With the daily tally of new coronavirus cases touching a 24-day high at 41,649 cases on Saturday, Health Secretary Rajesh Bhushan has written to several States that all districts reporting a positivity rate of more than 10% in the last few weeks ought to consider strict restrictions.
According to a statement from the Health Ministry the curbs must aim to “prevent/curtail movement of people, formation of crowds and intermingling of people to prevent spread of infection”.
Here are the latest updates:
Schools in Chattisgarh to reopen for Classes 10, 12 from August 2
Classes 10 and 12 of government-run and private schools in Chhattisgarh will reopen from August 2 with 50% attendance, for which the prerequisite is that the COVID-19 positivity rate of the district concerned should be one 1% for last seven days.
However, a State-level body of parents of school students has opposed the move saying the government should have waited for some more time before allowing the schools to reopen, in view of the possible third wave of the pandemic.
The decision to reopen schools was taken during a cabinet meeting chaired by Chief Minister Bhupesh Baghel recently. The government has also allowed resumption of schools for Classes 1 to 5 and Class 8 subject to certain conditions. But physical Classes for Classes 6, 7, 9 and 11 will not be started immediately.
T.N. makes RT-PCR report or vaccine certificate mandatory for travellers from Kerala
The Tamil Nadu government on August 1 said it was mandatory for people coming from Kerala, to the State to carry a negative RT-PCR test report or vaccination certificate of two COVID-19 doses from August 5, in the wake of a spike in infections in the neighbouring state.
Addressing reporters, Medical and Family Welfare Minister Ma Subramanian said, “From August 5, concerned district administrations have been directed to intensify surveillance and allow people from Kerala to enter the State if they possess an RT-PCR negativity certificate.”
Officials in the bordering districts have also been asked to allow people if they have necessary documents to show that they have received two doses of the COVID-19 vaccines.
Sri Lanka lifts inter-provincial travel ban
Sri Lanka on Sunday lifted its three-month-long inter-provincial travel ban, as the coronavirus vaccination drive picks up pace in the country.
However, the travel permission as of now will only be extended to government employees on official duty. While public buses resumed services on Sunday, public trains will resume services on Monday.
Officials said over-crowding in the services will be strictly prohibited.
“We will allow buses to take passengers strictly limited to their seating capacity,” said State Public Transport Minister Dilum Amunugama. – PTI
Goa misses Jul 31 deadline to give first COVID-19 vaccine dose to all
The July 31 deadline to complete administering the first COVID-19 vaccine dose to all eligible beneficiaries in Goa has been missed as only 87 % of the target has been met, a senior official said on Sunday.
The July 31 deadline was set by Chief Minister Pramod Sawant with the aim of getting the state prepared to tackle a possible third wave of the infection.
“Now, 87 % of the eligible population of Goa has been given the first dose of the COVID-19 vaccine. Currently, 23 % of beneficiaries have got both doses,” State Vaccination Officer Dr Rajendra Borkar told reporters. – PTI
India, U.K. to conduct clinical trials of ‘Ashwagandha’ for promoting recovery from COVID-19
The Ministry of Ayush has collaborated with the U.K.’s London School of Hygiene and Tropical Medicine (LSHTM) to conduct a study on ‘Ashwagandha’ for promoting recovery from COVID-19.
A Ministry release said that the All India Institute of Ayurveda (AIIA), an autonomous body under the Ministry of Ayush, and the LSHTM recently signed a Memorandum of Understanding to conduct clinical trials of ‘Ashwagandha’ on 2,000 people in three U.K. cities — Leicester, Birmingham and London (Southall and Wembley).
Tamil Nadu’s seroprevalence stands at 66.2%
Tamil Nadu has an overall seroprevalence of 66.2%, according to the Directorate of Public Health and Preventive Medicine’s phase-III cross-sectional survey conducted during July. Among the 38 districts, Virudhunagar had the highest seropositivity at 84% while Erode had the lowest at 37%.
The State’s seroprevalence — presence of antibodies to SARS-CoV-2 — was 29% during the second survey conducted in April 2021 and 31% during October-November 2020. Of the 26,610 samples tested from 888 clusters for the third round of the serosurvey, 17,624 individuals had IgG antibodies against SARS-CoV-2. The survey covered persons aged 18 years and above.
In fact, the Indian Council of Medical Research’s survey that covered three districts and persons aged six years and above during June-July put the State’s seropositivity at 67.6%.
Paramedical, nursing students from other States must get COVID-19 test after a week’s quarantine
Deputy Commissioner K.V. Rajendra issued an order on Saturday making nursing and paramedical students from other States coming to Mangaluru undergo a COVID-19 test following one-week quarantine in their respective accommodation.
The order said that such students should have a RT-PCR negative certificate obtained 72 hours in advance. It applies to students coming from Kerala, Maharashtra, and other States.
He said that train passengers who do not have the negative certificate must give their swab samples at the stations. If the test came out positive, the passengers should compulsorily undergo quarantine in COVID Care Centres till the RT-PCR test report is obtained. The respective tahsildars should open COVID Care Centres.
Life in a COVID ward
“Recently, I saw a video of a man making passionate threats against the hospital staff who treated his mother. I share his frustration and empathise with him, though I do not condone the threat of violence,” writes Thomas Verghese in this essay.
Excerpt from the essay:
Normally in a medical ward, one expects to find rows of beds with patients and relatives or friends, and cheerful nurses and attendants going about their tasks. They respond to calls from the patients gently with kind words and reassurance.
But a COVID-19 ward or ICU is a strange scene. As strange PPE-clad figures rush by, one cannot make out who the nurse, attender or doctor is. They all look alike. Everyone looks scared and desperate, both the patients and the doctors. They feel the threat in the air. They are bewildered and shocked by their experience. One by one, all their expectations get shattered. No wonder, they have horror stories to tell when they come out alive.
The Hindu Explains
Explained | Are States under-reporting COVID-19 cases?
The fourth national serology survey by the Indian Council of Medical Research (ICMR) to estimate the spread of the coronavirus infection in India reported this month that two-thirds of Indians had antibodies to SARS-CoV-2. As part of this, it also released figures that showed that antibody prevalence was lowest in Kerala and highest in Madhya Pradesh, along with data from 19 other States.
The ICMR data also points to the extent of under-reporting by States. Public health expert and epidemiologist Chandrakant Lahariya cited the seroprevalence data and compared it to the officially reported cases from the 21 States. As of June 25, by his estimates, Bihar, with a seroprevalence of 75.9%, should have had an estimated 427.6 lakh cases, but it officially reported only 7.2 lakh cases — an under-reporting factor of 59. This means in Bihar, for every case that was reported, 59 cases were missed. Similarly, Uttar Pradesh and Madhya Pradesh had an under-reporting factor of 98 and 83 respectively. Kerala’s worked out to six and Maharashtra’s to 12.
Read the explainer here.
World Health organisation
WHO sounds alarm over Delta variant surge
Mushrooming outbreaks of the Delta variant prompted China and Australia to impose stricter COVID-19 curbs on Saturday, as the WHO urged the world to contain the mutation before it turns into something deadlier and draws out the pandemic.
Worldwide, coronavirus infections are once again on the upswing, with the World Health Organization announcing an 80 percent average increase over the past four weeks in five of the health agency’s six regions, a jump largely fuelled by the Delta variant.
First detected in India, the strain has now reached 132 countries and territories.
“Delta is a warning: it’s a warning that the virus is evolving but it is also a call to action that we need to move now before more dangerous variants emerge,” the WHO’s emergencies director Michael Ryan told a press conference.
Odisha govt. eases COVID-19 restrictions
The Odisha government on Saturday announced graded unlocking process throughout the State beginning August 1.
Following improvement in the COVID-19 situation in the State, the government lifted weekend shutdown restrictions, except at three urban centres such as Bhubaneswar, Cuttack and Puri, and allowed all shops to resume daily business.
The duration of night curfew has also been reduced. The curfew will now be in force across the State from 8 p.m. to 6 a.m. instead of the present 6 p.m. to 6 a.m.
Karnataka insists on RT-PCR test for Kerala, Maharashtra travellers
With Kerala and Maharashtra seeing a surge in COVID-19 cases, Karnataka has made a negative RT-PCR certificate mandatory for all arrivals from the two States. The certificate should not be older than 72 hours, irrespective of vaccination status.
“The negative certificate is mandatory for all the passengers coming to Karnataka by flight, bus, train and personal transport. This is applicable for all flights originating in Kerala and Maharashtra. Airlines should issue boarding passes only to passengers carrying RT-PCR negative certificates not older than 72 hours,” an official circular said.
The government directed all Deputy Commissioners of Dakshina Kannada, Kodagu and Mysuru and Belagavi, Vijayapura, Kalaburagi and Bidar, to establish border check posts and deploy staff to ensure that all vehicles (driver, passengers, helper, cleaner) entering Karnataka are checked for compliance.