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Three Indians among 42 confirmed Covid-19 cases in Singapore March 30, 2020 19:20

Among the 42 new cases reported in Singapore, three Indian nationals have been identified in them. This has taken up the total number of confirmed cases in the country to 844. Out of the 42 new cases, 24 of them are imported and have international travel history from some of the hotspots across the globe. The three Indians who have been identified as positive for the coronavirus infection include a 35 year old female, 34 year male with a work pass of Singapore and a 43 year male who is a permanent resident of Singapore. One of the latest cases in the country also includes a 42-year old permanent resident who is a nurse in the local hospital. She contracted the virus possibly at her workplace as there are no reports of international travel. She started showcasing the symptoms of the disease on March 24, 2020 and finally got the confirmed test results on March 27, 2020. According to reports from a local news channel, she is kept in isolation in the hospital that she works in. Of all the 423 cases in the hospitals in Singapore, 19 are currently in critical condition. The others are either stable or improving from the state that they were admitted in. 14 patients have recently already recovered from the condition and have been discharged from the hospitals in Singapore. In total, 212 of the infected patients in Singapore have already recovered from the virus. By Somapika Dutta

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Government agrees on ‘limited community transmission’ in India March 30, 2020 18:47

After a series of social media posts and random news outlets trending rumors surrounding the extensive community spread infection of the coronavirus, the government of India finally admitted that there is very “limited community transmission” in this country. For the individuals who aren’t aware, according to the terminologies, an infectious disease is believed to reach “Stage 3” when the authorities are not able to trace back the incidence of the infection. When they are unable to find the source of the infection, or when multiple positive cases in randomised testings come up, only then can it be categorised under community spread. The same was admitted in one of the standard operating procedure that was issued for the emergency medical relief that was issued on Saturday. This was meant as a guide and instruction manual for the ambulance drivers and the technicians operation along the same line of work. In the further description of the SOP, the government explained the current stage of the pandemic of the covid-19 as locally transmitted or the limited community transmission. The same was a completely different viewpoint from the claims that the government made on Sunday concerning the lack of community spread in the country. Even on Saturday, the Press Information Bureau tweeted saying “please don't fall for report claiming India has entered Stage 3 - i.e. community transmission of Covid19. Claims made are misleading and scaremongering.” Later on Sunday, during a press conference, the government officials stated saying that even though there are a few individuals whose source of infection is still unknown, there were no reports of community transmission. The SOP falls as a complete antagonist to the claims that the government made. In the press conference, Raman R. Gangakhedkar, scientist at Indian Council of Medical Research (ICMR), further stated saying, “Some people didn't even reveal that they tested positive while others hid their travel history. Till we see a significant number of cases to indicate community transmission, let us not overinterpret things.” The comments by the government were made in contrast to the kinds of confirmed cases that were coming up from parts of India where there were no history of international travel or even primary contact with someone who has the confirmed case of coronavirus. A few of the new confirmed cases have come up in parts of Tamil Nadu, Telangana, Andhra Pradesh over the last two weeks because of the travel history to Delhi. Both the central and the state government have refused to comment on the condition on whether there are reports of community spread or not. India current has over 1200 confirmed cases with the death toll currently at 29. By Somapika Dutta

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German State Finance Minister commits suicide over coronavirus crisis March 30, 2020 18:13

While the world is in an urgent state of crisis over the spread of the coronavirus pandemic, another wave of shock came in reporting the death of the German State Finance Minister, Thomas Schaefer. Reports suggest that Shaefer’s body was found near a railway track and it is believed that the 54-year old minister committed suicide over the looming worry about the country’s falling economy because of the coronavirus pandemic. State Premier Volker Bouffier stated saying that Shaefer took his own life after being “deeply worried” over the economic fallout of the country over the coronavirus and was unsure of how to revive the same. Bouffier further expressed his sorrow saying, “We are in shock, we are in disbelief and above all we are immensely sad.” Volker Bouffier also recalled the times when Shaefer was serving as the finance chief of Hesse for 10 years. He praised the way Shaefer had worked day in and day out to help the companies and the workers deal with the economic impact of the pandemic. Bouffier further said that his actions led him to believe that Shaefer was indeed deeply worried and stressed. He believes that it is precisely this time of crisis that the entire German government would have needed someone like him to guide them along the matters of finances. Thomas Shaefer was working on the behalf of Angela Merkel’s centre right CDU party. He left behind his wife and two children. By Somapika Dutta

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Cabinet Secretary turns down false rumors of coronavirus lockdown extension March 30, 2020 18:08

With the number of confirmed coronavirus cases in India surpassing 1000, the citizens are constantly questioning the state of the country and the kind of steps that the government is going to take to mitigate this condition. Amidst everything, one of the most common rumors that people are reading about is the possible extension of the coronavirus lockdown. India is currently on the sixth day of the lockdown and there have been a numbers of rumors floating around about the possible extension of the coronavirus lockdown in India. Addressing and clarifying all these rumors, the Press Information Bureau said in a tweet, “There are rumours and media reports, claiming that the government will extend the lockdown when it expires. The Cabinet Secretary has denied these reports, and stated that they are baseless.” The Cabinet Secretary, Rajiv Gauba stated saying that these are all rumors and he himself is very shocked to see such kind of news floating around. Gauba further stated saying that there are no plans for the extension of the lockdown. For better protection of the country against the spread of the coronavirus, the centre has asked all the state governments to seal all the borders with immediate effect. They also clarified that the individuals who have already left should be quarantined for 14 days. Addressing the nation in the “Mann Ki Baat” broadcast, the Prime Minister of India, Narendra Modi apologised to the poor of the country for his decision of the sudden lockdown stating that there was no other option left in his hands to protect the country from the further spread of the coronavirus infection. However, the PM has showcased his confidence stating that he is sure that they will be able to win this battle and revive the country back from the impacts of this virus. He also praised all the front line workers and the kind of dedication that they have shown for the country. Latest reports suggest that the government has further introduced a few more ease of way and exemptions during the lockdown, allowing the movement of the goods, irrespective of being in the essential or the non-essential categories. The Modi administration has also set up an empowered entity including 11 groups for quickly coming up with the next step in the process and executing a better and comprehensive plan for the coming days during the spread of this coronavirus pandemic. By Somapika Dutta

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China initiates first trial of their coronavirus vaccine - Ad5-nCoV March 30, 2020 13:07

Amidst the worsening condition of the world because of the spread of the coronavirus pandemic, China hit the trial for their very first coronavirus vaccine, Ad5-nCoV which has been developed by the local researchers. The same was announced a day after US began their first human trial of the mRNA vaccine candidate for covid-19. The coronavirus vaccine developed by China, Ad5-nCoV, is a recombinant novel coronavirus vaccine. The vaccine was done with collaborative efforts put in by Tianjin-based Cansino Biologics Inc. and the Institute of Biotechnology of the Academy of Military Medical Sciences. For the clinical trial, China has appointed 108 subjects and the trial is going to be conducted in Tongji Hospital in Wuhan. Highlighting the attributed and functionalities of Ad5-nCoV, Cansino clarified saying, “Ad5-nCoV is a genetically engineered vaccine candidate with the replication-defective adenovirus type 5 as the vector to express SARS-CoV-2 spike protein.” The vaccine candidate has been developed to prevent the disease that is caused by the infection of the novel coronavirus infestation. The company behind this vaccine further states saying that they have started preparing for the clinical trials on March 17, 2020 and that they were also conducting the pre-screening of the candidates. Cansino CEO Xuefeng Yu further said that their company has been collaborating with the academy for the development of this vaccine from late January. Yu further stated saying, “Having committed to providing unconditional support to fight against the global epidemic, Cansino is determined to launch our vaccine product candidate as soon as possible, with no compromises in quality and safety.” As per the reports from the Chinese Clinical Trial Registry, this trial testing safety and the tolerance of the Ad5-nCoV is going to be witnessed in the adults in the age range of 18 to 60. There are going to be three steps of the dosage – low, middle and high and each will be assigned with 36 subjects. They are going to be administered with 5e10vp, 1E11vp and 1E11vp of Ad5-nCoV respectively. The researchers suggested saying that the primary factor that they want to check is whether or not the administration of the vaccine imposes any kinds of side effects in the first week. The secondary indicators is to look for any adverse impacts within 28 days of the injection, followed by the reports in the 6 months of the administration. The Ad5-nCoV has been prepared using the adenovirus based viral vector technology platform from Cansino. What this means is that the vaccine leverages the use of the viral vectors to deliver the vaccine to the human cell. Cansino did conduct a pre-clinical animal trial and observed that the administration of the vaccine was effective in inducing strong immune response in the animal models. The safety results in the pre-clinical trial were what paved way for the human clinical trials. In one of the webinars conducted by Chinese CRO Wuxi Aptech, Yu stated saying, “We need speed, but we still need quality. We don't want to introduce a second harm to people. It is critically important to check every step.” Yu further clarified saying that even though the existing platform does allow for a speedy development of the vaccines, there are a number of factors that go into the final development and administration of the vaccine on the human subjects. Animal models should be available first for testing for the safety of the drug, following which the same can be administered on the humans. Yu also stated saying, “Even though we have learned from MERS and SARS, COVID-19 is still a new virus that behaves very differently, so we should really get some basic understanding.” On the other hand, the United States has also been testing out their vaccine candidate for the coronavirus, mRNA-1273 which has been developed under the collaborative efforts of NIH and Moderna Inc. This vaccine encodes the viral spike protein to help prevent the infections caused by the coronavirus. By Somapika Dutta

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‘Quarantine will not be necessary’: President Trump about New York lockdown March 30, 2020 11:42

While United States is at the top with their increased number of confirmed cases; peaking at over 142,000 confirmed cases as of now, things in New York specifically have taken a turn for the worse. With the worsening condition, while the country expected a complete lockdown in New York as President Trump did insinuate about in the beginning, he has now reported that he would just issue a travel warning and not cut off the state completely. In a tweet that he made, Trump stated saying, “A quarantine will not be necessary.” In one of the press conferences held on Saturday, Trump did say that he might impose a complete ban on the travel in and out of New York and a fewer parts of New Jersey and Connecticut. These are the hot spots in the country, being considered as the epicentre of the spread of the disease. But, listening to the possible insights, several of the critics stated saying that doing so can be “unworkable”, mainly because of the fact that these places account for 10-12% of the country’s GDP. New York Governor Andrew Cuomo stated saying, “If you started walling off areas all across the country it would be totally bizarre, counter-productive, anti-American.” Listening to the points made and the facts around, Trump dropped the idea of the complete ban and instead tweeted that he would ask CDC to issue a “strong travel advisory” instead and the same would be imposed by the governors of the three states which are serving as the hotspots in the country. Following Trump’s tweet, the CDC later put out advisories and warnings to the local residents to refrain themselves from non-essential domestic travel for the coming 14 days. They also clarified that the same doesn’t imply on the workers in the “critical infrastructure industries”. While the country was in a state of protest over Trump’s remarks of reopening the US economy as soon as possible, Trump took the blow softly and mentioned that they will see what happens and not charge through anything at the moment. There have been several restrictions that have been imposed on the other stated in the US by the Governors. Like, for example, any New Yorker travelling to Florida or Rhode Island will have to self isolate themselves if they intend to stay in the state. The same orders of self quarantine have also been imposed by the Governors of Pennsylvania and West Virginia. The Governor of California, Gavin Newsom stated saying that the number of confirmed cases in California has been increasing. The state is under complete lockdown to prevent further spread. With the surge in the number of confirmed cases and the uncertainty surrounding the same, the frontline healthcare providers in the United States are urging for better protective equipment to keep themselves safe during this time of crisis. Several hospitals and the doctors have shown their worry regarding the lack of ventilators and other necessary equipments that are required for the infected patients. US currently has 142,735 confirmed cases and has reported 2,488 deaths as of early March 20, 2020. By Somapika Dutta

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Minal Dakhabe Bhosale – the woman behind India’s first Covid-19 testing kits March 30, 2020 11:21

If you weren’t informed, India got its first approved Covid-19 testing kits made by a Pune based biomedical firm called Mylabs. While the company has been appraised for their amazing development, it was Minal Dakhabe Bhosale, who made it happen. The Patho Detect, as the name of the kit is, is a lot more efficient than the first testing kit that Indian was using for its testing needs. While the prior testing kits took four and a half hours to give the results, the Patho Detect gets it done in two and a half. While India had a rate of 6.8 tests per million, ranging it at one of the lowest, India did experience a lot of criticism for the same. This home grown and developed test kit is the game changer that the country needed for itself. Minal Dakhabe Bhosale is the research and development chief at Mylab’s and developed the Covid-19 testing kits within a short timespan of just six weeks, all the while being pregnant and delivering a beautiful baby girl just a week before. Bhosale, along with her team, were working on these testing kits since February, a few days after she left the hospital learning about several complications related to her pregnancy. Bhosale stated saying, “It was an emergency, so I took this on as a challenge. I had to serve my nation.” She also emphasised saying that the same wouldn’t have been possible if her team of 10 members didn’t work just as hard as she did. Once the final testing kit was done and tested locally, Bhosale submitted it on to the National Institute of Virology for further evaluation on March 18, 2020, just one day before she delivered a healthy baby girl. The kits were tested on emergency basis and approved when the results came out positive. The testing kits were then made available for the use in the hospitals for testing on Thursday, thereby helping increase the testing frequency in the country. Bhosale further stated saying, “Our kit gives the diagnosis in just two and a half hours while the imported testing kits can take as long as six to seven hours.” Mylabs Discovery Solution, the company which got the approval for the development of the testing kits in India confirmed stating that they can manufacture 15,000 kits in a day from their available facility situated in Lonavala, Maharashtra. They also said that in times of dire need, they can increase the rate to 25,000 a day as well. The first shipment with 150 testing kits was sent to several of the testing hubs in Pune, Mumbai, Delhi, Goa and Bengaluru for their first round of testing. Dr Gautam Wankhede, who is the director of medical affairs at Mylab, stated saying, “Our manufacturing unit is working through the weekend and the next batch of the testing kits will be sent out on Monday.” Mylabs is also known for their production of the testing kits for HIV and Hepatitis B and C. The company said that they can make as many as 100,000 testing kits in a week and increase the number to 200,000 in a week, if needed. Each of the Mylab testing kit has the potency of testing 100 samples in one go and will cost INR 1200, which is a fraction of what India pays to import the testing kits internationally. India has scaled up their testing and is now testing everyone who is admitted to the hospitals with complaints of respiratory disease, international travel history and the similar signs of the coronavirus infection. Currently, the number of confirmed cases in India has surpassed 1000, with 28 reported deaths. By Somapika Dutta

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TB vaccine being tested as a potent coronavirus treatment March 30, 2020 10:46

While the frontline healthcare workers are evidently putting their lives at risk every single day, the researchers from Melbourne are advised a 100 years old TB vaccine to these healthcare workers to see if the same can help protect them from the coronavirus. The bacillus Calmette-Guerin shot has been in practice for over 100 years now for the condition of TB and is more importantly known for its amazing off target benefits. The vaccine has been found effective as a common immunotherapy for combating early stages of bladder cancer but has also been found to help boost the immune system to fight several kinds of infections. Given the fact that the immunization for the Covid-19 is almost a year away, the World Health Organisation is curious to know whether BCG can pose as an effective shield till then. They want to see whether the same helps the patients infected with coronavirus. WHO has also been encouraging several of the international groups to come together in this time and collaborate on the study that has been led by Nigel Curtis, who is the head of the infectious diseases research at the Murdoch Children’s Institute in Melbourne. Curtis further clarified the case study reports stating, “It can boost the immune system so that it defends better against a whole range of different infections, a whole range of different viruses and bacteria in a lot more generalized way.” Over 4000 hospital staff in Australia has volunteered to be part of the six months trial who will be randomly allocated to be vaccinated starting Monday, March 30, 2020. The placebo vaccine that has been deduced for this randomised trial won’t work as the control in this case because of the BCG shot has a side effect of leaving behind localised skin scarring, making it obvious for the individuals who have received the TB vaccination. Similar kind of an approach has been started in Netherlands too. The TB vaccine is quite inexpensive and is used to vaccinate over 130 million babies every year across the globe. Curtis believes that even though the vaccine is likely to provide a broader frame of protection to the people across the world, their main priority at the moment are the healthcare workers who are at higher risk of contracting the disease. Highlighting this, Curtis stated saying, “We need to think of every possible way that we can protect healthcare workers. And there’s going to be a particular need to reduce the amount of time that our healthcare workers are absent.” Several of the conducted studies with BCG in Africa has shown potent results against not just TB but a varying range of pediatric infections. The researchers believe that the same happens by boosting the innate immune system of the body. The blood samples collected at the start of the trial and the end of the trial will help deduce who contracted the coronavirus and if there were any kinds of symptoms visible during the trial period. The monitoring team behind the study are going to study the results from this trial after 3 months to further look for any signs of improvement and impacts on the cases. Assuring the people, Curtis stated saying, “We wouldn’t be doing this if we didn’t think that this might work. We cannot guarantee that this will work. And, of course, the only way to find that out is with this trial.” By Somapika Dutta

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Confirmed cases in India cross 1000; death toll at 28 March 30, 2020 10:18

The coronavirus pandemic is taking a constant turn for the worse for India, which is currently in its 21 days lockdown. India has surpassed 1000 confirmed cases, the death toll currently at 28. Maharashtra reported the maximum confirmed cases, its death toll at the highest too. The country reported 130 positive cases in a day, highest in a day so far, leaving the authorities in constant dilemma over the situation. One of the latest deaths due to Covid-19 has been reported in West Bengal, taking the overall death toll of the state to 2. While the reports of the confirmed cases have been consistently rising, the one issue that the country has faced with is the migrant labourers who are finding it difficult to return back home. With no way left, thousands of workers have been walking barefoot to reach their home, violating the advices of the lockdown. Tending to the severity of the situation, the Karnataka government has brought back 2442 labourers back to their homes in Karnataka in 62 buses from Maharashtra. In other reports, several prohibitory orders have been imposed in Kottayam, a day after the migrant workers started their massive protest. India is constantly fighting the constant rise of the cases, with vigorous testing and ensuring maximum protection for the citizens of the country. By Somapika Dutta

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Busting the myths around Immune System boosters March 28, 2020 17:18

The entire world is suffering from a constant impact of the novel coronavirus and while the experts are suggesting you to consume some of the best available immune boosting foods, it is likely that there are a number of myths that you probably don’t even know about them. Immune boosting foods and supplements are available to help you keep safe and healthy but at the same time, there are a few myths that people need to be clear about. Fruit juices aren’t better than whole fruits If you want to boost your immunity and have known all your life that the fruit juices are a good option for that, it technically isn’t the best. Unless absolutely necessary, experts do suggest that you eat the whole fruit instead of drinking the juice. The reason why that is the case is because fruit juices that are sold in the market often have added sugar in them. Even if you are making it at home, the sugar concentration in the juice is a lot higher than in the whole fruits. This is why consuming the whole fruit is considered a healthier option. Coffee can make your flu worse It is often advised by people to avoid coffee and tea when you are feeling a bit under the weather, especially when you are struggling with flu or any other viral infection. Well, coffee is loaded with antioxidants which do impose beneficial impacts on your health that you possibly didn’t know about. The coffee is not dehdyrating as many tend to point out. Even studies have found that the individuals who do drink tea or coffee have lesser risks of developing heart diseases and other chronic illnesses. Avoiding dairy is necessary when sick It is believed that dairy tends to trigger further mucus production, making you fall sicker. That is not the case at all. Even research has been conducted that has found that it is nothing but a myth. It doesn’t contribute to further production of mucus, so you can consume it without any further thoughts or questions. The only thing worth noting is that if you don’t feel comfortable eating or drinking dairy products or dairy when you are sick, skip them. Don’t force yourself to consume something you don’t feel good about. Antibacterial foods can help you stay fit Many people have a habit of including coconut oil and honey thinking that the same does help with the condition of your immune system and keep everyone healthy. That is not the case at all. Simply eating coconut oil and such won’t help improve your immune system if you are not taking the necessary precaution that come with it. Yes, it is true that coconut oil does have amazing health benefits but that is not an excuse for you to consume a whole lot of it that is not what helps in the long run. Vitamin C can brave it all Immune system is not equivalent to Vitamin C. Just consuming that won’t help you recover or won’t help impact or boost your overall immune system. It does depend on a whole lot of things that you need to keep in mind and look over from time to time. Adding Vitamin C to your diet every now and then is completely fine but don’t base the strength of your entire body’s immune system to the Vitamin C consumption. That is not how the same works. By Somapika Dutta

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