Maharashtra Covid News

Maharashtra: HIV-TB co-infections fall as Covid disrupts screenings
Times of India | 1 day ago | |
Times of India
1 day ago | |

PUNE: Covid-19's impact on routine health screenings has led to a drastic drop in the number of reported HIV-TB co-infections and TB deaths in the state. Both diseases share an insidious link. TB is a serious threat to human health, but the disease gets particularly worse in those living with HIV. People living with HIV are also at increased risk of contracting TB. And studies have shown that, worldwide, TB is among the leading causes of deaths among those living with HIV. Experts said the fall in cases is evidence that screenings were severely hit during the two years of Covid waves and it's now likely the state may have missed thousands of HIV-TB patients. According to data, over 8,000 cases of HIV-TB co-infections were reported in 2019. This fell to 5,700 in 2020 and 6,200 the following year. Similarly, reported TB deaths dropped from over 8,700 in 2019 to 5,700 in 2021. Before Covid, through 2017-2019, the state was reporting a steady rise in TB-linked deaths - from 5,339 in 2017 to the 8,739 in 2019. Quoting the global TB report released in October this year, Dr Soumya Swaminathan, the WHO's chief scientist, said: "The reported fall in reporting of TB cases and deaths could be attributed to the reduced surveillance in the past two years. We need to aggressively start looking out for TB cases and begin treatment to prevent the spread of the infection. Prior to Covid, TB was the largest killer among infectious diseases. Governments across the world must undertake special drives to identify, treat and medicate patients." It's not all worrying, though. There has been some progress against HIV-TB coinfection, said Dr Raman Gangakhedkar, former chief of the ICMR. "The incidence of HIV-TB co-infection is low due to multiple efforts taken through these years. And due to better treatment, cases of multi-drug resistant TB and HIV have also reduced," he said. State officials said now that Covid has slowed, TB checks are being stepped up. "Special drives that were launched in September this year helped us many detect cases," said Dr Ramji Adkekar, joint director, state health services (TB and Leprosy), Maharashtra.

Maharashtra: HIV-TB co-infections fall as Covid disrupts screenings
India sees 279 new Covid-19 cases, 5 deaths in 24 hours: Govt
Times of India | 2 days ago | |
Times of India
2 days ago | |

NEW DELHI: India reported a single-day rise of 279 new Covid-19 cases, which pushed its tally of the infection to 4,46,72,347, while the count of active cases has declined to 4,855, according to Union Health Ministry data updated on Wednesday. The death toll due to the disease has climbed to 5,30,620 with five fatalities being recorded, including two deaths reconciled by Kerala, the data updated at 8 am stated. The three fresh fatalities reported were from Himachal Pradesh, Kerala and Maharashtra. Active cases now comprise 0.01 per cent of the total infections, while the national COVID-19 recovery rate has increased to 98.80 per cent, according to the ministry. A decrease of 127 cases has been recorded in the active caseload in a span of 24 hours, the data showed. The number of people who have recuperated from the disease has surged to 4,41,36,872, while the case fatality rate was recorded at 1.19 per cent, it stated. According to the ministry's website, 219.92 crore doses of vaccines have been administered in the country so far under the nationwide COVID-19 vaccination drive. India's COVID-19 infection tally had crossed the 20-lakh mark on August 7, 2020, 30 lakh on August 23, 40 lakh on September 5, 50 lakh on September 16, 60 lakh on September 28, 70 lakh on October 11, 80 lakh on October 29, 90 lakh on November 20 and the one-crore mark on December 19, 2020. The country crossed the grim milestones of two crore cases on May 4, 2021, three crore on June 23, 2021, and four crore on January 25 this year.

India sees 279 new Covid-19 cases, 5 deaths in 24 hours: Govt
  • Maharashtra and Mumbai record lowest Covid cases in 32 months
  • Times of India

    MUMBAI: More than 32 months after the Covid pandemic began, the state on Monday registered the lowest single-day tally with detection of only 23 cases. Mumbai, too, registered its lowest tally in as many months, with six detections. The last time the single-day tally in Maharashtra was lower than Monday's tally was on March 13, 2020, when 17 cases were detected. In Mumbai, eight cases were detected on November 19. A state official admitted that the tally is low only because less than 4,000 tests were conducted on Sunday — a far cry from up to two lakh conducted in a day during the height of the pandemic two years back. In Mumbai, 1,226 tests were conducted. There were no fresh hospitalisations in the city in the Sunday-Monday period, with a total of 22 patients in hospitals at the moment.

  • India reports 343 new Covid cases; active cases fall to 5,263
  • Times of India

    NEW DELHI: India on Sunday reported 343 new coronavirus cases, taking the tally to 4.46 crore, the Union health ministry data stated. With 4 new deaths, the country's death toll has climbed to 5.3 lakh (5,30,612). Out of the 4 fresh fatalities, three have been reconciled by Kerala, while one was reported from Maharashtra in the last 24 hours. Furthermore, the number of active cases have come down to 5,263, the health ministry data updated at 8 am said. The active cases now comprise 0.01 per cent of the total infections. A decrease of 132 cases was recorded in the active Covid-19 caseload in a span of 24 hours. Meanwhile, the national Covid-19 recovery rate has increased to 98.8 per cent, according to the ministry's website. The number of people who have recuperated from the disease surged to 44.1 lakh (4,41,35,687) and the case fatality rate stood at 1.19 per cent. India crossed the grim milestone of two crore on May 4 last year, three crore on June 23 and four crore on January 25 this year. (With inputs from agencies)

  • Maharashtra reports 98 new Covid-19 cases, one death; active tally now 504
  • Times of India

    MUMBAI: Maharashtra on Saturday reported 98 Covid-19 cases and one death, which took the state's tally to 81,35,620 and the toll to 1,48,406, a health official said. The state had seen 72 cases and one death on Friday, so the addition to the tally was a sizable rise, he pointed out. Mumbai and Pune circles led with 32 new cases each, followed by 19 in Akola, five in Nagpur, three each in Kolhapur and Aurangabad, and two each in Nashik and Latur circles, he said. The recovery count increased by 124 to touch 79,86,70, leaving the state with an active caseload of 504, he said. Pune accounted for 187 active cases, followed by 94 in Mumbai and 65 in Thane, he added. As per health department data, the recovery rate is 98.17 per cent and the fatality rate stands at 1.82 per cent. So far, 8,56,08,988 coronavirus tests have been conducted in the state, including 12,871 in the last 24 hours, as per official data. Coronavirus figures of Maharashtra are as follows: Positive cases 8135620; fresh cases 98; death toll 148406; recoveries 79,86,710; active cases 504; total tests 8,56,08,988.

  • Maharashtra’s active Covid count at lowest point since start of the pandemic
  • Times of India

    PUNE: Maharashtra currently has the lowest active Covid cases since April 2020, the time the World Health Organisation (WHO) had announced the pandemic. WHO declared the outbreak a public health emergency of international concern on January 30, 2020, and a pandemic on March 11, 2020. Around April 4, 2020, the active Covid cases in Maharashtra had risen to 635. State surveillance officer Dr Pradeep Awate told TOI, "This number has now fallen to 531, after as long as two-and-a-half years. This is now officially the lowest active cases figure - almost akin to the caseload seen before the start of the first wave. It effectively means that the latest active caseload is the lowest compared to all the lowest points during the previous three major waves in the state." Awate said there has been no impact of the new sub-variants from the Omicron family on the number of cases in Maharashtra or hospitalisations. "While XBB has taken over BA.2.75, these sub-variants are from this same Omicron lineage. Thus, there has been no effect on virus transmission or severity."

Mumbai: As winter sets in, vegetables rates cool
Times of India | 3 days ago | |
Times of India
3 days ago | |

MUMBAI: Winter's arrival has seen vegetable prices in Mumbai dipping to pre-Covid levels of Rs 60-80/kg. While tomato is selling for up to Rs 20, lady finger, cauliflower, gavar, capsicum, cucumber and beans cost Rs 80. Carrot comes for Rs 60. At Vashi wholesale market, all the veggies cost below Rs 20/kg. Tomato drops to Rs 10-20per kg as winter cools vegetables pricesThe advent of winter has brought the first piece of good news for consumers in terms of vegetable prices in two years. The retail price of vegetables has been restored to pre-Covid levels of Rs 60-80 per kg, down from Rs 100-120 throughout 2021-22. Tomato rates have fallen to Rs 8-10 per kilo in APMC Vashi wholesale market while local vendors are retailing it for Rs 10-20. The "Black Friday" bonanza is expected to last through the winter season-"unless rainfall occurs or temperatures vary beyond comfort level" -say APMC officials, issuing a caveat. Normality was restored last week after two years during which Mumbaikars were forced to pay Rs 100-120 for common garden vegetables during the pandemic in 2020-21. In this time span, prices did not fall during winter either. The seasonal bonanza has been restored with tomato prices falling to Rs 10-20 per kg in Lokhandwala Complex, Andheri, Vikhroli and parts of Dadar last week. "We were selling tomato for Rs 10 last week. Today's rate is Rs 20. All common vegetables like lady finger, cauliflower, gavar (cluster beans), capsicum, cucumber, arbi (colocasia) and beans are selling for Rs 80. Carrot is at Rs 60," said an attendant at Society Store, Lokhandwala. Vashi tomato trader Mangal Gupta said, "Retail rate is Rs 15-25 depending on quality and wholesale price is Rs 160-220 per 20 kg. November, December and January are healthy months for vegetable yield unless you have unseasonal rains in the growing belt of Nashik. Prices may rise marginally in December due to a drop in temperature. Tomato depends on the weather and will be stable unless unseasonal rains occur." APMC director Shankar Pingale said, "Rates have indeed fallen. All vegetables are selling for less than Rs 20 per kilo in Vashi wholesale market. Cabbage and cauliflower are Rs 6-8 per kg while tomato, bottle gourd (dudhi) and brinjal are much the same at Rs 8-10 per kg. The only exception is green peas and lady finger which cost Rs 30-40." Pingale attributed the decrease to robust winter arrivals from growing areas not just in Maharashtra but other states too. "Utpaadan achcha hai (production is good)," he said of the winter harvest. "Rates will remain at this level unless temperatures rise." Typically, though, upmarket localities such as Bandra-Khar and vegetarian Gujarati enclaves such as Matunga continue to witness a vast gap between wholesale and retail rates. Prices remain high despite winter arrivals. Greengrocer Shravan Gupta who runs a second generation stall in Khar Market said, "All vegetables that grow after the flowering process like dudhi, tinda (round gourd), toori (ridge gourd) and cucumber stay expensive in winter since the flowers tend to wilt in the farms. So the price is Rs 80-100. The wedding season is underway so demand is also high."

Mumbai: As winter sets in, vegetables rates cool
iNCOVACC first intranasal Covid vax in world to bag nod for primary, heterologous booster: Bharat Biotech
Times of India | 3 days ago | |
Times of India
3 days ago | |

HYDERABAD: Bharat Biotech on Monday said its iNCOVACC has become the world’s first intranasal Covid-19 vaccine to receive emergency use authorisation (EUA) as a primary vaccine as well as heterologous booster for those who have received two doses of another vaccine. Both the EUAs have been granted for those aged 18 years and above. iNCOVACC is a recombinant replication deficient adenovirus vectored vaccine with a pre-fusion stabilized SARS-CoV-2 spike protein derived from the Wuhan strain. Bharat Biotech chairman & managing director Dr Krishna Ella, said the company has also initiated development of variant-specific vaccines for Covid-19 for future preparedness. “Despite the lack of demand for Covid-19 vaccines, we continued product development in intranasal vaccines to ensure that we are well-prepared with platform technologies for future infectious diseases,” he said. The Hyderabad-based vaccine maker said with the approvals from the Indian drug regulator now in place, it will be announcing the launch dates, pricing and availability of the vaccine in due course of time. The vaccine is expected to become available for administration post its integration with the Cowin portal. Bharat Biotech said the intranasal vaccine platform -- iNCOVACC – offers the double benefit of enabling faster development of variant-specific vaccines and easy nasal delivery will enable mass immunisation to protect from emerging variants of concern during pandemics and epidemics. The vaccine, which was evaluated in phase-1,2 and 3 clinical trials, has been specifically formulated to allow intranasal delivery through nasal drops and has been designed and developed to be cost-effective in low- and middle-income countries as it can be stored at 2-8°C, the company added. The company said it has established large manufacturing capabilities at multiple sites across India, including Gujarat, Karnataka, Maharashtra and Telangana, with operations pan India. After the Indian drug regulator granted EUA for iNCOVACC as a primary two-dose vaccine in September this year, the Central Drugs Standard Control Organisation (CDSCO) on Friday last granted EUA for the booster. While the phase-3 trials to test the safety and immunogenicity of iNCOVACC as a primary two-dose vaccine were conducted on around 3,100 volunteers at 14 sites across India, that for the heterologous booster were conducted on around 875 volunteers at 9 trial sites across India. Its immunogenicity was evaluated through serum neutralizing antibodies by PRNT assays and serum IgG’s through ELISA’s. To evaluate the vaccine, which is taken through the intranasal route, IgA’s were evaluated by ELISA in serum and saliva. Evaluation was also carried out for the ability of iNCOVACC to elicit long-term memory T and B cell responses against the ancestral and omicron variants. iNCOVACC was also evaluated to determine its impact on safety and the reactogenic events and adverse events that were documented during the trial were highly comparable to published data from other Covid-19 vaccines, Bharat Biotech said. “The product development data will be submitted to peer reviewed journals and will be made available in the public domain,” said Bharat Biotech which developed the vaccine in partnership with Washington University, St Louis. While WashU designed and developed the recombinant adenoviral vectored construct and evaluated it in preclinical studies for efficacy, the product development related to preclinical safety evaluation, large-scale manufacturing scale up, formulation and delivery device development, including human clinical trials, were conducted by Bharat Biotech. Product development and clinical trials were funded in part by the Government of India, through the department of biotechnology’s COVID Suraksha Programme.

iNCOVACC first intranasal Covid vax in world to bag nod for primary, heterologous booster: Bharat Biotech
Mourn in peace: Bada Qabarstan in Mumbai erects prayer room for women
Times of India | 4 days ago | |
Times of India
4 days ago | |

MUMBAI: Till recently, women mourners at Bada Qabrastan at Marine Lines longed for a basic facility. In absence of a separate prayer room and a proper ghusul khana - a room to give bath and ablutions to bodies - women relatives would not visit the cemetery while the maiyat (body) was prepared for burial. The space-crunched residences in Mumbai too didn't help as bathing and shrouding the bodies couldn't be done at home. Now, in its 193-year-old history, the 7.5-acre Bada Qabrastan - managed by Juma Masjid of Bombay Trust - has created a separate ghusul khana for female deceased and a prayer room for women mourners in the southern periphery, near the mosque. "Earlier, ghusul khanas for both male asnd female bodies were in the middle of qabrastan. Since women are not encouraged to visit qabrastan, the female relatives wouldn't come to have a last look of and pray for the deceased. Now, that a separate ghusul khana at the corner, near the main gate has been created, women visitors can spend some time in seclusion and pray," said Shoeb Khatib, president, Juma Masjid of Bombay Trust. He added that since the path to the ghusul khana - the prayer room is on its mezzanine floor - is little away from the graves, women's access becomes easy. Many see the move as empowering women, giving them what's their due. "Why should we deny women the rights that our religion gives them? I feel blessed that the qabrastan management allowed me to do my bit for this good cause," said businessman Sabir Nirban, who funded the construction of the ghusul khana and prayer room. "We must change our patriarchal attitude and allow women access to sacred places," he added. Bada Qabrastan had led from the front in taking bodies of Covid-19 patients during the pandemic. Khatib, along with Nirban and Irfan Shaikh, were BMC-appointed coordinators and part of the task force of Raza Academy to facilitate the burial of Muslim victims of Covid-19. "We created a special zone for the burial of victims of Covid and suspected Covid at our qabrastan. We buried around 3,500 bodies in 42 qabrastans across the city, including 1,400 at Bada Qabrastan alone. When other qabrastans refused to bury a body, we accepted it," said Khatib. Bada Qabrastan will soon add another much-needed feature - a state-of-the-art mortuary - on its premises. "Whenever someone died and his or her relatives were abroad, it became difficult to keep the body for a couple of days if mortuaries didn't have space. Now bodies can be kept at a soon-to-be installed mortuary at the qabrastan," said businessman Hamid Nathani, who has funded the mortuary. "This is a need as many youngsters are settling abroad and cannot rush home due to logistical issues when their loved ones die."

Mourn in peace: Bada Qabarstan in Mumbai erects prayer room for women
Just 93 of 2k claimants return extra Covid ex gratia payout
Times of India | 5 days ago | |
Times of India
5 days ago | |

PUNE: Only 93 of the total 2,053 recipients of double Covid ex gratia payout in Maharashtra have returned the additional amount so far, state disaster management department officials told TOI on Wednesday. The department has been granting Rs 50,000 to the kin of the Covid deceased, as per the instructions of the Supreme Court. In September this year, the officials had appealed to the 2,053 ex gratia recipients under scanner for double payout to return the additional amount, while warning them of FIRs, in case of non-compliance. "After two months, only 93 recipients have returned Rs 46.50 lakh across the state. The numbers could be more, but district officials are not filling up the requisite forms and sharing the details," an official from the state disaster management department said. The official said the Covid ex gratia claims were raised twice in most of these cases. "The department has sent out notices to the beneficiaries, warning of FIR if they do not return the additional amount. All the district collectors have also been told to ensure the immediate return of the additional amount to the state," said the official. Another official from the department said the discrepancy occurred as the relatives of the Covid deceased filed claims from different districts for clearance by respective district disaster management authorities. "Due to issues over the claims among the closest living relatives of the Covid deceased, the relatives end up filing applications at more than one district. The officials are calling them up asking to return the additional payout," the official said. While the state government's official Covid-19 death toll stands at 1.48 lakh, the number of applications approved for ex gratia has exceeded the figure. The discrepancy between approved applications for ex gratia and the state's official toll occurred after the Supreme Court's expansion of the denotation of confirmation of Covid-19 deaths. The SC had ruled that casualties occurring within 30 days from getting tested or clinically determined as Covid-19 case shall be considered as Covid-19 death, even if the death happened outside a health facility. Along with this, kin of victims of unnatural deaths like suicide who tested positive for Covid-19 posthumously will also be eligible for the ex gratia, the court had said.

Just 93 of 2k claimants return extra Covid ex gratia payout
Mumbai’s CSMVS museum wins highest UNESCO award for heritage conservation in its centenary year
Times of India | 5 days ago | |
Times of India
5 days ago | |

MUMBAI: In a singular honour for the heritage conservation movement of Mumbai, the Chhatrapati Shivaji Maharaj Vastu Sangrahalaya (formerly Prince of Wales Museum) in Kala Ghoda has won the highest Award of Excellence at the UNESCO Asia Pacific Awards for Cultural Heritage Conservation 2022 announced in Bangkok Saturday. The timing is serendipitous because the museum, a World Heritage Site, is celebrating its centenary this year. The jury applauded the "heroic" CSMVS project which is "part of the Victorian Gothic and Art Deco Ensembles of Mumbai World Heritage property in India". It praised the restoration of "a major civic institution in the historic city of Mumbai" and said, "Impressive in its scale, the project addressed extensive deterioration through well-informed architectural and engineering solutions, overcoming major challenges during the pandemic. Executed to the highest level of technical excellence, the project sets a standard for the conservation of World Heritage monuments in India and beyond." CSMVS tops the list of 13 projects from six countries --Afghanistan, China, India, Iran, Nepal and Thailand -- which received awards. The jury reviewed 50 entries from 11 countries in the Asia-Pacific region. Four awards went to India. The Stepwells of Golconda in Hyderabad won the Award of Distinction, while Domakonda Fort in Telangana, and Mumbai's own Byculla Railway Station received the Award of Merit. This recognition is a hat tip to the fine minds that conceive, execute and fund heritage restoration in Mumbai. Conservation architect Vikas Dilawari restored the Grade 1 monument. It is his 18th UNESCO heritage award. The museum's director of 16 years, Sabyasachi Mukherjee, has presided over the transformation of this historic museum into a world class facility. And TCS Foundation funded the Rs 25 crore project with professional patronage. Mukherjee said, "We are all very pleased by this award. It is like a centenary gift to the city. We began planning the building's restoration in 2019, it was top of our agenda. We started the project in October of that year. But the Covid lockdown that began in March 2020 stalled work for eight months. Fortunately the museum was closed to visitors for 18 months which gave us space to work. We completed in time for our centenary which fell January 10, 2022." Dilawari said, "As a conservation architect my job was to follow the principle of 'second man' in respecting the first person's creation, and upgrading it in the same way as how (the original architect) George Wittet would have done. The pandemic was a difficult time with labour migrating. But amid this difficulty too, we used the time to do most difficult works in the interiors, like the dome, since visitor entry was stopped." Phase I involved repairs to the external facade of both the main and extension building, and plugging terrace leakage of some areas as "moisture can damage the precious collection". Dilawari said Phase II was to repair and refurbish the interiors whose terrace was waterproofed, and also included the complete connector of main and annex buildings. Mukherjee said the historic grand dome has been repaired too. The scaffolding you see is just to clean it up, he said. Feng Jing, chief of the culture unit at UNESCO Bangkok said, "The awards give people a sense of pride and ownership of their heritage. It is encouraging to see the increased number of entries received this year, given that we are still in recovery period from the global Covid pandemic."

Mumbai’s CSMVS museum wins highest UNESCO award for heritage conservation in its centenary year
Maharashtra grapples with loss: 9 of 10 parents who died of Covid were fathers
The Indian Express | 1 week ago | |
The Indian Express
1 week ago | |

IN APRIL last year, Nagesh Vishwas Unde, a daily-wage labourer in Maharashtra’s Ahmednagar, died of Covid-19. With the family’s only earning member gone, Unde’s wife was forced to take up work as a farm labourer to ensure her children stayed on in school and college.“I am in my second year of BCom and my 16-year-old sister is in Class 10. My father couldn’t study, but he wanted us to complete our education. After his death, my mother was forced to find work,” says Unde’s son Rohan.After two years of the pandemic, as the Covid curve flattens across the country, data from the Women and Child Development (WCD) Department in Maharashtra shows that for every child in the state who lost her mother to the novel coronavirus infection, nine lost their fathers.Since the start of the pandemic in March 2020, 28,938 children in the state lost either of their parents to the infection — of those who died, 2,919 were mothers and 25,883 fathers. In 136 cases, more than one child from the same family lost either of their parents.Between March 2020 and October 2021, Maharashtra recorded 1,39,007 Covid deaths — 92,212 men (66.3%) and 46,779 women (33.6%). According to the Union Health Ministry, Maharashtra’s Covid death count till date, at 1,48,404, is the highest for any state, followed by Kerala’s 71,477 deaths.“Epidemiological findings reported from across the world indicated higher morbidity and mortality (due to Covid) in men than women. There are various factors that are attributed to this – lifestyle and immunological differences, and compliance of Covid protocols,” said Dr Rahul Pandit, Senior Intensive Care Consultant, Fortis Hospital.This overwhelming gap in mortality by gender suggests that the pandemic may have pushed many of these families – especially those in which the men were the sole breadwinners – into financial instability.The Undes say that after a struggle for six months, the family got the Covid ex-gratia amount of Rs 50,000 which has helped them with their school and college fee. “I don’t know how we will pay our fee next year,” said Rohan.Department officials say what has proved to be a hurdle for many of the Covid widows is that they lack the documents that can establish them as the legal heir to their husbands’ property.An officer from the State Relief and Rehabilitation Department – which is responsible for dispersing the Rs 50,000 that the government announced as ex-gratia to the kin of the Covid victims – said, “We have come across several duplicate applications where both the wife of the deceased and his parents have claimed the ex-gratia,” said the officer.Advocate Vidya Abhiman Kasabe of Aadhar Bahuuddeshiya Vikas Sanstha, a Nashik-based NGO that has been working for women widowed during the pandemic, says that in large parts of the state, especially in rural areas, men don’t mention the names of their wives in legal documents such as property ownerships or banks, making it difficult for the women to claim their property.“We have come across several cases where women are blamed for their husbands’ death and are evicted from their homes… In fact, despite having money in the deceased husband’s bank accounts, the woman can’t claim it as her name isn’t mentioned as nominee,” she said.Since the start of the pandemic, 851 children have lost both their parents to the novel coronavirus. As part of its scheme for Covid orphans, the state provides a fixed deposit of Rs 5 lakh in the names of the children. They also get a monthly allowance of Rs 1,125. Besides, under the PM Cares for Children Scheme, Covid orphans get Rs 10 lakh in their bank accounts by the time the child turns 23.

Maharashtra grapples with loss: 9 of 10 parents who died of Covid were fathers
Stamp duty, registration charges revenue up 35%
Times of India | 1 week ago | |
Times of India
1 week ago | |

Chennai: Revenue to state governments through stamp duty (SD) and registration charges (RC) reached 94,847 crore in H1 FY23, a substantial spike by 35% over the corresponding half year of last financial year at 70,120 crore.Maharashtra, Uttar Pradesh and Tamil Nadu led the country in the cumulative revenue collection with the three states alone accounting for more than 40% of the total income generated. The surge in revenue is attributed largely to the revival of residential real estate post-Covid with property consultants indicating sale of housing units have shot up across metros and housing finance companies underscoring that the demand for home loans in tier 2 and 3 cities and towns having spiralled in the past two quarters of this fiscal. A study by Motilal Oswal Financial Services Limited released on Monday said, Maharashtra has the highest collection of state revenue from SD and RC at 18,600 crore, contributing 20% of the overall revenue generated under the component in the country during the April-September (H1) period of FY23. It is followed by Uttar Pradesh in second position and Tamil Nadu in third at 12,390 crore and 8,660 crore, respectively. The revenue of top 10 states with the highest SD and RC rose anywhere between 25% and 65% in the half year of this fiscal when compared with the income in the previous year (2021-22). The study considered the revenue of 27 states and Union territory of Jammu and Kashmir.Last financial year, these states collectively generated revenue of over 1.7 lakh crore with the identical trend of Maharashtra, Uttar Pradesh, Tamil Nadu, Karnataka and Telangana positioned in the top five ranks mirroring in the H1 of FY23, as well. SD and RC are an important source of revenue for the state governments since they are one of the few income avenues that is still outside the purview of GST. Nikhil Gupta, chief economist, Motilal Oswal Financial Services said, “The residential real estate sector has performed superbly over the past 18-24 months. Most of the incentives such as stamp duty reduction, lower interest rates or lower prices have disappeared over the past six months. It is, thus, very likely that the sector may see some headwinds in the coming quarters.” S Sridharan, chairman (urban development and housing), Credai-National said, the country is witnessing an increase in demand for housing plots than the pre-Covid times. “The unsold inventory of housing units has reduced, reflecting on the revival of the real estate sector,” he added.

Stamp duty, registration charges revenue up 35%
How plastic surgery saved a diabetic after COVID and black fungus ate into her face
The Indian Express | 1 week ago | |
The Indian Express
1 week ago | |

Fifty-four-year-old Shaila Sonar stares at a mirror and carefully compares her face with the photos clicked before she got COVID-19 and now. This is no exercise in vanity as she was one of the first patients in Maharashtra to suffer from a terrible side effect called mucormycosis in August 2020, which hollowed out her face. After several medical procedures, including corrective plastic surgeries for two years, she has regained 85 per cent of her looks as she knew it. But her speech is still slurry and restricted. So yes, looking at the mirror reminds her how she needs to hold on and get there. How she can complete herself.The infection has not only disfigured her face but has left permanent scars in her mind. “A defacement for a woman who has always been appreciated for her looks is traumatising. I am even scared to attend public gatherings and refuse to put down my mask for family photographs. I have an identity crisis,” laments Shaila, a resident of Dhule. “Although the pandemic is almost over, I am still living in its nightmare since the last two years,” she adds.The battle with Covid beginsHer struggle started on August 1, 2020 when the nation was dealing with the deadly Delta wave of the pandemic. The then 52-year-old Shaila, with underlying comorbidities like diabetes and hypertension, fought the virus valiantly and recovered after 15 days. But even before she could be discharged from the hospital, she complained of pain in her mouth and developed a swelling. The doctors had no answer to her new symptoms as in the first wave, Covid-associated mucormycosis was limited only to two or three patients in the state. When her condition deteriorated, her family shifted her to Mumbai in an ambulance and got her admitted to a private hospital in Parel. There she was diagnosed with sinonasal mucormycosis, which meant that surgery was the only option to save her.Her family members didn’t even know about mucormycosis, also called black fungus, a serious but rare fungal infection caused by a group of moulds called mucormycetes. Patients like Shaila, who are diabetic, are more susceptible to the infection. They run the risk of losing their eyes, palate and even risk death, if not treated well in time.“The fungal infection had spread inside her mouth which infected her palate. To stop the spread of the infection, the doctor had to partially remove the palate. Otherwise, it could have reached her brain and proved to be fatal,” says Shreya Devendra Sonar, her daughter-in-law.Just when the family thought a life threat had abated, the infection reappeared again within days of her surgery and she had to undergo aggressive surgical debridement. This meant the surgeons had to remove some teeth, her gum and right cheek bone, which left her face disfigured. “I couldn’t even recognise myself in the mirror. I thought it was just a minor infection,” she says.Then the facial reconstruction surgery was done at Sir H. N. Reliance Foundation Hospital in Mumbai by Dr Prabha Yadav, Head, Plastic and Reconstructive Surgery, and Dr Nikhilesh Borkar, Surgical Oncologist. “For us, it was a routine surgery. Due to the mucormycosis, the debridement was done which disfigured her face. So, we had to give her face a complete shape. Now, we are planning to put some implants as part of rehabilitation and restoration. As a part of her cheek bone had been removed, we took a bone from her left leg and reconstructed it inside the cavity. We took a bit of flesh from her right leg to reconstruct her palate,” Dr Borkar tells us. “She had a flap loss but the bone somehow survived so we had to follow up regularly. Later, the bone healed very well. That one complication we had to face due to her diabetes,” he adds.The Black Fungus that pushed her to the depths of depressionThe cost burden of treatment was substantial for the family, who spent almost Rs 50 lakh on her treatment, Rs 4.5 lakh on plastic surgery alone. The family, being well-to-do, could manage some funds but had to take some help from relatives.After her bout of black fungus and treatment, Shaila was discharged on December 1, 2020. That meant four months of hospitalisation.Still, her plight didn’t end there as she had body confidence issues. Due to the disfigurement, she soon slipped into depression. She refused to go out of her house, avoiding family get-togethers. “Even if she attended family events after a lot of insistence, she wouldn’t take off her mask. During family photographs, she would keep the mask on,” says Shreya. She kept lamenting about her face, and lost her confidence to look at herself in the mirror. “She just scrolled through the old photos on her mobile and asked us why this had happened to her,” says Shreya. “There was no guarantee that the surgeries would help to get her face back, so we were against it. Despite repeated pleas, she remained adamant and decided to opt for the surgery which left us quite concerned. But then everything came together,” says she.Post-surgery was not easy for Shaila. Her face and neck were swollen for a long time and she had to rely on liquid food for almost a month during her recovery. Due to the trauma of the mucormycosis infection, she would often fear that her reconstructed palate would fall off, which further made her more anxious. Her diabetes meant that she took longer to recover. She struggled to walk and had to take help from her family members even to go to the washroom. “Despite all these struggles and lows, she didn’t give up,” says Shreya.Now, after five months of her plastic surgery, with 85 per cent of her facial features restored, Shaila has started mingling with relatives. “She is more confident about her look,” says Shreya. However, her speech pattern is still impacted. Currently, she is consulting a dentist for denture implants which would help her chew food properly again and improve her speech.A food-enthusiast, Shaila now does pop-ups for familyShaila is not only a food enthusiast but also a great cook. So now the family arranges grand fests at their house where all the relatives gather to eat her deliciously-cooked food. But sadly, the infection has also impaired her sense of smell. “Retaining the perfect aroma in recipes is an art. By the aroma, you can judge if the food is delicious. But as the infection has also taken away my sense of smell, I have to ask my husband or daughter-in-law,” Shaila says. “My life will never be the same as before how much I try,” she adds. But that doesn’t mean she won’t keep walking. For at the end of the day, she does realise that she is fortunate to be alive after COVID.

How plastic surgery saved a diabetic after COVID and black fungus ate into her face
Maharashtra govt to focus on mental health, dental hygiene and eyesight of 2.5 lakh tribal students
The Indian Express | 1 week ago | |
The Indian Express
1 week ago | |

Amid the Covid-19 pandemic, the healthcare of the 2.5-lakh tribal students in Maharashtra took a backseat as the schools and hostels closed down. Now, the Tribal Development Department has chalked out five major grey areas with mental health topping the list. Also, focus would be on dental habits, regular eye checkup, skin diseases and implementation of the Rashtriya Bal Swasthya Karyakram (RBSK)—which are often being ignored.Mental health is one of the most neglected health issues in the ashram schools, where instances of suicide are increasing. In July, a Class 12 girl student allegedly hanged herself in an ashram school in Palghar. Taking note of such instances, Dr Pradeep Vyas, the newly appointed additional chief secretary of Tribal Development Department, who has nearly a decade of experience in public health department, for the first time, wants to bring mental health to the forefront.“We want to sensitise headmasters and teachers so that they can identify the students with signs of depression and anxiety or any other mental health issues. We will train the in-charge of the schools. This will help us provide timely care with counseling and interventions,” said Dr Vyas.Most of these students belong to marginal communities who study in aided and government-run ashram schools and often ignore dental habits, which in the long run affect their overall health. “Oral problems affected food intake. For instance, if a student has an untreated cavity, he would not be able to chew properly which in the long run affects the consumption of nutritional foods,” said Dr Vyas. So, initiatives would be taken to hold regular camps to check dental health and eyesight of the students.“Children with poor eyesight can’t read from the blackboard properly which impacts their attention and some even slip into depression. With regular eye checkup, we have to provide glasses to the students,” he said.Many students complain of skin diseases like scabies. So, they would be trained in hygiene practices.Under the centre’s RBSK, the students till the age of 18 years are screened for 4 Ds — Defects at birth, Diseases, Deficiencies and Development delays. But its implementation is a challenge especially in areas where the schools and hostels are located in remote areas.“Adequate implementation of the schemes especially as all the schools and hostels have opened post-Covid-19 will be our priority,” said Dr Vyas.Along with that, he also plans to bring nutritional variations in the food given to the children. “Generally, the students in ashram schools are served dinner by 7pm and, after a gap of 12 hours, the next day around 8 am, they get their breakfast. This is a long gap where the body demands food. So, we are in talks with nutritionists to find any other alternatives to it,” said Dr Vyas.

Maharashtra govt to focus on mental health, dental hygiene and eyesight of 2.5 lakh tribal students
‘Of 25,260 beneficiaries who migrated, all services under ICDS provided to 17,337 through Maha MTS’
The Indian Express | 1 week ago | |
The Indian Express
1 week ago | |

Maharashtra has a high incidence of malnutrition cases where the Women and Child Development (WCD) department plays a critical role in ensuring adequate nutrients to children and women, especially those who are lactating and pregnant. During Covid-19, the department took initiatives to send ration at the doors of beneficiaries through their field soldiers—anganwadi workers. The department has garnered national appreciation for developing India’s first digital migrant tracking system. Rupsa Chakraborty spoke with Idzes Kundan, principal secretary, WCD.Where does Maharashtra stand among other states in India in the eradication of malnutrition?Being a big state with a huge proportion of population residing in urban areas and having a diverse geography, Maharashtra may not be compared with other states.However, as it appears in National Family Health Survey-5 (NFHS-5) round that gains in women empowerment, women education and women income generation (proxy linkage to household decision taking) has not translated into expected reduction in malnutrition in the state.If we compare NFHS-3, NFHS 4 and NFHS-5, rural areas have witnessed 11.4 per cent decline in percentage of stunted children (under five) whereas urban areas have seen decline of just 5.1 per cent. As per NFHS-5, 45.7 per cent pregnant women in the age group of 15-49 years who are anaemic has seen 3.6 per cent reduction in comparison with NFHS-4.During Covid-19, there was a shortfall in the supply of meals to the needy children as all the anganwadi centres were closed. How did the department ensure they received nourishment?The Covid-19 pandemic and the nationwide lockdown suddenly interrupted the food supply system not only in Maharashtra but across the country. However, in Maharashtra, we took initiatives under Bharat Ratna Dr APJ Abdul Kalam Amrut Aahar Yojana—the flagship initiative of the Tribal Development Department (TDD) implemented in collaboration with ICDS Maharashtra where hot cooked meals were provided at beneficiaries’ homes by tiffin facility with the help of frontline workers. Also, we supplied direct beneficiary transfer and dry ration. We also initiated Tarang Suposit Maharashtracha (TSM)—an interactive voice response system. Through helpline, WhatsApp, chatbot and broadcast call, guidance was provided on nutrition, food, protecting pregnant women, breast-feeding and parenting.During Covid-19, huge migration took place from urban to rural areas. What provisions were made in providing nutrition to those pregnant mothers and children?The department has initiated Maharashtra Migration Tracking System (Maha MTS) with the aim to institute a mechanism of tracking migrant beneficiaries and ensuring portability of ICDS (Integrated Child Development Scheme) as well as ICPS (Integrated Child Protection Scheme) services to migrant beneficiaries at their destinations and assuring the continuity of services to those few family members who stay back. This is a one-of-a-kind initiative launched by a state government in India to ensure that migration does not lead to halting of entitlement delivery for the people, and that interoperability of critical schemes is guaranteed.On pilot basis, the Maha MTS software was implemented in six districts—Amravati, Chandrapur, Palghar, Nandurbar, Jalna and one block of Gadchiroli. Out of the 25,260 beneficiaries who migrated, all services under ICDS were provided to 17,337. Now, from October 21, it has been implemented in all 36 districts.Many tribal districts like Nandurbar, Gadchiroli and Amravati have high incidences of malnutrition and anemia. What is the state doing to address the issue?For the malnourished children, the department is implementing a special programme called village child development committee (VCDC) at anganwadi centres—where severely acute malnourished (SAM) children are admitted on certification by medical staff. Such children are monitored and given special care for 12 weeks followed up by three monthly follow-ups. Also, an extra nutritious diet is given to the child. In case, if the child’s health deteriorates, the child is referred to the facility-based care called Nutrition Rehabilitation Centre (NRC) where further treatment is provided.Especially for tribal districts including Nandurbar, Gadchiroli and Amravati, Dr APJ Abdul Kalam Amrut Aahar Yojana is being implemented under which there is a provision to provide one full hot cooked nutritious meal/food to the pregnant women and lactating mother in the tribal areas. Eggs and bananas are provided to children aged 6 months to 6 years on alternate days as a part of this scheme.The WCD often faces budgetary restrictions in implementing child and mother welfare schemes. How is the department handling the financial need?A cabinet decision was passed that 3 per cent of all District Planning Development Committee (DPDC) funds will be used for women and child related schemes in every district of Maharashtra. This means that at least Rs 460 crore will be made available for women and child related issues. On this line it is seen that all gram panchayats do not make budgetary provisions for women and child related works. Most gram panchayats in Maharashtra have a budget of Rs 1,50,000 on an average. Even if 10 per cent is ensured for women and child related work, it ensures a sumptuous amount. Similarly, the Urban development department has passed a resolution that 5 per cent of revenue of every urban local body minus the committed expenditure will be used for women and child related schemes.‘5 pc revenue of every urban local body will be used for women & child schemes’

‘Of 25,260 beneficiaries who migrated, all services under ICDS provided to 17,337 through Maha MTS’
Experts warn of outbreaks as routine immunisation falters
Times of India | 2 weeks ago | |
Times of India
2 weeks ago | |

RAIPUR: Data is now emerging on how strong Covid-19's impact was on India's routine immunisation programme. Lakhs of health workers were diverted to respond to the pandemic and in the meantime, coverage of some critical early vaccines dropped. In Maharashtra, reach of the measles second shot fell to 85% in 2020-2021, from 94% the previous year. This gap in regular vaccine coverage is worldwide. Epidemiologists have now warned of serious outbreaks if coverage is not improved. Many cities are reporting cases and outbreaks of diseases that were either on the verge of eradication or were thought to be eradicated. Mumbai, for example, is reporting a measles outbreak - 142 cases recorded in the city since January. The Pan-American Health Organisation (PAHO) has said that regions in Brazil, Haiti and Peru are at very high risk for reintroduction of polio. Vaccination coverage for polio in these regions has fallen to about 79% due to Covid, the lowest since 1994. Authorities said they are scrambling to ensure adequate coverage. Dr Sachin Desai, state immunisation officer, said routine immunisation has dropped due to Covid. "We are now trying to find the kids we have missed. We were all involved in Covid-19 vaccination," he said. Dr Amitav Banerjee, head of community medicine at Pune's Dr DY Patil Medical College, said officials have to ensure focus is back on routine vaccination. "There were so many unsubstantiated stories about Covid vaccine safety that people are now hesitant to get even time-tested shots such as the one for measles. The vaccine against measles is very effective. And the infection in a malnourished child can be fatal," Dr Banerjee said. Doctors said they are urging young parents to ensure their children are covered. "There is a lot vaccine hesitancy. Local health authorities have to hold camps, improve messaging and maybe even run repeated TV ads to convince parents. Hesitancy among parents should not hurt the child," one doctor said.

Experts warn of outbreaks as routine immunisation falters
‘Will ensure state stands on its feet’
Times of India | 2 weeks ago | |
Times of India
2 weeks ago | |

Ranchi: Amid uncertainties over his future in regard to the ongoing ED probe into illegal mining case, chief minister Hemant Soren, who helmed the statehood day ceremony at Ranchi’s Morhabadi stadium on Tuesday, appealed to the people of the state that the pace of development initiated by his government shouldn’t stop, if Jharkhand doesn’t want to be at the ‘mercy of god’.While rolling out a slew of projects, policies and handing out job letters on the occasion, Soren used the stage to canvass for his government’s works citing how despite myriad odds since he assumed the chair in 2019, scores of pro-people schemes were launched both during Covid-19 and post pandemic period to remove poverty and illiteracy. He, however, refrained from launching any direct attack on the Centre, opposition BJP or the central agencies amid the volatile political situation ahead of Soren’s expected visit to ED office for questioning on November 17.He said, “After formation of this state, many governments have come and gone, but this state was at the mercy of god (bhagwan bharose). But since getting clear mandate in 2019, my government has been working for the development of all sections of the society, especially the poor and marginalised. If people continue to shower their blessings, I will ensure that the state stands on its feet in next five years and not left at the mercy of god.” “In last three years, creation of rural jobs remained the focus after Covid-19 caused joblessness. Post pandemic, we have launched numerous schemes to overcome illiteracy and poverty,” he said.He also announced that soon 31 lakh farmers will be given Rs 3,500 each as drought mitigation package for which he also launched a portal for CM Sukhar Rahat Yojana. “Soon, camps will be held across the block levels to enrol affected farmers for disbursal of funds,” he said.

‘Will ensure state stands on its feet’
Chunk of Maharashtra’s Covid vax set to expire, no new stock since June
Times of India | 2 weeks ago | |
Times of India
2 weeks ago | |

PUNE: Maharashtra has not received a consignment of Covid vaccines from the Centre since June this year, officials said on Tuesday, adding that much of the state's current stock is now likely to go to waste due to low beneficiary turnout. The state currently has one lakh doses of Covishield, some 13 lakh doses of Covaxin and around 2,000 doses of Corbevax. Low uptake means a substantial chunk of this stock may have to be thrown away, officials said. According to CoWIN data, daily vaccination in the state has now fallen to below 4,000 doses, resulting in high wastage. Corbevax wastage, for instance, has touched 32% in some districts. Officials TOI spoke to said these factors- mounting stockpile and low turnout - may combine to push the Centre to halt free Covid vaccination. "The signs certainly point to that. We have not received a consignment from the Centre since June. And even though it is still under consideration, we believe the free covid vaccination program might be wrapped up in the coming days. Covid vaccines may be available at private hospitals," said an official from the state health services. The official added: "Currently, the government vaccine sites have doses. But citizens have to take the jab. We are not expecting a new consignment to arrive anytime soon as daily vaccination has fallen tremendously." But not all Covid vaccines are in stock. Across Maharashtra, Corbevax drives for 12-14 year olds have been halted at many centres due to shortage of doses. Dr Sanjay Patil, chairperson of the IMA's Hospital Board of India, Pune chapter, said it's time the Centre started offering the Covid vaccines in the open market.

Chunk of Maharashtra’s Covid vax set to expire, no new stock since June
Maharashtra govt school admissions better after pandemic
Times of India | 2 weeks ago | |
Times of India
2 weeks ago | |

PUNE: Over two lakh more students enrolled in state government schools in the 2021-22 academic year compared to 2019-20, according to data released by the Unified District Information System (UDISE) recently. Schools began conducting online classes in 2020 after the coronavirus pandemic struck. Educationists said that once the schools reopened for physical classes, teachers went on a major enrollment drive to ensure all children were brought back into academics, and this may have helped the numbers. Santosh Jadhav, a zilla parishad teacher from Indapur, said: "It has become clear that the public has increased trust in government schools as compared to private schools, where online education and experiments have been rampant during the pandemic period. The total number of students in the formal education stream has decreased during the Covid period, and private schools were hit the hardest." "We were on a mission to bring students back after schools started normally," said Pune zilla parishad chief executive officer Ayush Prasad. "Every teacher was put to task, education officials, block development officers and even villagers helped in ensuring students are not left out from schooling." In fact, some teachers went door-to-door seeking information of children in the house and if they were going to school, Prasad said, adding that their efforts have made a difference. Education activist Matin Mujawar of Shikshan Hakka, said: "Schools of local self-government bodies, which are the backbone of education, suffered during the pandemic." These schools are less financially sound than private institutions, Mujawar said, adding: "The students studying there also lacked the necessary tools for online education. But, slowly, government schools recovered from the situation with a lot of self-belief." Although the number of students has increased, facilities in government schools do not seem to have developed much during the same period even though computers and internet were crucial factors during Covid lockdowns. According to the UDISE data, only 68% of schools have computers, while 28% have internet. But in private schools, 96.8% have computers and 85.9% internet.

Maharashtra govt school admissions better after pandemic
BQ.1.1 variant found in Maharashtra, but cases and deaths at all-time low
Times of India | 2 weeks ago | |
Times of India
2 weeks ago | |

MUMBAI: One of the dominant strains of Omicron in the US, BQ.1.1, has been detected in a 29-year-old Pune resident who recently returned from Ireland. The state's public health department confirmed it to be one of the first cases but said the individual recovered at home and had a mild illness. Despite new variants, fresh detections in Maharashtra dropped to a seven-month low on Monday, with just 67 cases found on Monday. Overall, Covid cases and deaths have been declining steadily in the state and city. As per state data, new infections detected on the week ending November 13 have dropped by 37% compared to the previous week. Besides fewer cases being found increasingly, deaths too have dropped to a weekly average of seven. Mumbai reported just 15 cases on Monday, one of the lowest daily tallies since April 2020. Dr Pradeep Awate, state surveillance officer, said the weekly case fatality rate of the state has dropped below 1 (0.67) and has been consistent. "There were seven deaths due to Covid-19 in the last week, and this has been unchanged in the last four weeks," he said. A steady decrease is also seen in the number of hospitalizations and those requiring ICU care. Of the cumulative new cases found last week, 2% needed ICU. The state's weekly positivity too has reduced from 1.57% to 1.15%. In terms of emerging variants, state officials said the severity of Covid-19 and the transmission speed had not seen any major shift. XBB, a hybrid of two Omicron BA.2 lineages, BA.2.10.1 and BA.2.75, is contributing to cases in the state. A total of 116 patients of the XBB variant have been found in Maharashtra, including 72 from Mumbai, 29 from Pune, eight from Thane, among others. In the US, Omicron subvariants BQ.1 and BQ.1.1 overtook BA.5 last week to account for almost 44% of all new infections.

BQ.1.1 variant found in Maharashtra, but cases and deaths at all-time low
  • India reports 547 new Covid-19 cases; active caseload now 9,468
  • Times of India

    NEW DELHI: India reported a single-day rise of 547 new Covid-19 cases, the lowest since April 8, 2020, taking the tally of the infection in the country to 4,46,66,924, according to Union health ministry data updated on Monday. The count of active cases has fallen below 10,000 for the first time since April 2020, while the death toll due to the disease has climbed to 5,30,532 with one fatality being reported from Maharashtra, the data updated at 8 am showed. A total of 540 Covid-19 cases were reported on April 8, 2020. The active cases now comprise 0.02 per cent of the total infections, while the national Covid-19 recovery rate has increased to 98.79 per cent, according to the health ministry website. The count of active Covid-19 cases now stands at 9,468. A decrease of 2,839 cases has been recorded in the active Covid-19 caseload in a span of 24 hours, the data showed. The number of people who have recuperated from the disease has surged to 4,41,26,924, while the case fatality rate was recorded at 1.19 per cent, it added. According to the ministry's website, 219.80 crore doses of vaccines have been administered in the country so far under the nationwide Covid-19 vaccination drive. India's Covid-19 infection tally had crossed the 20-lakh mark on August 7, 2020, 30 lakh on August 23, 40 lakh on September 5, 50 lakh on September 16, 60 lakh on September 28, 70 lakh on October 11, 80 lakh on October 29, 90 lakh on November 20 and the one-crore mark on December 19. The country crossed the grim milestones of two crore Covid-19 cases on May 4, three crore on June 23 last year and four crore on January 25 this year.

  • Maharashtra sees 144 Covid-19 cases, one death
  • Times of India

    MUMBAI: Maharashtra on Sunday reported 144 Covid-19 cases, which took the state's infection count to 81,34,440, while the death toll rose by one to touch 1,48,401, a health official said. The lone death took place in Buldhana district. Mumbai circle led with 55 new cases, followed by 67 in Pune circle, six in Akola circle, five each in Nagpur and Nashik circle, three in Kolhapur, two in Latur, one in Aurangabad circle, he said. The recovery count increased by 199 in the last 24 hours to touch 79,85,028, leaving the state with an active caseload of 1,011, the official said. So far, 8,54,41,480 coronavirus tests have been conducted in Maharashtra, including 32,362 in the last 24 hours, as per state health department data. It also showed the recovery rate was 98.16 per cent and the fatality rate stood at 1.82 per cent. Coronavirus figures of Maharashtra are as follows: Positive cases 81,34,440; fresh cases 144; death toll 1,48,401; recoveries 79,85,028; active cases 1,011; total tests 8,54,41,480.

  • India finds 5 cases of BQ.1 and BQ.1.1 but Covid cases still low
  • Times of India

    PUNE: Just days after the detection of three cases of Omicron’s BQ. 1 — one each from Kerala, Maharashtra and Tamil Nadu — scientists in India have found two Covid samples with BQ. 1. 1, another offshoot of BA. 5. The two samples are from Pune and New Delhi. BQ. 1 and BQ. 1. 1, now dominant in the United States, recently raised fears of a winter surge there. Last week, US media reports said the pair had already raced past BA. 5 and currently account for an estimated 44% of all new infections nationwide. However, experts in India told TOI on Saturday the two subvariants have not had any impact on caseloads so far. A top INSACOG official said: “BQ. 1 and BQ. 1. 1 have been found in only five genome samples so far. Genome sequencing data circulated by INSACOG is 15 days old. So going by this, one can assume the pair would’ve by now caused Covid surges in India, if they were spreading. But we are yet to see a spike. So, as of now, these subvariants don’t seem to hold much significance. But we are still keeping watch. ” The official added that India continues to see a decline in Covid cases, now down to 800-900 per day. Maharashtra’s coordinator for genome sequencing, Dr Rajesh Karyakarte, said: “One case from Pune was identified as a BQ. 1. 1 infection recently, which we reported to INSACOG. Overall, two cases of these offshoots of BA. 5 — one case with BQ. 1 and another with BQ. 1. 1 — have been detected. But despite the discovery, cases in Maharashtra continue to drop. ” Dr Karyakarte added: "Pune, Maharashtra and India present a curious case as BA. 4 and BA. 5 never ended up growing here, to the extent they did in the United States. We feel Omicron subvariant BA. 2 and its sub-lineages like BA. 2. 38/74/75/76 and now the recombinant XBB may be exerting pressure on BA. 5 descendants BQ. 1 and BQ. 1. 1, preventing their growth in India. BA. 5 could not make an impact in India so it’s likely something similar could come about in case of BQ. 1 and BQ. 1. 1. But we are doing more in-depth studies to gauge the severity of cases. ” Another INSACOG official said newer SARS-CoV-2 will continue to show up every now and then. “There should not be any worry until there is a variant/subvariant capable of causing a significant increase in Covid severity, hospitalisations and deaths. Even in US regions with high share of BQ. 1 and BQ. 1. 1 infections, hospitalisations have been stable. There was so much hue and cry when XBB was found in India but, so far, we have had only 400-odd cases of XBB and its subline ages. There is no alarm as of now. ” XBB is a hybrid of two omicron BA. 2 lineages. Such a variant is created when two different sub-variants combine and exchange parts of their genetic material. XBB in late October had caused a small Covid spike in Singapore, but caseloads there have since dropped. There was also a small rise in hospitalisations, but it was not as sharp as Singapore’s previous Covid waves. Importantly, its health ministry has estimated that those infected by XBB have a 30% lower risk of hospitalisation when compared with BA. 5. XBB is not the first hybrid variant either. There was XE earlier this year. BQ. 1’s offspring BQ. 1. 1 is considered to be the most immune-evasive lineage to date. The L452R mutation both BQ. 1 and BQ. 1. 1 share with Delta has in some preliminary studies in mice shown increased fusogenicity (viruscell fusion) that is associated with increased pathogenicity and severity. Scientists have cited this data to warn people about a possible winter surge of Covid in some regions of the world. In the United States, public health experts have now called for some level of precautions, including masking and distancing.

  • Maharashtra records 169 fresh coronavirus cases, zero deaths; active tally at 1,224
  • Times of India

    MUMBAI: Maharashtra on Thursday recorded 169 fresh coronavirus cases, but no new death linked to the infection, while 265 patients recovered in the state, the health department said. With this, the state's overall Covid-19 tally rose to 81,33,981, while the death toll remained unchanged at 1,48,398, the department said in a bulletin. On Wednesday, the state had registered 130 cases and two fatalities related to respiratory illness. Out of the new cases, Mumbai accounted for 42 and Pune 22, among other districts. The coronavirus recovery rate in the state stood at 98.16 per cent, while the case fatality rate was 1.82 per cent. The bulletin said 265 patients recovered from the coronavirus infection in the last 24 hours, taking their cumulative count to 79,84,359 and leaving the state with 1,224 active cases. It said 13,098 new coronavirus tests were conducted in the state, raising their total count to 8,53,93,826.

  • India reports 1,016 new Covid infections, active cases in country dip to 13,187
  • Times of India

    NEW DELHI: India logged 1,016 new coronavirus infections taking the total tally of Covid-19 cases to 4,46,63,968, while the active cases dipped to 13,187, according to the Union health ministry data updated on Thursday. The death toll climbed to 5,30,514 with three new fatalities -- two in Maharashtra and one in Rajasthan --being reported in a span of 24 hours, the data updated at 8 am stated. The active cases comprise 0.03 per cent of the total infections, while the national Covid-19 recovery rate increased to 98.78 per cent, according to the ministry website. A decrease of 372 cases has been recorded in the active Covid-19 caseload in a span of 24 hours. The number of people who have recuperated from the disease surged to 4,41,20,267, while the case fatality rate was recorded at 1.19 per cent. According to the ministry's website, 219.76 crore doses of Covid vaccine have been administered in the country so far under the nationwide vaccination drive. India's Covid-19 tally had crossed the 20-lakh mark on August 7, 2020, 30 lakh on August 23, 40 lakh on September 5 and 50 lakh on September 16. It went past 60 lakh on September 28, 70 lakh on October 11, crossed 80 lakh on October 29, 90 lakh on November 20 and surpassed the one-crore mark on December 19. The country crossed the grim milestone of two crore on May 4 and three crore on June 23 last year. It crossed the four-crore mark on January 25 this year.

Student by day, security guard by night — how children who lost parents to Covid are balancing life and school
The Indian Express | 2 weeks ago | |
The Indian Express
2 weeks ago | |

As many as 1,47,492 children in India have lost either one or both parents due to Covid-19 since March 2020, the National Commission for Protection of Child Rights (NCPCR) told the Supreme Court in January this year. Out of these, the maximum number of children is between the age group of eight to 13 years (59,010), followed by children in the age group of 14 to 15 years.Many of these children are now left with an ocean of grief and a financial battle to fight. But it is their willingness to fulfill their parents’ dreams that have helped them survive against all odds.Filled with hope, these children share stories of strength and resilience.Juggling between the family business and school — the Kanpur siblings2021 was the toughest year for Aditya Sanghi (16) and his 17-year-old sister Rudranshi Sanghi who lost their mother to the second wave of Covid-19. With a partially paralysed father to take care of, the siblings decided to take over the family business to support their education.“I wanted to be an automobile engineer but the unfortunate death of my mother changed all plans. My sister and I juggle between school and business and hence there is little time left for any coaching I would have needed for JEE preparation. As guided by my teachers, I took up the commerce stream in Class 11. Since my sister is also studying the same stream, she helps me in my studies,” Aditya told indianexpress.com“We attend school on alternate days. So the days when my sister attends school, I handle business and vice-versa. The authorities of Seth Anandram Jaipuria School have been supportive all through this shift. My mother was my only guide and support. Even after she left, her motivating words stayed with me and I scored 89 per cent in Class 10 board exams,” he added.Dropped a year after school only to emerge strongerJodhpur’s Raj Rathi lost both his parents to Covid-19 in 2021. Despite going through a rough phase, Raj scored 96.4 per cent in Class 12 board exams.“My parents always guided me to work hard but never pressured me into taking up any particular subject. Their demise took a toll on my mental health and this is when I decided to take a break for a year. I stayed with my elder siblings all this while and in December 2021, I started preparing for CLAT. I enrolled with Toprankers for coaching who supported me both academically and financially,” Raj shared.He cleared the CLAT 2022 with AIR 516 and got admission to one of the two colleges he was aiming to join. “I wanted to either join NALSAR Hyderabad or Gujarat National Law University. With a good score, I was accepted at GNLU along with a scholarship to support my college fees. Once I complete my integrated BBA-LLB degree, I would want to be a corporate lawyer,” he added.Student by day… security guard by nightAfter his father’s demise in May 2021, 18-year-old Vikash Kumar was caught in thoughts of livelihood and caregiving. With a family of six to support, Vikash’s mother took up odd jobs to educate and feed her children. “I passed Class 12 in 2021 and wanted to pursue engineering. But as my father passed away, the financial instability forced me to look for alternatives. That’s when Priya didi from Parkshala NGO guided me to pursue BCA and also took all financial burden away. I am now in the second year of BCA at IMT Greater Noida,” Vikash said.However, life after his father’s death has not been easy for Vikash and his family who live on rent in a one-room house in Noida. “The rent is high and with a family of six, it gets difficult for my mother to feed all of us. So I took up a job as a helper with Cancercare Trust NGO and later as a security guard at an office. It at least helps in paying off the house rent,” he shared.Lost both parents, a friend came to rescueFor 15-year-old Aryan Sanjay Kandekar, life changed after he lost both his parents to Covid within a span of five months last year. Aryan then took shelter at his grandmother’s dilapidated home in Beed, Maharashtra. Currently studying in Class 10, Aryan wants to be a bank manager once he grows up. “Covid years were tough for me both personally and academically. As classes were conducted online, I missed most of my tutorials in the initial months after my father passed away. But my friend came to my rescue and we attended online classes through his mother’s mobile phone. I am grateful for his family who let me study with him. I want to study hard and earn well so that I never have to depend on anyone financially,” he said.Till 2020, Aryan attended speech therapy to treat stuttering but after losing both parents to Covid, he has no financial resources left to continue the therapy. “My grandmother is not aware of my treatment needs, nor do I want to trouble her with an additional burden. She spends most of her pension on my studies, books, and other essentials. The stammer is now an identity for me and I have accepted it. My friends and teachers are supportive and patient with me which encourages me to not see this as a shortfall,” Aryan said.‘Will fulfill my father’s dream’“My father always wanted to be a doctor but he couldn’t due to financial constraints. I will fulfill his dreams,” said 15-year-old Shikha Verma, a student of Kendriya Vidyalaya, Lucknow who lost her father to Covid during the second-wave of pandemic.“My father used to work as a receptionist with Javitri Hospital and he lost his life during Covid while saving the lives of others. His sacrifice is an inspiration for me and I want to fulfill his dream. My classmates and teachers have been most supportive during this phase. They made sure that none of the students dropped out of school after losing their parents and also offered to pay school fees. Because of their efforts, I was able to score 76 per cent in board exams,” she said.Shikha was preparing for NEET since Class 10 but had to discontinue coaching classes due to financial constraints. “I live in a joint family and my uncle sponsors my school education. Both my elder brothers are currently in college so there is no earning member in the immediate family. It might get tough to take up coaching now but I will restart my preparation through online platforms and websites,” Verma said in high spirits.

Student by day, security guard by night — how children who lost parents to Covid are balancing life and school
Maharashtra: Nearly 300 ventilators lying unused in PCMC-run hospital
Times of India | 2 weeks ago | |
Times of India
2 weeks ago | |

PUNE:Around 295 new ventilators bought during the first and second Covid-19 waves are now gathering dust in a locked room at Masulkar Eye Hospital, one of the civic hospitals in the Pimpri Chinchwad Municipal Corporation (PCMC) limits. Civic officials have blamed the lack of trained manpower and non-availability of space in the existing municipal-run hospitals for the ventilators lying unused. The ventilators in Pune and Pimpri Chinchwad were used at the jumbo makeshift facilities set up at the College of Engineering Pune (CoEP) ground and Annasaheb Magar stadium in Pimpri to treat Covid patients in 2020. After treating more than 15,000 Covid patients in over 15 months, the makeshift hospitals in Pune and Pimpri Chinchwad were dismantled in March this year due to a drastic drop in caseload. PCMC municipal commissioner Shekhar Singh told TOI: “We will shift the unused ventilators to the civic hospitals when the necessary expansion, which has been planned, take place. But since there is a space crunch now, we need to work out a solution. We are also working on the annual maintenance of these machines to ensure their hassle-free deployment in time of need.”On the other hand, Pune Municipal Corporation (PMC) officials said they have already issued a work order for the maintenance of 200 unused ventilators. An official from the Pimpri Chinchwad-based New Thergaon Hospital, one of the civic hospitals of the PCMC, said they have 11 ICU beds and around five beds with ventilator support. “We have heard about the expansion plans. If these are executed, more ventilators and beds can be added here,” the official said. The official said the ventilators would require proper maintenance and trained staffers. PMC officials had earlier said the medical equipment from the dismantled jumbo units, including beds, dialysis units and ventilators, would be transferred to the civic medical facilities as needed, while the Pimpri Chinchwad civic body officials had said the newly constructed civic hospitals would get a better share of the medical equipment from the makeshift unit.

Maharashtra: Nearly 300 ventilators lying unused in PCMC-run hospital
Giloy may raise immunity, but isn’t safe for all, find Mumbai doctors
Times of India | 2 weeks ago | |
Times of India
2 weeks ago | |

MUMBAI: Can giloy, the immune-enhancing herb whose popularity skyrocketed amid the Covid pandemic cause liver failure? Last year when Mumbai researchers published their findings about six liver failure cases linked to consumption of giloy (Tinospora cordifolia), they were criticised by followers of traditional Indian medicine. They suggested the patients may have taken preparations made from a similar-looking medicinal plant Tinospora crispa known to induce liver problems. It resulted in the department of Ayush issuing a clarification of the former’s efficacy on October 5, 2021. The same researchers have now used botany, biochemistry and genome sequencing to conclusively prove the six patients had indeed taken giloy. “But the reason they suffered liver toxicity is they harboured an auto-immune condition that most likely got expressed by giloy’s immuneenhancing ability,”' said Dr Aabha Nagral, the main researcher from Jaslok Hospital who treated the six patients. The latest research, published in the November issue of ‘Journal of Clinical and Experimental Hepatology’, has for the first time in medical history published an algorithm to differentiate between the two medicinal herbs and provide norms to analysing any unknown herb producing injury. Giloy is a super herb widely used in Ayurveda. “It is called amrut as it gives life. Giloy is so regenerative that even if a small part of the plant falls to ground, it creates a new plant,” said Dr Govind Khati, former dean of Podar Ayurveda Hospital and department of Ayush director. He said it “could cause no harm”. The researchers found giloy raises immune markers in blood, but brought autoimmune hepatitis to the fore in a subset of patients (with hypothyroidism and diabetes). The previous study got much response from the Ayush community defending giloy and from liver specialists who reported patients undergoing a liver transplant after giloy use. “Modern drugs too have side-effects, including liver toxicity, but they carry warnings. A similar process needs to be followed for herbal drugs as public perception of all herbs as safe is not accurate,” said Dr Nagral. During Covid, the six patients who were studied used giloy to boost immunity. Four used the plant to get an extract, while others used commercially available products. The patient who died had used the readymade product. For the second study, the team collected the four plant samples and two commercial preparations consumed by their patients. It had a tough time finding Tinospora crisp for use as the “control sample” against which samples could be evaluated. “We found that Tinospora crispa doesn’t grow in Maharashtra and we initially tried to get it from Assam,” said Dr Nagral. They later found a local researcher cultivating the plant for her own study. “We waited for six months for the plant to grow,” said the doctor. “Based on morphological, microscopic, phytochemical, and DNA studies, the four plant part samples were identified as Tinospora cordifolia or giloy. The two commercial preparations could not be analysed as other ingredients interfered with analysis,” said the study.

Giloy may raise immunity, but isn’t safe for all, find Mumbai doctors
  • Mumbai doctors find giloy may raise immunity, but not safe for all
  • Times of India

    MUMBAI: Can giloy, the immune-enhancing herb whose popularity skyrocketed amid the Covid-19 pandemic cause liver failure? Last year when Mumbai researchers published their findings about six liver failure cases linked to consumption of giloy (Tinospora cordifolia), they were criticised by followers of traditional Indian medicine. They suggested the patients may have taken preparations made from a similar-looking medicinal plant Tinospora crispa known to induce liver problems. It resulted in the department of Ayush issuing a clarification of the former's efficacy on October 5, 2021. The same researchers have now used botany, biochemistry and genome sequencing to conclusively prove the six patients had indeed taken giloy. "But the reason they suffered liver toxicity is they harboured an auto-immune condition that most likely got expressed by giloy's immune-enhancing ability,"' said Dr Aabha Nagral, the main researcher from Jaslok Hospital who treated the six patients. The latest research, published in the November issue of 'Journal of Clinical and Experimental Hepatology', has for the first time in medical history published an algorithm to differentiate between the two medicinal herbs and provide guidelines to analysing any unknown herb producing injury. Giloy is a super herb widely used in Ayurveda. "It is called amrut as it gives life. Giloy is so regenerative that even if a small part of the plant falls to ground, it creates a new plant," said Dr Govind Khati, former dean of Podar Ayurveda Hospital and department of Ayush director. He said it "could cause no harm". The researchers found giloy raises immune markers in blood, but brought autoimmune hepatitis to the fore in a subset of patients (with hypothyroidism and diabetes). The previous study got much response from both the Ayush community defending giloy and from liver specialists who reported patients undergoing a liver transplant after giloy use. "Modern drugs too have side-effects, including liver toxicity, but they carry warnings. A similar process needs to be followed for herbal drugs as public perception of all herbs as safe is not accurate," said Dr Nagral. During Covid, the six patients who were studied used giloy to boost immunity. Four used the plant to get an extract, while others used commercially available products. The patient who died had used the readymade product. For the second study, the team collected the four plant samples and two commercial preparations consumed by their patients. It had a tough time finding Tinospora crispa for use as the "control sample" against which samples could be evaluated. "We found that Tinospora crispa doesn't grow in Maharashtra and we initially tried to get it from Assam," said Dr Nagral. They later found a local researcher cultivating the plant for her own study. "We waited for six months for the plant to grow," said the doctor. "Based on morphological, microscopic, phytochemical, and DNA studies, the four plant part samples were identified as Tinospora cordifolia or giloy. The two commercial preparations could not be analysed as other ingredients interfered with analysis," said the study. R Nagral, quoting Ayush department notification of last October, said giloy should be consumed under medical supervision.

After losing both parents to Covid, how these children survived against all odds
The Indian Express | 2 weeks ago | |
The Indian Express
2 weeks ago | |

Diwali was a dud. Birthdays are now scaled-down affairs. The food is moody: rarely good, mostly passable, and sometimes outright bad. And then there are the fights — loud, screechy ones that threaten to go out of hand. But there are some consolations: “At least we are there for each other.”As the Covid-19 pandemic swept across the world, snuffing out lives and livelihoods, it made an unwelcome stop at the household of the Mathurs — twice. Kajal, 16, Muskaan, 14, and Sumit, 13, lost both their parents to the coronavirus in a space of 11 months. Their father Udayveer died of Covid in May 2020 and mother Santoshi in April 2021, leaving the three children all alone in a big city full of people, forcing them to be grown-ups, except this was no pretend play and no fun at all.At their second-floor house in an unauthorised colony in Sangam Vihar Delhi, sitting on the double bed that fills up the room, Kajal, flanked by Muskaan and Sumit, says, “There’s not a single day we don’t think of mummy-papa.”According to the Ministry of Women and Child Development, around 1.53 lakh children across India were orphaned by the end of two deadly waves of the pandemic in 2020 and 2021, a period marked by all-round death and despair, forcing governments and the judiciary to sit up and take note. The Centre and state governments rolled out a string out measures — from scholarships and health insurance under the PM Cares scheme to Delhi’s ‘Mukhyamantri Covid-19 Pariwar Aarthik Sahayta Yojana’, under which a monthly assistance of Rs 2,500 and an ex-gratia assistance of Rs 50,000 was provided to affected families.In the national Capital, the Delhi Commission for Protection of Child Rights (DCPCR), the nodal agency for implementing these measures, had traced and identified around 3,600 children who lost either or both their parents to Covid.DCPCR chairperson Anurag Kundu says that in the case of children without guardians or where relatives didn’t want to take them in, the state government had worked to facilitate their admission to shelter homes.Soon after their parents died of Covid, Kajal and her siblings got themselves registered at the Child Welfare Committee (CWC), from where they have been getting a financial assistance of Rs 2,500 per month. They also received a sum of Rs 50,000 as a one-time ex-gratia payment under the Delhi government’s Covid-19 scheme.Since December last year, Ladli Foundation, a Delhi-based NGO, has been supporting the siblings with their house rent and other expenditure, including books.It was in May 2020 that their father Udayveer, who worked as a mechanic at a nearby shop, came down with fever. “It began as a mild fever. And then his condition worsened. No hospital was ready to admit him. Finally, he was admitted to a hospital in Malviya Nagar. He died 15 days later,” says Kajal.That was during the first wave of the pandemic, when the virus forced people indoors, fearful and distrustful of each other, and locked down the entire country. “When my father died of Covid, the landlord asked us to vacate the house. He was afraid he would get the virus. He asked my chacha (uncle) to take us away. My uncle requested him to let us stay but he was adamant that we leave,” says Kajal.The grieving family shifted to another house, but with the only earning member gone, the mother and the children struggled to stay afloat. “Mummy said papa had left behind some savings, and that would see us through some time. She tried to find work, but couldn’t because of the lockdown,” says Kajal, adding that she briefly dropped out of school and joined back in August this year. Muskaan and Sumit, meanwhile, struggled with their online classes that they attended on the phone their father had left behind.And then, 11 months later, tragedy struck again — at the height of the second wave of the pandemic. “My mother fell ill. It began with loose motions and then she developed tuberculosis. She was being treated for that when she fell ill with Covid. My uncle and I took her to several hospitals – one in Noida Sector 10, another in Gurgaon, but she didn’t survive,” says Kajal.With their mother gone, their landlord, worried that the children may not be able to pay the monthly rent, asked them to vacate the flat. “Initially, they made it difficult for us… didn’t give us enough water and so on. Finally, one of our friends in the locality helped us move to this house,” says Kajal, adding that they pay a rent of Rs 3,500 for the one-room-kitchen flat.She says that after her mother’s death, their uncle’s family tried to get the children to go back to their village in Mathura, where their grandfather lives. “We have grown up in Delhi; we didn’t want to go to our village. We asked our grandfather if he could come and stay with us, but he didn’t want to. So we stayed back,” says Kajal.Moving to a children’s home in Delhi wasn’t an option either. “When we first went to the CWC office, they tried to send us to a shelter home, saying the area we live in is not safe. I started crying. I didn’t want to be separated from Muskaan and Sumit. Finally, I had my way,” Kajal adds.“Mummy and papa” watch over them from an A4-size family photograph that hangs from a nail on a wall facing their bed – “so that we can see them when we open our eyes in the morning”. In the photograph, Santoshi is dressed in a bright orange salwar suit, the dupatta covering her head, while Udayveer is in a checked shirt.“I miss papa,” smiles Kajal. “He never scolded us. Of course, I miss mummy too. She would lose her temper occasionally, especially if we didn’t do our homework on time or if the house wasn’t tidy. But see how neat the house is…we have learnt fast.”The siblings have well-defined roles around the house – “Muskaan and I cook lunch and dinner together and Sumit is in charge of the groceries. Amit makes his own breakfast since we have to go to school early; his classes start only in the afternoon,” says Kajal.Students of Delhi government’s Bachhan Prasad Sarvodaya Kanya Vidyalaya, Kajal is Class 10, Muskaan in Class 8 and Sumit in Class 7.Ritu Barella, Kajal’s Hindi teacher, says she wasn’t regular when the school held online classes last year or when it opened briefly earlier this year. “I finally managed to get in touch with Kajal, and that’s when we got to know that both her parents had passed away and she was taking care of her younger siblings. All the teachers then decided to help Kajal get back to school,” she says.“During the pandemic, Muskaan was eligible for dry ration – wheat, pulses, rice and oil. So we would send them that and add a little extra whenever we could. This year, the dry ration facility stopped, but we try and help the children financially as much as we can,” says Ritu.The teacher says the academic performance of the children, however, remains a challenge.“Kajal has only been attending tests and exams, her attendance is still irregular. All three of them are bright and hardworking students, but they are in a challenging situation and we are trying our best to support them,” says Ritu.Kajal agrees with her teacher’s assessment – “I am trying, though,” she sighs.Devendra Kumar, CEO and founder of Ladli Foundation, says the NGO is planning to empower Kajal by getting her to teach younger kids in a slum close to their house. “That way, she will gain some confidence and learn to be self-reliant. We plan to provide her a stipend too,” says Kumar.These are other situations, Kajal says, when she feels lost. “Especially when Muskaan and Sumit fight and it ends with one of them crying and saying they miss mummy and papa. I don’t know what to do then and I cry too. I cried a lot after my parents went away. It was a very tough time… We also had problems with some of my relatives. Since then, we have only been in touch with our chacha and dadaji.”It’s in moments such as these that she misses her father. “He would solve all our problems, encourage us to study…,” Kajal says, adding that he wanted her to become an IPS officer.Festivals and birthdays, she says, aren’t the same. “Now we have to do everything – cooking to cleaning. Earlier, our parents would get us new clothes for Diwali, mummy would make kachoris. This Diwali, I took some money from my savings and bought some sweets and a pair of clothes each of Muskaan and Sumit. I wore mummy’s sari. I thought I looked a lot like mummy,” she says.Kajal says she has stopped celebrating her birthdays but they celebrated Sumit’s birthday in August this year. “We didn’t invite anyone. We got a small cake for him and made poori sabzi at home. This time, Muskaan fell sick on her birthday on April 1 so we did not celebrate hers.”The children say they avoid eating out. “Earlier, we used to ask mummy-papa for pizzas and burgers… But now I miss mummy’s food. On days that we feel like eating something special, we watch YouTube and try out some easy recipes,” says Kajal.“Didi makes good food but sometimes when she asks me to cook and then no one eats that. And then didi has to plan something else,” laughs Muskaan.Every day, the children line up in front of the small shrine in their room. “I often ask Lord Bajrang Bali to give me courage and strength and to keep us safe. I also pray that I can become a police officer and take care of my brother and sister. Muskaan prays for good marks in every subject. Sumit just stands with us,” laughs Kajal.The Centre launched the PM CARES for Children Scheme on May 29 last year, aiming to support children who have lost both parents or legal guardian or adoptive parents or a surviving parent to the COVID-19 pandemic.The Ministry has till date received 9,042 applications under the scheme from 611 districts in 33 states, out of which 4,345 applications have been approved by district magistrates in 557 districts in 31 states. The scheme provides support for education and health and will create a corpus of Rs 10 lakh for each child when he or she reaches 18 years of age. This corpus will be used for a monthly stipend to be given once the child attains 18, and will go on till the child reaches the age of 23, after which she or he will get the corpus amount as a lump-sum.The 113 children orphaned during the pandemic were given a fixed deposit of Rs 3 lakh each and a monthly payment of Rs 2,000 until they attain the age of 18. Besides, expenses towards their education will be met by the government from the CM’s Distress Relief Fund.Last year, the state government announced a fixed deposit of Rs 5 lakh for each of the children who have lost both or either of their parents to Covid-19. They also get a monthly allowance of Rs 1,125. Over 800 children were orphaned during the pandemic.Around 200 children lost both their parents during the COVID pandemic, while the number of those who lost either of their parents was much higher. As part of the Uttar Pradesh Mukhyamantri Bal Deva Yojana, the state government has been providing financial assistance of Rs 4,000 per month to guardians of children who lost either or both their parents. Government has also promised to bear the cost of education of the children until their graduation and, in case of the girl child, promised Rs 1.01 lakh for their marriage.Last year, the Haryana government launched the ‘Mukhya Mantri Bal Seva Yojna’ to provide financial assistance to children orphaned by the pandemic and to their guardians. Under this scheme, the state government provides Rs 2,500 per child per month to families in whose care the children are until they attain the age of 18. Besides, the government provides an additional Rs 12,000 per annum to the affected children.In Telangana, children orphaned during the pandemic who were unable to move in with relatives were sent to Child Welfare Department homes and subsequently admitted in residential schools. Those who wish to live with their relatives get Rs 2,000 per month as school expenses. The state government is also issuing smart cards to 256 such children affected by the pandemic, identifying them as ‘Children of the State’, which will exempt them from providing caste or income certificates to be eligible for government schemes.The Andhra Pradesh Government has started fixed deposits of Rs 10 lakh each for the 341 children affected during the pandemic. The children can withdraw the monthly interest on the fixed deposit until the attain the age of 25, when they can choose to close the deposit. Children who weren’t able to move in with relatives were admitted to residential schools.

After losing both parents to Covid, how these children survived against all odds
Minus their parents
The Indian Express | 2 weeks ago | |
The Indian Express
2 weeks ago | |

Diwali was a dud. Birthdays are now scaled-down affairs. The food is moody: rarely good, mostly passable, and sometimes outright bad. And then there are the fights — loud, screechy ones that threaten to go out of hand. But there are some consolations: “At least we are there for each other.”As the Covid-19 pandemic swept across the world, snuffing out lives and livelihoods, it made an unwelcome stop at the household of the Mathurs — twice. Kajal, 16, Muskaan, 14, and Sumit, 13, lost both their parents to the coronavirus in a space of 11 months. Their father Udayveer died of Covid in May 2020 and mother Santoshi in April 2021, leaving the three children all alone in a big city full of people, forcing them to be grown-ups, except this was no pretend play and no fun at all.At their second-floor house in an unauthorised colony in Sangam Vihar Delhi, sitting on the double bed that fills up the room, Kajal, flanked by Muskaan and Sumit, says, “There’s not a single day we don’t think of mummy-papa.”According to the Ministry of Women and Child Development, around 1.53 lakh children across India were orphaned by the end of two deadly waves of the pandemic in 2020 and 2021, a period marked by all-round death and despair, forcing governments and the judiciary to sit up and take note. The Centre and state governments rolled out a string out measures — from scholarships and health insurance under the PM Cares scheme to Delhi’s ‘Mukhyamantri Covid-19 Pariwar Aarthik Sahayta Yojana’, under which a monthly assistance of Rs 2,500 and an ex-gratia assistance of Rs 50,000 was provided to affected families.In the national Capital, the Delhi Commission for Protection of Child Rights (DCPCR), the nodal agency for implementing these measures, had traced and identified around 3,600 children who lost either or both their parents to Covid.DCPCR chairperson Anurag Kundu says that in the case of children without guardians or where relatives didn’t want to take them in, the state government had worked to facilitate their admission to shelter homes.Soon after their parents died of Covid, Kajal and her siblings got themselves registered at the Child Welfare Committee (CWC), from where they have been getting a financial assistance of Rs 2,500 per month. They also received a sum of Rs 50,000 as a one-time ex-gratia payment under the Delhi government’s Covid-19 scheme.Since December last year, Ladli Foundation, a Delhi-based NGO, has been supporting the siblings with their house rent and other expenditure, including books.It was in May 2020 that their father Udayveer, who worked as a mechanic at a nearby shop, came down with fever. “It began as a mild fever. And then his condition worsened. No hospital was ready to admit him. Finally, he was admitted to a hospital in Malviya Nagar. He died 15 days later,” says Kajal.That was during the first wave of the pandemic, when the virus forced people indoors, fearful and distrustful of each other, and locked down the entire country. “When my father died of Covid, the landlord asked us to vacate the house. He was afraid he would get the virus. He asked my chacha (uncle) to take us away. My uncle requested him to let us stay but he was adamant that we leave,” says Kajal.The grieving family shifted to another house, but with the only earning member gone, the mother and the children struggled to stay afloat. “Mummy said papa had left behind some savings, and that would see us through some time. She tried to find work, but couldn’t because of the lockdown,” says Kajal, adding that she briefly dropped out of school and joined back in August this year. Muskaan and Sumit, meanwhile, struggled with their online classes that they attended on the phone their father had left behind.And then, 11 months later, tragedy struck again — at the height of the second wave of the pandemic. “My mother fell ill. It began with loose motions and then she developed tuberculosis. She was being treated for that when she fell ill with Covid. My uncle and I took her to several hospitals – one in Noida Sector 10, another in Gurgaon, but she didn’t survive,” says Kajal.With their mother gone, their landlord, worried that the children may not be able to pay the monthly rent, asked them to vacate the flat. “Initially, they made it difficult for us… didn’t give us enough water and so on. Finally, one of our friends in the locality helped us move to this house,” says Kajal, adding that they pay a rent of Rs 3,500 for the one-room-kitchen flat.She says that after her mother’s death, their uncle’s family tried to get the children to go back to their village in Mathura, where their grandfather lives. “We have grown up in Delhi; we didn’t want to go to our village. We asked our grandfather if he could come and stay with us, but he didn’t want to. So we stayed back,” says Kajal.Moving to a children’s home in Delhi wasn’t an option either. “When we first went to the CWC office, they tried to send us to a shelter home, saying the area we live in is not safe. I started crying. I didn’t want to be separated from Muskaan and Sumit. Finally, I had my way,” Kajal adds.“Mummy and papa” watch over them from an A4-size family photograph that hangs from a nail on a wall facing their bed – “so that we can see them when we open our eyes in the morning”. In the photograph, Santoshi is dressed in a bright orange salwar suit, the dupatta covering her head, while Udayveer is in a checked shirt.“I miss papa,” smiles Kajal. “He never scolded us. Of course, I miss mummy too. She would lose her temper occasionally, especially if we didn’t do our homework on time or if the house wasn’t tidy. But see how neat the house is…we have learnt fast.”The siblings have well-defined roles around the house – “Muskaan and I cook lunch and dinner together and Sumit is in charge of the groceries. Amit makes his own breakfast since we have to go to school early; his classes start only in the afternoon,” says Kajal.Students of Delhi government’s Bachhan Prasad Sarvodaya Kanya Vidyalaya, Kajal is Class 10, Muskaan in Class 8 and Sumit in Class 7.Ritu Barella, Kajal’s Hindi teacher, says she wasn’t regular when the school held online classes last year or when it opened briefly earlier this year. “I finally managed to get in touch with Kajal, and that’s when we got to know that both her parents had passed away and she was taking care of her younger siblings. All the teachers then decided to help Kajal get back to school,” she says.“During the pandemic, Muskaan was eligible for dry ration – wheat, pulses, rice and oil. So we would send them that and add a little extra whenever we could. This year, the dry ration facility stopped, but we try and help the children financially as much as we can,” says Ritu.The teacher says the academic performance of the children, however, remains a challenge.“Kajal has only been attending tests and exams, her attendance is still irregular. All three of them are bright and hardworking students, but they are in a challenging situation and we are trying our best to support them,” says Ritu.Kajal agrees with her teacher’s assessment – “I am trying, though,” she sighs.Devendra Kumar, CEO and founder of Ladli Foundation, says the NGO is planning to empower Kajal by getting her to teach younger kids in a slum close to their house. “That way, she will gain some confidence and learn to be self-reliant. We plan to provide her a stipend too,” says Kumar.These are other situations, Kajal says, when she feels lost. “Especially when Muskaan and Sumit fight and it ends with one of them crying and saying they miss mummy and papa. I don’t know what to do then and I cry too. I cried a lot after my parents went away. It was a very tough time… We also had problems with some of my relatives. Since then, we have only been in touch with our chacha and dadaji.”It’s in moments such as these that she misses her father. “He would solve all our problems, encourage us to study…,” Kajal says, adding that he wanted her to become an IPS officer.Festivals and birthdays, she says, aren’t the same. “Now we have to do everything – cooking to cleaning. Earlier, our parents would get us new clothes for Diwali, mummy would make kachoris. This Diwali, I took some money from my savings and bought some sweets and a pair of clothes each of Muskaan and Sumit. I wore mummy’s sari. I thought I looked a lot like mummy,” she says.Kajal says she has stopped celebrating her birthdays but they celebrated Sumit’s birthday in August this year. “We didn’t invite anyone. We got a small cake for him and made poori sabzi at home. This time, Muskaan fell sick on her birthday on April 1 so we did not celebrate hers.”The children say they avoid eating out. “Earlier, we used to ask mummy-papa for pizzas and burgers… But now I miss mummy’s food. On days that we feel like eating something special, we watch YouTube and try out some easy recipes,” says Kajal.“Didi makes good food but sometimes when she asks me to cook and then no one eats that. And then didi has to plan something else,” laughs Muskaan.Every day, the children line up in front of the small shrine in their room. “I often ask Lord Bajrang Bali to give me courage and strength and to keep us safe. I also pray that I can become a police officer and take care of my brother and sister. Muskaan prays for good marks in every subject. Sumit just stands with us,” laughs Kajal.The Centre launched the PM CARES for Children Scheme on May 29 last year, aiming to support children who have lost both parents or legal guardian or adoptive parents or a surviving parent to the COVID-19 pandemic.The Ministry has till date received 9,042 applications under the scheme from 611 districts in 33 states, out of which 4,345 applications have been approved by district magistrates in 557 districts in 31 states. The scheme provides support for education and health and will create a corpus of Rs 10 lakh for each child when he or she reaches 18 years of age. This corpus will be used for a monthly stipend to be given once the child attains 18, and will go on till the child reaches the age of 23, after which she or he will get the corpus amount as a lump-sum.The 113 children orphaned during the pandemic were given a fixed deposit of Rs 3 lakh each and a monthly payment of Rs 2,000 until they attain the age of 18. Besides, expenses towards their education will be met by the government from the CM’s Distress Relief Fund.Last year, the state government announced a fixed deposit of Rs 5 lakh for each of the children who have lost both or either of their parents to Covid-19. They also get a monthly allowance of Rs 1,125. Over 800 children were orphaned during the pandemic.Around 200 children lost both their parents during the COVID pandemic, while the number of those who lost either of their parents was much higher. As part of the Uttar Pradesh Mukhyamantri Bal Deva Yojana, the state government has been providing financial assistance of Rs 4,000 per month to guardians of children who lost either or both their parents. Government has also promised to bear the cost of education of the children until their graduation and, in case of the girl child, promised Rs 1.01 lakh for their marriage.Last year, the Haryana government launched the ‘Mukhya Mantri Bal Seva Yojna’ to provide financial assistance to children orphaned by the pandemic and to their guardians. Under this scheme, the state government provides Rs 2,500 per child per month to families in whose care the children are until they attain the age of 18. Besides, the government provides an additional Rs 12,000 per annum to the affected children.In Telangana, children orphaned during the pandemic who were unable to move in with relatives were sent to Child Welfare Department homes and subsequently admitted in residential schools. Those who wish to live with their relatives get Rs 2,000 per month as school expenses. The state government is also issuing smart cards to 256 such children affected by the pandemic, identifying them as ‘Children of the State’, which will exempt them from providing caste or income certificates to be eligible for government schemes.The Andhra Pradesh Government has started fixed deposits of Rs 10 lakh each for the 341 children affected during the pandemic. The children can withdraw the monthly interest on the fixed deposit until the attain the age of 25, when they can choose to close the deposit. Children who weren’t able to move in with relatives were admitted to residential schools.

Minus their parents