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COVID-19 cases in Italy exceed 100,000; over 11,000 deaths

By topping 100,000, Italy reported the second most cumulative number of coronavirus cases in the world, just after the United States, and was followed by Spain and China.

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Covid 19 Doctor

Rome, March 31 : The coronavirus pandemic claimed 11,591 lives in locked-down Italy up to Monday, as the cumulative number of cases reached 101,739, according to the latest data by the Civil Protection Department managing the national emergency response.

The country also registered the highest daily increase in the number of COVID-19 patients recovered at 1,590, Xinhua news agency reported on Monday.

The death of 812 COVID-19 patients was registered on a daily basis, compared to 756 in the previous 24 hours, Civil Protection Department chief and extraordinary commissioner Angelo Borrelli told a press conference.

The number of active infections rose by 1,648 against the previous day, reaching 75,528. Of those, some 3,981 people were currently in intensive care, and 27,795 were hospitalized in normal wards.

“The majority of people who have tested positive — namely 43,752 or about 58 percent (of positive) — are isolated at home, because asymptomatic or with light symptoms,” Borrelli said.

The official also highlighted the positive trend in recoveries, which grew by 1,590 cases in 24 hours to 14,620 by Monday.

“This is the highest daily increase of recoveries registered since the coronavirus has started spreading across our country, and the emergency began,” the Borrelli stressed.

By topping 100,000, Italy reported the second most cumulative number of coronavirus cases in the world, just after the United States, and was followed by Spain and China.

At geographical level, the most affected regions by the pandemic remained Lombardy (25,006 active cases), Emilia Romagna (10,766), Veneto (7,564), and Piedmont (7,655), all of them in northern Italy.

However, the worst-hit Lombardy seemed to be seeing a timid light at the end of the tunnel, according to local authorities.

“The increase in the number of infections keeps slowing down … with 1,154 new positive cases compared to yesterday, when we had 1,592 more cases,” Lombardy’s Welfare Councillor Giulio Gallera told a press conference broadcast live on social media and TV networks from Milan.

Lombardy’s death toll remained very high (6,818), with a daily increase of 458 fatalities, higher than 416 a day earlier, according to Gallera.

Top health authorities confirmed a slowdown in the contagion there. “In Lombardy — and especially in the worst-hit areas of Lodi and Bergamo — the number of infectious respiratory events for which regional emergency vehicles have been called is markedly reduced,” Higher Health Council (CSS) president Franco Locatelli told the press conference alongside Borrelli.

“Interventions (deploy of emergency vehicles ) on the territory have halved compared to March 14-15,” Locatelli said, adding that the country was moving “in the right direction.”

“We must not change our strategy, absolutely. The return to normality will be a gradual process … the goal is to contain the situation now, and prevent further hotbeds,” he stressed.

Looking at health workers on the frontline of the emergency, some 63 doctors were among those who have died due to the infection — of which at least 11 over the last 24 hours — the National Federation of the Orders of Doctors and Dentists (FNOMCeO) said on Monday.

In addition, 8,358 health professionals (comprising doctors, nurses, and other sector workers) were among those who tested positive, according to the latest available statistics by the National Health Institute (ISS) updated to March 29.

Nicola Zingaretti, the leader of the country’s main Democratic Party, said on Monday that he is cured from the coronavirus, more than three weeks after he became the country’s first high-profile politician contracting the coronavirus.

On the political side of the crisis, meanwhile, the central government’s latest step to help local authorities face the economic impact of the emergency met with a mixed response.

Prime Minister Giuseppe Conte’s cabinet late on Saturday had announced it would allocate some 400 million euros (440 million U.S. dollars) to municipalities in order to provide food coupons to households struggling to buy basic goods in these weeks.

This is because many poor and low-income families across the locked-down country have remained without a source of income while the halt imposed to all non-essential economic activities continues.

The amount, however, was deemed limited by the National Association of Italian Municipalities (ANCI) on Monday.

ANCI vice-president Roberto Pella further explained the financial provision was indeed welcomed, but it could “suffice up to mid-April.”

“It is necessary to think about the months that lie ahead, and the amount of 1 billion (euros) could be an effective first response to the (needs of) 8,000 Italian municipalities,” all-news TV channel SKY TG24 quoted Pella as saying.

At 12 a.m. on Tuesday, on the initiative of the ANCI, Italian mayors will put all flags at half-mast and municipalities will observe one and a half minutes of silence as a sign of national solidarity.

Private citizens and firms have so far donated 63.8 million euros (70.2 million U.S. dollars) to a special bank account opened by the Civil Protection Department and devoted specifically to the emergency.

Cities

Mamata to introduce Covid management system in Bengal

He said that at present the state has over 50,000 active Covid-19 cases and 87.6 percent of the coronavirus deaths were caused due to co-morbidities.

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Mamata Banerjee

Kolkata, Aug 6 : The Mamata Banerjee-led West Bengal government is putting in place a comprehensive Covid management system to handle the spike in coronavirus patients in the state.

State chief secretary Rajiv Sinha said that there are enough beds in Kolkata and other districts, adding that 3,000 Covid-19 patients are currently undergoing treatment in various hospitals.

“We are putting in place a Covid management system in the state. Every evening at 9 p.m. all state government-run hospitals and private medical facilities will update the number of their critical patients, mild and asymptomatic patients. The statistics will be made available in the public domain so that anyone can get to know the details,” Sinha told reporters at the state secretariat.

He said that people would get to know all the relevant details about the saturation levels, the present situation, gender of the patient, age and other health related information by just clicking on the website.

“Covid patients can also call up on the direct telemedicine number 033-23576001 for any medical help. A five-member team of medical experts has been constituted with a senior biologist who will visit testing labs and verify if testing is legitimate or not,” Sinha said.

He said that at present the state has over 50,000 active Covid-19 cases and 87.6 percent of the coronavirus deaths were caused due to co-morbidities.

Chief minister Mamata Banerjee, who was also present during the media interaction, said that the discharge rate in the state is over 70 percent, which is very good. About 87.6 percent of the deaths are due to co-morbidities. We stated it earlier, now everyone is following the same protocol, she said.

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Glenmark announces 400 mg ‘FabiFlu’ for COVID-19 treatment

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Glenmark Fabiflu

Glenmark Pharmaceuticals, a research-led global pharmaceutical company, on Thursday announced that it is set to introduce a 400 mg version of oral antiviral – FabiFlu — for the treatment of mild to moderate COVID-19 in India.

It was the first Indian company to commercially launch an antiviral drug – Favipiravir with brand name FabiFlu – for the treatment COVID-19 patients. The company received marketing and manufacturing approval from the Drug Controller General of India and launched the product in the Indian market on June 20.

According to the company, the higher strength will improve patient compliance and experience, by effectively reducing the number of tablets that patients require per day.

Earlier, the 200 mg dosage of FabiFlu required patients to take 18 tablets on Day 1, followed by 8 tablets each day thereafter for a maximum of 14 days.

A higher pill burden has been associated with lower adherence to therapy, the latter affecting viral suppression and overall treatment outcomes. Reducing the pill burden has also been a demand from doctors and patients to enable adherence, the company said.

“With the new 400 mg version, patients will now have a more relaxed dosage regimen, with 9 tablets required on Day 1, and thereafter 2 tablets twice a day from Day 2 till end of the course,” Glenmark Pharmaceuticals added.

Explaining the significance of this development, Monika Tandon, Vice President and Head, Clinical Development of Glenmark Pharmaceuticals Limited said, “The 200 mg dosage of FabiFlu was developed in line with global formulations of the drug Favipiravir, which had similar strength. The 400 mg version is a result of Glenmark’s own R&D efforts to improve treatment experience for patients in India.”

She added, “Being the first company to launch Favipiravir in India, we continue to innovate and seek new treatment options for Covid-19 patients. Introducing this higher strength of FabiFlu is in line with these efforts to ensure a smoother experience for patients, by reducing their daily pill burden.”

Glenmark has also commenced a Post Marketing Surveillance (PMS) study on FabiFlu to closely monitor the efficacy and safety of the drug in a large pool of patients prescribed with the oral antiviral Favipiravir, as part of an open label, multicentre, single arm study.

It is also conducting another Phase III clinical trial to evaluate the efficacy of two antiviral drugs Favipiravir and Umifenovir as a combination therapy in moderate hospitalized adult Covid-19 patients in India.

The combination study which is called the FAITH trial is looking to enrol 158 hospitalized patients of moderate Covid-19 in India. Early treatment with combination therapy will be evaluated for safety and efficacy as it is emerging as an effective approach in shortening duration of virus shedding, facilitating early clinical cure and discharge of patients.

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As India inches towards 2 million cases, Harsh Vardhan says, coronavirus spread contained in country

Speaking at a virtual meeting of WHO’s Regional Director, South East Asia, with Health Ministers from the region, the health minister also alluded to efficacy of the govt’s containment strategy

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Harsh Vardhan

India’s Health Minister Harsh Vardhan on Thursday asserted that the spread of coronavirus has been contained in the country, citing how half the total cases are from three states only and another 30 per cent from seven others.

His remarks come as the country is inching towards the grim mark of two million cases. It has already logged over 40,000 deaths and is recording more than 50,000 daily cases since the past few days.

Speaking at a virtual meeting of WHO’s Regional Director, South East Asia, Poonam Khetrapal Singh with Health Ministers from the region on maintaining essential health services and public health programmes in the context of the Covid-19 pandemic, Harsh Vardhan alluded to the efficacy of the government’s containment strategy.

“The strategy has been successful in that 50 per cent of the cases are from three states and 32 per cent of the rest are from seven states. The spread of the virus thus has been contained.”

The Minister said that the lockdown was effective in slowing down the rate of growth of cases and gave the government time to augment the health infrastructure and testing facilities.

“From one lab in January, India has 1,370 labs today. Indians anywhere can access a lab within three hours travel time. 33 of the 36 states and UTs (Union Territories) exceed WHO’s recommendation of testing 140 people per million per day.”

Harsh Vardhan also said that the country was “preparing for the pandemic as soon as China informed the World Health Organisation on January 7”, over three weeks before the first case emerged.

India had reported its first coronavirus case on January 30 when a student from Kerala, who was studying in China’s Wuhan University, came back to India and tested positive for the deadly virus.

Harsh Vardhan also stressed that earlier viral outbreaks like the Avian Influenza, H1N1, Zika and Nipah had provided institutional memory in designing containment and management strategies.

“India’s proactive and graded multi-level institutional response to Covid-19 made it possible to have very low cases per million and deaths per million in spite of having a high population density, and low fractional GDP spending, per capita doctor, and hospital bed availability as compared to other developed countries,” he contended.

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