefing reporters on the Cabinet decision, Union Information and Broadcasting Minister Prakash Javadekar said the ordinance to amend the Epidemic Diseases Act, 1897, will cover all healthcare personnel, including ASHA (Accredited Social Health Activist) workers at the community level. The amendments will also apply to harassment by landlords and neighbours.
According to the proposed amendments, if the injuries inflicted are not grievous, the jail term may range from three months to five years, and the fine will be Rs 50,000 to Rs 2 lakh.
There are over 70 million people worldwide who have been driven from their homes by war and unrest, up to 10 million are packed into refugee camps and informal settlements, and almost none have been tested for the coronavirus.
Rohingya refugees walk on the muddy path after crossing the Bangladesh-Myanmar border in Teknaf, Bangladesh (File/REUTERS/Mohammad Ponir Hossain)
While the relative isolation of many camps may have slowed the virus’ spread, none is hermetically sealed. Without testing, the virus can spread unchecked until people start showing symptoms. If it does, there will be few if any intensive care beds or ventilators. There might not even be gloves or masks.
If someone going outdoors during the lockdown needs to use a public toilet, or if someone shares a toilet at home with someone who might have contracted COVID-19, is there a risk of being infected through the faeces of the infected person? The short answer: it is possible in theory, but very unlikely to happen.
The primary route remains droplets from an infected person coughing or sneezing
Emerging information on the novel coronavirus SARS-CoV2, which causes COVID-19 disease, suggests that the virus can be present in some cases. But as the Health Ministry notes in its FAQs, spread of the novel coronavirus through the faecal route is not the main feature of the outbreak. The primary route remains droplets from an infected person coughing or sneezing. Spread through this route is far more common than spread through touching infected objects and then touching one’s face, mouth or nose.