Connect with us

COVID-

COVID-19: ‘Panic’ among India health workers over PPE shortages

Early in March, a 37-year-old lab technician at the Mahatma Gandhi Institute of Medical Sciences (MGIMS) in the western state of Maharashtra got sick at a time when the coronavirus pandemic was still not high on the Indian government’s agenda. “He had pneumonia in both his lungs and his condition was severe enough to be…

COVID-19: ‘Panic’ among India health workers over PPE shortages

Early in March, a 37-year-old lab technician at the Mahatma Gandhi Institute of Medical Sciences (MGIMS) in the western state of Maharashtra got sick at a time when the coronavirus pandemic was still not high on the Indian government’s agenda.
“He had pneumonia in both his lungs and his condition was severe enough to be put in the intensive care unit (ICU),” Dr SP Kalantri, the director professor of medicine at MGIMS, told Al Jazeera.
More:

India’s COVID-19 lockdown hits HIV+ and chronic patients hard

Migrants in India sprayed with disinfectant to fight coronavirus

‘Hunger will kill us before coronavirus’, say Rohingya in India

The lab technician’s breathing was assisted by mechanical ventilation.
“Our nurses are trained to take care of such patients day in and day out – it wasn’t something new,” said Kalantri, who is also the medical superintendent of the MGIMS-run Kasturba Hospital. 
“But there was a diagnostic possibility that he had COVID-19.” 
The entire MGIMS staff was nervous when they sent a sample to a regional lab in Nagpur city for testing. They were worried that if it turned out to be a COVID-19 infection, others could have been infected, and in turn, infected their families.
The staff of another hospital in Mumbai, the capital of Maharashtra and the country’s financial hub, had already been quarantined after a patient tested positive. So when the test came back negative, everyone at MGIMS breathed a sigh of relief.
A sense of alarm
There is a sense of alarm among healthcare professionals across India as the country hunkers down in wait for what many believe will be a tsunami of coronavirus cases.
Prime Minister Narendra Modi addressed the nation last Tuesday, announcing a countrywide lockdown for 21 days.

Governmental doctors walk towards a bus to go to several districts as reinforcement in the city during a government-imposed nationwide lockdown [Dibyangshu Sarkar/AFP]

“It is going to help stop the spread of the virus to an extent, but it is also a time for the healthcare infrastructure to prepare itself,” Dr Yogesh Jain, a doctor who works in Bilaspur district of Chhattisgarh state, told Al Jazeera.
Jain, like most medical professionals, is deeply concerned over shortages of protective health supplies, such as masks, gloves and coveralls, known as personal protective equipment (PPE).
“The prime minister said nothing about that,” he said.
On Tuesday, Reuters reported that the government was planning to procure more PPE domestically and was also exploring imports from South Korea and China.
In Chhattisgarh, six cases have so far tested positive for COVID-19, one in the district where Jain works as a doctor. But the low number of recorded cases across the country might be a result of the government’s strict guidelines on who can be tested. 
“Apart from those six reported cases, we have many patients who are showing symptoms of COVID-19,” said Jain, who has no coveralls or disposable 3-ply face masks, fewer than a dozen N-95 masks and just a few sets of gloves at his hospital.

Workers in Bangalore spray disinfectant on a road during the nation-wide lockdown [Jagadeesh NV/EPA] 

‘They think about their spouses and kids’
Minutes before talking to Al Jazeera, Jain was attempting to get a patient with COVID-19-like symptoms transported to the government medical college to Bilaspur town for a test.
The ambulance driver showed up with no protective gear. Jain wanted to give him coveralls and a mask but was unable to, since he did not have enough for himself. 
“If I can’t even make sure of the safety of the health workers, how can I ask them to do their work?” he asked.
Kalantri from MGIMS said anxiety was pervasive among his staff. “The doctors are also human beings. They read about death of healthcare workers in China or Italy or UK, and fear starts making a way into their consciousness. They think about their spouse and kids at home.”
Experts are blaming the current shortage of PPE on government mismanagement.
The minutes of a meeting, which Al Jazeera has seen, held by the Ministry of Textiles on March 18 noted that the Health Ministry would require more than 700,000 protective coveralls, six million N-95 masks and 10 million 3-ply masks until the end of May.
The estimates are wildly conservative in the eyes of industry watchdogs. According to the All India Drug Action Network, the need for coveralls, for instance, could rise to 500,000 per day.  In the same meeting, the ministry also noted “there is a shortage of material and the rate of supply is not meeting the rising demand”.
The government had also not paid attention to World Health Organization (WHO) warnings about impending global shortages of PPE on February 27, and called on industries to ramp up production by just 40 percent.
Towards the end of January, the Ministry of Commerce and Industry issued a notification banning the export of all PPE. But that order was amended a week later, on February 8, to allow the export of surgical masks and gloves. 
It was only on March 19 that the government banned the export of raw materials used to manufacture PPE. 
Despite repeated attempts Al Jazeera could not reach Lav Agarwal, the spokesman of the ministry of health. Questions were also sent via email, sms, WhatsApp but did not receive reply until the time of the publication of the article.

Governmental doctors board a bus in Kolkata [Dibyangshu Sarkar/AFP]

A human tragedy
“Indian manufacturers were urging the government to stock up materials since early February, and to impose anti-profiteering measures. Yet the by the time an order was received, the price of the components required to make ply masks had gone up “from 250 per kg to 3,000 per kg,” Sanjiiiv Relhan, the chairman of the Preventive Wear Manufacturer Association of India, told local media.
Meanwhile, PPE shortages are forcing some doctors to use raincoats and motorbike helmets, according to a Reuters report on Tuesday.
The shortages come amid a humanitarian crisis over the government lockdown, with tens of thousands of migrant workers fleeing cities to reach their homes in rural areas. This mass exodus of people risks  infections spreading from cities to rural areas, which could prove catastrophic for the country of 1.3 billion people. While the number of reported cases has crossed 1,200 with 32 deaths, many believe India’s low testing rate makes those statistics meaningless.
Jain says he expects the cost of the delays will be borne by healthcare professionals.  
“It is going to be mayhem,” he said. 
“I think that even the healthcare professionals who are committed to work, out of fear of the pandemic and for their own lives, might desert the frontlines.”
Continue Reading…

COVID-

Philadelphia down due to COVID-19, but far from out

ANALYSIS/OPINION: Washington Times columnist Cheryl K. Chumley is biking the battleground states as part of an ongoing series, visiting 14 states in 14 days to hear what real Americans think of the 2020 election. All of her interviews may be found HERE. PHILADELPHIA — Philadelphia may be masked, depressed and a bit down due to…

Philadelphia down due to COVID-19, but far from out

ANALYSIS/OPINION:

Washington Times columnist Cheryl K. Chumley is biking the battleground states as part of an ongoing series, visiting 14 states in 14 days to hear what real Americans think of the 2020 election. All of her interviews may be found HERE.

PHILADELPHIA — Philadelphia may be masked, depressed and a bit down due to the coronavirus — but it’s definitely not out.

There’s still a spirit hovering about the Liberty Bell; there’s still a sort of hushed awe while staring at the very buildings where the Founding Fathers hashed out America’s great government.

“I’m an American,” said Sabrina Pasquariello, born in New Jersey but a longtime Philadelphia resident, in an interview in the heart of Philly’s rich historic district, Independence Mall. “So I believe in our flag and I believe in protection of our country and I believe in police and our firefighters and everybody to protect us.”

Her voice shook a bit.

“That,” she said, pointing at the building that houses the Liberty Bell, “is special to me.”

Normally, she said, the area would be jam-packed with tourists, school children on field trips and city employees on their way to and from work. But now? late-September, months after the coronavirus shuttered the entire nation’s economy?

Philadelphia streets are near empty. Pedestrians are face-masked and few and far between. The bustling, thriving downtown area of just a few months ago is largely quiet.

And sadly, safe spots have turned unsafe.

Homeless people, Pasquariello said, have taken over areas where restaurants once flourished; where diners once spilled into streets.

The local government just lets it happen, she said.

It is a bit depressing to see.

Another COVID-19 casualty.

Taxi driver Scott, meanwhile — he declined to give his last name — said much of the response to the coronavirus has been overhyped, leading to a city that’s unnecessarily economically depressed.

“I think this is overplayed,” he said. “The face mask mandates — beyond ridiculous. … I think [COVID-19] is getting confused with the everyday obituary column. You know, 10,000 people die in this country every day from old age. For the people who have [COVID-19], it’s awful. I’m not discounting that … but when it’s time to go, it’s time to go.”

Politically incorrect — but true.

And that’s sort of like Philadelphia these days: Politically incorrect for the anti-America, anti-police, socialist-loving Constitution hating crowds who gather in the streets to smash windows and toss bricks and set fires. But a true-blue taste of what makes America so great, even today: The clear bell ringing of freedom.

• Cheryl Chumley can be reached at [email protected] or on Twitter, @ckchumley. Listen to her podcast “Bold and Blunt” by clicking HERE. And never miss her column; subscribe to her newsletter by clicking HERE.

Sign up for Daily Opinion Newsletter

Continue Reading…

Continue Reading

COVID-

COVID-19: US passes ‘unfathomable’ 200,000 death toll |NationalTribune.com

Sorry, we can’t find the page that you are looking for. Don’t let that stop you from visiting some of our other great related content.EXPLORE MOREPalestine quits Arab League role in protest over Israel dealsPalestine was meant to chair Arab League meetings for next six months, but FM Riyad al-Maliki has declined the position.At UN,…

COVID-19: US passes ‘unfathomable’ 200,000 death toll |NationalTribune.com

Sorry, we can’t find the page that you are looking for. Don’t let that stop you from visiting some of our other great related content.EXPLORE MOREPalestine quits Arab League role in protest over Israel dealsPalestine was meant to chair Arab League meetings for next six months, but FM Riyad al-Maliki has declined the position.At UN, Qatar emir questions world inaction on Israeli occupationQatar’s leader says Israel continues to carry out ‘flagrant violation of international resolutions’.Lebanon: Hezbollah arms depot blast caused by ‘technical error’Lebanon’s official news agency said explosion took place in southern village of Ein Qana, about 50km south of Beirut.
Continue Reading…

Continue Reading

COVID-

US COVID-19 deaths near 200,000, one in five of global toll |NationalTribune.com

The death toll from COVID-19 in the United States was nearing 200,000 on Tuesday – accounting for more than one in five deaths globally, putting US President Donald Trump’s handling of the pandemic in the spotlight as he campaigns for a second term in office. According to Johns Hopkins University, the US has reported at least…

US COVID-19 deaths near 200,000, one in five of global toll |NationalTribune.com

The death toll from COVID-19 in the United States was nearing 200,000 on Tuesday – accounting for more than one in five deaths globally, putting US President Donald Trump’s handling of the pandemic in the spotlight as he campaigns for a second term in office.
According to Johns Hopkins University, the US has reported at least 199,818 deaths, while the number of cases has reached more than 6.8 million, also the highest in the world. More than 70 percent of the fatalities in the US have been among people over the age of 65, according to the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC).
On a weekly average, the US is now losing about 800 lives every day to the virus, according to a Reuters analysis. The death rate has risen by five percent in the last week, after four weeks of decline.
The University of Washington’s health institute forecasts fatalities could reach 378,000 by the end of 2020, with the daily death toll skyrocketing to 3,000 per day in December.

The US coronavirus response: An F for failure? | Upfront (Arena)

‘He failed to act’
Critics say the data shows the Trump administration’s failure to meet its sternest test ahead of the November 3 election.
“Due to Donald Trump’s lies and incompetence in the past six months, [we] have seen one of the gravest losses of American life in history,” his Democratic rival Joe Biden charged on Monday.
“With this crisis, a real crisis, a crisis that required serious presidential leadership, he just wasn’t up to it. He froze. He failed to act. He panicked. And America has paid the worst price of any nation in the world.”
The US accounts for four percent of the world’s population and 20 percent of its coronavirus deaths, while its daily fatality rate relative to the overall population is four times greater than that of the European Union.
The southern states of Texas and Florida contributed the most deaths in the US in the past two weeks, closely followed by California.

Trump adviser warned of potential pandemic in January

On Monday, Trump insisted that the worst was over even as the number of cases climbed in some parts of the country including Wisconsin, a key swing state for the election.
Trump has previously admitted to playing down the danger of the coronavirus early on because he did not want to “create a panic”.
Trump is behind Democratic rival Joe Biden nationally in every major opinion poll and is neck and neck in key swing states. Trump’s handling of the pandemic and subsequent economic downturn has battered his standing among many voters.
Trump has frequently questioned the advice of scientific experts on everything from the timing of a vaccine to reopening schools and businesses to wearing a mask. He has also refused to support a national mask mandate and held large political rallies where few attendees wore masks.
On Monday, Trump held campaign stops in the state of Ohio and many of those who were there did not wear masks.

People in Los Angeles hold a demonstration against US President Donald Trump as the country’s death toll from coronavirus nears 200,000 [Eugene Garcia/EPA]

CDC Director Robert Redfield recently told Congress that a face mask would provide more guaranteed protection than a vaccine, which would only be broadly available by “late second quarter, third quarter 2021.”
Trump has also refuted the timeline for the vaccine and said that it may be available in a matter of weeks and ahead of the November 3 election.
Continue Reading…

Continue Reading

Trending