Times of India | 1 month ago | 25-06-2022 | 09:16 am
PUNE: The state’s booster or precaution dose consumption has surged with the initiation of the doorstep Covid-19 vaccination programme. Going by the latest report of the state health department, nearly 3.16lakh residents over 60 years of age across 36 districts have availed of the benefit of the third dose since the beginning of the special Har Ghar Dastak drive on June 1. “We aim to administer this precaution dose to every eligible person over 60 years in the state and cover the maximum people by the end of July,” said state immunisation officer Dr Sachin Desai. The response to the precaution dose had gone down drastically after Covid cases dipped between February and May. The cases have started slightly rising over the last two weeks, which is also prompting people to seek a booster dose. Currently, only residents over 60 years of age and healthcare/frontline workers are eligible for a free booster dose. Citizens in the 18-59 age bracket are not privy to the free booster shot under the country’s Covid vaccination programme, and have to bear the cost of the shot at designated private hospitals. This is also one of the prominent reasons why most districts have registered extremely low consumption of the booster dose in the 18-59 age bracket, while a few have recorded zero jabs. The Union government allowed the booster shot for the 18-59 age group at private centres from April 10 this year. Earlier in June, state health minister Rajesh Tope had asked the Centre to give the booster dose for free for the younger group to push up vaccination numbers.
Dr. Atul Patel is a director and chief consultant for the Department of Infectious Diseases, Sterling Hospital. He is a visiting assistant professor at the Medicine Division of Infectious Diseases at the University of South Florida, Tampa, US. He has a special interest in HIV/TB co-infections. His group is researching on an effective programme to prevent mother-to-child transmission at the ID Clinic, AhmedabadThe past two years were largely uneventful with respect to swine flu and/or seasonal influenza cases and related mortality. We are again witnessing a surge this year. What is driving it?The term, swine flu, is used for the 2009 H1N1 strain, which was a recombinant of influenza viruses in birds, pigs and humans. The strain evolves every year, which is why these subsequent strains are termed under the broad category of seasonal influenza. The surge in seasonal influenza cases in a specific year depends on the general population’s immunity to the specific strain circulating in a specific year. We are seeing swine flu patients and seasonal influenza patients at present as both the viruses are in circulation. If we look at the epidemiology of seasonal influenza, it circulates in the community in tropical countries throughout the year with two big spikes — first in winter and the second in the monsoon. So this is the time when we expect an increase in the number of seasonal influenza cases. This is a major difference compared to temperate countries such as the US or Europe where only one surge is seen in the year that is winter.Right now we can say we are seeing an equal number of Covid-19 and seasonal influenza patients. In fact, the number of seasonal influenza cases is more compared to the last two years. That may be because we are not strictly wearing masks and sanitising hands, something that we did consistently through the two years during Covid-19. These are two important non-pharmaceutical interventions, which reduce the susceptibility to seasonal influenza as well as Covid-19. Furthermore, routine vaccination for seasonal influenza has gone down. It is not being highly recommended in high-risk groups by the government unlike pre Covid-19 years and has now taken a backseat following Covid-19. We can control the number of seasonal influenza patients in the community through vaccination and post-exposure prophylaxis with Oseltamivir (Tamiflu). We should promote an annual shot of the seasonal influenza vaccine in the media also.How does seasonal influenza impact an individual’s morbidity risk?Like Covid-19, those with co-morbidities are at a high risk of disease progression and complication when it comes to seasonal influenza. We are seeing that there is mortality in patients with significant co-morbidities. The sensitivities are almost the same as those for Covid-19 — haemato-oncological problems, malignancy, post-transplant cases, chronic obstructive lung disease, obesity, diabetes and so on.In terms of susceptibility to seasonal influenza, it is more or less equal across all age groups, except in paediatric patients and those aged above 65 years. These two groups are such that even without any co-morbid conditions, they are more prone to disease severity. For a majority of youngsters, most of whom are immuno-competent, seasonal influenza is a self-limiting disease. Symptoms include high grade fever, throat pain, headache, body pain, runny nose, which last for five to seven days or so. Then they report spontaneous and uneventful recovery. Taking fever-reducers such as Paracetamol work for healthy immuno-competent individuals but for paediatric and aged people, and those with comorbidities, we generally prescribe the antiviral drug Tamiflu, a very effective agent for influenza.With fever being the first symptom and the monsoon known for the resurgence of viral infections, seasonal influenza, vector-borne diseases, and now Covid-19, what should one look out for?With most viral infections, including dengue fever, the first episode is usually self-limiting in immuno-competent people. Such individuals report an uneventful recovery without much medical intervention. But those in high risk and co-morbid groups, should not ignore their fever, visit their doctor, get tested and secure a definite diagnosis.They should get a diagnostic evaluation done on the first day of the onset of symptoms rather than waiting for a few days as by then the disease can progress and complications may crop up. For healthy individuals who do not have many symptoms, except for fever and body pain, there is not much cause for worry. Their assessment and evaluation should be symptom-driven.With Covid-19 and seasonal influenza circulating in the population, how do we go about the diagnosis, given that most individuals just opt for a Covid-19 test? Surely a negative Covid-19 test doesn’t rule out an individual’s probability of seasonal influenza instead?We usually recommend the RT-PCR for both COVID-19 and seasonal influenza. In clinical practice, we have multiplex PCR. This assay includes a target panel of all the common viruses producing respiratory symptoms. So a single multiplex PCR can confirm whether it’s influenza A, influenza B, parainfluenza, COVID19, swine flu or other respiratory viruses. But it is very expensive, costing around Rs 11,500 or so, as it checks multiple pathogens. The results come within two-and-a-half hours and are highly reliable.How is a confirmed diagnosis of the type of seasonal influenza one is afflicted with significant for health management?Knowing the final and confirmed diagnosis is very important, as for the three viruses — influenza A, B and swine flu — Tamiflu is highly effective. Besides, most of these patients will respond to the antiviral drug within 48 hours of taking it. This is also one of the diagnostic traits that can be an indicator. So basically if someone improves markedly after taking Tamiflu, it can be said that he/she has been affected by one of the three viruses. That apart, a PCR test can tell you which kind it is because symptoms are more or less the same for seasonal influenza, swine flu or influenza B virus. From a clinical examination perspective, one can say that an individual has seasonal influenza but for the specific virus, only a PCR test can give a final and confirmed diagnosis.
PUNE: The existing government-appointed administrators of the soon-to-be-defunct Rupee Cooperative Bank have said they would seek legal counsel over the next steps after the Reserve Bank of India (RBI) cancelled the 110-year-old bank’s licence. The Rupee Cooperative Bank will cease to exist as a bank from September 22 this year, with the RBI on Wednesday announcing cancellation of its licence on the grounds that public interest would be adversely affected if it was allowed to operate. In a statement on Thursday, the administrators of the bank called the RBI’s cancellation decision “fatal” that will “finish a legendary institution”. Freedom fighter Bal Gangadhar Tilak was instrumental in setting up the bank in 1912. The bank had then sought equity investments in small amounts, often as low as Re 1, from the people. It was on the basis of this concept that the bank got its name. The bank initially got its banking licence from RBI in February 1987 and was listed in the Second Schedule of the RBI Act the following year. “The RBI’s decision to cancel the banking licence of the Rupee Bank is very unfortunate. Despite the satisfactory performance for the past six years on all fronts, the RBI has taken this fatal decision. The cancellation of the licence is not a solution. The finishing of a century-old legendary institution has left us dejected. We are not demoralised though. We will take into confidence the depositors, employees and all other stakeholders. We will also take legal advice and decide the further course of action,” said Sudhir Pandit, the bank’s administrator. Sources in the bank said while the advances owed by the defaulters to the bank have been adjusted against the deposits they hold there, there are still around Rs6.12 crore of deposits linked to those who owe Rs19 crore in loans to the bank. A source said this was due to the conditions to the permission received from the RBI to adjust deposits from loans owed by the defaulters. The bank got the permissions to adjust deposits from loans owed to the bank over 2017-18. The depositors of the bank, who have also vowed to mount a legal challenge to the RBI’s decision at the Bombay high court, will stage a demonstration outside Rupee Bank’s Marketyard office at 4pm on Friday. RBI has communicated to the state government, specifically the Commissioner for Cooperation and Registrar of Cooperative Societies (CC&RCS), Maharashtra, to appoint liquidators to wind up the bank. A source in the commissionerate, which is based in Pune, said action is expected next week.
MUMBAI: Maharashtra has been relegated to the third position in the country's cadaver organ donation map with neighbouring Gujarat climbing to the second spot, helped by an aggressive programme driven by the public sector. While the state has a little over four months to reclaim its place, chances of toppling Gujarat, or the current leader in donations, Telangana, seem bleak at the current pace. In the eight months of 2022, Maharashtra has seen only 52 cadaver donations, most of which came from Pune (24), followed by Mumbai (22). Nagpur and Aurangabad contributed five and one, respectively. Before the pandemic hit in 2020, Maharashtra had carried out the highest donations in India-160 in 2019-raising hopes that the deceased donor programme had finally broken its inertia. Donations dropped to 74 in 2020 and improved marginally to 95 in 2021. Officials said the pre-pandemic momentum is still lacking. Yet, there is no plan of action. Telangana this year has already seen more than double the number of Maharashtra's donations at 119. In both the pandemic years, Telangana outperformed Maharashtra. It is, however, Gujarat that has made everyone take note. Since January, that state has carried out 98 donations, a remarkable rise from 70 in the entire 2021 and a nearly three-fold rise compared to 36 in 2020. Dr SK Mathur, president of the Zonal Transplant Coordination Committee (ZTCC), said the programme in Maharashtra has slowed in most private hospitals while it is yet to become a priority for public centres. "The fear of Covid is diminishing, and people are returning to hospitals, so the donations too should get the push," he said. The ZTCC has asked hospitals to capitalise on Independence Day and collect pledges from patients, relatives, and their own staffers. In Mumbai, more than 3,000 people are on the waitlist for kidneys and over 300 for a liver. InMaharashtra, the number grows every day. Aarti Gokhale, central coordinator of ZTCC Pune, said they have roped in an agency to boost social media campaigns so that younger people are aware and can influence the seniors regarding donating. Last year, former health minister Rajesh Tope formed a task force to increase donations. Dr Mathur, a part of the task force, said they have started meeting intensivists and student doctors at medical colleges. They are also trying to influence public hospitals. Gujarat has mainly shown what the participation of a public hospital could achieve. The Civic Hospital in Ahmedabad contributed 68 of the 98 donations this year, catapulting that state to the second position in India.
The Indian Army Thursday said that meticulous planning between military and civil agencies has been done for the first Agnipath Army recruitment rally of the Pune Recruiting Zone. The drive will begin from August 13 in Aurangabad.In June, the Ministry of Defence announced its new Agnipath initiative for recruitment of soldiers across the three services. Under this defence recruitment reform, which was cleared by the Cabinet Committee on Security, soldiers will be recruited annually. While the appointment is for four years, of the total annual recruits, around 25 per cent of each batch of Agniveers will be enrolled in the regular cadre of the Armed forces and would be required to serve an engagement period of 15 years.Under Agnipath, the first recruitment rally under the aegis of the Headquarters Recruiting Zone, Pune, is scheduled from August 13 onwards at Aurangabad. The Pune Recruiting Zone will conduct a total of eight recruitment rallies, including one rally for Agniveer Women Military Police. These eight rallies will cover the states of Maharashtra, Gujarat, Goa and Union Territories of Dadra, Daman, Diu and Nagar Haveli over the next four months.“Huge numbers of candidates have registered for various categories to include Agniveer General Duty, Agniveer Technical, Agniveer Clerk, Agniveer Store Keeper Technical and Agniveer Tradesman. The response for the Agnipath scheme has been enthusiastic and the youth have registered adequately for the recruitment which is evident from the overwhelming Registration figures,” said a press statement of the Indian Army.The admit cards for the rally have been issued from the Army Recruiting Office at Aurangabad and candidates can download these using their user IDs and passwords. For any information, candidates can use http://www.joinindianarmy.nic.in, officials said.“For the management of such a large number of candidates, meticulous planning and coordination between multiple military and civil administrative agencies was carried out. The selection process is completely transparent and efficient to provide equal and fair opportunity to candidates. Hence the candidates are strongly advised to refrain from unethical means during the rally,” the statement issued by the Defence PRO, Pune, further read.The Pune Recruiting Zone of the Army will hold eight rallies under the Agnipath scheme through its regional Army Recruiting Offices starting this month. The first two recruitment rallies will be held by Army Recruiting Offices of Aurangabad and Pune. Other rallies will be held by Army Recruiting Offices of Mumbai, Nagpur, Kolhapur, Ahmedabad and Jamnagar.
A 25-year-old woman police constable from Bihar who was in Pune, Maharashtra, as part of an investigation was found dead in a hotel room Thursday afternoon.As per the information given by the officials from the Hinjewadi police station in Pune, the deceased identified as Kavita Kumari was part of an investigation team from Brahmaputra police station in the Muzaffarpur district of Bihar. The team had come to Pune for an investigation of a case registered in 2021 pertaining to charges of cheating and criminal breach of trust.Senior Inspector Vivek Muglikar, in charge of the Hinjewadi police station, said that a probe has been launched into the sequence of events that led to the death of the constable.A senior police officer said that while the preliminary probe points to suicide, senior officials from both jurisdictions — Pimpri Chinchwad in Maharashtra and Muzaffarpur in Bihar– were coordinating with each other to investigate the cause of the death.The Hinjewadi police station received the call in this regard from a member of her team, Sub-Inspector Om Prakash Prasad. Officials said that Kavita Kumari was found dead in the hotel room located near Chandani Chowk in Bavdhan around 1.30 pm.