Coronavirus India lockdown Day 208 updates | October 20, 2020

Taking no chances: A doctor from a health centre preparing to conduct tests at Chinna Waltair in Visakhapatnam on Monday.   | Photo Credit: K.R. Deepak

The World Health Organization (WHO) on Monday cautioned against any relaxation of response actions following the recent slight decline in COVID-19 cases in the South-East Asia Region, saying the pandemic continues unabated and “our response only needs to be strengthened further to curtail virus transmission”.

The upcoming festival season and the approaching winter or cold season threatened to aggravate the situation “if we let our guard down”, Poonam Khetrapal Singh, Regional Director, WHO South-East Asia Region, 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

Feluda test to be commercially available by month-end: CSIR Director General

The Feluda test, a coronavirus detection test developed by the Council of Scientific and Industrial Research (CSIR) and to be commercialised by Tata Sons, will be commercially available in laboratories this month.

“It should be available anytime soon this month. All the formalities are completed,” Shekhar Mande, Director General, CSIR, told The Hindu.

The test, which still requires a nasal swab to be collected and sent to a lab, promises to be quicker than the gold-standard test because it doesn’t need the expensive RT-PCR (Reverse transcription-quantitative polymerase chain reaction) machine that can set back a lab by at least ₹25 lakh.

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New Delhi

Delhi High Court to reconsider blanket extension of bails, paroles

The Delhi High Court on Tuesday observed that its blanket order extending interim bails and paroles granted to prisoners in view of the COVID-19 pandemic should come to an end as the number of infected persons in jails in New Delhi was only three.

According to the Director General (Prisons), over 6,700 prisoners are out on bail or parole and continue to remain outside in view of the blanket order passed and extended from time-to-time by a full Bench of the High Court.

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New Delhi

Possible for COVID-19 to recur for a person, says ICMR chief

Recovered persons may again contract COVID-19 after they have no more anti-bodies, therefore everyone should take precautions like wearing masks, etc, says DG ICMR Balram Bhargava.

Various studies have indicated that the anti-bodies last from 3 to 5 months.

Fever, cough and breathlessness are the main symptoms of Covid, there are several other symptoms that are being examined, he says.

New Delhi

Sufficient medical oxygen available: Health Ministry

Health Ministry has augmented infrastructure for medical oxygen production and availability, ensured uninterrupted supply, did coordination with State governments, says Rajesh Bhushan.

The oxygen production capacity enhanced from 5,913 MT in April to 6,862 MT in Sept, it will go up to 7,191 MT by October end.

In April 2020, there were 57,924 oxygen supported beds, 23,815 ICU beds and 11,993 ventilator beds. On October 19, there were over 2.65 lakh oxygen supported beds, 77,136 ICU beds and 39,527 ventilator beds.

On Sept 1 a total of 43,022 cases required oxygen support (ICU, Ventilator & O2 supported beds), it increased to over 75,000 on Sept. 25, then it started declining and now 57,357 patients on oxygen support. Although there has been a decline, but compared to the data as on Sept 1, it is still high.

Central teams have been sent to seven States, including Karnataka, Kerala, Rajasthan, WB, Chhattisgarh, Bihar and Ladakh, says Health Ministry spokesperson.  - Devesh K. Pandey

New Delhi

Six states account for 64% of total active cases in the country.

Maharashtra: 23.28%; Karnataka: 14.19%; Kerala: 12.40%; Tamil Nadu: 5.09%; Andhra Pradesh: 4.68%; West Bengal: 4.62%; and the rest: 35.75%

In Maharahstra, the worst affected are Mumbai, Pune, Thane, Nagpur and Ahmednagar.

In Karnataka, Bengaluru Urban, Mysuru, Tumakuru, Dakshina Kannada and Hassan are the worst affected.

In Kerala, Ernakulam, Kozhikode, Thiruvananthapuram, Malappuram and Thrissur; in West Bengal, Kolkata, 24 North and South Parganas, Howrah and Hooghli; in Tamil Nadu, Chennai, Coimbatore, Salem, Chengalpattu and Thiruvallur; and in Andhra Pradesh, East Godavari, Chittoor, West Godavari, Guntur and Prakasam are the worst affected.

 - Devesh K. Pandey

New Delhi

Recovered cases have crossed 67 lakh: Health Ministry

Recovered cases have crossed 67 lakh, which is the highest in the world. More than 9.6 crore tests have been conducted so far, says Health Secretary Rajesh Bhushan.

The cumulative positivity rate is now 7.9%, weekly positivity rate is 6.0%, daily positivity rate is 4.5%. 9.8% of total cases are active cases.

More than 9.6 crore tests have been conducted so far. 9.8% of total cases are active cases.

"Case per million population reported in the past seven days is 315 in the world, whereas it is 310 in India, it is 665 in Brazil, 706 in Russia, 936 in Spain, it is 1,153 in US, 1,746 in the UK and it is 2,457 in France, the numbers are surging again in US, UK and France," says Mr. Bhushan. - Devesh K. Pandey

New Delhi

Slide in COVID-19 active cases in India

Active cases of COVID-19 in India are less than 10 per cent of the total caseload, while the number of people who have recuperated from the disease has crossed 67 lakh pushing the national recovery rate to 88.63 per cent, the Union Health Ministry said on Tuesday.

There are 7,48,538 active cases of coronavirus infection as on date which comprise merely 9.85 per cent of the total caseload.

“The slide in active cases is supplemented by an exponential rise in recoveries,” the ministry said. - PTI


Health dept tells hospitals to watch out for co-infections

The Delhi health department has written to all hospitals and district authorities to be alert about co-infections of COVID-19 with other seasonal ailments and implement management guidelines on it issued by the Union Health Ministry.

Cases of dengue, malaria, chikungunya, seasonal influenza and other diseases are expected to rise with the onset of winter. Some of the COVID-19 patients have been diagnosed with dengue too.

The Directorate General Health Services (EMR Division) of the Health Ministry had recently released guidelines for management of co-infection of COVID-19 with other seasonal epidemic prone diseases, officials said. - PTI


Israel to start human trial of COVID-19 vaccine candidate ‘Brilife’ by Oct-end

The human trial of Israel’s COVID-19 vaccine candidate ‘Brilife’ will begin by the end of this month, with the Defence Minister terming it a “very significant moment” and “source of national pride” that could bring great news for the country and the world.

The prospective vaccine is being developed by the Israel Institute of Biological Research (IIBR) that was established in 1952 as part of the Israel Defence Forces’ Science Corps, and later became a civilian organisation.

Israel had claimed in August that it already has the vaccine against the coronavirus “in hand” but it has to go through regulatory processes that would begin with human trials following the autumn holidays. - PTI


Delhi govt. to cut cost of RT-PCR test

The Delhi government is planning to reduce the price of the RT-PCR test and is expected to come out with a new rate in a week’s time, said multiple officials.

“Currently, the rate is capped at ₹2,400 in Delhi... it is only ₹1,200 in Haryana, ₹1,600 in U.P. and ₹1,500 in Karnataka. A committee is being formed to recommend new rates for Delhi,” a Delhi government official told The Hindu.

“The government has been planning to reduce the cost of the RT-PCR test for a while,” a second official said, confirming the development.


Central team reviews COVID-preventive measures

The Central health team that visited Thrissur district on Monday to review the COVID-19 preventive measures called up on the people to be more vigilant against spread of the disease.

Expressing satisfaction over the preventive works, the team said even mild negligence will lead to spurt in cases.

The team led by Dr. Ruchi Jain, deputy director of the regional centre of the Ministry of Health and Family Welfare in Thiruvananthapuram and Dr. Neeraj Kumar Gupta of the Safdarjung Hospital, New Delhi, attended the review meeting at the District Collectorate.

They visited government medical college hospital, COVID-19 first-line treatment centres, and containment zones.

Tamil Nadu

Home care of patients with mild COVID-19 symptoms gains traction

Home-based care of persons with mild symptoms of COVID-19 is slowly gaining momentum in Tamil Nadu. While it comes at a cost, doctors say treating patients at home has its benefits, and very few of them ultimately require hospital admission.

Many patients with mild symptoms choose to stay at home or are advised home isolation based on their vital parameters. For such patients, home-based care helps in more than one way — it offers round-the-clock access to healthcare through tele-consultation and regular monitoring, along with the required support if hospitalisation is needed, doctors say.

The State government’s ‘Amma Home COVID-19 Care Kit’ has covered 370 patients so far. Patients who have tested positive and who have been advised home isolation and anyone with suspected symptoms but with a RT-PCR negative result are eligible for the home care scheme.


Health Ministry highlights slide in active COVID-19 cases in India

Active cases of COVID-19 in India are less than 10 % of the total caseload, while the number of people who have recuperated from the disease has crossed 67 lakh pushing the national recovery rate to 88.63 %, the Union Health Ministry said on Tuesday.

There are 7,48,538 active cases of coronavirus infection as on date which comprise 9.85 % of the total caseload.

“The slide in active cases is supplemented by an exponential rise in recoveries,” the Ministry said.

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Tamil Nadu

Less than 30 streets are now containment zones in Chennai

The number of COVID-19 containment zones in Chennai has come down to 29, with Ambattur zone remaining free of such streets.

The Greater Chennai Corporation, which resumed barricading of streets in the first week of October after COVID-19 positive cases started increasing, had at one time blocked 70 streets. Ambattur zone, which had the highest number of 29 streets barricaded, does not figure in the latest containment zone data provided by the civic body.

There are 29 containment streets now with Tondiarpet and Royapuram in north Chennai accounting for seven streets each.

There are no containment streets in the five zones of Madhavaram, Thiru Vi Ka Nagar, Ambattur, Valasaravakkam and Perungudi.


Mobile booths set up for doorstep COVID-19 testing

Even as the authorities in Mysuru seem to have managed to salvage the lost grip on handling the COVID-19 pandemic, more testing is on the cards, taking it to the doorstep of people in a bid to flatten the curve.

After Bengaluru, Mysuru had been categorised as a hotspot for reporting alarmingly high cases and fatalities. This called for ramping up testing which is being done now.

Mobile COVID-19 testing booths had been constituted and these booths went to the doorsteps of those wishing to get the tests done. The sample collection and testing was done for free, and the people need not have to leave their places.

The number of cases reported on Sunday was 404 and the number of discharges was 353. Only one death was reported on Sunday. These statistics are in stark contrast to the figures early this month since the cases and fatalities had unusually peaked forcing the authorities to intervene and take corrective steps.


UNICEF to stockpile half a billion syringes by year-end to prepare for COVID-19 vaccinations

UNICEF said it will stockpile 520 million syringes in its warehouses, as part of a larger plan of one billion hypodermic needles by 2021, to guarantee initial supply and help ensure that syringes are available in countries before the COVID-19 vaccines arrive.

As the world awaits a COVID-19 vaccine, UNICEF has begun laying the groundwork for the rapid, safe and efficient delivery of the eventual vaccine by purchasing and pre-positioning syringes and other necessary equipment, the UN agency said on Monday.

The agency said as soon as COVID-19 vaccines successfully emerge from trials and are licensed and recommended for use, the world will need as many syringes as doses of vaccine.

To begin preparations, this year, UNICEF will stockpile 520 million syringes in its warehouses, part of a larger plan of one billion syringes by 2021, to guarantee initial supply and help ensure that syringes arrive in countries before the COVID-19 vaccines, it said.

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Andhra Pradesh

A.P. bracing for second COVID wave: Health Minister

Deputy Chief Minister and Minister for Medical, Health and Family Welfare Alla Kali Krishna Srinivas has said the State government is braced to fight the second wave of COVID-19 pandemic more effectively. He said the Indian Council of Medical Research has suggested possibility of second wave of rise in incidence of COVID infections in the country.

Mr. Srinivas conducted a review meeting with officials of the Health Department here on Monday. He said the State had conducted highest number of tests and was able to control deaths even though huge number of COVID cases were reported.

He said cooperation of every individual was needed to keep the novel coronavirus at bay and one should continue to follow COVID appropriate behaviour, including maintaining physical distance, wearing mask, washing or sanitising hands frequently.

He said given the current situation, the coming days were key to the Health Department in fighting the pandemic.


Cannot deny services for not installing Aarogya Setu app: HC

The High Court of Karnataka on Monday clarified that the government or its agencies cannot deny any service or benefit to citizens for not installing the Aarogya Setu app on their mobile phones in the absence of any legislation.

It may be noted that the Union government has said that no public authority can refuse any service for not having Aarogya Setu app in the wake of National Executive Committee set up under the Disaster Management Act not making the use of app mandatory.

A Division Bench comprising Chief Justice Abhay Shreeniwas Oka and Justice Ashok S. Kinagi made this observation while hearing a PIL, filed by Anrivar A, Aravind, a city-based software engineer working for a non-profit organisation to protect people’s rights in the digital space.


WHO official commends Asia’s handling of coronavirus

The head of emergencies at the World Health Organization says Asia’s follow-through in the fight against COVID-19 and its populations’ greater trust in and compliance with their governments have given the continent a leg up against the coronavirus.

As Europe grapples with big surges in case counts in recent days, Dr. Michael Ryan said that if he had one golden wish that might change the game, it would be to make sure that every contact of a confirmed COVID-19 case would undergo quarantine to break the chains of transmission.

Countries like China, South Korea and Japan, which had experience against earlier respiratory disease outbreaks, have been able to implement measures longer than their counterparts in places like Europe and North America that continued to struggle against the pandemic, he said.

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