Here’s a round-up of insightful articles on the coronavirus crisis from across Indian publications — from the impact of the pandemic on the tourism industry, to the cost-benefit analysis of extending the nationwide lockdown, a crumbling world order, and whether you should add gloves to your daily outfits.
An ‘avalanche’ awaits us: In an interview, renowned virologist Dr T Jacob John, explains how the central and state governments in India are not testing enough for Covid-19. He also warns that an ‘avalanche’ of cases awaits the country. He explains that when a test has to be rationed, the judgement is tactical (or strategic) for how much public health testing, and someone professional (statistical expert) ought to decide. Read his full interview here.
Citizens Under Lockdown
Women’s safety during lockdown: At the time of the Covid-19 pandemic, the United Nations recognises domestic violence against women as a “shadow pandemic”. The Covid-19 pandemic has triggered a huge spike in domestic violence against women in China, Australia, France, the UK, Spain, and Bangladesh, among others. In India, too, the National Commission for Women has reported a large increase in distress calls from victims of domestic violence since the pandemic broke out. Read more here.
What employers don’t know about employee monitoring: Should those who are working from home (WFH) be reimbursed for telephone and internet costs? Can we reduce working hours with proportionate salary reductions? Many processes need wet signatures. What is the risk with moving it to digital? Monitoring people at work from home is something employers are thinking about. Read here to understand the economic costs, technical issues, legal implications and ethical aspects.
India cannot fight a pandemic with police lathis. It must ensure people have food – and dignity: With the novel coronavirus pandemic sweeping the globe, countries have closed down transport and economic activities to contain its spread. But India’s lockdown has been the harshest — with the public spending needed to soften the blow among the smallest in the world. The worst-affected are millions of Indians who live on subsistence-level wages. Casual labourers make up a third of the country’s workforce and have no social security to fall back on. Read this report to understand how we need to espouse dignity for each citizen and not force.
Bringing friend home in suitcase to ‘Corona cakes’: As India nears the end of the lockdown, and with the possibility of an extension looming, people across the country are finding new, quirky and some odd ways of dealing with the quarantine and self-isolation. In Mangalore, a teenage student was reportedly caught trying to sneak his friend into a residential complex by stuffing him in a suitcase. Ten foreigners were made to write ‘I did not follow the lockdown rules, I am sorry’ 500 times by the police for violating the Covid-19 lockdown rules. Read more such instances here.
India’s lockdown: The lockdown in India restricts 1.3 billion people from leaving their homes. Transport services are suspended, educational institutions are closed, and factories are shut down. The grim truth of Indian occupational structure and poverty, and you would likely predict what we now see: unending streams of migrants trying to find their way home, the fear of loss of all income, deep privations, and even hunger, starvation and death. If the first option of dealing with Covid-19 by imposing a complete lockdown accompanied by comprehensive state support is not possible, we must think of alternatives. Here is an implementable option for India that would open a lifeline for the poor.
Job loss looms over millions as Covid-19 brings tourism to a standstill: The country’s travel and tourism sector, more dependent than others on the free and confident movement of people, is staring at millions of disappearing jobs and a grey future. As a result of the lockdown, with no travel possible, the tourism industry is being “badly hit”, a government press release said on April 10. Read here to understand the entire picture of what the pandemic has meant for the tourism industry in India.
Any decision on extending coronavirus lockdown must be based on extreme circumspection, realistic cost-benefit analysis: Lockdowns can indeed reduce mortality rates by flattening the infection curve, thereby ensuring an even distribution of cases. But much depends on how effectively we are able to use the intervening time available — to train personnel as well as procure the requisite devices, supplies and protective equipment, among other things. Can India afford an extension, seeing the costs so far? What are the trade-offs involved? Read more to understand.
Covid-19 and the crumbling world order: The contemporary global order, whatever remains of the institutions created by the victors of World War II, was a hegemonic exercise meant to deal with isolated political and military crises and not serve humanity at large. Read about how the Covid-19 has exposed this as well as the worst nativist tendencies of the global leadership in the face of a major crisis.
Why was coronavirus containment successful in Bhilwara? While releasing a containment plan for the coronavirus outbreak, the Union government lauded the ‘Bhilwara model’. This Rajasthani region is considered to have adopted the most successful strategy to deal with the coronavirus outbreak in a hotspot. Read here to understand what it entails.
Andaman & Nicobar has started conducting ‘pool tests’ for Covid-19: This is a first in the country. Five samples per testing kit — that’s what a “pool test” has looked like in the Andaman & Nicobar Islands in the past 10 days. Rest of resource-poor India might follow suit. Read more here.
Is Hydroxychloroquine making Covid-19 clinical trials harder? Clinical trials of various Covid-19 treatments are ongoing — and the FDA has ramped up its capacity to approve new studies. But researchers are grappling with an overarching concern that with so much off-label, ad hoc, and informal experimentation underway in the battle to contain the pandemic, the baseline conditions needed for decisive studies of Covid-19 interventions are becoming more challenging to achieve. Read here to understand what they are.
Why ‘false negative’ coronavirus tests are a concern: In Pune, a woman in her sixties tested negative, then fell critically ill with the infection three or four days later, and subsequently died. Are these fresh infections? Doctors do not rule out the possibility that these patients had not rid themselves of the virus in the first place, but the virus didn’t show up in the tests. This is called “false negative”. Read here to understand what that means.
Besides face cover, should I wear gloves when I go outdoors? Masks, it was said initially, were not necessary unless you were a Covid-19 patient, a healthcare worker or someone cleaning an environment that might have had such patients in them. Now that health authorities in India, as well as the US, have recommended that everyone going out should use a face cover, does that work for gloves too? No, the previous advisory stands. Read the reasoning for this.