Coronavirus India lockdown day 216 updates | October 28, 2020

People waiting to get tested for the virus in north Delhi on Tuesday.  

Asserting that there is clear indication that pollution is a major contributor to COVID-19 mortality, the Indian Council of Medical Research (ICMR) said on Tuesday that children who were earlier thought to be better protected against the virus were now showing some evidence of being spreaders or even super-spreaders.

“This has been seen in Mizoram, where the number of active COVID cases is small. Children (under 17) form only a very small portion (8%) of the total active cases across India,” ICMR Director-General Balram Bhargava said

You can track coronavirus cases, deaths and testing rates at the national and State levels here. A list of State Helpline numbers is available as well.

Here are the latest updates:

New Delhi

COVID-19 cases cross 8 million

The number of confirmed COVID-19 cases in India crossed 80 lakh on October 28, according to data collated from various State Health Departments. As of 7 p.m. on October 28, the figure stood at 80,01,583 with 1,20,185 deaths.

India’s COVID-19 tally crossed the 20-lakh mark on August 7, 30 lakh on August 23 and 40 lakh on September 5. It went past 50 lakh on September 16, 60 lakh on September 28 and crossed 70 lakh on October 11.

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New Delhi

Smriti Irani tests positive for COVID-19

Union Minister for Women and Child Development Smriti Irani tested positive for COVID-19 on October 28.

"It is rare for me to search for words while making an announcement; hence here’s me keeping it simple — I’ve tested positive for #COVID and would request those who came in contact with me to get themselves tested at the earliest," Ms. Irani tweeted.

Tamil Nadu

Childless for years, COVID-19 patient delivers twins in Tamil Nadu

A 44-year-old pregnant woman, who was undergoing treatment for COVID-19, successfully delivered twins at a government hospital in Erode.

Besides handling a COVID-19 patient, the doctors also encountered complications during the caesarean surgery as the woman started bleeding.

A few months back, the childless woman consulted doctors who got her pregnancy through artificial insemination and IVF method. Later, she contracted coronavirus and was admitted to the Perundurai IRT Government Medical College hospital in Erode.

On October 25, the woman went into labour and a team of doctors conducted the C-section. She was delivered of twins and both the mother and babies are in good condition, and healthy, hospital authorities said.

The woman was affected with various gynaecological problems for 15 years and a surgery was performed for removal of fibroid from her uterus, they said. In a press statement, Erode district Collector C Kathiravan said a special team of doctors was attending to the woman and her twins round the clock. - PTI


New method to estimate risk of airborne coronavirus spread developed’

Scientists, including one of Indian-origin, have used a new mathematical method to understand airborne transmission of the novel coronavirus and found that protection from the spread of the virus increases almost proportionally with physical distancing.

According to the study, published in the journal Physics of Fluids, even simple cloth masks provide significant protection and could reduce the spread of COVID-19.

“If you double your distance, you generally double your protection. This kind of scaling or rule can help inform policy,” said study co-author Rajat Mittal from Johns Hopkins University in the U.S.

“We also show that any physical activity that increases the breathing rate and volume of people will increase the risk of transmission. These findings have important implications for the reopening of schools, gyms, or malls,” Mr. Mittal said.



Over two million coronavirus cases in just one week: WHO

The World Health Organisation said countries globally reported more than two million confirmed coronavirus cases last week — the shortest time ever for such an exponential increase since the pandemic began.

In a weekly analysis of COVID-19, WHO said for the second consecutive week, the European region accounted for the biggest proportion of new cases, with more than 1.3 million reported cases or about 46% of the worldwide total. The U.N. health agency said deaths were also on the rise in Europe, with about a 35% spike since the previous week.

Although the number of deaths is gradually increasing, the proportion of deaths to cases remains relatively low, compared to the early phase of the pandemic in the spring, WHO said.

The agency also noted that hospitalisations and ICU occupancy due to COVID-19 increased in 21 countries across Europe. It estimated about 18% of COVID-19 were hospitalised, with about 7% needing ICU support or breathing machines. Globally, WHO said the countries reporting the highest numbers of cases remain unchanged as for the past three weeks: India, the U.S., France, Brazil, and the U.K. each week per 1,00,000 people. - AP

South Africa

South Africa’s president in quarantine as virus cases rise

South African President Cyril Ramaphosa has announced that he has gone into quarantine after coming into contact with a dinner guest who has tested positive for COVID-19.

Mr. Ramaphosa came into contact with a guest at a dinner of 35 people in Johannesburg last weekend, the President’s spokesperson said on Wednesday. The dinner was to raise funds to support South Africa’s schools.

"The event adhered stringently to COVID-19 protocols and directives on screening, social-distancing and the wearing of masks,” acting spokesperson Tyrone Seale said.

"As was the case with all guests, the President himself removed his mask only when dining and addressing the guests. Mr. Ramaphosa is not showing any symptoms and is working at home. The guest who tested positive is getting medical care," he said.

Mr. Ramaphosa learned of his possible exposure on Tuesday night, after he had unveiled a statue at Johannesburg’s O.R. Tambo International airport and later answered questions from parliament in an online briefing. Mr. Ramaphosa’s quarantine comes as South Africa is experiencing a rise in COVID-19 cases. - PTI

Hong Kong

Hong Kong bars Air India flights for fourth time as passengers test positive for COVID-19

Hong Kong has banned Air India flights from Mumbai till November 10 after a few passengers on its flight earlier this week tested positive for COVID-19 post arrival, a senior government official said on Friday.

This is the fourth time that Air India flights from India have been banned by the Hong Kong government for bringing passengers who tested positive for the infection after arrival.

Previous bans were on the airline’s Delhi-Hong Kong flights during September 20-October 3 and August 18-August 31 and October 17-October 30.

New Delhi

India continues to be among countries with lowest per million COVID-19 cases, deaths

With calibrated measures and focussed strategy of the Centre along with the states and UTs, India has sustained its global position of recording one of the lowest COVID-19 cases as well as deaths per million population, the Union health ministry said on Wednesday.

While the global figure for COVID-19 cases per million is 5,552, India is reporting 5,790 cases per million population. USA, Brazil, France, UK, Russia and South Africa are witnessing much higher numbers.

The COVID-19 deaths per million population in India is 87, substantially lower than the world average of 148. India’s targeted strategies in COVID-19 management and the proactive as well as calibrated public health response over the last several months have resulted in such encouraging outcomes, the ministry underlined.


Mizoram registers first COVID-19 death

Mizoram, which was the only State not to report COVID-19 fatality, reported a COVID-19 fatality on Wednesday.

Health officials in Mizoram said a 62-year-old man died at the Zoram Medical College in State capital Aizawl after undergoing treatment for more than 10 days.

Lakshadweep is the only UT in India not to report COVID-19 cases yet.


Goa govt allows casinos to reopen from Nov 1

The Goa cabinet on Wednesday decided to allow casinos to reopen in the state from November 1 by following the COVID-19 prevention guidelines.

The coastal state has six offshore and around a dozen onshore casinos, which have been shut since the outbreak of COVID-19 pandemic in March this year.

The casinos will have to operate at 50 per cent of their capacity and follow all the standard operating procedures laid down by the state Home department, Chief Minister Pramod Sawant said.


At workplaces, de-densification hacks take centrestage

Inside the Texas Instruments cafeteria.

Inside the Texas Instruments cafeteria.   | Photo Credit: Handout E Mail


A Colliers’ India survey says most companies are now evaluating lowering workplace density by up to 20%. It also says that until the pandemic subsides, de-densification of workplaces will push companies to scout for more space.

A majority of them have adopted cost-effective solutions, such as staggered timings, reduced shifts or alternate duty-rosters.

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Tamil Nadu

Lockdown brings spotlight back on bicycles

The COVID-19 pandemic has made many pick up cycling to boost their fitness level and some have even started cycling to work. However, many cyclists complain of lack of safety and stress the need to have adequate infrastructure to encourage cycling.

The Greater Chennai Corporation has set up bicycle lanes of 17 km on two stretches in the city. However, these lanes are mostly occupied by cars and other vehicles, forcing the cyclists to fight for space on the main road. “I used to cycle from Royapuram to my office on Anna Salai till September. However, after traffic increased, I stopped. Drivers of big vehicles do not respect cyclists and since there is no dedicated lane on main roads, it feels risky,” said S.K. Prabhu, who now commutes by a motor vehicle to work.

The fear lingering in the minds of cyclists like him are not unfounded as 45 cyclists were killed and 143 were injured in the city in road accidents in 2019. However, despite the risks, many people continue to cycle.

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Decentralised committees to enforce rules on masks, social distancing

With an aim of putting in place more stringent measures to ensure people wear masks covering their mouth and nose, and maintain social distancing in public, the Bruhat Bengaluru Mahanagara Palike (BBMP) has formed four committees, at the ward, division, zonal levels, and BBMP head office level.

The BBMP head office committee, which has eight senior officials, will monitor enforcement in the entire city.

According to an order issued by the BBMP Commissioner: “It is observed that in spite of large IEC activities and appeal to citizens to wear masks and maintain social distancing in all public places, it is found that some citizens are blatantly violating the COVID-19 directives and, accordingly, a penalty of ₹250 is being imposed for every such wilful violation.”

The BBMP has provided handheld devices to all police stations, 220 marshals, and health inspectors to levy fines. A fine of ₹250 is being levied for not wearing masks and not maintaining social distancing in public places.


Panel to chalk out modalities of vaccination in Karnataka

K. Sudhakar

K. Sudhakar  


The Karnataka government will within a week form a committee to look into the modalities of distribution of COVID-19 vaccine, said Health and Family Welfare and Medical Education Minister K. Sudhakar. The State could have access to the vaccine early in 2021, he said.

He was speaking at a press conference after a meeting with the officials of AstraZeneca, one of the firms involved in research and trial of COVID-19 vaccine. The Minister said that the company, in collaboration with Serum Institute, Pune, has been conducting vaccine trials in the country and has also been conducting trials in collaboration with Oxford University.

When asked if the vaccine would be provided to people in the State free of cost, Dr. Sudhakar said no decision had been made in this regard. “The vaccine is still in the trial stage. Once it is out, our State government would take a decision,” he said. Earlier, Deputy Chief Minister C.N. Ashwath Narayan had announced free vaccination for all.


Kerala gears up to tackle post-COVID syndrome

The Health Department is in the process of drawing up a protocol for following up an ever increasing pool – which has already crossed three lakh now – of persons who have recovered from COVID-19 but who might be experiencing “long COVID” or the post-COVID syndrome, which could in some cases be life-threatening or just debilitating.

“It is a long road to recovery after COVID-19 and even those who had asymptomatic or mild disease could be experiencing a range of multisystemic manifestations such as chronic fatigue, sleep disorders, short-term memory loss or brain fog. We have been following up a cohort of some 400 health-care workers who had contracted the infection. Our estimation is that while about 10% of the patients experience “long COVID”, which lasts typically for about three weeks, about 2% will go on to experience chronic post-COVID syndrome lasting over three months,” R. Aravind, Head of Infectious Diseases, Government Medical College, Thiruvananthapuram, says.

However, screening and management of the unmanageable number of recovered patients is posing a major challenge for the Health Department . It is exploring all possibilities from telemedicine to self-monitoring and reporting, so that the focus remains on picking up those patients who might experience life-threatening or chronic post-COVID syndrome.

Andhra Pradesh

Social distancing norms given the go-by in buses and trains

Passengers stand in a queue to enter Visakhapatnam railway station on Tuesday.

Passengers stand in a queue to enter Visakhapatnam railway station on Tuesday.   | Photo Credit: K.R. Deepak


Social distancing has gone for a toss in several RTC buses and trains as people return to Visakhapatnam after Dasara. Many passengers reveal that their return journey to the city after the festival was a nightmare as passengers have even ignored the mandatory rule of wearing masks.

While many bus conductors followed COVID-19 safety protocols by making sure the vehicle is not overcrowded, several inter-district buses plying in Visakhapatnam region were seen jam-packed. There were heated arguments between passengers in a few buses over occupying seats and not wearing masks.

“When I boarded the bus at Palasa RTC complex, the conductor made sure that passengers without reservation do not board the bus. However, when the bus crossed Srikakulam, the vehicle was overcrowded and the conductor was helpless. Passengers were moving without masks. When some people made sure that the middle seat is vacant to ensure social distancing, other passengers entered into heated arguments to allow them to sit,” said G. Ramesh Kumar, a resident of Palasa, who boarded a bus from Palasa to Visakhapatnam.


Concern over fall in COVID tests

The Centre has expressed concern over the decline in the number of daily COVID-19 tests in Odisha.

At a recently held meeting with 14 States, the Union Health Ministry said there was a steady decline in the number of tests being conducted in Odisha.

The State, which had touched 68,906 tests on August 22, has been bringing them down consistently. The last over 50,000 tests were carried out on September 29. According to the Health Department, 30,303 tests were conducted during the past 24 hours.

New Delhi

Delhi schools to remain closed till further orders: Sisodia

All schools in Delhi will continue to be closed till further orders in view of the COVID-19 situation, Deputy Chief Minister Manish Sisodia announced on Wednesday.

"Parents are not in favour of reopening schools either," Mr. Sisodia said at an online press conference.

The Delhi government had earlier announced that schools will remain closed till October 31.


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China reports 42 new confirmed COVID-19 cases

China has reported 42 new COVID-19 cases, including 22 from Kashgar prefecture in Xinjiang province where all the 4.74 million people underwent tests following the detection of a villager as an asymptomatic carrier, the health authorities said on Wednesday.

This comes a day after the Kashgar prefecture reported 183 coronavirus cases after the completion of COVID-19 tests for all the residents in the region, according to official media reports.

Of the news cases, 22 infections were reported in Kashgar’s Shufu County, the National Health Commission said on Wednesday.

The local health authorities said an epidemiological survey for virus tracing is still underway and the medical expert team has so far ruled out a connection between Kashgar and the epidemic in the regional capital of Urumqi in July.


New Delhi

No clarity yet on whether vaccine will be free for all in India

Niti Aayog member Dr. V.K. Paul. File

Niti Aayog member Dr. V.K. Paul. File   | Photo Credit: Shanker Chakravarty


There is no clarity on whether a COVID-19 vaccine, whenever it is ready, will be free of cost for everyone in India and it being so would depend on the outcome of clinical trials underway to test the vaccine, said the head of the committee overseeing vaccine development as well as planning its distribution.

“We'll have more clarity in the weeks ahead when trial data from the ongoing trials (phase 3) of the Serum Institute of India (which is testing the Oxford AstraZeneca vaccine) is available. The success of it and the other candidates will determine the availability and the dosage required and then we can discuss financing. The next three weeks will yield clarity on this,” said Dr. V.K. Paul of the NITI Aayog, who heads the Centre’s expert committee on vaccines. He was speaking on the sidelines of a press briefing on Tuesday.

At the briefing, in response to a question from The Hindu, Dr. Paul said that “for the foreseeable future” it looked like “resources wouldn't be a problem” in making vaccines available for free.


European Union warns not enough vaccines for all in Europe until 2022

Only part of the European Union population can be inoculated against the new coronavirus before 2022, E.U. officials said in an internal meeting, as the vaccines the bloc is securing may not prove effective or may not be manufactured in sufficient doses.

The 27-nation bloc, with a population of 450 million, has booked more than 1 billion doses of potential COVID-19 vaccines from three drugmakers. It is negotiating the advance purchase of another billion vials with other companies.

“There will not be sufficient doses of COVID-19 vaccines for the entire population before the end of 2021,” a European Commission official told diplomats from E.U. states in a closed-door meeting on Monday, a person who attended it told Reuters.


Testing drops over two days in Karnataka

For the second consecutive day, the number of COVID-19 tests conducted in Karnataka declined.

On Monday (reflected in Tuesday’s health bulletin), as many as 66,701 tests were conducted in the State. As many as 3,691 new COVID-19 cases were reported on Tuesday. On Sunday, the total tests stood at 65,862. This is in contrast to previous days when the tests crossed the one lakh mark.

C.N. Manjunath, nodal officer, labs and testing, COVID-19 task force, said that the number of tests may have declined due to the holiday and the festive season. He however argued that the positivity rate was still around 5%. “We will ensure that our testing is robust and rigorous in the coming days,” he said.


Lab technician, ASHA worker fired for issuing false COVID-19 reports

The service of a lab technician and an ASHA worker, who were allegedly involved in issuing false COVID-negative certificate without any verification, have been terminated.

Medical Education and Health and Family Welfare Minister K. Sudhakar said that a police complaint will also be lodged against the lab technician who was working on contract basis.

Sources said that it was found that they were allegedly taking a bribe of ₹1,500 to ₹2,500 to issue false COVID-19 negative tests without conducting any test. Sources also added that it would be investigated if more people were involved in this racket.

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