After COVID-19 lockdown, Mumbai Metro gets tepid response; schools partially reopen in UP, Punjab, Sikkim

FP Staff
·7 min read

The number of new coronavirus infections reported daily in India dropped below 60,000 for the second time this month, while the number of fresh fatalities registered across the country dipped below 600 almost after three months, the Union health ministry data stated on Monday.

The total cases mounted to 75.5 lakh with 55,722 infections being reported in a day. India had last registered daily cases below 60,000 on 13 October.

The number of deaths climbed to 1,14,610 with 579 fatalities being registered in a span of 24 hours, the data updated at 8 am showed.

The active cases of coronavirus infection remained below eight lakh for the third consecutive day.

China, where the pandemic began in December, became the first major economy to return to growth with a 3.2 percent expansion in the quarter ending in June. Output contracted 6.8 percent in the first quarter after Beijing shut down the world's second-largest economy.

Mumbai's Metro gets tepid response

Services on the financial capital's Metro rail began on Monday, after remaining shut for nearly seven months due to the coronavirus pandemic, with a tepid response from the passengers.

The over 11-km line, which connects Ghatkopar in northeast Mumbai with Versova to the northwest West, is estimated to see a ridership of over 10,000 passengers as 8.30 pm, which pales when compared to the daily ridership of over 4.5 lakh pre-pandemic.

The Mumbai Metro One is running services for a limited period of time, insisting on social distancing by limiting the number of people carried in a single coach to 260 people during the reopening.

The local trains, which act as a feeder to the Metro line and being operated only for the essential service workers, may also have had an impact on the ridership, according to experts.

Last week, the government, which is yet to take a call on restarting the local trains for all, gave the nod for services on the access control-enabled Metro line to start from 15 October, and the company operating the line decided to start services from Monday after conducting trial runs.

Schools partially reopen in UP, Punjab, Sikkim

Schools in Uttar Pradesh, Punjab, and Sikkim partially reopened from today, almost seven months after being shut down in view of the lockdown imposed to stem the spread of coronavirus. The Ministry of Home Affairs (MHA) in its Unlock 5.0 guidelines, allowed schools and colleges outside containment zones in some states to reopen.

In March, the government asked to shut schools and educational institutions to contain the spread of COVID-19.

The Centre gave states and union territories the flexibility to decide on the reopening schools and coaching institutions after 15 October, in a graded manner. States including Delhi, Maharashtra, Karnataka, and Chhattisgarh have decided not to reopen schools in the view of the COVID-19 pandemic.

Students from classes 9 to 12 in Uttar Pradesh, Punjab, and Sikkim can attend offline classes at their respective schools. The online classes will also continue along with offline classes and no student will be forced to come to the school.

To attend the school, students will be required to have written consent from their parents allowing them to attend offline classes. Schools that are resuming offline classes have been asked to adhere to strict COVID-19 guidelines issued by the state authorities.

China becomes first major economy to return to growth

China's economic growth accelerated to 4.9 percent over a year earlier in the latest quarter as a shaky recovery from the coronavirus pandemic gathered strength.

Figures announced Monday for the three months ending in September were in line with expectations after the ruling Communist Party declared the outbreak under control in March and began reopening factories, shops and offices.

Factory output rose, boosted by foreign demand for Chinese-made masks and other medical supplies. Retail sales, which had lagged behind the manufacturing rebound, finally returned to pre-virus levels.

The economy "continued the steady recovery," the National Bureau of Statistics said in a report. However, it warned "the international environment is still complicated and severe." It said China still faces "great pressure" to prevent a resurgence of the virus.

China, where the pandemic began in December, became the first major economy to return to growth with a 3.2 percent expansion in the quarter ending in June. Output contracted 6.8 percent in the first quarter after Beijing shut down the world's second-largest economy.

Authorities have lifted curbs on travel and business but visitors to government and other public buildings still are checked for the virus's telltale fever. Travelers arriving from abroad must be quarantined for two weeks.

Last week, more than 10 million people were tested for the virus in the eastern port of Qingdao after 12 cases were found there. That broke a streak of almost two months with no virus transmissions reported within China.

Indian-American teen wins $25,000 for work on potential treatment

An Indian-American teen has been awarded $25,000 for her research to find a treatment for the coronavirus. According to CNN, a 14-year-old from Texas has just won the 2020 3M Young Scientist Challenge for her work on a potential drug to treat COVID-19.

She has developed an antiviral drug for COVID-19 by researching protein spikes in the ongoing pandemic. Anika used in-silico methodology to find a molecule that can selectively bind to the Spike protein.

"The last two days, I saw that there is a lot of media hype about my project since it involves the SARS-CoV-2 virus and it reflects our collective hopes to end this pandemic as I, like everyone else, wish that we go back to our normal lives soon," Anika said.

The 14-year-old began working on ways to fight the seasonal flu. However, her plans changed when the pandemic hit. Anika used several computer programs to identify how and where the molecule would bind to the SARS-CoV-2 virus.

Antibodies fade quickly in recovering COVID-19 patients

Antibody levels in the blood of COVID-19 patients drop rapidly during the weeks after their bodies have cleared the novel coronavirus, and symptoms have subsided, according to a study.

In the absence of approved, effective treatments for COVID-19, some hospitals have been treating patients with severe symptoms with blood plasma from recovering patients.

If convalescent plasma is ultimately shown to have a clear benefit, the new study published in the journal mBio concluded that it needs to be collected during a specific window of time after recovery.

However, recovering patients can't donate blood until at least 14 days after symptoms have subsided, to give the body time to clear viral particles.

"We don't want to transfuse the virus, just transfuse the antibodies," said Andres Finzi at the University of Montreal in Canada.

"But at the same time, our work shows that the capacity of the plasma to neutralise viral particles is going down during those first weeks," Finzi said. The spike protein of SARS-CoV-2 plays a crucial role in helping the virus grab and invade host cells.

State-wise deaths

The 579 new fatalities reported on Monday include 150 from Maharashtra, 64 from West Bengal, 56 from Tamil Nadu, 51 from Karnataka, 39 from Chhattisgarh, 29 from Uttar Pradesh, and 28 from Delhi.

A total of 1,14,610 deaths have been reported so far in the country including 42,115 from Maharashtra followed by 10,642 from Tamil Nadu, 10,478 from Karnataka, 6,658 from Uttar Pradesh, 6,429 from Andhra Pradesh, 6,056 from West Bengal, 6,009 from Delhi, 4,012 from Punjab and 3,635 from Gujarat.

The health ministry stressed that more than 70 percent of the deaths occurred due to comorbidities.

"Our figures are being reconciled with the Indian Council of Medical Research," the ministry said on its website, adding that state-wise distribution of figures is subject to further verification and reconciliation.

With inputs from PTI

Also See: Two COVID studies paused due to safety issues; Mumbai metro to resume from 19 Oct, India's tally crosses 72 lakh

Penalty-taking legend Antonin Panenka in hospital with COVID-19

Coronavirus failings could set back Asian football, warns FIFPro general secretary Jonas Baer-Hoffmann

Read more on Health by Firstpost.