With less than a week left for the lockdown to come to an end, Covid-19 cases near the 30,000 mark, report today’s newspapers.
They also note new guidelines from the Home Ministry that allow home isolation for mild Covid-19 cases.
Financial papers remark on India Inc’s push for opening up the economy fearing an “imminent depression”.
The Times of India leads with the Centre’s message to states: Ensure the functioning of private hospitals. ‘In can’t insist on Covid test…’ it reports that Union health secretary Preeti Sudan “said that the Centre had received reports that many private hospitals were hesitating in providing critical services…even to their regular patients” out of fear.
Meanwhile, 9 out of 11 districts in Delhi have been declared a red zone, which according to Union health minister Harsh Vardhan is “extremely worrying”. According to the TOI report ‘No green zone in Delhi…’ officials in Delhi are also struggling with a delay in testing results.
Also noteworthy is the report, ‘Plasma therapy not approved…’ that carries the Centre’s clarification that plasma therapy is yet to be approved as it is still in the trial phase. The report notes that the “announcement came as a surprise to private hospitals” that have been using this therapy “on patients needing enhanced respiratory support”.
The grim news continues as TOI notes that the number of cases have surged by a record 1,840 cases and 69 deaths in one day. The highest daily death toll of 31 was recorded in Maharashtra.
The Indian Express is a little more optimistic: ‘Last week of lockdown…fewer hotspot districts now…’ It says the number of hotspot districts now stand at 129 from the previous 177. Express, however, notes that “the disease has spread to more districts”.
Also, an exclusive report notes that ventilators are required in only 80 of 21,632 active cases. The report cites Health Ministry’s data, according to which 2.17 per cent of patients have been admitted in the Intensive Care Unit (ICU), 1.29 per cent required oxygen support and 0.36 per cent were on ventilators
There’s a heart-wrenching story, ‘35-year-old travels 14 days…’ about a 35-year-old daily wager who walked or hitch-hiked for 1,500 km from Mumbai to Uttar Pradesh’s Shravasti district. Insaf Ali died within hours of reaching his Mathkanwa village.
The anchor story ‘In Mumbai, a quarantine model under the dome…’ describes an isolation facility that has been built at the National Sports Club of India in Worli aka the Dome. The Express reports that the dome “is equipped with a ‘contactless’ sample collection facility and diagnostic ‘self-clinic'”
Hindustan Times focuses on the drastic spike in the number of cases — ‘Covid cases climb to 31,000…’ while fatalities have exceeded 1,000. A grim detail to consider — “The latest 10,000 infections came over a period of 7 days — a day less than it had for the tally to go from 10,000 to 20,000”.
However, a vaccine might soon be on the way. The small yet important report, ‘Oxford vaccine shows promise…’ confirms that animal trials for a candidate vaccine by the Jenner Institute and Oxford Vaccine Group showed promising results.
Read the report on the mammoth exercise the Uttar Pradesh government has embarked upon to bring back 1 million of its residents, “mostly migrant workers stuck in other states”. In ‘UP begins task for return of 1 million stranded migrants’, HT reports that chief minister Yogi Adityanath has ordered that shelters and quarantine centres be set up in each district to house 15,000 to 25,000 people.
Mumbai Mirror focuses on the Brihanmumbai Municipal Corporation’s “battle strategy” as the civic body “acquired three more hospitals in Asia’s largest slum cluster”. The report notes that “work has also begun at the MMRDA ground at Bandra-Kurla Complex (BKC) to create a 1,000-bed isolation facility for Covid-19 patients in Dharavi”.
The New Indian Express leads with ‘Policy shift..’ that reports the Health Ministry’s new guidelines for home isolation of people with “very mild case or pre-symptomatic case” of Covid-19. Apart from regularly informing authorities of their health status, patients and “all close contacts…should take Hydroxychloroquine as a preventive medication … as prescribed by the treating medical officer”, the report adds.
The daily almost boasts about Tamil Nadu’s Covid-19 testing rate in a brief report. ‘TN testing rate is double national average’ says the state is “conducting tests of 694 people per million of its population as compared to the national average of 363”.
That said, another report finds “a worrisome development” in “8 children among fresh cases in TN”. It reports that all eight children are below the age of 10 years, “with a five year old baby girl being the youngest”.
In a follow-up to the global oil crash last week, the paper notes that “crude oil prices could slip into negative territory again”. In an anchor story, “Nervousness back in oil market amid fears of negative prices”, it reports “…the pandemic has reduced demand by oil close to a third”.
In its lead `Count nears 30K…’, The Tribune calls the Health Ministry’s new guidelines “a major relaxation to the existing quarantine norms which require all suspected (awaiting test results) and confirmed cases of Covid-19 to be isolated in a hospital setting.” The report says the development comes amid a strained health infrastructure and “disease containment showing some positive signs”, but also that the national count for coronavirus cases is nearing 30,000 – 29,973 to be exact.
In a confusingly titled report ‘ADB okays $2.1 billion’, the paper reports the Asian Development Bank’s announcement of a $1.5 billion loan each to India, Philippines and Indonesia. Is it $2.1 or 1.5 billion? Either way, it’s the second handout for India after recently securing “a $1 billion commitment from the World Bank”, notes the report.
It’s been awhile since the Congress played opposition. The daily reports in ‘Cong: Rs 68K-cr defaulters’ loan waived, why?’ that the party has “accused the government of waiving outstanding loans worth Rs. 68,607 crore of top 50 defaulters” and “demanded answers from the PM”. The report singles out Mehul Chokshi and Jatin Mehta among the top three defaulters.
Mint expands on the possibility of a vaccine being soon available, in “rare good news”. In “Vaccine offers glint of hope”, its notes Serum Institute of India’s partnership with Oxford University which aims to have “a promising under-trial covid-19 vaccine” ready by September-October. A whopping 1,110 people will take part in the trial for the “vaccine candidate called ChAdOx1 nCoV-19” which is made from “a weakened version of a common cold virus (adenovirus)”, it reports.
The paper observes how more and more countries are pointing the finger at China. It reports: “Australia and the European Union were the latest voices to join the US, France, Germany and Britain in calling for an international enquiry” into the spread of the Covid-19 pandemic. Meanwhile, China has been trying to improve its global reputation by sending medical supplies, testing kits, …[and] doctors to countries across the world”, it adds.
As economic concerns mount, Business Standard notes the corporate world’s frustrations. In its lead ‘India Inc wants govt to shift focus to economy’, it reports that CEOs of top companies, like Anand Mahindra, ITC Chairman Sanjiv Puri and JSW Group chairman Sajjan Jindal, have warned of an “imminent depression”. The report adds: They have “suggested that firms must learn to work in “new normal” conditions, with a Covid-19 vaccine still some time away”.
In other grim news, India’s airline industry “is going for a second round of cuts during the nationwide lockdown”. In ‘Airlines go for cuts again as grounding may extend’, it reports that GoAir and SpiceJet are minimising operations, “doing away with allowances and reducing work hours”.