Covid-19: What you need to know today | Latest News India - Hindustan Times
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Covid-19: What you need to know today

Hindustan Times, New Delhi | ByR Sukumar
Mar 24, 2020 10:14 AM IST

As of Monday, 28 states and Union territories were under complete lockdown. That’s at least 75% of the country’s population pretty much in self-isolation and practising social distancing.

New York joined Italy’s Lombardy region and China’s Hubei province as a global Covid-19 hotspot.

People seen wearing protective masks inside an overcrowded DTC bus during the first day of lockdown imposed by the state government to control the spread of coronavirus in New Delhi on Monday.(Sanchit Khanna/HT PHOTO)
People seen wearing protective masks inside an overcrowded DTC bus during the first day of lockdown imposed by the state government to control the spread of coronavirus in New Delhi on Monday.(Sanchit Khanna/HT PHOTO)

On Monday morning, the number of Sars-Cov-2 infections in New York state was 16,887, around 5% of the over 340,000 cases in the world. The high number, and the rapid rise – around 4,600 new infections were discovered in the 24 hours to Sunday night – are a result of both the spread of the disease and more widespread testing.

Of the number, 10,764 are in New York city alone. Apart from everything else, the delay in implementing so-called shelter-in-place norms, and the unwillingness of people in the city to comply with restrictions, are believed to have contributed to the situation.

That’s one reason, a very important reason, why India and Indians need to take the lockdown seriously.

On Monday morning, Prime Minister Narendra Modi tweeted, asking state governments to ensure lockdowns were being adhered to, even as Delhi’s borders with Noida and Gurugram saw chaos, with many people not involved in providing essential services, and with no real reason to be out, trying to cross into or out of the city-state.

Even the movement of essential goods was disrupted by undisciplined and unruly drivers with no business being on the roads. The Press Information Bureau issued a statement saying states had been asked to strictly enforce lockdowns and act against violators.

Also read: Hundreds booked for breach as India toughens lockdown over coronavirus

As of Monday, 28 states and Union territories were under complete lockdown. That’s at least 75% of the country’s population pretty much in self-isolation and practising social distancing.

It is important that people respect the lockdown – apart from helping flatten the curve of disease transmission, it will ensure that movement of essential goods and people providing essential services, is not affected.

As of Monday evening, the number of infections in India were 471, and looked set to cross the 500 mark. The number of deaths were nine.

Also read| Platforms empty, only 10 trains arrive at India’s busiest railway station

But Monday brought some good news as well. The number of recoveries around the world crossed the 100,000-mark. That’s a recovery rate of around 30%. More are likely to recover (see page 6).

Unfortunately, the death rate as on Monday morning was around 4.3% -- still very high – and is being propelled mainly by continuing deaths in Italy, which saw 651 deaths Sunday (down from 793 on Saturday).

Over the weekend, a self-styled COV-IND-19 study group, comprising of an “interdisciplinary group of scholars and data scientists”, published a post on Medium titled “Predictions and role of interventions for Covid-19 outbreak in India”.

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According to the model used by these authors, India will see 900,000 to 1.3 million infections by mid-May. Those numbers are still conservative (as the authors admit), especially when compared to other numbers that are being put out (see page 10). More testing and community transmission could cause a spike (but also provide data to refine the numbers), just as the lockdowns currently in place could flatten the curve.

Also read| Pull back from hostilities, focus on coronavirus pandemic: UN chief

Meanwhile, the latest science has introduced millions to two (relatively new) words – anosmia (or the loss of the sense of smell) and dysgeusia (the loss of the sense of taste).

Both are increasingly being seen as symptoms of Covid-19 according to a release from the American Academy of Otolaryngology, based on an alert from an association of UK ENT doctors. UK ENT (as the body is called) said that there are reports from China, South Korea, Italy, and Germany on this. Most importantly, it added, without mentioning numbers that there are “reports of a significant increase in the number of patients presenting anosmia in the absence of other symptoms”.

It is clear that just as we know some things about Sars-Cov-2 (because it belongs to the well-studied family of coronaviruses), there are many that we don’t.

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