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Is India surging towards its peak?

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Is India surging towards its peak?
THE COUNT
  • India’s health ministry has confirmed 118,447 Covid-19 cases (66,330 active cases) and 3,583 fatalities. 6,088 fresh cases were recorded on Thursday.
  • Fatalities across the world are 333,001 (over 5.1 million infections).

The numbers are as of Friday, 12: 30 pm IST. Check out the latest data here

TODAY’S TAKE
A cyclone warning for Covid-hit India
A cyclone warning for Covid-hit India

West Bengal, already reeling from the coronavirus outbreak, with over 250 fatalities, has now been pummeled by Cyclone Amphan, costing 72 lives. Houses and buildings have been damaged, embankments have been breached, saline water has soaked farmland, and mobile network and electricity have been cut off to many after the storm felled pylons. The destruction complicates West Bengal’s efforts to control the outbreak — some of the districts that bore the brunt of the cyclone were also among the worst-hit by the outbreak, such as North 24 Parganas.

The situation calls for immediate and long-term policy intervention. The short-term measures are clear: The state would need financial support from the centre. West Bengal chief minister Mamata Banerjee has announced a Rs 1,000-crore fund for relief measures, but that is well short of the estimated damage worth Rs 1 lakh crore. That the state had already spent Rs 1,000 crore to fight the pandemic — well above the initial estimate of Rs 200 crore — while staring at depleted revenue gives it little financial leeway to address the situation.

The long-term implications are as crucial, too. The cyclone was born out of the unusually warm waters of Bay of Bengal, and thus a reminder of the damage global warming can cause. This is particularly significant as, to quickly restart and strengthen the economy after the pandemic-induced coma, countries around the world are sacrificing their green targets.

The World Economic Forum this week warned (report here) that the easier regulations in the non-green field economy could tip the world towards a vicious cycle of climate degradation, biodiversity loss and future infectious disease outbreaks. India, for instance, has liberalised the coal mining industry, hoping the end of government monopoly would help it fuel tomorrow’s growth. The impact this would have on India’s Paris Climate Agreement remains to be seen. Remember, coal already accounts for a little over 54% of India’s energy source.

Now with the pandemic bringing the economy to its heels, authorities are loosening the restrictions of mining and factory compliance. But frequent cyclones are a warning we should heed: Global warming is as much a threat to our existence as the pandemic.

TELL ME ONE THING
Is India surging towards its peak?
Is India surging towards its peak?
  • India reported its biggest daily increase in the number of new cases, crossing the rubicon of 6,000 cases, just a few days before the resumption of flights from Monday which has raised the possibility of a further spurt in new cases on a daily basis.
  • However, the rise in the number of cases may be a pointer to India approaching its peak, which, according to several studies, should occur in June or July. According to the Public Health Foundation of India (PHFI), at the current rate, with the expectation that lockdown will be completely lifted after May 31, India’s peak should occur in mid-July. The study in fact banks on a lower surge rate, given that people emerging from the lockdown will still have a fear factor that will not only compel them to take all precautions such as wearing protective gear, but also limit their outings.
  • An earlier analysis by the director of All India Institute of Medical Sciences (AIIMS) in Delhi, Dr Randeep Guleria, also reached the same conclusion that India’s peak could occur in June or July even as the number of new cases continued to increase at a linear, rather than an exponential rate. Part of the reason why India is witnessing new records in daily increase of new cases is the ramp up of testing to more than 1 lakh a day, which is about 20 times more than what it was in the beginning of April — and as its testing capacity rises, more cases are bound to come to light.
STAY SAFE
How cancer care will change in Covid times
How cancer care will change in Covid times
  • If a cancer patient or a person undergoing diagnostic evaluation for cancer tests positive for Covid-19, he would be first provided treatment for the virus infection before receiving cancer treatment. That’s according to Kerala government’s new cancer care treatment strategy for Covid-19 patients or suspected patients. Studies have shown that cancer patients have a higher risk of Covid-19 infection.
  • As per the treatment strategy, life threatening cancer emergencies can be carried out in any hospital offering cancer care, irrespective of Covid status by making sure that universal high-risk infection precautions are taken by healthcare workers. However, biopsy or surgery in Covid positive patients may be deferred (based on assessment done by a medical board) till they test negative.
  • A cancer patient or a suspect with coronavirus infection would preferably be treated at medical colleges and will not be referred to non-Covid cancer centres. More details here
TOI FAQ
TOI FAQ

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THE GOOD NEWS
Virus doesn’t easily spread from contaminated surfaces, animals
Virus doesn’t easily spread from contaminated surfaces, animals
  • For those of you still wiping down groceries and other packages amid the pandemic, breathe a sigh of relief. While the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) has always warned that “it may be possible” to become infected with the coronavirus by touching contaminated surfaces or objects, the agency now says it just “does not spread easily” in that manner.
  • Other ways in which the virus does not easily spread is from animals to people, or from people to animals, the agency added. “COVID-19 is a new disease and we are still learning about how it spreads,” the CDC said in updating its guidelines. “It may be possible for Covid-19 to spread in other ways, but these are not thought to be the main ways the virus spreads.”
  • However, experts warn that doesn’t mean it’s no longer necessary to take “practical and realistic” precautions in stopping the spread of Covid-19. The CDC still warns that the main way the virus is spread is through person-to-person contact, even among those who are not showing any symptoms.
TIME TO CALL

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Written by: Rakesh Rai, Judhajit Basu, Sumil Sudhakaran, Tejeesh N.S. Behl

Research: Rajesh Sharma