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Shah orders air-lifting of doctors to Delhi, crackdown on unmasked

In a series of tweets, Shah informed about the “directions” given in the “high-level meeting” to review the growing cases of Covid-19 and the medical infrastructure in Delhi.



Amit Shah Health Meeting

New Delhi, Nov 15 : Apart from providing 750 ICU beds in the DRDO Centre out of which 500 will be made available in the next two days itself and doubling of RT-PCR tests in the national capital to nearly 1.25 lakh tests daily, the Modi government on Sunday decided to provide additional doctors and paramedical staff from the CAPFs, in view of the shortage of doctors in the city.

In view of the shortage of medical staff in Delhi, the Modi government has decided to provide additional doctors and paramedical staff from the CAPFs and they would soon be air-lifted to Delhi, the Union Home Ministry statement said.

In what can be bad news for those who refuse to wear masks in spite of government’s directions and mass media campaigns, Union Home Minister Amit Shah on Sunday directed the Delhi government and Delhi Police Commissioner to “strictly enforce the necessary measures, especially wearing of face masks, so that there is no laxity” in observance of Covid-19 appropriate behaviour.

Shah, once again taking charge of Delhi’s fight against Covid-19 in his hands against the backdrop of rising number of cases and the increasing strain on the capacity of medical infrastructure in the city hospitals, took the decisions at an emergency meeting.

Union Health Minister Harsh Vardhan, Delhi Lt. Governor Anil Baijal, Chief Minister Arvind Kejriwal, Health Minister Satyendar Jain were also present at the meeting which was also attended by the Union Home and Health & Family Welfare Secretaries, Niti Aayog’s Dr. V.K Paul, AIIMS Director Randeep Guleria, ICMR Director General Balram Bhargava, the DRDO Secretary, the Armed Forces Medical Services Director General and other senior officials.

The meeting began with Paul making a presentation, which highlighted the deteriorating situation of Covid-19 in Delhi.

“It was pointed out that the number of active cases per day has increased substantially. While the Case Fatality Rate (CFR) continues to remain in control, the health and medical infrastructure, such as dedicated Covid-19 beds, beds with ventilators, and ICUs, is already showing signs of strain. Accordingly, it is essential to enhance surveillance, strictly enforce containment measures, increase testing, and rapidly build up the requisite medical infrastructure,” the Home Ministry statement said.

Addressing reporters after the meeting, Kejriwal said: “Covid cases have been sharply rising ever since October 30. We still have a decent number of Covid beds, but ICU beds are fast getting exhausted. The Centre said that 500 ICU beds will be made available in the DRDO centre in the next couple days and additionally another 250 in the coming days.”

In a series of tweets, Shah informed about the “directions” given in the “high-level meeting” to review the growing cases of Covid-19 and the medical infrastructure in Delhi.

“Today gave various instructions in the meeting. First, the RT-PCR test in Delhi will be increased two-fold. Secondly, mobile testing vans of the Ministry of Health and ICMR will be deployed where there is a high risk of getting Covid and making maximum use of the capacity of labs in Delhi,” he said.

Shah also asked the Kejriwal government to increase capacity of hospitals in Delhi and availability of other medical infrastructure. He added that 250 to 300 ICU beds will be added in DRDO’s Covid hospital located in Dhaula Kuan, where, presently, around 250 beds have been provided with ICUs, out of the total available 1,000 Covid-19 beds.

In a strong message to officials, Shah said that containment strategies cannot be allowed to be taken lightly. “There should be no let up in strictly enforcing these containment strategies. The concerned officers, particularly those at district levels, would be personally responsible for ensuring compliance in this regard, and any deviation observed in this regard would be viewed seriously,” the Home Ministry statement said.

Shah also said that the 10,000-bed Covid Centre in Chhatarpur will be further strengthened with an aim to increase the availability of beds with oxygen facilities. He also said that some identified hospitals of the MCD will be converted into dedicated hospitals for the treatment of Covid patients with mild symptoms.

It was asserted in that meeting that dedicated multi-departmental teams will visit all private hospitals in Delhi to clearly indicate the availability of beds and medical conditions while all previously initiated containment measures, such as the establishment of container zones, contact tracing, and quarantine and screening, will be reviewed.

Shah instructed that especially those who are at high risk of getting the disease should be constantly reviewed so that there is no shortage in implementing preventive measures. He also instructed to track those under home isolation and shift them to hospitals, should the need arise, to save more lives.

He also instructed to prepare protocols for plasma donation in severe corona cases and for providing plasma to affected persons. A high level committee headed by Paul, and comprising the AIIMS and ICMR chiefs will report on it soon, Shah added.

“To save more and more people in Delhi, the Central government will provide oxygen cylinders, high flow nasal cannula and all other essential health equipment to Delhi,” the Home Minister assured.

But he asked the Kejriwal government to inform people about Covid appropriate behaviour which he said is the best way to stay safe. He asked for a strong communication strategy to educate people about it and inform them about the negative impact of the disease on long-term medical and health parameters.

The meeting came at a time when the national capital is witnessing skyrocketing cases on a daily basis for the past few days. Earlier also, Shah had stepped in to contain the situation after Delhi Deputy Chief Minister Manish Sisodia predicted a massive surge.


Instagram influencers are a vaccine priority in wary Indonesia

Among the first in the queue for coronavirus vaccines in Indonesia has been one conspicuous group – social media influencers.




Indonesia Vaccination

Jakarta: Alongside President Joko Widodo as the world’s fourth most populous country kicked off its vaccination drive on Wednesday was Indonesian television personality, Raffi Ahmad, who boasts almost 50 million followers on Instagram.

“Alhamdulillah [Praise be to God] a vaccine … Don’t be afraid of vaccines,” the 33-year-old celebrity wrote under a video of him receiving the shot, next to a heart emoji and another of Indonesia’s red and white flag.

Deciding who should be first in line for limited vaccine doses has been a challenge around the world, with many countries prioritising vulnerable medics and the elderly.

Senior health ministry official, Siti Nadia Tarmizi, said the decision to include influencers alongside almost 1.5 million healthcare workers in the first round of inoculations was a deliberate government communications strategy.

Although Indonesia faces the most severe coronavirus outbreak in Southeast Asia – with more than 869,000 cases and 25,000 deaths – there has been scepticism around the safety and efficacy of any vaccine, and in the world’s biggest Muslim-majority nation, whether it is halal, or allowed under Islam.

Indonesians are among the top global users of social media platforms such as Facebook, Twitter and Instagram.

The health ministry did not say how many infuencers would be first in the vaccine line, but others due to receive a shot on Thursday included musicians Ariel, of the band Noah, and Risa Saraswati.

Ahyani Raksanagara, head of Bandung’s health agency, told Reuters the artists would “hopefully convey positive influence and messages” about the vaccines, and especially to young people.

A poll last month showed just 37% of Indonesians were willing to be vaccinated while 40% would consider it, and 17% refused.

Some doctors have raised doubts over Indonesia’s initial use of Chinese company Sinovac Biotech’s CoronaVac vaccine – with studies from Brazil, Indonesia and Turkey showing efficacies ranging from 50-91%.

But in another possible boost for chances of acceptance, the country’s top Islamic council has deemed the vaccine halal.

However the decision to include social media influencers on the priority list backfired somewhat when photos of Raffi showed him partying hours after he was given the injection – which does not confer immediate immunity.

The images of him unmasked and flouting social distancing protocols with a group of friends drew criticism on social media, with calls for him to set a better example.

“It also shows the government is inconsistent in prioritising who gets the vaccine first,” said Irma Hidayana, cofounder of pandemic data initiative LaporCOVID-19, “They should’ve done it with another health worker, maybe, not an influencer.”

Health ministry official Nadia noted that “when you’re vaccinated, you still have to abide by health protocols and not be careless in enforcing them”.

Zubairi Djoerban of the Indonesian Medical Association said the strategy to hire influencers could only work if “influencers are briefed about vaccine and COVID-19 so they can be agents of change”.

Police said they are investigating whether Raffi broke the law, while he has offered a public apology.

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CM should get vaccinated first, says Ajay Kumar Lallu

Now that the vaccine is here, my primary demand is that it should be provided to people for free. CM Yogi Adityanathji should get the vaccine first because that will help people get rid of all the misconceptions about the vaccine.



Ajay Kumar Lallu

Uttar Pradesh Congress president Ajay Kumar Lallu on Thursday said Chief Minister Yogi Adityanath should be the first one in the state to get vaccinated as it will help people get rid of misconceptions about the vaccine.

Lallu said: “I want to say that I welcome the vaccine. I would like to thank the scientists who have developed it. It is the duty of the government to help people in times of a pandemic. When the pandemic struck, people contributed through money and other ways. Now that the vaccine is here, my primary demand is that it should be provided to people for free. CM Yogi Adityanathji should get the vaccine first because that will help people get rid of all the misconceptions about the vaccine.”

Earlier, SP chief Akhilesh Yadav said he would not take the “BJP’s vaccine”. Following criticism, he had subsequently tweeted the same day that he had “full confidence” in the ability of scientists, but would not take the BJP’s “political vaccine”.

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Rise in Severe Acute Malnutrition in children a major worry: CMAM Association

According to the CMAM Association, reports released by different agencies have pointed to the need for strengthening community-based treatment of SAM.





New Delhi, Jan 14 : The results of the Phase 1 of the 5th National Family Health Survey (NFHS-5) released by the Ministry of Health and Family Welfare recently, show that there has been an increase in the percentage of severely wasted children under five years of age, in as many as 16 out of the 22 surveyed states and union territories in NFHS-5 in comparison to NFHS-4.

The CMAM Association of India has expressed its concern on the rising trend of severe wasting or Severe Acute Malnutrition (SAM) in children.

The states that have shown an increase in incidence of severely wasted children include economically powerful states such as Gujarat and Maharashtra. Other regions being Andhra Pradesh, Assam, Bihar, Himachal Pradesh, Manipur, Mizoram, Nagaland, Sikkim, Telangana, Tripura, West Bengal, Jammu and Kashmir, Ladakh and Lakshadweep.

To meet the challenge of rising incidence of SAM in children, the Community Management of Acute Malnutrition (CMAM) Association (comprising manufacturers of Ready-to-Use Therapeutic Foods) said it has extended its all-out support to the government to develop new products so as to address SAM under the Poshan Abhiyan at the community level itself and prevent worsening of SAM problem in the country.

“While substantial improvement in child health indicators and vaccination coverage over NFHS-4 is a positive development, the rise in wasting levels does not bode well for a country which is poised to emerge as a major socio-economic power with youngest demography in the world. The Association is all set to align with various nutrition interventions of the government through development of therapeutic products and extending the PM’s vision of a self-reliant India,” said Akshat Khandelwal, President, CMAM Association.

Feeding protocols that use a combination of home-based food and high-quality energy dense nutrition supplement need to be urgently explored, it has stated.

According to the Ministry of Health & Family Welfare, children with SAM have nine times higher risk of dying than well-nourished children. The Association has pointed to the urgent need for collaboration between government, therapeutic food manufacturers and civil society to meet the intricate challenge of SAM in the country.

According to the Association, Ready-to-Use Therapeutic Foods (RUTF) has been successful in preventing deaths and helping children recover from SAM in India and across the world. RUTF comprises energy dense foods which are specifically tailored for children suffering from SAM and are not meant to be a substitute for breastfeeding or home cooked food as is often believed.

Since RUTF can ensure the recovery of a SAM child in 2-3 months at the community level in most of the cases and reduce the need for treatment at Nutrition Rehabilitation Centres (NRCs), it reduces the chances of infections and the overall cost of treatment.

According to the CMAM Association, reports released by different agencies have pointed to the need for strengthening community-based treatment of SAM.

“The current interventions from the MoHFW, to ensure in-facility care for SAM children, are currently reaching around 20 per cent of those who are estimated to need such care. Even as these need expansion, what is imperative is stronger linkages with community-based programs to reach the large majority of wasted children before they require in-patient facility care,” stated a report titled ‘Accelerating Progress on Nutrition in India’.

If acute malnutrition is identified in the early stages, the treatment can be provided at the community level itself and medical complications in the children with SAM can be averted, argues a recent report titled “Community based programme for children below 5 years of age with severe acute malnutrition in India 2020 – Progress so far and lessons learned”.

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