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COVID-19 Lockdown 2.0 – Indian Economy And Social Life Under Threat

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Socioeconomic Burden And Indian Lockdown

On April 14, during a televised address, Prime Minister Narendra Modi said “I salute all you citizens,” thanking Indians for their support in the fight against the virus, while extending the lockdown till May 3.

India reported 10,477 active cases and 414 deaths as on April 16.

Under the lockdown, only essential businesses – such as groceries and pharmacies – are allowed to remain open. City transport services are limited to emergency staff and those with special travel passes. All trains and flights have been suspended.

While announcing the extension Prime Minister said that the rules could tighten further over the next week, but he did not give more details. He said the government would issue “guidelines” soon.

He stated that some restrictions in areas further away from infection hotspots would be eased on April 20, to help poor, migrant workers, daily-wage workers and farmers.

As per his speech till April 20, every nook and corner of the nation would be under strict surveillance to make sure the virus is contained to the maximum.

Once the area is free from the virus that is successful in this test can enjoy relaxation from the restriction.

According to official records, South Asian nations have so far been comparatively unscathed by the pandemic.

However, with India having some of the most crowded cities on the planet, there are concerns that numbers could skyrocket and overwhelm its unstable healthcare systems.

Some experts have also claimed that India has not conducted enough tests and that the true picture is yet to come out.

The economic and social cost of Indian Lockdown

India’s crushing lockdown has already caused economic disruption and social distress.

It has hurt the economy immensely. According to various independent assessments, joblessness has risen sharply. As per the World Bank, the already stumbling economy of India is now expected to grow between 1.5-2.8 per cent in 2020-21 – well below the level needed to provide jobs for the millions coming into the labour market every month.

Migrant workers, the backbone of crucial service industries, have either fled their shuttered workplaces or are stranded in homeless centres in cities. The thriving informal economy is in tatters.

The accessibility of necessities like food, medicine and emergency medical care for non-COVID-19 patients has become difficult for the poor.

Even after facing all these fallouts, lifting the lockdown amidst increasing positive cases was out of the option. Nonetheless, the extension of lockdown beyond May will distress the economy as well as the livelihood of the people.

Some key economic activity – farming, transportation of goods, wholesale markets, essential gig economy services – has to reopen by following social distancing and hygiene protocols.

As announced by Prime Minister, the Union Home Ministry on April 15, had released guidelines detailing on economic activities that that will be permitted after April 20, in certain areas keeping in view the interests of farmers and daily wage earners.

As per the guidelines, the economic activities that will be permitted are mostly related to the agricultural sector and job creation while strictly adhering to protocols in those areas where safety is paramount to contain the spread of COVID-19. State/UTs/district authorities will operationalise these based on compliance with existing guidelines. These will not be applicable to containment zones demarcated by respective states and UTs.

However, how far the relaxation can be brought about will depend on the success of the containment of the virus.

India’s Weaker section the worst hit

After the lockdown was announced on March 24, millions of migrants fleed to their villages, wherein some scummed to death on the way, while others were neglected by locals when they made it back to their villages.

Some have been stranded in cities in cramped, unsanitary conditions where the virus could spread quickly.

Every state is trying to do their best to feed these daily workers so that hunger might not overtake the pandemic.

On the one side, farmers are complaining about the lack of workers to harvest the winter crops, while on the other hand there aren’t enough transportation facilities to carry these crops to the markets.

COVID-19: Invisible assassin

Reserve Bank of India (RBI) Governor Shaktikanta Das called the novel coronavirus an “invisible assassin” that could desolate Asia’s third-biggest economy.

The national restaurants association of India, which said its members employed seven million people, warned on April 13, that there could be “social unrest” if it did not receive financial relief.

The commerce ministry has also reportedly urged the government to consider restarting more activities “with reasonable safeguards” even if the lockdown is extended.

Even before the pandemic, the Indian economy was sputtering with unemployment at its highest in decades. According to the Centre for Monitoring Indian Economy (CMIE) the urban unemployment rate was at 9.6 per cent, and rural stood at 7.8 per cent in August 2019

Prime Minister’s announcement came amid debates in countries around the world on how to lift restrictions while avoiding a spike in new infections.

World Health Organization chief Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus has warned against hastening reckless into lifting restrictions, emphasising that only a vaccine can entirely halt the spread.

Experts around the world are closely watching the virus’ spread in India, which has a population of 1.37 billion. They fear that the country – with its densely-populated cities and weak public health system – is especially vulnerable to the pandemic’s worst outcomes.

Unless the testing is increased an exact picture of India’s infected rate can’t be predicted. Thus the upcoming weeks are crucial as far as India is concerned to know how badly the pandemic has invaded into the population and how dangerously it has affected both economy and social life of people.

Founder @NewsAurChai & @RockShaftIND, | @NMIMS_India | Alumnus | Writer | Passionate Chai Drinker | Political Nerd | Traveller #Beingबंजारा | Optimist । Practical

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ओमिक्रॉन वैरिएंट के चलते भारत में स्थगित हुई अंतरराष्ट्रीय हवाई यात्रा

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Omicron | News Aur Chai | International Flight Ban

कोरोना वायरस के ओमिक्रॉन वैरिएंट के कारण भारत में पूर्व निर्धारित अंतरराष्ट्रीय विमान सेवाएं रोक दी गई हैं। सरकार की तरफ से पहले यह फैसला किया गया था कि 15 दिसंबर से अंतरराष्ट्रीय उड़ानों को शुरू किया जाएगा। लेकिन ओमिक्रोन के खतरे को मद्दे नज़र रखते हुए अब इस फैसले को टाल दिया गया है। यानी अब भारत में 15 दिसंबर से अंतरराष्ट्रीय उड़ानें शुरू नहीं हो पाएंगी। डायरेक्टोरेट जनरल ऑफ सिविल एविएशन की तरफ से कहा गया है कि वो अपने पूर्व के फैसले पर पुनर्विचार करेगें।

 प्रधानमंत्री नरेंद्र मोदी ने 27 नवंबर को ओमिक्रॉन को लेकर बैठक की थी और इसी दौरान 15 दिसंबर से अंतरराष्ट्रीय उड़ानें शुरू करने के फैसले पर पुनर्विचार करने को कहा गया था। प्रधानमंत्री ने विदेश से आने वाले लोगों की सख्त निगरानी करने की बात भी कही थी। ओमिक्रॉन के चलते हाल ही में सिक्किम ने विदेशी यात्रियों के आने-जाने पर रोक लगा दी है।

पिछले वर्ष कोरोना के चलते एहतियातन देश में नियमित अंतरराष्ट्रीय उड़ानें रद्द कर दी गई थी। हालांकि कुछ समय बाद कई देशों के साथ सीमित हवाई सेवा शुरू कर दी गई थी। ऐसा माना जा रहा था की इस बार क्रिसमस और नए साल की छुट्टियों के मौके पर अंतरराष्ट्रीय उड़ानें फिर से शुरू कर दी जाएंगी लेकीन, दक्षिण अफ्रीका में पाए गए ओमिक्रॉन वैरिएंट के कारण अभी इस पर ब्रेक लगता दिख रहा है।

कई देशों में इस खतरनाक वैरिएंट को लेकर गाइडलाइंस जारी कर दी गई हैं, और इससे बचने के लिए अनेकों ऐ‍हतियात बरते जा रहे है। WHO ने इसे ‘वैरिएंट ऑफ कंसर्न’, यानि चिंताजनक घोषित किया है।

जनरल वीके सिंह ने सोमवार को कहा था कि “अंतरराष्ट्रीय उड़ानों को फिर से शुरू करने के लिए हम पर जनता का जबरदस्त दबाव है”। हम सभी नियमों का पालन कर रहे हैं और सावधानी बरत रहे हैं। बाहर से आने वाले हर व्यक्ति का परीक्षण और जांच हवाई अड्डे पर किया जा रहा है। परिणामों को देखने के बाद ही, उन्हें अनुमति दी जा रही है।

कोरोना वायरस के नए वैरिएंट ओमिक्रॉन के खतरे को देखते हुए केंद्रीय स्वास्थ्य मंत्रालय ने भारत आने वाले अंतरराष्ट्रीय यात्रियों के लिए संशोधित दिशानिर्देश जारी किए हैं। इन दिशानिर्देशों के तहत अब यात्रियों को 14 दिन की यात्रा जानकारी और कोरोना वायरस की निगेटिव आरटी-पीसीआर जांच रिपोर्ट एयर सुविधा पोर्टल पर अपलोड करना अनिवार्य होगा। स्वास्थ्य मंत्रालय के दिशानिर्देशों के अनुसार खतरे की श्रेणी में आने वाले देशों के यात्रियों को भारत पहुंचने पर कोरोना जांच करवानी होगी और जांच का परिणाम आने तक एयरपोर्ट पर ही इंतजार करना होगा। अगर उनकी जांच निगेटिव आती है तो उन्हें सात दिन तक होम क्वारंटीन में रहना होगा और आठवें दिन फिर जांच की जाएगी। इस बार भी निगेटिव आने पर उन्हें अगले सात दिन के लिए खुद अपने स्वास्थ्य पर नजर रखने को कहा जाएगा।

कोरोना वायरस का नया वैरियंट ओमीक्रोन भारत में भी दस्तक दे चुका है। साथ ही साथ ऑस्ट्रेलिया, ऑस्ट्रिया, बेल्जियम, बोत्सवाना, ब्राजील, कनाडा, चेक गणराज्य, डेनमार्क, फ्रांस, जर्मनी, घाना, हांगकांग, आयरलैंड, इजराइल, इटली, जापान, मोजाम्बिक, नीदरलैंड, नाइजीरिया, नॉर्वे, पुर्तगाल, रीयूनियन द्वीपसमूह, सऊदी अरब, दक्षिण अफ्रीका, दक्षिण कोरिया, स्पेन, स्वीडन, स्विटजरलैंड, यूएई, ब्रिटेन और अमेरिका भी ओमीक्रोन के गिरफ्त में आ चुके हैं।

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Hypocrisy of Federalism: Reply on Oxygen Related Deaths

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Death and Oxygen COVID II News Aur Chai

On Tuesday, the Union Health Ministry reported to the Parliament that no deaths were recorded due to a lack of oxygen across the country during the second wave of the pandemic.

The officials and ministers in eight states also denied fatalities due to the lack of oxygen. Whereas reports indicate that approximately 320 patients may have died in the second wave of the COVID-19 pandemic due to oxygen shortage.

The report by the Union Health Ministry to the Parliament has triggered massive criticism across the country. It has also prompted some significant accusations against the Bhartiya Janata Party [BJP].

The denial of the officials and ministers of the eight states regarding the same has also triggered a major rebuttal from within their parties, accusing them of aiding the Centre in hiding oxygen-related deaths.

According to a volunteer-driven data collation effort, DataMeet, Media from across 20 states report that there were approximately 619 deaths recorded due to lack of oxygen. However, later the cause of deaths was disputed with other factors that attributed to the fatalities.

MAHARASHTRA 

The state health minister of Maharashtra, Rajesh Tope also sided with the Centre’s stand of no-oxygen-related deaths.

“As far as Maharashtra is concerned, we have never said that any death due to oxygen shortage,” he said to a local TV channel on Wednesday.

However, in April and May, the shortage of oxygen supply in the state had prompted the Chief Minister, Mr. Uddhav Thackeray, to request the Prime Minister, Narendra Modi, to inspect the proposal of pressing the Indian Air Force to arrange additional oxygen supplies for the state.

HARYANA 

A medical board in Hisar- a region in Haryana, had openly established oxygen shortage as a cause of deaths in the region.

Additionally, after an inquiry, 22 patients succumbed to Covid due to the lack of oxygen in Haryana.

MADHYA PRADESH 

According to the reports of DataMeet, figures indicated that approximately 68 deaths took place across the state of Madhya Pradesh due to lack of oxygen.

However, Vishwas Sarang, the medical education Minister, stated, “We received at least 10-12 complaints related to deaths due to oxygen supply disruption. Medical experts found the cause of death was other medical complications, not hypoxia,”

GOA 

In Goa, between May 10- May 14, approximately 83 patients succumbed to death.

But according to Dr Shivanand Bandekar, the Dean of Goa Medical College and Hospital stated, “We can’t put this as a direct answer. People who come to GMC, they are all referred because we are a tertiary (care) center where criticality is high and most of the patients die because of Covid pneumonia where oxygen is a part of the treatment. So we cannot directly say this (disruption in the oxygen supply) is the reason why they have died,”

However, during the hearing at Goa at the time of these deaths, the state government had admitted that “some of the casualties may have taken place” due to supply disruption.

Within the same hearing, the Bombay High Court had said, “We have long passed the stage of determining whether patients are suffering from the lack of oxygen or not. The material placed before us establishes that patients are indeed suffering and even in some cases succumbing for want of the supply of oxygen, in the State of Goa.”

Officials and ministers of several states like West Bengal, Odisha, Bihar, and Uttar Pradesh took a similar stand while siding with the Centre on their “no deaths due to Oxygen shortage” statement.

Even though various reports and data reflect a significant number of deaths due to a shortage of oxygen supply within different states, the Center and the state officials have refused to acknowledge them and have denied that these fatalities are attributed to the lack of oxygen supply.

Health Activist Amulya Nidhi from Madhya Pradesh, claims that volunteer groups from across the country have clear case studies and data that report deaths of patients across various states due to a lack of oxygen supply. “If they are so sure about it, they should allow an independent team of experts to probe the matter,” he said.

 

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Why Are people Not Taking Covid Vaccine?

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COVID Vaccine II News Aur Chai

Since the beginning of the Pandemic in 2020, all people have wanted is to find a way back to normal. A way from virtual lives to real, social lives. Being trapped at home with limited movement has been fun for no one. And yet, when a solution is finally being offered, people are hesitant to embrace it. Vaccines are the solution to once and for all immunise us against this virus, but many people fail to embrace the cure. Even though the vaccination reduces risks in exposure to the mutating variants of the Novel Coronavirus, there are people reluctant to take the possibly life-saving shot.

A vaccine race began throughout the world to curb the spread of Covid, India being one of the leaders. Immunisation is proven to be the most successful means to prevent diseases. Still, there is always hesitance that follows with the process. Many reasons cause vaccine hesitancy, but three of the main reasons are inadequate knowledge and fear of side effects, the speed of vaccine development, and rumours and myths.

The biggest fear that prevents people from taking the vaccine is a fear of side effects caused by inadequate knowledge. Many of us might show reluctance in taking the vaccine, fearing the severity of side effects. This tends to happen because most people do not understand how a vaccine works and nudges our bodies to create antibodies in our system to immunise us to the virus.

Many people reason that the side effects make them sick when they have been in perfect health for so long. They believe that it is the vaccine that makes them sick. This cannot be further from the truth. The public needs to be made aware of the workings of the vaccine to promote the vaccination drive around the world.

The other cause for hesitancy is the speed at which the vaccines have been developed. Many people believe that simply because the development speed of Covid immunising shots was quicker as compared to past viruses, corners have been cut in the process. It is essential to know that this is not true as all the procedures have been followed during the development of vaccines. None of them have been permitted for distribution without clinical trials and the approval of the FDA.

The last reason is that of rumours and myths. The rural population, a key demographic in our country, is reluctant to take the vaccine due to a lack of information provided to them. The inadequacy makes them quick to believe in rumours and myths surrounding immunisation, consequently making them reluctant to participate in the process. Reports of death post the vaccine have fanned the rumour mills in rural areas regarding the fatality of the vaccine.

Hesitancy in vaccination can also be seen in another key demographic, women. The proof for this in India is the disparity in men’s vaccination ratios which are starkly contrasting. Rumours and myths surrounding vaccines have led the population to believe that taking the jab affects fertility in women. It is essential to know that vaccinations do not cause infertility in men or women. It is this kind of rumour-mongering that causes fear in people.

Misleading tweets by prominent figures also cause vaccine hesitancy. One prime example is senior advocate Prashant Bushan, whose tweets about the efficacy and safety of covid vaccines were tagged as “misleading” by Twitter.

Tweet by Prashant Bhushan

Misinformation being spread by prominent people is another cause of reluctance in people not taking the vaccine, which must be stopped to defeat the Pandemic.

Many people who have already suffered from Coronavirus also believe that they do not need the vaccine as they are already immune to the disease. This is a falsehood that needs to be cleared as a vaccine prolongs the effectiveness of the immunisation, keeping the person safe for a more extended period.

Vaccines are preventative medicines that allow us to acquire immunity against the virus, preparing our bodies to protect us in case of exposure to the disease. While vaccination may not provide complete safety, it reduces the severity of the infection and the chances of death.

With newer and stronger variants emerging as mutations of the Coronavirus, all of us must be fully vaccinated. It is the only way to ensure the safety of ourselves and those around us. It is also the only way to make a return slowly but surely to what we knew as “normal” and stop living life as we have known for the past one and a half years.

 

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