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Still no clarity on strain-specific deaths as India toll close to 5K

India on Saturday was just 30 short of the 5,000 deaths due to the pandemic so far, even as it recorded the highest jump in single day almost touching 8,000 positive cases as its total tally breached 1.73 lakh.

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New Delhi, May 30 : There is no data currently available that can clearly say that there are strain-specific differences among SARS-CoV-2 viruses, which are leading to more deaths, says Jeffrey Townsend, Professor at Yale University. He also said the virus does not concern itself with geography, nation, race, or strain.

Queried on the L-strain of the coronavirus behind many deaths, Townsend said “There is no data currently available that persuasively argue that there are strain-specific differences among SARS-CoV-2 viruses. Most stories regarding these differences are likely the product of wishful thinking or fear-mongering.”

In April end, the high mortality rate due to Covid-19 in Gujarat was reportedly attributed to the “L- strain”, though it is yet to be established. It was suspected that L-type strain is more virulent, as opposed to “S-strain.”

India on Saturday was just 30 short of the 5,000 deaths due to the pandemic so far, even as it recorded the highest jump in single day almost touching 8,000 positive cases as its total tally breached 1.73 lakh.

Queried whether people will develop lasting antibodies to protect them from this infection, Townsend, who is Elihu Professor of Biostatistics and Ecology & Evolutionary Biology at the Yale School of Public Health, said there are two answers to this question.

“The first is that we simply do not know which is legitimate to say because data on this specific virus that would answer that question do not exist yet. However, there is a second answer — also legitimate — which is that SARS-CoV-2 is evolutionarily closely related to SARS, MERS, and the beta-coronaviruses that cause “common colds”, and is unlikely to have evolved a dramatically different relationship with our mammalian immune system” added Townsend.

On the replication of coronavirus, he added that viruses replicate as they infect, so unlike other kinds of threats, a low level of virus now does not augur a low level of virus later — quite the opposite. “India, in particular, must pay attention not just to national or regional statistics, but to the demographics of disease: how are its elderly, its immune-compromised, its sick, and its poverty-stricken faring with this disease? They are at risk, and when they are at risk, so is everyone,” said Townsend.

On the aspect of public health, Townsend added that the pillars of public health practice needed against this virus are social distancing, contact tracing and testing, treatment, and vaccination. “We need all of these pillars in operation, but we currently only have social distancing and testing. Because extensive transmission of this virus occurs before symptoms appear, testing those who do not yet show symptoms is incredibly important, and the more we can do, the better off we are”, said Townsend.

Citing the South Korea experience, he added that theoretically, testing and contact tracing on a massive scale can suppress this virus. “Unfortunately, we have also seen how hard it is to maintain vigilance, and how quickly this virus can resurge,” he added.

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Disaster

Congress leader Sushmita Dev tests Covid positive in Assam, tally 14,032

Gogoi’s legal counsel Santanu Barthakur told the media, “In the morning, I received the news that Gogoi has tested positive for Covid-19.”

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Sushmita Dev

Guwahati/Silchar, July 9 : While former Congress Lok Sabha member Sushmita Dev has tested positive for coronavirus, the Assam government refuted the media reports that Akhil Gogoi, jailed top farmers leader, tested Covid-19 positive.

On Thursday, Covid-19 death toll rose to 24 and number of cases jumped to 14,032 in the state.

All India Mahila Congress (AIMC) chief and the party”s national spokesperson Dev, daughter of former Union Minister Santosh Mohan Dev, was on Wednesday admitted to the Silchar Medical College and Hospital after she tested nCoV positive.

“I have tested positive for Covid-19. I am asymptomatic as of now,” the 48-year-old Congress leader tweeted. Congress leaders Rahul Gandhi and Priyanka Gandhi Vadra inquired about her health.

On Akhil Gogoi testing Covid-19 positive, Inspector General of Prisons Dasarath Das said he had not received any such report from the health department.

Gogoi’s legal counsel Santanu Barthakur told the media, “In the morning, I received the news that Gogoi has tested positive for Covid-19.”

The Krishak Mukti Sangram Samitee (KMSS) founder is lodged in the Guwahati Central Jail for the past seven months for his role in the protests against the Citizenship (Amendment) Act, 2019.

On Wednesday, two associates of Gogoi, who are in the judicial custody, tested Covid-19 positive.

Meanwhile, during the day two more Covid-19 deaths were reported in the state, taking the toll to 24, while the number of cases rose to 14,032.

Two more Covid-19 patients, aged 70 and 56, succumbed to the infection this morning at the Gauhati Medical College and Hospital, tweeted Health Minister Himanta Biswa Sarma.

The Health Department is conducting door-to-door Covid-19 testing in Guwahati from Tuesday. The campaign in the Pandu area of the Guwahati Municipal Corporation is being personally monitored by Sarma.

According to the health officials, the number of Covid-19 cases in Assam has climbed to 14,032. Of this, 5,279 are active as 8,726 people have been discharged, three migrated to other states and 24 died.

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Cities

Three-day lockdown in UP from Friday night

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Lucknow, July 9 : The Yogi Adityanath government on Thrsday announced a three-day lockdown in Uttar Pradesh from 10 p.m. on Friday to 5.a.m. on Monday.

All markets, food grain markets and other establishments will remain closed during this period and the supply of essentials will be ensured through doorstep delivery.

The movement of trains and air services will continue but road transport will be shut down. Buses, however, will be made available to air and train passengers.

Petrol pumps and hospitals will function normally.

The three-day lockdown is being enforced in view of the spurt in number of Corona cases in the state.

An official statement said that goods carriers will be allowed to operate and construction activities will also continue.

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Disaster

UN chief highlights need for decent jobs to fuel Covid-19 recovery

“But let”s be clear: it”s not a choice between health or jobs and the economy,” he said. “They are interlinked. We will either win on all fronts or fail on all fronts.”

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Antonio Guterres

United Nations, July 9 : UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres has highlighted the need for decent jobs to fuel the Covid-19 recovery. In a video message, the UN chief told heads of state and government and others attending a virtual meeting that they are essential to global efforts to “build back better” after the pandemic.

“Together, we can emerge from this crisis stronger, with decent jobs and a brighter, more equal and greener future for all,” he said on Wednesday, Xinhua reported.

More than 50 heads of state and government, alongside global employers” and trade union leaders, have been taking part in an online discussion on Wednesday looking at the impact of the Covid-19 pandemic on the world of work.

The summit is part of a five-day virtual event organized this month by the International Labour Organization (ILO), to examine issues that include countering the economic and social impact of the crisis.

The Covid-19 pandemic has exposed the extreme vulnerability of millions of workers and businesses worldwide. It has led to a 14 percent drop globally in working hours during the second quarter of this year: equivalent to the loss of 400 million full time jobs, according to data from the ILO.

Furthermore, most of the world”s workers — a staggering 93 per cent — continue to live in countries that have implemented some form of workplace closures.

As of Wednesday, the World Health Organization reported more than 11.6 million confirmed cases of Covid-19 worldwide, and nearly 540,000 deaths.

The UN chief pointed out that while some countries are just entering the worst days of the pandemic, others are struggling to open up their economies amid the threat of a resurgence in cases.

“But let”s be clear: it”s not a choice between health or jobs and the economy,” he said. “They are interlinked. We will either win on all fronts or fail on all fronts.”

The UN chief underscored the importance of global solidarity as no country can solve the crisis alone.

“This global summit is an opportunity for governments, workers and employers” representatives to shape winning responses,” said the secretary-general.

“Responses that stimulate the economy and employment. Solutions that support enterprises, decent jobs and incomes. Approaches that safeguard workers and expand social protection. Plans that promote gender equality and reinforce social cohesion. Proposals that protect the most vulnerable and invest in essential workers — such as those in health and care services — who are on the frontlines of the response. And above all, initiatives that are grounded in unity and solidarity.”

Leaders addressed the summit via video messages, outlining how their countries or organizations are responding to the crisis.

The summit was preceded by five regional virtual events held last week looking at the challenges of recovery and building a better future of work after the pandemic.

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