Testing saves lives by preventing the next infection(HT Photo)
Testing saves lives by preventing the next infection(HT Photo)

Ramp up testing, now | HT Editorial

Opening doors for the private sector is good. Act on it swiftly
By HT Correspondent | Hindustan Times
UPDATED ON MAR 17, 2020 07:05 PM IST

India’s hesitation in adopting mass testing for coronavirus (Covid-19) even as it spreads is jeopardising the lives of millions who may be infected but don’t know it. India has, so far, limited testing to those with travel history from affected countries, their contacts, and symptomatic health workers dealing with Covid-19 patients. The government has argued that it is not possible to test everyone. It has plans to scale up diagnostic laboratories doing Covid-19 tests from 63 to 121, and is putting in place mechanisms to allow 51 private labs to test. Officials have suggested that if India begins testing people with symptoms, the system will not have enough capacity to test, once community transmission begins.

The government, however, must reconsider its approach. A new analysis of data from China shows that for every confirmed case, there are another five to 10 people in the community with undetected disease. Many people with mild or no symptoms remain undiagnosed but infect others. In China, this led to nearly 80% of the new cases. Random community testing of 1,100 patients in intensive care units, as India is doing, is too small a sample for a population of 1.37 billion. The first 500 random cases have tested negative, but this should not make the government complacent. To deal with the issue of capacity, there is only one way out — involve the private sector substantially. The government is considering the option now, but it should move fast. India has procured one million diagnostics kits, but the overstretched government sector does not even have the human resources to scale up to a few thousand tests. Even when a little over 10% of its diagnostic capacity of 6,000 tests a day is being used at the Indian Council of Medical Research labs, the diagnostic reports for tests take several days to be generated.

Rapid mass testing in South Korea has brought down new infections and death rates to less than 1%, compared to the world average of close to 4%. Makeshift fever clinics in China, offering rapid testing, brought down new cases on Monday to 21, compared to 62 in the United States and 344 in Italy, where the epidemic spiralled out of control because of delayed diagnosis. The World Health Organization has urged countries to test every suspected case. India must redefine its outdated testing parameters to permit walk-in testing. It has allowed two labs to do rapid testing, but this is not enough. This is the biggest health emergency in living memory. As long as quality and infection control measures are in place, it should not matter whether testing is done in public or private hospitals, for it saves lives. .

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On Thursday, the day when the index crossed 50,000, India’s price-earnings multiple (a measure of whether a stock is overvalued or undervalued) was 34.36. (REUTERS)
On Thursday, the day when the index crossed 50,000, India’s price-earnings multiple (a measure of whether a stock is overvalued or undervalued) was 34.36. (REUTERS)

Decoding the 50,000 mark

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The occasion of Sensex, the benchmark index of BSE crossing 50,000 (it has since fallen below that level), has been used by analysts to don their cheerleader costumes and predict that it could touch 100,000 in the next five years
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Farmers take part in a protest against the newly passed farm laws on the outskirts of Delhi, December 17, 2020 (REUTERS)
Farmers take part in a protest against the newly passed farm laws on the outskirts of Delhi, December 17, 2020 (REUTERS)

Farmers should shed rigidity

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The government retreated. Protesting groups should have reciprocated. In a democracy, farm groups exercised their right to protest — but they should not take over the rights of a sovereign Parliament and an elected government, and dictate terms from the streets.
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The room for dissent in the party is limited even as leaders can see clearly that its electoral prospects — in both state polls and 2024 elections — remain dim (HTPHOTO)
The room for dissent in the party is limited even as leaders can see clearly that its electoral prospects — in both state polls and 2024 elections — remain dim (HTPHOTO)

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By HT Editorial
UPDATED ON JAN 22, 2021 06:20 AM IST
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Along with domestic priorities, the Biden presidency will have to deal with the most important strategic challenge of the times— the belligerence of China (AFP)
Along with domestic priorities, the Biden presidency will have to deal with the most important strategic challenge of the times— the belligerence of China (AFP)

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Delhi’s air quality slipped into the “severe” category on Tuesday, for the sixth time this month (Biplov Bhuyan/HT PHOTO)

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India's Shardul Thakur (C) bowls to Australia's batsman Cameron Green on day four of the fourth cricket Test match between Australia and India at The Gabba, Brisbane, January 18, 2021 (AFP)
India's Shardul Thakur (C) bowls to Australia's batsman Cameron Green on day four of the fourth cricket Test match between Australia and India at The Gabba, Brisbane, January 18, 2021 (AFP)

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A medical worker inoculates a nurse with a Covid-19 coronavirus vaccine, Osmania General Hospital, Hyderabad, January 18, 2021. (AFP)
A medical worker inoculates a nurse with a Covid-19 coronavirus vaccine, Osmania General Hospital, Hyderabad, January 18, 2021. (AFP)

Autopsy of a pandemic: Hold China, WHO accountable

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UPDATED ON JAN 20, 2021 06:11 AM IST
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Farm unions have not responded to the government’s offer to amend the laws, or to the Supreme Court’s directive to cooperate with a committee meant to examine the issue in detail (PTI)
Farm unions have not responded to the government’s offer to amend the laws, or to the Supreme Court’s directive to cooperate with a committee meant to examine the issue in detail (PTI)

Don’t let challenges turn intractable | HT Editorial

UPDATED ON JAN 19, 2021 06:20 AM IST
Both the China ingression and the stance of the farm unions are disparate issues, born out of their own specific histories
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According to a news report, US President-elect Joe Biden has appointed at least 20 Indian-Americans, with 17 of them in White House positions — 13 of the 20 also happen to be women. (AFP)

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By HT Editorial
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A health worker carries a carton containing vaccines during the delivery of the first consignment of 1,000 vials of Bharat Biotech's COVAXIN, Jaipur, January 13, 2021 (Himanshu Vyas/ Hindustan Times)

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UPDATED ON JAN 15, 2021 07:46 PM IST
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Prime Minister KP Oli’s unconstitutional move to dissolve Parliament (the new Nepali Constitution does not give the PM the right to do so) has led to a de facto split in the Nepal Communist Party (NCP). (Getty Images)

Delhi’s balancing act with Nepal | HT Editorial

By HT Editorial
UPDATED ON JAN 15, 2021 08:37 AM IST
Nepal’s foreign minister Pradeep Gyawali is in Delhi for a bilateral meeting
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The ruling puts the provisions of SMA on a par with personal laws which require no notice period (PTI)
The ruling puts the provisions of SMA on a par with personal laws which require no notice period (PTI)

Upholding the right to liberty and privacy | HT Editorial

By HT Editorial
UPDATED ON JAN 15, 2021 08:37 AM IST
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WhatsApp, the most popular mobile communication tool in the world, is going to great lengths to explain that its new use policy does not jeopardise the privacy of its users by sending additional data to its parent company, Facebook. (REUTERS)

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A man holds the flags of India and the US while people take part in the 35th India Day Parade, New York, August 16, 2015 (REUTERS)
A man holds the flags of India and the US while people take part in the 35th India Day Parade, New York, August 16, 2015 (REUTERS)

Widening strategic trust

By HT Editorial
UPDATED ON JAN 13, 2021 11:14 PM IST
Much of the recent history of the relationship between India and the United States has revolved around creating strategic trust between the two countries
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The Narendra Modi government has, to its credit, also unleashed important second-generation reforms in critical sectors such as labour and agriculture during the pandemic(PTI)
The Narendra Modi government has, to its credit, also unleashed important second-generation reforms in critical sectors such as labour and agriculture during the pandemic(PTI)

The economy is looking up | HT Editorial

By HT Correspondent | Hindustan Times
UPDATED ON JAN 08, 2021 08:01 PM IST
Focus on public spending, demand, and helping the informal sector
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