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Fatality rate touches 3.2% with 65% male and 35% female patients; average doubling rate stands at 11%

India reported 1,823 new COVID-19 cases in the last 24 hours, taking the total number of cases to 33,610 on Thursday with 8,373 recoveries. An additional 71 deaths have now taken the total number of fatalities to 1,074.

The deaths since Wednesday include 32 from Maharashtra, 16 from Gujarat, 11 from Madhya Pradesh and three from Uttar Pradesh, the Union Health Ministry said.

According to Ministry data, the highest number of confirmed cases in the country are from Maharashtra at 9,915, followed by Gujarat at 4,082, Delhi at 3,439, Madhya Pradesh at 2,660, Rajasthan at 2,438, Uttar Pradesh at 2,203 and Tamil Nadu at 2,162. The number has gone up to 1,403 in Andhra Pradesh and 1,012 in Telangana.

The country is currently recording a total recovery rate of 25.19% up from 13% about two weeks ago, the Ministry said.

Co-morbidities in 78%

Giving details on the percentage of deaths in various age groups, the Ministry said India has a case fatality rate of 3.2% currently which is 65% male and 35% female. The death rate is less than 14% in persons under 45, 34.8% in the 45-60 age group. Co-morbidities were found in 78% of COVID-19 fatalities, Joint Secretary in the Health Ministry Luv Agarwal sadi at the daily press briefing.

He added that case fatality for those over 60 years is 51.2% which includes 42% for those between 60-75 years. For those above 75 years the rate is 9.2%.

The Ministry added that analysis of doubling rate across the country has revealed that the national average is 11 days presently as compared to 3.4 days before lockdown.

States/UTs having doubling rate between 11 and 20 days include Delhi, Uttar Pradesh, J&K, Odisha, Rajasthan, Tamil Nadu and Punjab. Those having doubling rate between 20 days to 40 days are Karnataka, Ladakh, Haryana, Uttarakhand and Kerala.

Assam, Telangana, Chattisgarh, and Himachal Pradesh have a doubling rate of more than 40 days, as per data released by the Health Ministry.

Data from State Health Departments reported a nationwide death toll of 1,150 with 34,789 overall and 24,647 active cases.

The Ministry said no health facility should prescribe additional COVID-19 testing for non-COVID patients, causing unwanted delay in treatment for critical patients, and that testing should be as per the protocol issued by the Health Ministry.

“States are advised to ensure that all health facilities, especially in the private sector, remain functional and provide critical services so that such patients who need these critical services do not face any difficulty. States are also informed that it is noticed that many hospitals in the private sector are hesitant to provide critical services like dialysis, blood transfusion, chemotherapy and institutional deliveries to their regular patients, which is not acceptable,” said Mr. Agarwal.

Post-lockdown steps

Replying to a question on the Ministry’s recommendation to end the lockdown, Mr. Agarwal said: “We have to ensure that physical distancing becomes a norm so that the chain of transmission is broken; equally important are containment measures for the disease.”

The Ministry reiterated that as of now there is no confirmed treatment protocol for COVID-19 and that Remdesivir is one protocol which is being examined.

“There is no conclusive study to prove its effectiveness and we are waiting for larger evidence to take meaningful action. We have, however, issued a detailed advisory on the use of hydroxychloroquine as prophylaxis 19 and availability of HCQ is being ensured,” Mr. Agarwal said.

Meeting held despite members requesting for postponement

The committee said the design should be in sync with the existing building. PTI

The government’s plan to construct a new Parliament building was approved by the Central Vista Committee at a meeting on April 23 with the suggestion that the design be “in sync” with the existing Parliament House, according to the minutes of the meeting sent to its members on Thursday.

The committee, which is chaired by Central Public Works Department (CPWD) Additional Director-General (Works) Anant Kumar, met through videoconferencing. None of the non-government members from the Indian Institute of Architects (IIA) and the Institute of Town Planners was in attendance.

“It is placed for record here with that some members, through email, expressed their inability to join the meeting on grounds of travel restrictions in view of COVID-19 and owing to lack of technical capacity at their end to join online web-based conference facility,” the minutes stated.

These members had requested for the meeting to be postponed, “however, keeping in view the importance of the project in nation’s interest and time scale for its implementation the meeting was held as per issued meeting notice”, the minutes said.

The “proposed new Parliament building at Plot No.118, New Delhi” was the only item on the agenda. The item was submitted by Ashwani Mittal, CPWD Executive Engineer for the project, for the committee’s consideration. Mr. Mittal then invited the architect of the project, Bimal Patel of the Ahmedabad-based HCP Design, Planning and Management, to present the proposal through videoconferencing.

After Mr. Patel presented the proposal, the panel gave its observation of “no objection, with suggestions that the features of the proposed Parliament building should be in sync with the existing Parliament building.”

Balbir Verma, a representative of the IIA on the committee, said the meeting took place despite “all non-government experts from the IIA and the Institute of Town Planners asking for a postponement and having the meeting after the conditions of movement are eased.”

Sharper contraction likely in IIP

Output at India’s core sector contracted by 6.5% in March, Commerce Ministry data show, reflecting the early impact of the COVID-19 pandemic and the subsequent nationwide lockdown.

The index of eight core sector industries, which form 40% of the weight of items included in the broader Index of Industrial Production (IIP), reflected a contraction in key parts of the economy in March, according to the data released on Thursday.

Analysts warned that the core sector data signalled a much sharper contraction in the wider IIP, especially in April, as several core sector industries were actually exempted from the lockdown.

Steel declines 13%

Leading the contraction at the core industries were a 13% decline in steel output, and a 7% fall in electricity generation. The two sectors account for almost 40% of the index. Cement production crashed 25%, while natural gas production slid 15%, the data showed. Fertiliser production also fell 12%, while crude oil production slipped 5.5%.

Coal was the only core sector which saw some growth, with output up 4%. The largest component of the index — refinery production — also dipped by only 0.5%.

Both the products have been in circulation for centuries and are important to their native cultures

Expertly crafted: Gorakhpur has a centuries-old tradition of terracotta art.T. SingaravelouT. Singaravelou

Chak-Hao, which is a black rice variety of Manipur, and Gorakhpur terracotta have bagged the Geogrphical Indication (GI) tag.

Chinnaraja G. Naidu, Deputy Registrar, Geographical Indications, confirmed that the GI tag had been given for the two products on Thursday.

The application for Chak-Hao was filed by the Consortium of Producers of Chak-Hao (Black Rice), Manipur and was facilitated by the Department of Agriculture, Government of Manipur and the North Eastern Regional Agricultural Marketing Corporation Limited (NERAMAC).

In the case of Gorakhpur terracotta, the application was filed by Laxmi Terracotta Murtikala Kendra in Uttar Pradesh.

Chak-Hao, a scented glutinous rice which has been in cultivation in Manipur over centuries, is characterised by its special aroma. It is normally eaten during community feasts and is served as Chak-Hao kheer.

Chak-Hao has also been used by traditional medical practitioners as part of traditional medicine. According to the GI application filed, this rice takes the longest cooking time of 40-45 minutes due to the presence of a fibrous bran layer and higher crude fibre content.

At present, the traditional system of Chak-Hao cultivation is practised in some pockets of Manipur. Direct sowing of pre-soaked seeds and also transplantation of rice seedlings raised in nurseries in puddled fields are widely practised in the State’s wetlands.

The terracotta work of Gorakhpur is a centuries-old traditional art form, where the potters make various animal figures like, horses, elephants, camel, goat and ox with hand-applied ornamentation.

Some of the major products of craftsmanship include the Hauda elephants, Mahawatdar horse, deer, camel, five-faced Ganesha, singled-faced Ganesha, elephant table, chandeliers and hanging bells.

India needs 20 to 25 lakh pieces of personal protective equipment a day for workers fighting COVID-19

Stay safe: People wearing protective suits at an awareness campaign in New Delhi. Reuters

With India needing an estimated 25 lakh units of Personal Protective Equipment (PPE) every day, experts and scientists have highlighted the need for their proper disposal, treatment and recycling to safeguard the environment. These PPEs have given a new lease of life to plastic, which was facing severe scrutiny across the world on environmental grounds.

Even India had banned single-use plastic to protect the environment, and today except a few, no one seems to be complaining.

Since the COVID-19 outbreak, plastic items such as PPE suits, masks, gloves, sanitiser, handwash and water bottles, and shoes and head cover have been the only protective shield for the front-line workers.

Participating in a discussion, K.K Aggarwal, former president, Indian Medical Association, and president, Confederation of Medical Associations of Asia and Oceania, said currently medical workers needed protective gear which were made from an impermeable and non-porous material such as plastic to avoid COVID-19 infection.

Hence masks, gloves, protective shield for eyes and face, head and shoe cover, and apron made from plastics were used since impermeable material stopped virus-containing droplets from touching the skin.

“Also the virus stays on the outer surface of the protective gear. It is also essential that healthcare workers change their personal protective equipment every 8 hours, and regularly decontaminate the hospital,” Dr. Aggarwal said.

“Currently, 40 lakh health workers are fighting against COVID-19 . We need 20 to 25 lakh protective equipment every day to protect the workers from the infection,” he said.

Ashok K Agarwal, President, Indian Association for Hospital Waste Management and former Dean, IIHMR, New Delhi, said the improper handling and disposal of medical waste could put healthcare workers at a higher risk of infection. “All biomedical waste needs to be disposed of in colour coded categories — yellow, red, white and blue — as per the guidelines stipulated in the Biomedical Waste Management Rules 2016 and by the Central Pollution Control Board,” he said.

“These guidelines must be followed studiously to contain coronavirus infection. The government should ensure the availability of plastic garbage/disposal bags in hospitals, quarantined places and general households, so the waste can be collected and treated (medical waste) or recycled (general waste),” he added.

According to Vijay Habbu, Adjunct Professor, Institute of Chemical Technology, the protective equipment such as masks, gloves, PPEs and plastic bags/bottles used while delivering essentials such as grains, oil, water must not be carelessly thrown away.

“They must be properly disposed of so they can be treated/recycled. The earth is healing itself; it is an ideal time to cut down on non-ecofriendly human practices such as littering and utilise this time to strengthen the plastic waste management ecosystem in India,” he said.

Dr. Habbu said that scientifically all types of plastic products/equipment were recyclable and every Indian citizen must know this fact.

“The responsibility to ensure proper disposal of waste and source segregation is on every Indian citizen, it will prevent the highly hazardous practice of waste dumping in landfills/waste bodies and help in keeping our earth clean and green,” he said.

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