COVID-19 | Policies, Initiatives and advisors

Pandemic has given us a chance to revisit and structurally re-imagine a robust public health infrastructure: Dr. Harsh Vardhan 

Dr. Harsh Vardhan, Union Minister for Health and Family Welfare presided over the inaugural session of the two-day CII Public Health Conference virtually. Thanking CII for organizing this event amidst the COVID pandemic, he reminded the audience that “this pandemic has given us a chance to revisit and structurally re-imagine a robust public health infrastructure for our country.” Citing India’s successful approach in containing and curing this novel health risk, he lauded the country’s capacity to turn government schemes into a broader social movement that saw “the complete eradication of small-pox and polio from a time when India contributed 60% of the global cases of polio.”

Recovery Rate races beyond 72%

Today, the country registered the highest single day recoveries with as many as 57,584 COVID-19 patients getting cured and discharged in the last 24 hours. This achievement has further spurred India's Recovery Rate to cross the 72% milestone. With more patients recovering and being discharged from hospitals and home isolation (in case of mild and moderate cases), India's COVID-19 recoveries have reached nearly 2 million (19, 19,842). This has ensured that the difference between the recovered and active cases continues to expand. It is 12, 42,942 today. The actual case load of the country, viz. the Active Cases (6, 76,900 on date) has reduced and currently comprises only 25.57% of the total positive cases. Early identification of cases has helped to ensure timely and prompt isolation of the mild and moderate cases and hospitalization of the severe and critical cases thereby leading to timely and effective management of cases. The Case Fatality Rate has further slumped today touching 1.92%.

India sets a new landmark, exceeds 3 crore tests

In a testament to the focused, consistent and coordinated efforts of the Centre and the State/UT governments, India has set a new landmark of conducting 3 crore tests. Expanded diagnostic lab network and facilitation for easy testing across the country have given a substantial boost. With 7, 31,697 tests conducted in the last 24 hours, India is on its resolved drive to increase its testing capacity to 10 lakh tests daily. Building on this achievement, the Tests per Million (TPM) have seen a sharp increase to 21,769. While the cumulative testing rose from 1.2 crore on 14th July 2020 to 3.0 crore on 16th August 2020, the positivity rate has seen a rise from 7.5% to 8.81% in the same period. Although higher number of tests will push the positivity rate initially, but as the Delhi experience has amply shown, it will eventually lower when combined with other measures such as prompt isolation, tracking and timely clinical management.

Vice President urges IITs and higher education institutes to do research on societal problems

Vice President M Venkaiah Naidu today emphasized that research at IITs and other higher education institutes must be relevant to society and focus on finding solutions to various problems faced by mankind from climate change to health issues. Inaugurating the Diamond Jubilee Celebrations of Delhi IIT through a video conference, he said Indian institutions will be counted among the world's best only when they start impacting the societies around them by developing optimal and sustainable solutions to the problems faced by the nation. He said “ I am happy that the IITs across the country have taken up several projects relating to COVID-19, including development of low-cost ventilators, PPEs, testing kits, sanitization, robots and other equipment, apart from AI (Artificial Intelligence) studies on epidemic patterns and disease dynamics. While finding answers to various challenges posed by COVID-19, we should be better prepared to tackle any future pandemic. For that to happen, there should be greater collaboration and synergy between experts from different domains.”

Centre Advisories / Policies / Updates

MHA Standing Committee to meet on Covid-19

The Parliamentary Standing Committee on the Ministry of Home Affairs will meet on Wednesday to consider the "Management of Covid-19 Pandemic and related issues", said the Rajya Sabha website. The committee is headed by Congress leader Anand Sharma and is likely to discuss the initiatives taken by the Central government for the management of the pandemic, said sources. The meeting gains significance with both the Houses preparing for the Monsoon session of Parliament while adhering to social distancing norms.

Mukhtar Abbas Naqvi: “Pandemic peril has proved to be a positive period of “Care, Commitment and Confidence” for Indians

Union Minister of Minority Affairs Mukhtar Abbas Naqvi said that pandemic peril has proved to be a positive period of “Care, Commitment and Confidence” for Indians, which has set an example for the entire humanity across the world. While flagging off a mobile clinic today, equipped with latest health care facilities, given by the Ministry of Minority Affairs’ National Minorities Development and Finance Corporation to Holy Family Hospital, New Delhi, Naqvi said that there has been a significant change in the life style of the people and work culture. The people are now more committed to service and responsibilities towards the society. He  said that the passionate commitment of the people and the strong will of the Government during the Corona pandemic has resulted in India speedily becoming self-reliant in the health sector. India has not only become self-reliant in production of N-95 masks, PPE, ventilators and other equipment; the country has also helped other nations. Naqvi said that more than 1500 Health Care Assistants, who have been trained under skill development programme of the Minority Affairs Ministry, are assisting in treatment of Corona patients. These Health Care Assistants include 50% girls who are assisting in treatment of Corona patients in various hospitals and health care centres across the country. 

Launch of Tribal Health & Nutrition Portal – ‘Swasthya’ and Opening of National Overseas Portal & National Tribal Fellowship Portal

A series of initiatives were announced by the Ministry of Tribal Affairs here today, which included the Tribal Health and Nutrition Portal ‘Swasthya’ and e-newsletter on health and nutrition ALEKH; opening of National Overseas Portal and National Tribal Fellowship Portal. Union Minister of Tribal Affairs Arjun Munda said on the occasion “The availability of healthcare for all has been one of the foremost priorities of our Prime Minister. Although the public health standards have improved over time, the differences between tribal and non-tribal populations remain. We, at the Ministry of Tribal Affairs, are committed to bridge this gap.”

Global Advisories/Policies/Updates

2, 94,000 in 24 hours is highest global increase in cases: WHO

The World Health Organization has reported that the number of confirmed global corona virus cases has increased by more than 2, 94,000 in 24 hours — the highest figure so far. More than 21 million people are known to have been infected with the virus globally, according to the Johns Hopkins University. More than 7, 71,000 people have died. The highest death toll has been reported by US at almost 1, 70,000 out of more than 5 million cases. The US added 47,813 cases. Deaths topped 1,000 for the fifth consecutive day. South Korea reported 279 new cases in the highest daily jump since the 367 cases reported on March 8. The figures on Sunday brought the total caseload to 15,318, including 305 deaths.

Efficacy main issue with Russia's Covid-19 vaccine: Nobel laureate Doherty

Echoing the scientific community's scepticism over Russia's COVID-19 vaccine rolled out for emergency use, Nobel laureatePeter Charles Doherty says his big worry is there could be refusals for other vaccines if doubts over its safety turn out to be true. Russian President Vladimir Putin last week announced that his country has developed the world's first vaccine against COVID-19, which works"quite effectively" and forms "stable immunity" against the disease. He also disclosed that one of his daughters has already been given the vaccine, named Sputnik V. "The main concern is if any major safety issues emerge... My bet is that they won't, but that's a guess and, if there is a safety issue, the big worry is that this could cause more vaccination refusal for other vaccines that are made using very different approaches," Doherty told Media from Melbourne in an email interview.

More infectious mutation of corona virus detected in Malaysia

A mutation of the deadly corona virus that is far more infectious has been detected from two COVID-19 clusters in Malaysia, according to health authorities. "Recent results received from the Laboratory Medical Research Institute (IMR) as suspected D614G type mutation has been spotted from COVID-19 virus isolation test for three cases from Cluster PUI Sivagangga (close contact to index case) and also a case from Cluster Ulu Tiram (i.e. individual from the Philippines)," Noor Hisham Abdullah, health chief said in a Facebook post. Dr. Hisham said so far these two clusters have been found to be quite controlled by the results of various fast-paced public health control actions in the field.

Singapore reports 91 Covid-19 cases 

Three Indians were among six imported corona virus cases reported in Singapore, which has so far registered 55,838 COVID-19 infections, officials said on Monday. The Ministry of Health (MOH) said that three of the six imported cases reported on Sunday were arrivals from India on July 31. The three Indians, who came to Singapore on dependant's passes here, and the other three cases, who came from Philippines and Russia, have been placed on 14-day 'stay-home-notice', the ministry said. On Monday, Singapore reported 91 new COVID-19 cases, taking the country's corona virus tally to 55,838.

State Advisories / Policies / Updates

Bihar extends Covid-19 lockdown till September 6

The Bihar government on Monday extended the lockdown till September 6 in the wake of COVID-19 spread in the state. The state government has imposed the lockdown with similar guidelines issued for phased reopening (Unlock 3). In continuation of the Ministry of Home Affairs (MHA) order, the restrictions imposed issued by this (state) department order dated July 30 imposing further restrictions will remain effective till September 6, read the order. According to the Union Health Ministry, Bihar has 31,059 active cases, 72,324 recoveries and 461 fatalities as of August 17.

Tripura reports 143 new Covid-19 cases, four more deaths

Tripura on Monday reported 143 fresh COVID-19 cases, taking the state's tally to 7,222, while the death toll reached 59 as four more patients succumbed to the disease, a health department official said. The state now has 1,859 active cases while 5,286 people have recovered from the disease. Eighteen patients have migrated to other states.

Hyderabad NGO conducts final rites of Covid-19 patients if family refuses

Youth welfare Telangana, an NGO in Hyderabad has taken up the task of performing final rites of COVID-19 dead bodies after family members refuse to accept them. Syed Jalaluddin Zafar, founder and president of Youth Welfare Telangana, told Media that his NGO is involved in social welfare work amid the corona virus pandemic since the lockdown started, but the journey of performing final rites of COVID-19 dead bodies started after the death of his friend's father. 

Corona virus cases in Indore cross 10,000-mark

The total number of COVID-19 cases in Indore crossed the 10,000-mark as 245 more people tested positive for the disease in the Madhya Pradesh district in last 24 hours. Out of the total 3,359 samples tested in the last 24 hours, 245 came out positive in-charge Chief Medical and Health Officer Poornima Gadaria said. With this, the total number of COVID-19 cases in the district has gone up to 10,049.

Industry Updates

Aus researchers to start cancer drug trial to treat corona virus

Australian researchers are set to begin human trials for a type of cancer drug to treat Covid-19, with the hopes of stopping the virus in its tracks before it leaves the nose and throat. The drug, called BromAc, is administered directly as a nasal spray and could potentially stop the virus from spreading to other areas including the lungs, where it can cause deadly complications. Lead developer, Professor David Morris told Media on Monday that the drug works by dissolving spike proteins on the surface of Covid-19 and making it unable to bond to cells.

Manipal Hospitals launches plasma bank

Manipal Hospitals on Monday launched a plasma bank for advanced treatment of COVID 19 patients and urged those who had recovered from corona virus to come forward as donors. "The key objective of this drive is to make plasma therapy readily accessible to all COVID 19 patients seeking treatment in Manipal Hospitals and registered through AMBER HEALTH," the hospital said in a statement. It appealed to all corona virus recovered patients to come forward to help those in need to win the battle against the pandemic.

Prepared by Impact Health Research Team

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