Tag Archives: COVID 19

MHA asks States to allow unhindered movement of persons and goods and services during Unlock-3

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Restrictions at local level imposed by District Administrations or by State Governments is violation of MHA guidelines under DMA, 2005 provisions

New Delhi: The Centre has asked the States that there should be no restrictions imposed on inter-State and intra-State movement of persons and goods and services during the present prevailing Unlock-3 guidelines.

In a communication to Chief Secretaries of all States today, the Union Ministry of Home Affairs (MHA) has stated that it has been reported that local level restrictions on movement are being imposed by various districts/States.  Such restrictions are creating problems in inter-State movement of goods and services and are impacting the supply chain, resulting in disruption of economic activities and employment, besides affecting supply of goods and services.

The MHA has said such restrictions at local level imposed by District Administrations or by States, amount to violation of the guidelines issued by the MHA under the provisions of the Disaster Management Act, 2005.

Drawing attention to the MHA’s Order dated July 29, 2020 specifying Guidelines for Unlock-3, the communication reiterates that there shall be no restriction on inter-State and Intra-State movement of persons and goods. No separate permission/ approval/ e-permit will be required for such movements.  This includes movement of persons and goods for cross land border trade under Treaties with neighbouring countries.

Government of India teams assisting States in combating COVID 19

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New Delhi: Till this evening (Thursday, 9 April 2020), 5734 confirmed COVID-19 cases and 166 deaths have been reported in India. 473 persons have been cured/discharged after recovery.

A high level meeting of the Group of Ministers (GoM) on COVID-19 was held at Nirman Bhawan, here today under the chairpersonship of Dr. Harsh Vardhan. The Group of Ministers (GoM) had detailed deliberation on containment and management of COVID-19. GoM also deliberated on the adequacy on PPEs, N-95 masks and ventilators. GoM was apprised that 30 indigenous manufacturers for PPEs have been developed, 1.7 Cr order for PPEs have been placed and the supply has already started, and 49,000 orders for ventilators have been placed. GoM also reviewed the testing strategy and availability of testing kits across the country along with the strategy for hotspots and cluster management.

GoM also directed that Hydroxychloroquine (HCQ) should be utilised as per prescription and is not advised for patients with cardiac irregularities or those suffering from cardiac disease which can be harmful. GoM was also informed that sufficient stock of Hydroxychloroquine is being maintained in the country.

Union Ministry of Health and Family Welfare has deputed high level multi-disciplinary Central teams to assist the States and State Health Department in activities pertaining to cluster containment plan and hospital preparedness (ICU & Ventilator management for COVID-19 patients).

The Government of India teams have been deputed to Bihar, Rajasthan, Gujarat, Karnataka, Madhya Pradesh, Maharashtra, Tamil Nadu, Telangana & Uttar Pradesh.

More than 25000 Tablighi Jamaat workers and their contacts quarantined, 1,750 blacklisted

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New Delhi: The total number of COVID-19 cases in the country has now gone up to 4,281. Of these, 1,445 are related to the Tablighi Jamaat meeting at Nizamuddin in New Delhi.


Global death toll crosses 70,000


As part of a massive effort undertaken by the Union Home Ministry and the states, more than 25,500 local Tablighi Jamaat workers and their contacts have been quarantined; besides, five villages in Haryana where the foreign national Tablighi Jamaat workers stayed have been sealed and the workers have been quarantined. Out of 2,083 foreign TJ workers identified so far, 1,750 people have been blacklisted so far.

A total of 109 people have died of the COVID-2019 infection in the country; in the last 24 hours, 693 new cases and 30 deaths have been reported, while a total of 291 people have recovered so far. This was informed by the Joint Secretary, Ministry of Health & Family Welfare Luv Aggarwal, at the daily media briefing on the actions taken, preparedness and updates on COVID-19, held at National Media Centre, PIB New Delhi on Monday 6 April.

As per the presently available data, an analysis of total confirmed cases has presented the following distribution:

Gender distribution:
76% are male
24% are female
Age distribution:
47% people – below 40 years age group
34% people – between 40 to 60 years age group
19% people – 60 and above age group

Eighty-six per cent death cases have exhibited co-morbidity related to diabetes, chronic kidney issues, hypertension and heart related problems. Although 19% confirmed cases have been reported among the elderly, since 63% deaths have been observed among them, elderly people form a high risk population. Further, though 37% deaths are reported from people below 60 years, approximately, 86% of deaths amongst people with co-morbidities indicate that young people with co-morbidities are also at high risk of COVID-19.

Importance of medical oxygen

The Union Home Secretary has written to states to reiterate the critical importance of medical oxygen, which has been classified as an essential item and the production and supply of which has been exempted from lockdown restrictions. In his letter, the Secretary has provided the states some guidelines to facilitate the smooth functioning of the supply chain and ensure adequate supply of medical oxygen.

MPLADS

As a part of Government’s continued efforts to contain spread of COVID 19, the Union Cabinet chaired by Prime Minister Narendra Modi has decided not to operate Members of Parliament Local Area Development Scheme (MPLADS) for two years (2020-21 and 2021-22). These funds will be used to strengthen Government’s efforts in managing the challenges and adverse impact of COVID19 in the country.

Guidelines

Union Ministry of Health & Family Welfare has issued detailed Guidelines for setting up of quarantine facilities for COVID-19 outbreak. This Guidelines focus on separating suspected and high-risk contacts as early as possible from among other quarantined persons. The Guidelines may be accessed at:

The Ministry has also issued Guidelines for Handling, Treatment, and Disposal of Waste Generated during Treatment/Diagnosis/ Quarantine of COVID-19 patients which are available at https://www.mohfw.gov.in/pdf/63948609501585568987wastesguidelines.pdf.

Additionally, few informative videos for managing stress and anxiety during the COVID-19 outbreak are also posted on the website of Ministry of Health & Family Welfare.

National Health Mission (NHM) and State Disaster Relief Fund (SDRF)

The States have already been advised to use funds under National Health Mission (NHM) and State Disaster Relief Fund (SDRF) to undertake all activities related with creation of quarantine centres, dedicated COVID-19 hospitals and other medical equipment, treatment of patients and all other activities related with management of COVID-19. In addition to this, NHM has already sanctioned Rs. 1100 Cr to all the States & Rs. 3000 Cr additional funds were released today. Also, N-95 masks, Ventilators and PPEs are being procured from the central pool and distributed to all the States across the country.

N95 Masks

Orders have been placed for over 11.2 million stand alone N95 masks and 15.7 million PPE coveralls. Out of these, 8 million PPE kits will include N95 masks. The objective is to achieve a supply of about 1 million PPE kits per week.

200,000 domestically produced N95 masks are being dispatched to various hospitals across the country to tackle the COVID 19 menace. Over 2 million N95 masks have already been supplied for distribution to the users by Government of India. About 1.6 million N95 masks are presently available in the country, and this figure will increase with the fresh supply of 2 lakh masks.

Major portions of the fresh supplies are being sent to States with comparatively higher number of cases such as Tamil Nadu, Maharashtra, Delhi, Kerala, Andhra Pradesh, Telangana and Rajasthan. Supplies are also being sent to central institutions like AIIMS, Safdarjung and RML hospitals, RIMS, NEIGRIHMS, BHU and AMU.

Personal Protection Equipment (PPE) coveralls from China

In a major development, supply lines from abroad opened up on Monday 6 April with the receipt of 1.70 lakh Personal Protection Equipment (PPE) coveralls from China which have been donated to the Government of India. Along with domestic supplies of 20,000 coveralls, a total of 190,000 coveralls will now be distributed to hospitals and will add to the 3,87,473 PPEs already available in the country. A total of 294,000 PPE coveralls have been arranged and supplied by Government of India.

An order for 8 million complete PPE kits (including N95 masks) had been placed on a Singapore based platform earlier and now it has been indicated that supplies will commence from 11 April, 2020 with 200,000, followed by 800,000 more in a week. Negotiations are in final stages with a Chinese platform for placing an order of 6 million complete PPE kits, which will also include N95 masks. Separate orders for N95 masks and protective goggles are also being placed on some foreign companies.

Northern Railways & Domestic Capabilities

Giving a further fillip to domestic capabilities, Northern Railways have developed a PPE coverall. This is in addition to the PPE coveralls and N99 masks developed by DRDO earlier. Efforts are now being made to start mass production of these products. Existing N95 mask producers have increased their capacity to about 80,000 masks per day.

Under Lifeline UDAN initiative of MoCA, 132 cargo flights have been operated till date across the country to transport medical cargo to various parts of India including remote and hilly areas. With support from Air India, Alliance Air, IAF and private airlines, medical supplies of more than 184 tons have been delivered till date during lockdown period.

Mahanadi Coalfields Limited (MCL)

“Mahanadi Coalfields Limited (MCL) will finance all expenses of the COVID-19 country’s second largest COVID-19 hospital in Bhubaneswar including cost of treatment of patients for which MCL has already released Rs 7.31 Crores as immediate advance. The hospital is a great medical asset for the people of Odisha,” said Union Minister of Coal and Mines Shri Pralhad Joshi during inauguration programme of hospital co-ordinated through Video Conferencing.

Department of Science & Technology

The Department of Science & Technology has funded ‘Module Innovations”, a Pune based healthcare startup working on point of care diagnostics to build up on its platform technology for rapid diagnosis of diseases to develop a product for detecting COVID 19 with a 10 to 15 minute test.

Using the proven concept from its flagship product USense, Module is now developing nCoVSENSEs (TM) which is a rapid test device for detection of antibodies that have been generated against the COVID 19 in the human body.

With the current stage that India is in, doing a mass screening is of extreme importance. With the rapid test device it will be possible to confirm infection in patients and also determine whether an infected patent has recovered and also identify the stage of infection in the patients.

The current confirmatory method of Real-TimeReverse Transcription Polymerase Chain Reaction (RT-PCR) though a gold standard is costly, takes longer time and needs trained manpower. This new rapid test will help manage the problem in a more efficient way at a lesser cost.

Saving Pneuma & war against COVID-19

Brij Mohan Singh Rathore

Pneuma is under attack. Defined as “breath” or air in ancient Greek, Pneuma is air in motion or Pran-vayu (life breath) for the philosophers! It is the vital spirit, or the creative force of a person.

The attacker COVID 19 goes for the lungs, causes respiratory issues, develops pneumonia like symptoms and thereafter casts a storm across the entire body. The infection, like other respiratory diseases spreads through small droplets—saliva or mucus—that infected persons pass on when they cough, sneeze or talk. Weapons commissioned to counter the attack include masks, ventilators, testing kits and combination of drugs. Unfortunately, countries have been struggling to put in place this inventory in required numbers. Targeted drugs/vaccine is yet to come. The norms to fight the battle include social (read safe) distancing, quarantine and lockdowns. The arsenals in the weaponry are both preventive and curative. True to the proverb, prevention is better than cure. As many as 205 nations are waging their battle against a global pandemic. Till date the enemy virus has been able to infect more than a million people with casualties exceeding 60K worldwide. The economists would calculate the costs in the days to come. It is hoped that the battle against the Pneuma will be won sooner than later, COVID 19 shall be defeated, and the world order restored to a ‘new’ normal.

However, to win the war against the enemy in the long run and moving towards a new normal would call for paying attention to every breath that we take. Three things are important – the quality of the air that we breathe, awareness of the breath and the preparedness in case of enemy attack.

Yamuna River in Delhi

The lockdown has shown how quickly the cities with worst air quality could spring surprises and nostalgia, thanks to pollution nose diving with commensurate improvement in air quality. Gurugram is now competing with Finland on air quality, and the mesmerizing Dhauladhar mountain ranges, some 200 km from Jalandhar city can now be seen from the city rooftops. Peacocks, pythons, deer and myriad chirpy creatures are frequenting bustling urban confines. River Yamuna in Delhi is a welcome sight, not imagined in the recent past. Of course, the total lockdown – an arsenal during the battle time, cannot be the way out during peace time. It has nevertheless given people the hope that it is possible to see a clear blue sky in Delhi /NCR and breathe air that qualifies as good/very good on the Air Quality Index. Drastic measures will be called for to cut pollution across the sectors, known to be the biggest culprits. Forests, as carbon sinks, are of great help to work in tandem. It means upending the Paris Climate Agreement 2015. Vibrant ecosystems with rich biodiversity keeps the myriad life forms, including pathogens like viruses bottled up in a dynamic state. Such areas need to be secured at all cost to avoid transfer of zoonotic diseases like COVID 19. The nations will need to close ranks to make it happen.

Secondly, awareness of the breath itself holds the key. Yogis are known to measure their age not in the number of years, but in the number of breaths. Mindful breathing therefore becomes a useful tool that can be easily learnt. Breath awareness allows a person to calm the mind, overcome anxiety and stress, improve relationships and increase work productivity. Pranayama, in Ashtangyoga means, breath regulation, and is known to take care of lungs, boost immunity and improves blood circulation, along with other multiple benefits. These skills need to be integrated in the life style along with other physical exercises.

Thirdly, better preparedness to deal with similar contingencies in post COVID time will call for significantly boosting investment in public health infrastructure and personnel. Supply of masks, testing kits, ventilators, trained personnel and the drugs have surfaced as major constraint across countries during COVID 19 attack.

Once the battle against the Pandemic is over, the Pneuma as life-breath will
need more attention worldwide. Saving Pneuma is to ensure the well-being of humanity, both in the present and the future!


About the Author: Brij Mohan Singh Rathore is former Principal Chief Conservator of Forests,  Madhya Pradesh .