Doctors operating on a patient with black fungus infection at Madhya Pradesh’s Jabalpur Medical College Hospital on Wednesday | PTI bhubaneswar l thursday l may 20, 2021 l `7.00 l PAGES 12 l late CITY EDITION rajasthan govt declares black fungus an epidemic Wednesday’s declaration came after case count touched 100. A separate ward has been created at a Jaipur hospital diabetes patients at higher infection risk Deaths due to mucormycosis — colloquially called black fungus — among Covid patients have been reported across states like Kerala (10+), Haryana (5) and UP (2). It is a common fungus in soil and decaying vegetation, but rarely affects those with strong immune system. In Covid patients, those with uncontrolled diabetes or on immunosuppression are at higher risk ■ 50% Steroid use linked to fungus’ spread ■ ■ It can affect any organ, including skin or eye. A surgery or removal of the affected organ may be required to contain the spread There is no scientific evidence that oxygen pipes or humidifier are sources of its origin. It is not contagious, but has high morbidity Diabetes care and avoiding steroids can help arrest the infection Death rate once the black fungus infection is contracted CHENNAI ■ MADURAI ■ VIJAYAWADA ■ BENGALURU ■ KOCHI ■ HYDERABAD ■ VISAKHAPATNAM ■ COIMBATORE ■ KOZHIKODE ■ THIRUVANANTHAPURAM ■ BELAGAVI ■ BHUBANESWAR ■ SHIVAMOgGA ■ MANGALURU ■ TIRUPATI ■ TIRUCHY ■ TIRUNELVELI ■ SAMBALPUR ■ HUBBALLI ■ DHARMAPURI ■ KOTTAYAM ■ KANNUR ■ VILLUPURAM ■ KOLLAM ■ WARANGAL ■ TADEPALLIGUDEM ■ NAGAPATTINAM ■ THRISSUR ■ KALABURAGI Hinterlands becoming super-spreaders; lax testing, poor awareness & fewer good hospitals complicate situation Rural caseload spurt is a big healthcare challenge E x p r e ss N e ws S e r v i c e I F metros and big cities bore the brunt of the first wave of Covid-19 last year, the second wave seems to be choking rural India in a way not seen before. According to a recent SBI report, the share of rural districts in new cases has been steadily increasing – from 36.8% in March to 45.5% in April and 48.5% in May Alarm. ingly, the fatality rate in interior regions is also high owing to lack of easy access to medical care, shortage of life-saving drugs, and lack of awareness, among other reasons. In Punjab, for example, 46% of the active coronavirus cases are from rural areas. Data show that interior regions account for 55% of the overall Covid deaths in the state. During May 1-15, as many as 55,411 cases were reported from Punjab’s 16 rural districts while the total infections in the state were 1,20,723. Out of 2,618 deaths in Punjab during the period, 1,434 were from rural areas. Likewise, 43% of Haryana’s Covid cases were from rural areas in the first two weeks of May. Also, 62% of the Covid deaths were from the 15 predominantly rural districts of Awareness in rural areas this time was less compared to the first phase. One can’t rule out negligence in rural areas. Persistent efforts and containment measures across Chhattisgarh helped us record a recovery rate of 86% Dr Subhash Mishra, Director of Epidemic Control, Chhattisgarh the state. During May 1-15, as many as 84,242 cases were reported from these districts, while the total cases across the state stood at 1,97,334. In terms of deaths, the figure is 1,456 from rural areas out of the state’s total of 2,330. Bihar has a peculiar problem. Nearly 89% of the state’s 13.12 crore population live in its 45,103 villages. In the second Covid wave, 76% of the total cases in the state are from rural areas. According to sources, at least 50% of the population in remote districts like Jamui, Aurangabad, Muzaffarpur, etc could be infected. “The actual degree of rural spread could be much higher, as access and willingness for testing is limited,” said Dr Vikash R Keshri, a health policy expert. Covid-19 is surging ahead in rural Bengal, too, with health department officials conceding that the situation in at least 18 districts is grim. For example, West Midnapore recorded 268 cases on May 1. The count went up to 653 on May 7 and 829 on May 15. Similarly 74 new cases , were recorded on May 1 in Jhargram. It jumped to 124 on May 8 and to 178 on May 15. In Andhra, while rural areas have been reporting more Covid-19 cases than urban regions, interior areas seem to have a slightly lesser fatality rate. According to data for April, the case load was higher in rural areas compared to urban. Of the 1.46 lakh cases reported, 56% of them, accounting for 81,365 cases, were in rural areas while the urban areas accounted for 44%. Explaining the reason, Principal Secretary (Health) Anil Kumar Singhal said the enforcement of partial curfew or restrictions would be more effective in urban areas and cities but not so in hintercontinued on: P8 lands. Brake on drive-in and doorstep vaccination, focus on session sites E x p r e ss N e w s S e r v i c e @ Bhubaneswar asha of protection ASHA workers and nurses engaged in door-to-door Covid survey, also checking oxygen saturation of children, in Mysuru on Wednesday | Udayshankar S May 18 12,79,896 doses May 19 11,45,569 doses Total doses: 18,69,89,265 Jab-o-meter Take your shot NATIONWIDE MAY 18 Fresh cases Recoveries Deaths MAY 19 2,63,533 2,67,334 4,22,436 3,89,851 4,329 4,529 RURAL LOAD FACTOR Andhra Pradesh Rural areas have more cases (56%) but fatality rate is lower than urban centres Bihar 90% of the 13-crore population lives in villages. Over 75% of active cases reported from rural areas Haryana 43% of the fresh cases and over 60% of deaths from hinterlands Madhya Pradesh Huge uptick in cases in districts adjoining Uttar Pradesh Uttarakhand 100% jump in active cases from rural areas West Bengal Situation in 18 districts grim Punjab Over 45% of the fresh cases and 55% of deaths are from rural districts The Odisha government has halted the drive-in and doorstep vaccination programmes being carried out by some civic bodies in the State, including the Capital city . Additional Chief Secretary of Health PK Mohapatra has asked collectors, municipal commissioners and CDMOs to stop the programmes and focus on sessions at suitable vaccination centres with adequate space. The Covid-19 operational guidelines of the Ministry of Health do not permit drive-in or door-step vaccination. The guidelines clearly state that vaccination sessions can be conducted at places with adequate space for waiting area, separate vaccination and observation rooms with facility to manage adverse events following immunisation (AEFI) cases. As per the guidelines, the beneficiaries have to be observed for at least 30 minutes after vaccination for AEFI, if any. However, it will be difficult to manage AEFI, if it occurs, in case of drive-in or doorstep inoculation and there is also high likelihood of vaccine wastage, wrote Mo- ODISHA Fresh cases Recoveries Deaths MAY 18 MAY 19 10,321 10,242 22 11,099 10,036 21 With eye on gaining maximum mileage and publicity, the municipal authorities are ignoring the risks and dangers Health department sources hapatra in a letter to collectors and municipal corporations. The direction came after the municipal corporations of Bhubaneswar, Berhampur and Cuttack launched drive-in and doorstep vaccination drives. “The vaccination drives being conducted by civic bodies have become a competition of sorts. With eye on gaining maximum mileage and publicity the mu, nicipal authorities are ignoring the risks and dangers,” Health department sources said. While drive-in vaccination for 45 year plus age group was introduced at Bhubaneswar, doorstep vaccination was launched at Berhampur and Cuttack for people aged 70 years or above and persons with disabilities (PwDs). CONTINUED ON: P5 Looming cyclone over Bay of Bengal puts Odisha govt on alert mode E x p r e ss N e w s S e r v i c e @ Bhubaneswar A low pressure area set to form over north Andaman Sea and adjoining Bay of Bengal around May 22 is expected to intensify into a cyclone in the subsequent 72 hours, said the India Meteorological Department (IMD) on Wednesday . “After intensifying into a cyclone, it is expected to move north-westwards. The system is likely to reach the Odisha-West Bengal coast on May 26 evening,” said Director General of Meteorology, IMD, Dr Mrutyunjay Mohapatra. This imminent natural calamity presents a two-fold challenge of a pandemic and dealing with PM’s Economic Advisory panel Fresh push for 1-time hike in corporate tax A n u r a d h a S h u k l a @ New Delhi A controversial proposal to tax the rich is back on the table, with a section of the Prime Minister’s Economic Advisory Council (PMEAC) strongly pushing to impose additional tax for a short period to make up for the reve nu e l o s s d u r i n g t h e pandemic. “In the internal economic review meeting, many members of the PMEAC had suggested that many countries are using wealth tax to compensate for revenue. The proposal was that India can reconsider it for companies that are resilient or had posted a healthy double-digit g rowth as one-time measure,” a senior finance ministry official, who was aware of the meeting earlier this month, said. The meeting was attended by officials of the finance ministry, the Prime Minister’s Office (PMO), PMEAC and Niti Aayog. Some officials of the finance ministry are also in favour of the proposal, the officer said. This is not the first time the rich tax has been mooted. When the proposal to slash corporate Israel army widens airstrikes Despite international pressure Demand to tax the rich growing globally The demand to tax the rich has increased globally, especially at a time when the income divide has widened during the pandemic with a large number of middle class people pushed into poverty while the ultra rich are getting richer tax was first drafted, it had a wealth tax component on high profit earning firms. But in the final draft by then revenue secretary Ajay Bhushan Pandey, the wealth tax clause was dropped. Ahead of this year’s budget, the proposal was back on the table but was decisively rejected by the PMO, which wanted to present a business friendly image. According to Karthik Natarajan, partner, Bhuta Shah & Co. LLP, “The temptation, however easy, to load the thrust of taxes on a section of economic citizenry may best be avoided as the corporates are an inseparable part of the society and have larger contributions to make in terms of productive deployment of the factors of production.” Israeli airstrikes killed at least six people across the Gaza Strip and destroyed the home of an extended family early Wednesday | P9 a cyclone for Odisha government which on Wednesday asked Collectors to be prepared to deal with any situation including evacuation of people from lowlying areas of coastal districts. In a meeting via video-conference, Special Relief Commissioner (SRC) PK Jena asked Collectors of 12 coastal and adjoining districts to remain prepared for any eventuality . Collectors have been asked to inform people about the possible cyclonic storm and take steps as per the standard operating procedure (SOP) which includes stocking up on medicines, dry food and necessary items. Fishermen have been asked to remain cautious and return from sea by May 22 evening. The speed and direction of the system is yet to be ascertained. It is not known where the cyclone will make its landfall, he said and called upon people not to pay heed to rumours and take steps for their own safety as advised by the government and district administration. Collectors of Puri, Cuttack, Bhadrak and Balasore have been asked to remain prepared with a plan of evacuation in view of the developing situation. Collectors have been asked to prepare a plan for evacuation and identify spots where people from lowlying areas can be shifted. However, a decision will be taken only after the direction of the system is ascertained. There is no point in evacuating people in Guj cyclone toll 45; bodies of 26 on ill-fated barge found, 47 missing E x p r e ss N e w s S e r v i c e @ Mumbai/New Delhi Monster cyclone Tauktae that made landfall in Gujarat on Monday night left a trail of destruction, killing 45 people across 12 districts, apart from drowning at least 26 occupants of ONGC’s Barge-P305 35 nautical miles off the Mumbai coast. While the 26 bodies were brought ashore by a Navy team on Wednesday, 47 others who were on the barge on the illfated night are still unaccounted for. Prime Minister Narendra Modi on Wednesday undertook an aerial survey of affected areas in Gujarat and the adjoin- A Navy ship provides assistance to a partially flooded tug off Daman | PTI ing Union Territory of Diu to assess the devastation. Indian Navy and the Coast Guard continued their search and rescue operations for the third day. Modi later approved a grant of `1,000 crore for immediate relief activities in Gujarat besides `2 lakh compensation to the next of kin of all the victims of the cyclone. Navy spokesperson Commander Vivek Madhwal said, 186 crew members of Accommodation Barge P-305 and two from Tug ‘Varapradha’ have been rescued by Navy ships and aircraft so far. Efforts to locate the 47 missing personnel is in progress. INS Talwar assisted Support Station 3 and drill ship Sagar Bhushan, which are now being safely towed back to Mumbai by ONGC support vessels. Food and water to the 300-odd crew members of these vessels was also provided by naval helicopters from Mumbai earlier in the day. In Gujarat, 15 deaths were reported from Amreli district in Saurashtra region. Eight persons each were killed in Bhavnagar and Gir Somnath districts, an official of the State Emergency Operation Centre said. Ahemdabad had five deaths, while there were two fatalities in Kheda, and one each in Anand, Vadodara, Surat, Valsad, Rajkot, Navsari and Panchmahal districts. As many as 30,000 structures, including 28,430 kachcha houses, 74,493 electricity poles and 674 roads were damaged, 68,753 trees uprooted and power supply snapped in over 9,000 Gujarat villages. Born victor 25 day-old, premature baby beats Covid A s i s h M e h ta @ Bhubaneswar Amid the gloom prevailing around the pandemic comes the story of a 25-day-old premature and low birth weight baby recovering from Covid-19 in Odisha’s most backward Nuapada district. The baby boy was born to Yadram Rout and his wife Seema of Bhalukona at the Nuapada district headquarters hospital on April 17. The baby was born premature in just 33 weeks and weighed 1.755 kg against a The baby was born premature in just 33 weeks and weighed 1.755 kg against a normal weight of 2.5-3.5 kg Dr Kali Prasad Behera, Nuapada CDMO normal weight of 2.5-3.5 kg. The newborn was shifted to the SNCU on April 17 and discharged on April 24. He was taken to the village by his parents, said Nuapada CDMO, Dr Kali Prasad Behera. However, the baby started sneezing and coughing a few days later following which Seema took him to the hospital again on May 12. The mother and her child’s rapid antigen tests were conducted and both found infected. While Seema was asked to stay in home isolation, her child was admitted to the SNCU of the hospital. The doctors said the baby was critical. “His SpO2 level had dropped. His weight too had come down to 1.63 kg and haemoglobin level very low. CONTINUED ON: P5 Ganjam if the system moves along Balasore coast, Jena said. The SRC discussed about the system and possible developments with senior officials of Odisha police, National Disaster Response Force, Odisha State Disaster Management Authority , the Odisha Disaster Rapid Action Force and director general of the IMD Mrutyunjay Mohapatra. DD International coming to change global narrative E x p r e ss N e w s S e r v i c e @ New Delhi Perhaps pummelled by the loads of bad press India’s Covid response has been drawing, national broadcaster Doordarshan had decided to launch an international channel to try to change the narrative. India’s Covid situation continues to dominate headlines across a wide swathe of international publications and websites like The New York Times, The Washington Post, the BBC, The Australian, The Economist, and news agency Reuters. The public broadcaster last week floated an expression of interest (EOI) for DD International, inviting comments from private players to draft a detailed project report for the new channel. Bids were invited from reputed global consultants with experience in advising international broadcasters/media houses on projects. Prasar Bharati CEO S S Vempati said such a project was on the cards for some time now. “It has been a long overdue strategic objective to establish international presence for Doordarshan. The Prasar Bharati Board in its last meeting (March) gave the go ahead to develop a project roadmap for the same by engaging an appropriate strategy consultant. This EOI is a step towards that,” said Vempati. The EOI said bureaus would be set up globally and there would be round-the-clock world service streams.
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