Time for a change

Time for a change

Q. How often should I change my mask?

Facemasks are going to be a way of life for a long time to come. You need four to five masks. They must be removed when you come from outside, washed with soap and hot water and dried in the sun. Otherwise, infective droplets that may have settled on the mask can infect you a couple of hours later.

Q. I keep reading about medications for the coronavirus infection. Should I start taking anything prophylactically?

The guidelines are not very clear yet. All the medications recommended, alone or in combination, are potent and have side effects. While taking them, the risks have to be weighed against potentially dangerous side effects. Unless advised by a physician, exercise for 40 minutes a day, avoid going out, maintain social distancing, wear a mask, take steam inhalations,  gargle twice a day and do pranayama, the breathing exercises in yoga.

Pain in the neck

Q. Due to the coronavirus pandemic, I am being forced to work from home. By the end of the day, I have severe neck and shoulder pain. What should I do?

When your home becomes your office, several points have to be kept in mind to prevent pain and tension in the muscles. You need to place your computer screen at eye level on a desk (and not work in bed). If you use two screens, place them touching each other and slightly angled. Keep both feet planted firmly on the floor. Take breaks every 40-45 minutes and stretch. For the pain, apply a capsaicin-containing ointment and then ice. If the pain is severe, take paracetamol 500mg.

Diet fail

Q. I have tried most of the popular diets but within a few months, I wind up not only putting all the weight back on but also a little extra.

One of the problems with diets is that they are different from the food that you normally eat, so the diet itself becomes difficult to sustain long-term. The body responds by subtly increasing its efficiency so that fewer calories are utilised for the same activity.

A diet which is similar to your normal food but reduced in quantity is more likely to be successful. Weight loss can be achieved by decreasing calorie consumption while simultaneously increasing activity. Muscle building should not be neglected as muscles utilise calories more efficiently than fat.

Itch no more

Q. I frequently develop fungal infections. My private parts itch and it is embarrassing.

Check if you have diabetes. If so control it adequately. Wear only cotton innerwear and do not wear panties at night. Make sure your skinny jeans and leggings are not too tight. Frequent courses of antibiotics also tend to cause an overgrowth of fungus.

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Tik Tok clones grab users

Tik Tok clones grab users

Chingari — the homegrown alternative to Tik Tok — is eyeing a 10 million monthly active user base by July to fill up the void created by the ban of the Chinese app by the government on Monday.

By Tuesday afternoon, Chingari was seeing a traffic of 10,000 users per minute with 3 million videos swiped or watched per hour, according to data shared by company co-founder Sumit Ghosh on Twitter. He said the back-end infrastructure was holding up to the surge in app use.

“Since last night we are seeing a tremendous growth in the user base. The users are thinking that they will lose their Tik Tok accounts and so they are opening accounts in Chingari and migrating. We were already taking off even before yesterday on account of the nationalist sentiment. But now that Tik Tok has been banned, there is a huge gap.

“They have a substantial user base in India and there are no other apps besides ours that offer a feature to feature match,” Ghosh, who hails from Bhilai, told The Telegraph on Tuesday.

According to Ghosh, the ‘boycott China’ sentiment that had taken off from May onwards has helped the domestic app shore up its user base. Sensing an opportunity, the app was marketed on popular social platforms such as Facebook and Instagram as an Indian alternative.

“From 5 to 25 lakh downloads, it took less than a week,” Ghosh said adding that in the next 30 days the app expects to cross 10 million active users.

The rapid growth will need capital to sustain and sticking with the theme of nationalism, the app developers will not seek any capital with a Chinese link.

“We are talking to investors and we will soon announce a funding round. There are investors from the US, Singapore and even India,” Ghosh said.

Incidentally industrialist Anand Mahindra had shown support for the app on Twitter. “I hadn’t ever downloaded Tik Tok, but I have just downloaded Chingari… More power to you,” Mahindra had said in a tweet on Sunday.

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Unfit for Amphan aid? Payback time

Unfit for Amphan aid? Payback time

The Bengal government has focused on two districts worst hit by Amphan to get back compensation from beneficiaries later found ineligible in an attempt to cleanse the image of the ruling party facing charges of political bias in the distribution of cyclone relief in the run-up to the 2021 Assembly polls.

In the North 24-Parganas, ineligible beneficiaries who are willing to return the state’s compensation of Rs 20,000 each can issue bank drafts or cheques in favour of the district magistrate and give a written undertaking confessing to their “mistake”.

In South 24-Parganas, the administration had taken stricter measures to get the money back from ineligible candidates by serving letters threatening legal action.

A source in North 24-Parganas said the block development officials sat in a meeting last Friday and asked members of gram panchayats and other local bodies to distribute the undertaking to ineligible beneficiaries, and ask them to voluntarily refund the money to avoid legal proceedings.

The undertaking says the person understands his or her application for Amphan was a “mistake”, and he or she is now “refunding the money along with a cheque/bank draft”. “I promise the cheque or bank draft would not bounce….,” the undertaking reads.

A BDO in North 24-Parganas said ineligible beneficiaries were being identified and asked to refund the money through cheques or bank drafts. “We don’t know how many people will turn up. If this step fails, we will take legal action. We are also processing fresh applications of the genuine beneficiaries,” the BDO said.

The process may not have too many takers. For example, till Monday evening, 12 persons deposited cheques and drafts at Deganga block of North 24-Parganas. On the way forward, North 24-Parganas district magistrate Chaitali Chakrabarti said: “We are focusing on those who will return the money willingly. We will think about the next step later.”

At one block in South 24-Parganas, the administration issued a stern letter to ineligible beneficiaries. “It is to inform you that you have received Rs 20,000 as government compensation for Amphan cyclone by providing misinformation to the authorities as your house was not damaged. You are directed to refund the money within 24 hours, otherwise legal action will be taken against you,” the letter reads.

“We have records of people who got the money and people who recommended they be paid. Once we get money back, we will take action against the people,” said an official.

South 24-Parganas district magistrate P. Ulaganathan did not take calls from The Telegraph.

These two districts faced protests by villagers and Opposition leaders, who cited instances of owners of multi-storey concrete houses getting Amphan aid. In South 24-Parganas, at least two gram panchayat offices were ransacked and a panchayat member was forced to squat before hundreds of people.

The issue of Amphan relief anomalies was flagged by the CPM, Congress and BJP at the all-party meeting called by chief minister Mamata Banerjee on June 24, who immediately directed the administration to look into the complaints.

“If the government takes back money from ineligible candidates, a strong anti-corruption message will be sent out,” said a Trinamul leader in South 24-Parganas.

Kanti Ganguly, former CPM minister and a veteran party leader from the Sunderbans, however said malpractices involving government funds was a criminal offence and the government should start criminal cases against those involved in the irregularity.

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Human safety trials for Indian Covid-19 vaccine

Human safety trials for Indian Covid-19 vaccine

A strain of the new coronavirus, isolated in a government lab in Pune and killed with chemicals, will be India’s first home-grown candidate vaccine against Covid-19 to head into human safety and efficacy trials.

The Hyderabad-based Bharat Biotech announced on Monday that it had received regulatory approval for Phase 1 safety trials and Phase 2 efficacy trials of the candidate vaccine on healthy human volunteers. The trials are set to start in July, the company said.

The Central Drugs Standard Control Organisation, India’s regulatory agency

for drugs and vaccines, granted permission for the trials after Bharat submitted results from lab and animal studies demonstrating the vaccine’s safety and ability to generate an immune response.

The candidate vaccine is based on a strain of SARS-CoV-2, the virus that causes Covid-19, isolated from an asymptomatic patient by scientists at the National Institute of Virology, Pune, a unit of the Indian Council of Medical Research.

“This candidate vaccine has been found safe and immunogenic in all animals. We’re now ready to move forward into clinical development through human trials,” Krishna Ella, Bharat’s chairman and managing director, said.

“Our collaboration with ICMR and NIV has been instrumental in this development.”

The company said it was still unclear how the vaccine would perform in humans as human trials are yet to start. But if the results of the safety and efficacy trials, expected by October, are promising, the company will progress to larger clinical trials.

Safety trials are intended to ensure that candidate vaccines are safe for use in humans while efficacy trials are designed to determine whether it can protect recipients from the infection.

Bharat said it had the capacity to produce 300 million doses of the vaccine per year. The company — which produces vaccines for H1N1 influenza, rotavirus, Japanese encephalitis and rabies — has delivered more than four billion doses of vaccines across the world.

Worldwide, around 10 other candidate vaccines, including one in Britain and one in China, are already in human clinical trials while around 100 other candidates are under various stages of development.

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Coronavirus updates: Cases rise to 4,56,183, death toll now 14,476

Coronavirus updates: Cases rise to 4,56,183, death toll now 14,476

The country saw the highest single-day jump of 15,968 Covid-19 cases and 465 fatalities, taking the infection tally to 4,56,183 and the death toll to 14,476, according to the Union health ministry data.

India registered over 14,000 cases for the fifth day in a row and witnessed a surge of 2,65,648 infections from June 1 till June 24, with Maharashtra, Delhi, Tamil Nadu, Gujarat and Uttar Pradesh remaining the top five contributors to the rising tally.

The number of active cases stands at 1,83,022, while 2,58,684 people have recovered and one patient has migrated, according to the updated figures at 8 am.

“Thus, around 56.71 per cent patients have recovered so far,” an official said.

The total number of confirmed cases include foreigners.

According to the Indian Council of Medical Research (ICMR), a cumulative total of 73,52,911 samples have been tested up to June 23 with 2,15,195 samples being tested on Tuesday.

Of the 465 new deaths reported till Wednesday morning, 248 were in Maharashtra, 68 in Delhi, 39 in Tamil Nadu, 26 in Gujarat, 19 in Uttar Pradesh, 11 in West Bengal, nine each in Rajasthan and Haryana, eight each in Karnataka and Andhra Pradesh, four each in Punjab and Madhya Pradesh, three in Telangana, two each in Jammu and Kashmir, Odisha and Uttarakhand.

Kerala, Bihar and Puducherry have reported one Covid-19 fatality each.

Of the total 14,476 deaths reported so far, Maharashtra accounted for the highest 6,531 fatalities followed by Delhi with 2,301 deaths, Gujarat with 1,710, Tamil Nadu with 833, Uttar Pradesh with 588, West Bengal with 580, Madhya Pradesh with 525, Rajasthan with 365 and Telangana with 220 deaths.

The Covid-19 death toll reached 178 in Haryana, 150 in Karnataka, 119 in Andhra Pradesh, 105 in Punjab, 87 in Jammu and Kashmir, 56 in Bihar, 30 in Uttarakhand, 22 in Kerala and 17 in Odisha.

Chhattisgarh has registered 12 deaths, Jharkhand 11, Assam and Puducherry nine each, Himachal Pradesh eight, Chandigarh six, while Goa, Meghalaya, Tripura and Ladakh have reported one fatality each, according to the health ministry.

More than 70 per cent deaths took place due to comorbidities, it said. Maharashtra has reported the highest number of cases at 1,39,010, followed by Delhi at 66,602, Tamil Nadu at 64,603, Gujarat at 28,371, Uttar Pradesh at 18,893, Rajasthan at 15,627 and West Bengal at 14,728, the ministry data said.

The number of Covid-19 cases has gone up to 12,261 in Madhya Pradesh, 11,520 in Haryana, 10,002 in Andhra Pradesh, 9,721 in Karnataka and 9,553 in Telangana.

It has risen to 8,153 in Bihar, 6,236 in Jammu and Kashmir, 5,831 in Assam and 5,470 in Odisha.

Punjab has reported 4,397 novel coronavirus infections so far, while Kerala has 3,451 cases.

A total of 2,535 people have been infected by the virus in Uttarakhand, 2,362 in Chhattisgarh, 2,185 in Jharkhand, 1,259 in Tripura, 932 in Ladakh, 921 in Manipur, 909 in Goa and 775 in Himachal Pradesh. Chandigarh has recorded 418 Covid-19 cases, Puducherry 402, Nagaland 330, Arunachal Pradesh 148 and Mizoram has 142 cases.

Dadra and Nagar Haveli and Daman and Diu together have reported 120 Covid-19 cases.

Sikkim has 79 cases, Andaman and Nicobar Islands 50, while Meghalaya has recorded 46 cases so far.

“Our figures are being reconciled with the Indian Council of Medical Research,” the ministry said, adding 8,141 cases are being reassigned to states.

State-wise distribution is subject to further verification and reconciliation, it added.

Health workers wait for transport outside a hospital in Jammu, Tuesday, June 23, 2020
Health workers wait for transport outside a hospital in Jammu, Tuesday, June 23, 2020AP

TN expert panel members tests negative

A member of the Tamil Nadu government’s expert committee on Covid-19 who had gone on a self-quarantine following “high risk exposure” said on Wednesday that her husband has been cured of the virus while she has tested negative for the pandemic.

Taking to Twitter, Prabhdeep Kaur said she has also compeleted a 14-day quarantine.

“Such a relief that my husband recovered from #COVID19, I was negative and completed 14 days home quarantine; thanks to all who supported us in this tough phase specially supportive staff of @DoHFWTN (TN Health dept),” she said in the tweet.

“…may god give strength to all families going through this crisis,” she added.

Kaur, a medical doctor and epidemiologist is a scientist with ICMR-National Institute of Epidemiology here and she is a member of the 19-member panel set by the state government. The committee was set up by the government to advise it on handling the pandemic.

12 INS Shivaji sailors test positive 

At least 12 trainee sailors of the Lonavala-based INS Shivaji, one of the premier training establishments of the Indian Navy, have so far tested positive for coronavirus, officials said.

The naval establishment, spread over 800 acres in the hill town of Lonavala in Maharashtra’s Pune district, houses a population of nearly 5,000.

Out of these, 3,000 are naval personnel, including officers, sailors, trainees and other staff. The rest include their family members, a senior naval officer said.

The first Covid-19 case was found on June 18 and the infected cadet was part of a batch of 157 trainee sailors who had reported back after leave following the easing of lockdown earlier this month, a release issued by the naval station on Tuesday said.

Ambulance assistant dies

A 22-year old ambulance assistant succumbed to Covid-19 on Wednesday at a hospital in Coimbatore, becoming the first victim to the viral infection in nearby Tirupur, health department sources said.

The youth, who was working in Tirupur district’s 108 ambulance service at Avanashipalayam, though died here, the fatality would figure in that district as he was living and working there, they said.

The young emergency services worker became the first fatality in Tirupur district, which as on Tuesday had nil deaths, only four active cases and of the total 120 positive patients 116 were discharged following treatment in various health facilities.

Admitted on June 18 at the ESI Hospital, he died early on Wednesday without responding to nearly a week’s treatment, sources said.

1st suspected virus patient in isolation coach

The Railways-modified isolation coaches parked at the Shakur Basti Station in New Delhi received the first suspected Covid-19 patient on Wednesday, officials said, adding around 15 more are expected to arrive.

All of the patients are suspected cases of coronavirus, they said.

Around 50 such modified coaches are currently stationed at the Shakur Basti Railway Station’s maintenance depot.

Each coach has the capacity of 16 beds.

First patient arrived at Shakur Basti Covid Care Center of Railways in New Delhi. We are committed to provide all necessary help in this fight against Covid-19, railway minister Piyush Goyal tweeted.

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AYUSH ministry asks Patanjali to stop advertising Covid-19 drug

AYUSH ministry asks Patanjali to stop advertising Covid-19 drug

The AYUSH ministry on Tuesday asked yoga guru Ramdev’s Patanjali Ayurved to provide at the earliest the composition and other details of the medicine it claimed is for the treatment of Covid-19, and ordered the firm to stop advertising the product until the “issue is examined.

Patanjali Ayurved has launched the Coronil and Swasari’ medicine with the claim that it has discovered a cure for Covid-19.

However, the ministry said the facts of the claim and details of the stated scientific study are not known to it.

Patanjali has also been asked for details of the sample size, sites and hospitals where the research study was conducted and the Institutional Ethics Committee clearance, the ministry said.

The concerned Ayurvedic drug manufacturing company has been informed that such advertisements of drugs including Ayurvedic medicines are regulated under the provisions of Drugs and Magic Remedies (Objectionable Advertisements) Act, 1954 and rules thereunder and the directives issued by the Central Government in the wake of  Covid outbreak, the ministry said in its statement.

The firm claimed its medicine has shown 100 per cent favourable results during clinical trials on Covid-19 patients, except those on life support systems.

The medicines have been developed by Patanjali Research Center, Haridwar and privately-owned National Institute of Medical Science, Jaipur following all protocols with clinically controlled trial-based evidence, Ramdev told PTI in a telephonic interaction with PTI.

“Patanjali first conducted clinical case study and conducted clinical control trials following all protocols of drug discovery,” he said.

Ramdev also said clinical controlled study of these medicines has been conducted in several cities including Delhi, Ahmedabad and Meerut and the RCT (Randomized Clinical Trial) controlled with placebo was conducted at Jaipur-based National Institute of Medical Sciences & Research.

“This was done after getting approval from Clinical Trial Registry of India (CTRI) and all other required formalities,” he said.

“We have followed all the parameters set up by modern science for such clinical trials.”

A government notification bars companies from advertising a cure without government approval.

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Let’s try to demystify depression

Let’s try to demystify depression

Hiding behind smiles or tears, success or failure, wealth or poverty, depression is a silent, invisible, and serious mental health issue that often gets swept under the carpet and locked behind closed doors. It is also a silent killer as depression is one of the leading causes of suicide.

The World Health Organisation describes depression as “…an illness characterised by persistent sadness and a loss of interest in activities that you normally enjoy, accompanied by an inability to carry out daily activities, for at least two weeks”. Let’s look at some facts on depression and suicide from WHO.

  • India has 9,000 psychiatrists, or one doctor for every 100,000 people.
  • One out of seven people in India suffered from mental illness between 1990 to 2017.
  • More women are affected by depression than men.
  • Every 40 seconds, someone, somewhere in the world, commits suicide.
  • For each suicide, there are more than 20 suicide attempts.
  • Suicide is the second leading cause of death in 15 to 29-year-olds.

What are the signs of depression?

Identifying indicators of depression is key to understanding whether a loved one is feeling depressed or has depression. While you need to visit a psychologist and undergo assessment for a confirmed diagnosis, here are a few red flags that you should watch out for…

  • Sleeping too much, too little, or restless sleep.
  • Eating too much, too little or binge eating.
  • Feeling empty, fatigued, hopeless, helpless, anxious, discontent and guilty.
  • Losing interest in favourite things — activities, hobbies, food and friends.
  • Falling concentration levels, slower than usual in performing tasks.
  • Withdrawing from friends and family.
  • Thinking suicidal thoughts or attempting suicide.

Please note: Having only one or two symptoms consistently or all symptoms inconsistently may not necessarily indicate depression. You must visit a mental health professional for a formal diagnosis.

When does a person need professional help?

If you think you, a friend, or a family member has been showing signs of depression consistently for six to eight weeks, it is time to speak with a mental health professional.

Is depression hereditary?

Anybody from any walk of life can have depression. Whether you’re rich or poor, old or young, successful or not, an introvert or an extrovert, man, woman, or child — you can get depression. And while some mental health issues can be hereditary and genetic, many are not. A mix of situational, emotional, biological, environmental and socio-economic factors play an important role.

Is depression treatable?

Get help. Give help. Every person with the same health issue reacts to it differently and uniquely. It is the same for depression. While some may take longer than others to respond, most people do get better with regular therapy and/or medication.

I don’t want to take medicines to treat my depression as I’ve heard it is habit forming, but my psychiatrist is recommending it. What should I do?

If you can take long-term medication to control physical health issues like diabetes, blood pressure, cholesterol, why would you avoid medicine that can help your mind and improve your quality of life? Each person reacts to medicines differently, and an expert psychiatrist will be able to guide and adjust dosages for the best outcome.

Can children be depressed too?

Anyone, at any age, can get depression. Children are susceptible to it too, especially after encountering any severe physical trauma, emotional trauma or abuse. Some common signs of depression in children are:

  • Withdrawing from friends and family.
  • Losing interest in favourite games, foods, hobbies and classes.
  • Drastic social behavioural changes.
  • Drastic changes in appetite.
  • Not wanting to go to school.
  • Emotional outbursts including anger, constant crying, picking fights.
  • Self-harm or substance abuse.
  • Taking up smoking or drinking.

If you think your child, tween, or teen is exhibiting any of these behaviours, please contact a mental health professional immediately.

What are things we can do as parents to create a stress-free environment?

We have to understand and accept that many things that cause stress in our children’s lives are situations we have not experienced ourselves. We need to keep an open mind and create a friendly rapport where our children can feel free to discuss any topic under the sun with us.

From a young age, do not shame children for asking questions you may not feel comfortable answering. While many children need encouragement to reach their true potential, give them the freedom to make academic, sports, and cultural hobby choices. Just because you scored 100 per cent in mathematics, loved to play football and played the piano like a prodigy does not mean your child needs to adopt the same path. Also, do not pass judgement on their friends who you do not like or approve of. Monitor the interactions and step in only when an issue seems serious. Keep an open door and an open-heart policy when talking to you children and you will be able to help reduce some of their stress.

If I think that my child is having some problems but not sharing them with me, how should I approach them?

Approach your child in a calm and collected manner. You can tell them that you have had a feeling that they may be stressed or sad about something, and if they want to share it with you, you are there to listen. If your child immediately does not share anything, do not get hyper. Tell them you are happy to give them their space and will talk whenever they feel comfortable. Also reassure them that no matter what, you are there for them. Try this a few times and your child is likely to open up.

Do not cry, do not try emotional blackmail, and do not try to make them feel guilty. Most children are afraid of potential consequences after sharing their problems. If you can make them feel safe, loved and not judged while talking to you, you can build a life-long healthy parent-child relationship.

What is postnatal depression?

Postnatal depression is the depression experienced by new mothers after childbirth. As per WHO, it affects one in six women who have given birth. Some of the signs of this depression include an inability to bond with the baby, not wanting to take care of the baby, feeling overwhelmed all the time, fearing one’s own capability of being a good parent, crying spells for no specific reason, and thoughts of harming oneself.

I feel that if I talk about my problems, my family might feel that I am a mental patient. How do I deal with this fear?

The first step to treating a problem is accepting it, which you have done. The second step is asking for help, which you want to do, but you are scared of being rejected and labelled. Here, education and awareness is key. Your family loves you and wants the best for you, but they may still believe in stereotypes and myths that surround mental healthcare. Help break the stigma by educating them about the importance of mental wellness and talk to them about how you feel. Once they understand, they are unlikely to be judgemental.

You can also speak with an open-minded family friend or a relative with whom you share a close bond. They can help you to communicate with your family. And if you are already in counselling, you can try a couple of family counselling sessions with your therapist.

When does one contemplate suicide?

Feelings of hopelessness, loneliness and worthlessness can cause a person to consistently replay disturbing, negative thoughts and events in their mind. When someone is overwhelmed and overwrought to the point where they feel that their family, their friends and the whole world would be better off without them, they may contemplate suicide.

Are all suicidal threats real?

Suicide threats should never be taken lightly. Inform an immediate family member or call a crisis hotline. However, some manipulative abusers use this as a tactic to keep abuse victims trapped in toxic relationships and marriages. If you feel this is the case, connect with a mental health professional to get help.

Can suicide be preventable?

Getting someone the right help at the right time is crucial to preventing suicide. Most people can be helped if we become truly aware about the emotions of the people in our lives, practise empathy, and lend a patient ear or shoulder to cry on.

How can one help a person suffering from depression and/or suicidal thoughts? If a friend or family member calls and says he/she is feeling extremely low and wants to die, what should I do immediately?

Talk to them and truly listen. Don’t pass judgement, don’t give examples from your life, don’t start listing solutions — just be there for the person and show them how they are loved and valued. Let them express themselves, uninterruptedly. At low points in our lives, more than someone telling us, “It will all be okay”, we need someone to say, “It’s okay not to be okay”. Sometimes all we need is someone to talk to. Sometimes all we need is to be heard.

However, if you think they are so distraught that they may harm themselves, do not leave this person alone. Remove all sharp objects, poisonous pesticides/ cleaning solutions, any potentially harmful medication. Also, call a crisis hotline or an emergency mental health clinic or a mental health professional. If this person has been undergoing therapy, contact their psychologist or psychiatrist.

How do I know that my loved one might be suicidal?

  • A failed suicide attempt.
  • Someone keeps talking about death, or death as a solution to their problems.
  • Patients with chronic pain or illnesses.
  • Anyone who is undergoing severe emotional distress — death of a loved one, dissolution of a marriage, compounding financial debt, extended caregiving for terminal/sick loved ones.
  • Survivors of emotional, physical, or sexual abuse.

Someone who is suicidal will almost always give a signal or a call for help.

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Second drug nod for mild Covid-19 patients

Second drug nod for mild Covid-19 patients

India’s drug regulatory agency on Friday approved the emergency use of a second anti-viral drug called favipiravir for treatment of mild and moderate coronavirus disease after reviewing clinical trial data submitted by a Mumbai-based company.

Glenmark Pharmaceuticals announced that the Central Drugs Standard Control Organisation (CDSCO) had approved its application to manufacture and market favipiravir for “restricted emergency use” only to meet the “unmet medical need” arising from the Covid-19 epidemic.

Under the restricted emergency use, patients will need to sign consent forms before receiving the drug.

Favipiravir is an oral anti-viral drug developed by a Japanese company and approved in Japan for the treatment of influenza. The drug has been approved for similar restricted use on Covid-19 patients in China, Italy and Russia, Glenmark officials said.

The CDSCO approval follows an application from Glenmark outlining the “interim results” of a clinical trial conducted in 10 government and private hospitals across the country involving around 150 Covid-19 patients, they said.

The results suggest a short course of treatment with the drug can lower the risk of patients with mild and moderate Covid-19 from advancing into severe disease, the officials said. The trial also suggested that the drug could reduce viral load within four to five days.

India’s drug regulatory agency has also approved remdesivir for similar restricted emergency use in mild or moderate Covid-19 patients. Four pharmaceutical companies in India will produce remdesivir under licence from the US company Gilead Sciences.“We’re producing favipiravir entirely indigenously through the local procurement of its active pharmaceutical ingredients,” a Glenmark spokesperson said. “This is also the first anti-viral approved for Covid-19 on the basis of domestic clinical trials.”

Company officials cautioned that favipiravir would be used on the discretion of medical practitioners who would determine when and which patients would qualify to receive the drug.

Doctors treating Covid-19 patients in the country also caution that clinical trials involving larger numbers of volunteers are underway in several countries and their results are still awaited.

Given that over 80 per cent of Covid-19 patients have mild illness that often improves through supportive therapy, “caution is required in interpreting the efficacy of favipiravir based on data from studies where patients receive only favipiravir”, Japanese researchers had said last month after an observational study on 2,100 patients.

Glenmark said it would provide more details from the interim results on Saturday. Its application to CDSCO for restricted emergency use of favipiravir cited these interim results along with several observations from global studies, a senior official said.A document outlining the clinical trial names the All India Institute of Medical Sciences, Raipur, Breach Candy Hospital, Mumbai, and Max Superspeciality Hospital, New Delhi, among other hospitals, as sites for the trial.

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Assam seeks leadership role

Assam seeks leadership role

Assam is seeking to “establish leadership role” in the management of the corona crisis in the country.

State health minister Himanta Biswa Sarma said on Sunday night that the corona crisis had provided the state “with an opportunity for us to establish leadership role of Assam in the nation” because it has overtaken Kerala as far as testing is concerned.

His referring to BJP-ruled Assam to Left-ruled Kerala, the second time in a week since May 24, highlights Assam’s achievement in the ongoing fight against coronavirus that has left the world in turmoil — and affected over 1,300 in the state itself.

The southern state has attracted global praise for its management of the corona crisis, so much so that the Madhya Pradesh government had last week adopted the Kerala model to trace, isolate, test and treat the affected.

While elaborating on Assam’s bid to assume leadership role, Sarma said: “Kerala is praised for its testing. It has done maximum number of tests. It was discussed in almost all national media. Kerala was a case study. But nobody thought that a state like Assam can not only pull past Kerala but convincingly do so in testing.”

Continuing the comparison, Sarma said: “Kerala’s infrastructure is known for last 60 years, Assam’s infrastructure is known for three to four years. But today they have completed roughly 70,000 tests although they were testing since March. We did 1 lakh tests in in May. I don’t know the circumstances but with equal number of patients, we have overtaken Kerala and convincingly. And it will be difficult to catch up with us because we are ramping up further. We will be definitely doing 2 lakh test by June 15. We are ahead of many states.”

The first time Sarma compared Assam to Kerala was on May 24. He had tweeted: “In a strong testimony to excellent team work and our steely resolve to do the best in a crisis like Covid-19, I am humbled to share that Assam has carried out 55,862 tests so far. This is higher than Kerala’s (52771), a state known for its healthcare excellence.”

Assam’s capacity to respond to the unfolding situation has manifold even though they started in March, he said, adding the number of testing labs has gone up to eight from one in March and will reach 12 by next week.

“We have placed over 2.25 lakh people in quarantine. Most of our cases are imported but there is no community transmission. We have through community surveillance checked 29,771 villages but found no positive case. We started by treating Covid patients in our medical colleges in March but today we treat them in all district civil hospitals and now we will treat them in model hospitals at the block level. Today, we have

facilities to treat 5,000 patients,” he said.

Disclosing the way forward, he said by June 10 they will try to reduce the number of days in institutional quarantine to four days from seven days. “They will be allowed to go if they test negative. This will save us money and open up more space. However, they will have to do the 10-day mandatory quarantine at home,” he said.

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Domestic help in unfamiliar space

Domestic help in unfamiliar space

Domestic workers, who keep many a home running in the country, have entered uncharted territory with the phased easing of the lockdown.

At least one complex in Calcutta has told residents not to share domestic help, which has prompted some to put in place 12-hour shifts that entail higher pay.

The directive not to share help is prompted by the need to minimise the chance of wider transmission of the coronavirus by one possible asymptomatic carrier to multiple households in the complex.

However, probably unwittingly, the order also shakes up the Indian household economics that is not always viewed as a model of equity in spite of offering some advantages to both sides.

On one hand, the sharing of hands allows domestic workers to earn more; on the other, it makes the services affordable for the employer. But a view also exists that the remuneration has been kept low for the unorganised sector with little bargaining power.

When the lockdown was announced, several housing complexes had banned domestic help from turning up for work.

However, with Unlock 1 debuting on Monday and several older residents complaining of hardship, some of the complexes have started allowing domestic workers to return.

“Our society has allowed 12-hour shifts for domestic help from today after a lot of protests from residents (against the bar on their entry) on WhatsApp groups. Several elderly residents were suffering a lot,” said a resident of Urbana, off EM Bypass.

An advisory circulated among the residents says: “Only one domestic help per house. Such help will not be shared between residents.”

A few residents said they would pay more for the longer shifts but it is not clear whether that would make up for the domestic worker’s lost income from other homes.

The decision to reinstate domestic hands was taken after a poll in which 60 per cent voted in favour, sources said. Basic safety measures like wearing masks, washing hands and feet at the time of entry and the use of sanitisers are in place.

In addition, forms have been circulated among residents for the declaration of details of the domestic help, which will be sent to the local police station.

The residents’ welfare association (RWA) in Gariahat’s Fort Terrazzo has handed to all residents a form to declare that the help is not coming from a “red containment zone”.

Residents have the responsibility to inform the health department and the local police station if the domestic worker or any other domestic service provider falls ill.

A washbasin has been installed at the entrance to ensure all service providers wash their hands with soap before entering the complex.

At Uniworld City, domestic help have been allowed four days a week, and only one at a flat, till June 7. Thereafter, they can turn up for work seven days a week.

Avishikta-I and II, Greenwood Nook and Ruchira Residency on EM Bypass have also been allowing domestic workers in from Monday.

Residents were asked to give a written undertaking citing the details of the help who would enter the housing. Avishikta I insisted on only one help per household.


After a gap of more than two months, several complexes allowed doorstep delivery of newspapers from Monday.

With lockdown norms being eased across India, some associations have revised their “entry rules”, with one society advising that the newspapers be “ironed”.

Urbana has yet to allow doorstep delivery of newspapers. From Tuesday, newspapers will have to be collected from the ground-floor lobby. Until Monday, they had to be collected from a place near the clubhouse.

At Upohar: The Condoville and South City complex, both the entry of maids and doorstep delivery of newspapers started from Monday.

“It’s a welcome respite. I got the newspaper at my doorstep today. To go down every morning just to collect the newspaper, come back and undergo the complete sanitisation process that I follow every time I go out has been exhausting,” said an Upohar resident.

At South City, an elderly resident said: “All these days, it was practically not possible for me to go down every day and collect my newspaper. My children did not want me to step out.”

He added that some of his neighbours would get the newspaper and then leave it like that for several hours and read it in the evening. “I know some who are even microwaving it,” he said.

As early as on March 23, the International News Media Association (INMA) had said, citing health agencies and medical experts, that there is no record or any evidence for the coronavirus being transmitted through print newspaper, magazine, letter or package.

All scientific evidence suggests that porous paper surfaces that include newsprint are safe from the coronavirus, Earl Wilkinson, INMA’s executive director and chief executive officer had said in a blog that refers to research studies and health agency guidance.

Doorstep delivery started at South City from Monday with an advisory “to either use hot iron on the newspaper or leave it under the sun for 30minutes to kill any contaminants”.

The residents’ welfare associations at most New Town housing complexes — Rosedale Garden, Bengal DCL and Anahita, for instance — began allowing the entry of domestic workers and doorstep delivery of milk and newspapers from Monday.

At Rosedale Garden near Karigari Bhavan in Action Area III, separate lifts have been earmarked for visitors and residents.

RWAs have framed diverse standard operating procedures during the lockdown, often raising the question whether they were entitled to take such decisions and impose restrictions on residents.

Lawyer Anirban Guha Thakurta said: “Any action by anybody cannot hinder the fundamental right to life as guaranteed by the Constitution. Sometimes, the restrictions being forced on residents could be a greater threat to life, especially for the elderly, than the lack of them.”

Another lawyer, Saumyajit Raha, said most of the RWAs were not registered under the Apartment Ownership Act and acted within the framework of “by-laws” that they themselves had often framed at meetings held without quorum.

“But as they are elected representatives in most of the cases, they have the majority mandate to implement their decisions,” Raha said.

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