COVID-19 | Policies, Initiatives and advisors

Dr. Harsh Vardhan holds a meeting on ‘Jan Andolan’ and COVID Appropriate Behaviour with Heads of all AIIMS and Central Government Hospitals

Union Minister of Health & Family Welfare, Dr. Harsh Vardhan held a meeting through video conferencing to review the activities taken under the “Jan Andolan” on COVID Appropriate Behaviour withthe Heads of all AIIMS and Central Government Hospitals, here today. Highlighting the importance of the coming months in the country’s collective fight against the pandemic, Dr Harsh Vardhansaid, “We are now entering into the tenth month of our fight against COVID-19. It was on the 8th of January when we had our first meeting of the expert group. Since then, the journey has been relentless. But today, we can proudly say that we have created significant infrastructure for our fight against COVID which includes over 90 lakh beds, over 12,000 quarantine centres and more than 1900 labs.” He expressed deep gratitude and salutations for the tireless and dedicated efforts by all warriors and expressed grief over the death of those warriors who sacrificed their life saving others.

AYUSH Sector set to add momentum to the Jan Andolan against Covid-19

The Ministry of AYUSH has launched the Jan Andolan Campaign on COVID-19. This Andolan is regarding “Public Health Response to COVID-19: Campaign for COVID-Appropriate Behaviour.” The Ayush professionals work closely with the public, and hence the sector is gearing up to add momentum to this campaign.  The Jan Andolan Campaign will be driven by people’s participation. In the Ayush Sector, the practitioners and other Ayush professionals will act as catalysts for dissemination of relevant information throughout the country.  The campaign emphasizes on “Unlock with Precautions”.  The three key messages which are being highlighted across the sector are - “Wear Mask, Follow Physical Distancing, and Maintain Hand Hygiene”.  To make the campaign a success, partnerships are being formed among the Ministry’s attached and subordinate offices and PSUs with private sector industry and academia.  \

 India records 63,508 COVID-19 cases

India on Wednesday recorded as many as 63,508 new coronavirus cases and 730 deaths in the last 24 hours, the lowest in months, according to Union health ministry data. India's COVID-19 tally crossed 72 lakh-mark with Maharashtra recording the highest number of cases. The total cases of coronavirus infections stand at 7,239,389 while the death toll climbs to 1,10,586. Of these active cases, 8,26,876 recovered, according to the health ministry. Active Covid-19 cases in India  below 9 lakh for sixth consecutive day . The fatality rate was recorded at 1.53 per cent.

Funds won't be a constraint for coronavirus vaccination: Expenditure secretary 

Budgetary resources will not be a constraint in vaccinating the needy for the coronavirus disease, expenditure secretary T.V. Somanathan said, as government plans to vaccinate 20-25 crore Indians by July next year. Serum Institute of India chief executive officer Adar Poonawalla in September stirred a controversy by claiming that the government may need ₹80,000 crore over the next one year for distribution of Covid-19 vaccine to every person in India, calling it a "concerning challenge". However, health secretary Ajay Bhushan later disagreed with that high estimate.

Centre Advisories / Policies / Updates

India crosses a New Landmark in Testing

India has demonstrated an exponential increase in the number of COVID-19 cumulative tests since Jan 2020. It has crossed the landmark of 9 crore total tests today. With 11,45,015 tests conducted in the last 24 hours, the cumulative tests now stand at 9,00,90,122. The country’s testing capacities have multiplied manifold with more than 1900 labs across the country and with collaborative efforts of the Centre and State/UT governments. More than 15 lakh samples can be tested every day. Progressive expansion in testing infrastructure has played a crucial role in the steep rise of testing numbers. With 1935 testing labs in the country including 1112 Government laboratories and 823 Private laboratories, the daily testing capacity has got a substantial boost. Very high countrywide testing on a sustained basis has also resulted in bringing down the national positivity rate. This indicates that the rate of spread of infection is being effectively contained. 20 States/UTs have positivity rate less than the national average. The cumulative Positivity Rate is 8.04% and is on a continuous decline.

3 suspected cases of corona reinfection ‘described’ in India: ICMR

Three cases of suspected coronavirus reinfection — two in Mumbai and one in Ahmedabad — have been “described” in India, the country’s apex medical research body said on Tuesday. Director General Balram Bhargava said the Indian Council of Medical Research had decided upon a cutoff of 100 days for reinfection if it occurs as, according to some studies, antibodies were also assumed to have a life of four months.

Graded government policies have helped India achieve significant control over the pandemic.

 Dr. Sujeet K Singh, director, National Centre for Disease Control, presented a detailed report on how the data-driven, graded government policies have helped India achieve significant control over the pandemic. India has the highest coronavirus (COVID-19) recovery rate of 86.78% globally with 62,27,295 recovered cases and the lowest fatality rate at 1.53%, Union Health Minister Harsh Vardhan said on Tuesday. Mr. Vardhan, who chaired the 21st meeting of the high-level Group of Ministers (GoM) on COVID-19 via video-conference in New Delhi, appealed to everyone regarding observance of COVID-19-appropriate behaviour during the forthcoming festival season and the winter months, “when the likelihood of an increase in the disease is high”, the Health Ministry said in a statement.

Global Advisories/Policies/Updates

Our institutions are very patriarchal: WHO Chief Scientist Soumya Swaminathan

She is counted among the country’s top scientists and public health experts, but for Soumya Swaminathan, who is the Chief Scientist at the World Health Organization and the former Director General (DG) of India’s top medical research body, the Indian Council of Medical Research, it wasn’t always easy to be heard as a young researcher, and a woman at that. She was often “talked down to” or had her ideas dismissed, Dr. Swaminathan recounted before a global audience at an event on Tuesday.

Covid-19 infections among health workers declining: WHO

Health workers have since the beginning of the coronavirus pandemic been disproportionately affected by the crisis, but the WHO said Tuesday their high infection levels had finally begun to subside. While the coronavirus crisis has taken a heavy toll overall, data from many countries and regions show that healthcare workers have been infected at a far higher rate than the general population. Health workers represent less than three percent of the population in most countries, but have accounted for around 14 percent of all Covid-19 cases reported to the WHO, and in some countries they have accounted for over a third of cases.

WHO Lauds India For Helping Myanmar With 3000 Vials Of Antiviral Drugs To Fight COVID-19

A World Health Organisation (WHO) representative posted in Myanmar recently appreciated India for helping its eastern neighbour with a donation of 3,000 vials of Remdesivir. Dr. Stephen Paul Jost from WHO hailed India's help to Myanmar and said it is much appreciated. Indian Foreign Secretary Harsh Vardhan Shringla, during his bilateral visit to Myanmar last week, handed 3,000 vials of Remdesivir, an antiviral drug being used in the treatment of severe COVID-19 patients, to State Counsellor Aung San Suu Kyi.

Cristiano Ronaldo tests positive for COVID-19

Portuguese soccer federation has confirmed that star footballer Cristiano Ronaldo has tested positive for the novel coronavirus. It has been said by the federation that Ronaldo is currently showing no symptoms of Covid-19 and is doing well. As a result of the test, Ronaldo is in isolation and has been dropped from Portugal’s squad for their Nations League match against Sweden on Wednesday.

State Advisories / Policies / Updates

Over 3,000 new cases reported in Delhi, 45 more Covid deaths

Delhi recorded 45 more novel coronavirus deaths, taking the toll to 5,854 on Tuesday, while the tally rose to 3.14 lakh with 3,036 new cases, the Health Department said. The number of new daily cases recorded from October 2-12 stood below the 3,000-mark. The 3,036 positive cases came out of 54,957 tests. Forty-five more fatalities have been recorded, taking the death toll to 5,854, according to the a health bulletin.

Delhi police to keep watch on social distancing, masks in popular markets during festive season

Ahead of the festival season, Delhi Police have identified at least 300 markets where there could be a heavy footfall in the coming weeks, and have planned to deploy special teams to ensure people follow social distancing rules and wear masks in contain the spread of the Covid-19 pandemic. Senior Delhi Police officers said their teams that are presently issuing fines to people on the road for not wearing masks or violating social distancing norms, will soon be posted in markets with high footfall such as Lajpat Nagar, Chandni Chowk, Sarojini Nagar and Karol Bagh.

Maharashtra adds 8,522 new Covid-19 cases, 15,356 recover; 187 die

Maharashtra on Tuesday reported 8,522 fresh Covid-19 cases, taking the total count of infections to 15,43,837, state health department said. After reporting average 10,000 plus cases in recent past, the state on Sunday added 7,089 new infections. With 187 deaths, the cumulative toll went up to 40,701, a health official said.

'Covid Ready Taxi' launched for safety of cab drivers, commuters in Mumbai region

The United Way Mumbai, an NGO, in collaboration with Mumbai Taximen's Union and Wadala RTO launched project 'Covid Ready Taxi' to ensure safety of both the drivers and the commuters across Mumbai region. Ajay Govale of UWM said, "We are planning to equip 150 black and yellow cabs to be Covid-19 ready through this pilot project. The activities include sanitization of the cab, installation of plastic isolation screen which separates the driver from the commuters, provision of Covid readiness kit that has reusable 6 layer face masks (3 masks), surface disinfectant spray (2 bottles), 1.5 litre hand pump spray bottle (1 bottle), 5 litre can of hand sanitizer, microfiber cloth for cleaning the cab and handwashing paper soaps (10 strips)."

1,341 cases, 46 deaths in Pune, 998 discharged

The COVID-19 caseload of Pune district increased by 1,341 in the last 24 hours to reach 3,09,193, while 46 deaths during this period took the toll to 7,250, an official said on Tuesday. A total of 998 persons were discharged as well, he added. Pune city now has 1,55,067 cases, which is an increase of 486 in the last 24 hours, while the count reached 84,275 in Pimpri Chinchwad after 244 people were detected with the infection, the official said.

Industry Updates

Oxford vaccine phase three results by November-December

The results of phase three trials of the Oxford-AstraZeneca vaccine being conducted in India could be available by “end-November-early December”, raising hopes that the leading anti-Covid candidate -- manufactured in India by the Serum Institute -- may be available sooner than expected. The government's view of a possible time-line came even as it warned that large gatherings during the upcoming festival season could become “super-spreaders” of Covid-9 infection and urged that use of masks, social distancing and hand wash be followed rigorously.

Prepared by Impact Health Research Team

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