Covid-19: Govt reviews preparedness

Spl. Correspondent/Agencies NEW DELHI/MUMBAI, MAR 17 (NPN) | Publish Date: 3/17/2020 11:57:39 AM IST

States along Intl borders asked to deploy doctors 24/7, provide kits

Centre on Tuesday asked states, including Nagaland, along the International borders to ensure round the clock deployment of doctors with requisite testing kits and other medical supplies, so that hundred percent screening was done without fail.

This was conveyed by Union Home secretary Ajay Bhalla during a video conference with chief secretaries/addl. chief secretaries and DGPs/additional DGs of Uttar Pradesh, Uttarakhand, Bihar, West Bengal, Sikkim, Assam, Arunachal Pradesh, Mizoram, Manipur, Tripura, Nagaland and Meghalaya, besides secretary border management and DGs of BSF, SSB and Assam Rifles.

Bhalla was reviewing the level of preparedness to contain Coronavirus threat, with states bordering Nepal, Bhutan, Bangladesh and Myanmar.

During the video conferencing, Centre was also briefed that regular screenings were being done by doctors at various transit points and those living in border areas have been sensitized about precautionary measures to be taken to avoid getting infected by the virus.

India reports 3rd COVID-19 death; 137 cases

India on Tuesday reported its third coronavirus fatality with a 63-year-old dying in Mumbai, Health Ministry officials said as the number of positive cases rose sharply to 137 and more parts of the country shut down to stem the spread of infection.

The government, which on Monday banned entry of passengers from EU countries, Turkey and the UK from March 18 till March 31, also closed its doors to those from Afghanistan, the Philippines and Malaysia with immediate effect.

Unheard of till just a few days ago, ‘social distancing’ was the buzz-term as public spaces, including monuments such as the Taj Mahal, shut down and many thousands of people prepared to spend the next few days confined to home, working or studying online.

The Mumbai patient with a travel history to Dubai is the first COVID-19 death in Maharashtra, which has the most number of coronavirus cases at 39, officials said.

The Maharashtra patient, whose wife also tested positive and is stable, was in a private hospital for five days and subsequently referred to Mumbai’s Kasturba Hospital, officials said. He reportedly did not disclose his travel history when he was admitted to the private hospital. 

Maharashtra Health Minister Rajesh Tope said the exact cause behind his death is being ascertained as he was also suffering from various ailments.

The 137 positive cases, 23 more since Monday night, have been reported from 15 states and union territories. The number includes 24 foreign nationals. 

Males may be more vulnerable to COVID-19: AIIMS director

IANS Adds: As new cases of the novel coronavirus (COVID-19) rise in the country, with 137 people testing positive for the virus and three deaths, the medical community is observing the growing trends as it prepares to combat any eventuality.

Director of All India Institute of Medical Sciences (AIIMS) Delhi, Randeep Guleria told IANS that from the data that the medical community has studied so far it appears males are more prone to get the infection rather than females.

“It is a new strain of the coronavirus. You will not get it from your pet, you will not pass it to your pet. It has mutated to infect humans. And immunity against this particular strain of the virus is not found in humans. “One interesting trend is also it has occurred more in men compared to women,” said Guleria, as a study in Wuhan also revealed that the virus might be affecting people with A type blood.

The AIIMS chief said that the reason for such trend was still unknown. “I don’t know if it is women’s immunity system that is protecting them or which may be better than males.

“The data that has come from China, shows that people who have severe illness are more men than women,” he added.

He also cautioned that it is still premature to be certain about all such facts because the health community is still in the process of collecting relevant data.

Talking about the ‘Herd immunity theory’ that the UK has reportedly adopted to contain the disease, Guleria said that although a few countries are adopting ‘herd immunity’ theory but the consequences may be very drastic.

Herd immunity means that 60 per cent of the population which is healthier and at lesser risk, the country allows them to get the infection and recover from their own immunity.

“Countries should adopt such policies with caution because there is a risk that mortality rate can spike and can put a strain on the health infrastructure of the country.

“As far as our country is concerned, we are on the right track in containing the disease,” he said, adding “suppose we allow a healthy person to get the infection, he may recover but can spread the infection to his elderly parents. Therefore such policies should be adopted with a lot of caution.”

Talking about chances of pregnant women transmitting the virus to their babies, Guleria said there was less data available regarding that.

“Pregnant women have not been considered in the higher risk group as per the data available so far. But there are chances of intrauterine growth-retarded infant which is commonly defined as one weighing less or chances of abortion may increase.

Rebutting the myth that drinking alcohol or doing gargles with it could help save from the infection as is being widely spread on social media, Guleria said “drinking alcohol or doing gargle with it is by no means helpful in saving oneself from the infection”.

“When we rub our hands with alcohol-based sanitizer the virus becomes ineffective but once it enters our cells, it multiplies itself and alcohol cannot kill it. Rather drinking too much alcohol will weaken the immunity and there are more chances of getting the infection in that case,” said Guleria.


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