QBullet: Fewer COVID-19 Hotspots; Maha Okays HCQ for Contacts

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India
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28,380 COVID-19 Cases in India, Death Toll Jumps to 886, Says Health Ministry.
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1. Fewer Hotspot Districts Now, but Zones Keep Changing

On 10 April, the Assam government declared a mosque in Guwahati as a COVID-19 hotspot.
On 10 April, the Assam government declared a mosque in Guwahati as a COVID-19 hotspot.
(Photo: iStock)

As the nationwide lockdown nears its scheduled end on May 3, the number of hotspot districts (red zones) has shrunk to 129 from the 177 that were identified on April 15, after three weeks of implementing the curbs. The number of orange zone districts has risen from 207 on April 15 to 250 now, sources in the Health Ministry said.

Twenty of the red-zone districts account for 60 percent of the novel coronavirus case load in the country, data available with the Ministry show. This data is crucial as the government explores modalities for relaxations after 3 May.

Orange zones are those that have not reported a case in 14 days; green zones are those that have not had a new case in 28 days. It has been suggested that these criteria be revised, especially after May 15, when the case load starts to reflect the situation after 3 May, the sources said.

(Source: The Indian Express)

2. COVID Cases Climb to 31,000, Spike Puts Deaths Over 1,000

Representational Image
Representational Image
(Photo: PTI)

The number of confirmed COVID-19 cases in India crossed the 30,000 mark on Tuesday while that of fatalities due to the pandemic exceeded 1,000, as the country maintained a precarious grip on a disease that officials fear could peak over the next couple of months.

According to data disclosed by state health departments, the total number of COVID-19 infections across India was 31,329 and deaths 1,007 on Tuesday, which recorded the biggest single-day jump in fatalities. Tuesday’s 74 deaths surpass the previous high, 54 fatalities recorded on Monday, by a significant margin.

(Source: Hindustan Times)

3. Hospitals Can’t Insist on COVID Test Before Treatment: Govt

Apart from AIIMS doctor, at least 6 other doctors have tested COVID-19 positive so far in national capital.
Apart from AIIMS doctor, at least 6 other doctors have tested COVID-19 positive so far in national capital.
(Photo: PTI)

Amid concerns over many private hospitals across India either turning away critical patients or having closed down, the Centre on Tuesday, 29 April, asked states to ensure the hospitals kept functioning and also did not insist on COVID-19 tests for every patient needing medical care.

In a letter to state chief secretaries, Union health secretary Preeti Sudan said that the Centre had received reports that many private hospitals were hesitating in providing critical services such as dialysis, blood transfusion, chemotherapy and institutional deliveries even to their regular patients either due to fear of the staff contracting COVID-19 or because they were not functioning.

“For patients who need critical services, it must be ensured all health facilities continue to be functional,” she said.

(Source: The Times of India)

4. Plasma Therapy Is Not a Proven Treatment: Govt

Doctors helping fight coronavirus. Image for representation
Doctors helping fight coronavirus. Image for representation
(Photo: PTI)

Plasma therapy, increasingly being seen as a magic bullet to cure critically ill COVID-19 patients, should only be done as a trial, and with all requisite approvals, and not as a regular line of treatment, according to the Union health ministry.

The therapy involves transfusion of antibody-rich plasma, a component of blood, from recovered patients of COVID-19 into those who are critically ill with the disease.

Hospitals across several states have applied for permission to the Indian Council of Medical Research (ICMR) for permission to start plasma therapy. As of Tuesday night, there were 7,761 recovered patients in India, some of whom have already donated plasma. On 14 April, Max Healthcare’s Saket hospital, which had permission on compassionate grounds, used plasma therapy on a COVID-19 patient in one of the first such instances in the country.

(Source: Hindustan Times)

5. Maharashtra OKs HCQ for Contacts, Govt Panel Advises Caution in Use for Patients

Representational image.
Representational image.
(Photo: iStockphoto)

The Maharashtra government has said in a new circular that hydroxychloroquine (HCQ) may be administered to all high-risk contacts of confirmed COVID-19 patients, and those admitted to quarantine centres.

It has also recommended that the drug be administered, after obtaining consent, to all health workers, nurses, and frontline workers, including those working in COVID care centres, COVID health facilities, and dedicated COVID hospitals in the state.

With this, it appears that the state government has shelved a controversial earlier plan to administer the prophylactic to all residents of containment zones within Dharavi and other areas, and is now recommending it for contacts of confirmed cases, and frontline workers, in line with ICMR guidelines.

(Source: The Indian Express)

6. In a First for Mumbai, BMC Will Try out Cluster Containment

An exodus began in Mumbai and Pune due to the COVID-19 outbreak.
An exodus began in Mumbai and Pune due to the COVID-19 outbreak.
(Photo: AP/Rajanish Kakade)

The BMC, in a first for the city, is embarking on a cluster containment strategy to meet the COVID-19 challenge. As the number of coronavirus patients has continued to increase in parts of Kurla, Chunabhatti and Saki Naka, all of which fall under the L ward, civic officials say they will seal large areas around containment zones in such parts of the ward to arrest cluster spread of the virus.

People living in such sealed clusters will not be allowed to leave and entry to outsiders will be prohibited till everyone in the cluster is tested for COVID-19. Till early evening on Tuesday, the total number of COVID-19 patients reported from the ward was 391, including 30 deaths.

(Source: The Times of India)

7. UP Begins Task for Return of 1 Million Stranded Migrants

A group of migrant workers on the NH24 near Delhi-UP border.
A group of migrant workers on the NH24 near Delhi-UP border.
(Photo: PTI)

Uttar Pradesh has embarked on a mammoth exercise involving thousands of buses, and which could last up to two weeks, to bring back 1 million of its residents, mostly migrant workers, stuck in other states since 25 March, when a national lockdown was enforced to fight the spread of COVID-19, officials familiar with the plan said.

The lockdown is scheduled to end on 3 May, but there is no clarity on whether the exit will be total and if rail services will run soon after. Indications from a meeting of the Prime Minister with chief ministers on Monday are that districts with a cluster of a higher number of COVID-19 cases will continue to be locked down.

(Source: Hindustan Times)

8. Religious Freedom: USCIRF Report Downgrades India for ‘Violations’

Representational image. 
Representational image. 
(Photo: iStockphoto)

Stressing that religious freedom conditions in India experienced a “drastic turn downward” with religious minorities under “increasing assault” in 2019, the United States Commission on International Religious Freedom (USCIRF) on Tuesday asked the US government to classify India as a “country of particular concern”, along with other countries like Pakistan, North Korea, China and Saudi Arabia.

This is the first time since 2004 – which was in the backdrop of the Gujarat riots of 2002 – that USCIRF has recommended that India be designated as a “Country of Particular Concern”.

The Indian government, as expected, rejected the observations in the report and said that its “biased and tendentious” comments against India are “not new”, but on this occasion “its misrepresentation has reached new levels”.

(Source: The Indian Express)

9. 7.4 L Withdraw an Additional Rs 2,300 Cr From EPF in 1 Month

 Image used for representational purpose. 
Image used for representational purpose. 
(Photo: Reuters)

Around 7.4 lakh EPFO subscribers have tapped their provident fund accounts to withdraw close to Rs 2,368 crore in the last one month, using a special window created due to the COVID-19 lockdown.

Under the special facility, a non-refundable withdrawal of three months’ salary or up to 75 percent of the balance in a subscriber’s account (whichever is less) has been provided.

In all, EPFO has settled 12.9 lakh claims (including those related to the special scheme) with the amount adding up to Rs 4,685 crore, it said in a statement. So, more than half the value of claims settled was on account of the special facility, while the number of such claims was nearly 57 percent of the overall settlement.

(Source: The Times of India)

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