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India coronavirus dispatch: Why heart surgeries have got scaled back

  • June 01, 2020

Here is a selection of important Covid-19-related articles in Indian news publications. From the informal Indian economy in the time of a pandemic, to making cities liveable for migrants after lockdown, and why Mumbai is still struggling to cope with coronavirus — read these and more in today’s India dispatch.

Expert Speak

Migrant labourers are the most disenfranchised invisible citizens: For a majority of migrant labourers, migration is either a livelihood accumulation strategy or survival risk-reducing strategy, whichever way we define the nature of migration. Migration studies also confirm that migrant labourers are the most exploited and disenfranchised invisible citizens. Read this interview with political scientist Ashwani Kumar, whose forthcoming co-edited book Migration and Mobility is to be out soon. Kumar speaks on migration, inter-state workers and amendment to the Inter-State Migrant Workers Act, 1979. Read more here

Managing Covid-19

Govt would have done well to heed experts: In their second joint statement, a Covid-19 task force of the Indian Public Health Association (IPHA), Indian Association of Preventive and Social Medicine (IAPSM) and Indian Association of Epidemiologists (IAE) has stated that the current situation in India with regard to the coronavirus cases could have been avoided if migrant workers had been allowed to go home before a lockdown was imposed. Read more here

Why Mumbai is still struggling to cope with coronavirus: Hospital wards have corpses left unattended in hallways. Patients are asked to sleep on the floor until beds open up. A woman with brain damage dies because she is refused medical help until her family would prove she is virus-free. The public healthcare system in Mumbai, epicentre of India’s worsening coronavirus outbreak, is overwhelmed as Covid-19 patients pour in and hospital staff work around the clock. Medical care for non-coronavirus patients has basically been shut off for lack of resources. Read more here

Delhi pvt hospitals charging huge PPE fees, say patients; within norms, claim hospitals: Many Covid-19 patients in Delhi have complained that private hospitals are charging them an “exorbitant” fee for the personal protective equipment (PPE) worn by their doctors and healthcare workers. Hospitals, on the other hand, are defending the PPE fees, saying it is “as per industry standards and global norms”. Read more here


Rethinking migration and the informal Indian economy in the time of a pandemic: With the formal organised industry employing as many as one half or more of employees with a casual or informal status, it proved opportune for enterprises in factories, construction sites and other labour-intensive activities to make use of migrants in their cost-cutting exercises.

Remaining migrants, not absorbed in the formal or informal workplaces, continued as self-employed in capacities ranging from vendors to shop-keepers at low levels of remunerations. On the whole, presence of the rural migrants benefitted the urban economy by providing cheap labour to factories and cheap services to households. Read more here

Citizens Under Lockdown

Ongoing crisis may push adolescent girls into early marriage or work: Experts emphasise that girls are worse affected than boys when a family faces huge setbacks and income losses, as millions of poor Indian families are currently, due to the surging pandemic, lockdown and economic downturn. Apart from losing access to nutritious food, sanitary pads and schooling during the lockdown, girls stand at a higher risk now of being pushed into early marriage and child labour, and being trafficked. Read more here

After the lockdown lifts, we need to make cities liveable for migrants: When the Covid-19 crisis slows and the economy reopens, informal (unregistered) businesses that employ a large share of migrants and drive urban GDP will have to reopen. How will they do so without a boost from the government? Migration will also have to resume. But when will it be safe for migrants to recommence their loop from the villages to cities, and back again? Government action is needed to rebuild these critical links and avoid mass impoverishment. First, addressing the needs of labour for the informal sector, and second, providing capital to revive the sector. Read more here

Understanding Covid-19

New study suggests SARS-CoV-2 may be detected using a ‘naked eye’ test: Scientists at the University of Maryland School of Medicine (UMSOM) have developed an experimental diagnostic test for Covid-19 that can visually detect the presence of SARS-CoV-2 in 10 minutes. The development comes as the number of cases of the virus continues to rise even as governments of many countries have started loosening restrictions on their residents. With relatively free movement, the chances of the infection spreading are greater. So, tests that can deliver results as quickly, like this naked-eye test, may be crucial in containing the spread of the disease. Read more here

How Covid has led to scaling back of heart surgeries: As the novel coronavirus spread, hospitals worldwide scaled back medical procedures, including life-saving heart surgeries. Two recent articles examine how cardiac surgery centres have been impacted by the Covid-19 pandemic, and how they can resume operations in this new environment. Read more here

ICMR to review ‘wonder’ drug combo used to treat Covid patients in Bangladesh: The Indian Council of Medical Research (ICMR), the country’s apex medical research body, is reviewing the benefits of drugs ivermectin and doxycycline as potential therapy for Covid-19. The combination of these two drugs has been hailed by doctors in Bangladesh for yielding “astounding results”. Read more here

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