Centre releases guidelines for reopening schools, India’s tally crosses 66 lakh; 1 in 10 may have COVID, says WHO

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Centre releases guidelines for reopening schools, India’s tally crosses 66 lakh; 1 in 10 may have COVID, says WHO
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The Ministry of Education released guidelines for reopening schools in a graded manner from 15 October. It said that students will attend schools only with the written consent of parents and attendance norms will be flexible.

As India’s COVID-19 caseload crossed 66 lakh mark on Monday, the education ministry released guidelines for reopening schools in a graded manner from 15 October.

As per the guidelines, students may attend schools only after written consent from parents, the premises will be thoroughly cleaned and disinfected, attendance norms will be flexible and there will be no assessment for up to three weeks.

As per the latest update from the Union health ministry, the number of people who have recuperated from the disease surged to 55,86,703, pushing the recovery rate to 84.3 percent.

The total coronavirus cases mounted to 66,23,815 with 74,442 people testing positive for the infection in a day, while the toll climbed to 1,02,685 with the virus claiming 903 lives in a span of 24 hours.

There are 9,34,427 active cases of the coronavirus infection in the country which comprises 14.11 percent of the total caseload, as per the data. The COVID-19 case fatality was recorded at 1.55 percent.

As per the Ministry of Health and Family Welfare (MoHFW), India has exceeded the 140 COVID-19 tests per day for per million population, as advised by the World Health Organisation (WHO) for comprehensive surveillance of suspected cases, by nearly six times

Centre releases rules for reopening schools

The guidelines released by the education ministry included thorough cleaning and disinfection of premises, flexibility in attendance, no assessment for up to three weeks, and ensuring a smooth transition from home-based schooling during COVID-19 lockdown to formal schooling.

It also asked states and union territories to frame their own Standard Operating Procedures (SOPs) for health and safety precautions based on their local requirements.

“Schools must arrange and implement for thorough cleaning and disinfecting of all areas, furniture, equipment, stationery, storage places, water tanks, kitchens, canteen, washroom, laboratories, libraries, on the school campus and ensure airflow in indoor space,” the ministry said in a set of guidelines for the gradual reopening of schools from 15 October.

“Schools may be encouraged to make their own SOPs based on the guidelines issued by states and UTs, keeping in view the safety and physical or social distancing norms, and ensuring that the notices, posters, messages, communication to parents in this regard are prominently displayed and disseminated,” it said.

The ministry recommended that schools adopt flexible attendance and sick leave policies.

“Flexible attendance and sick leave policies may be developed and implemented to encourage students and staff to stay at home when sick. Students may attend schools only with the written consent of parents. Students may opt for online classes rather than physically attend school.”

“There shall be no assessment up to 2-3 weeks of school reopening and use of ICT and online learning shall continue to be encouraged,” it said.

Universities and schools across the country were ordered shut on 16 March to contain the spread of the coronavirus. On 25 March, the Centre announced a nationwide lockdown.

SC gives RBI, Centre week to revise response on loan moratorium

The Supreme Court ordered the Centre and the Reserve Bank of India to place on record the KV Kamath Committee recommendations on debt restructuring necessitated due to the economic stress caused by the pandemic. The court also said the Centre’s affidavit on waiving “interest on interest” on loans up to Rs 2 crore was not satisfactory and must be submitted again.

The Kamath panel had made recommendations for 26 sectors that could be factored by lending institutions while finalising loan resolution plans and had said that banks could adopt a graded approach based on the severity of the coronavirus pandemic in a sector.

The apex court has told the Centre and the RBI to place before it within a week the recommendations and the decisions and other notifications on loan moratorium and also “consider the issues raised by the real estate associations and the power producers”.

State-wise deaths in India

The 903 new fatalities include 326 from Maharashtra, 67 from Karnataka, 66 from Tamil Nadu, 62 from West Bengal, 52 from Uttar Pradesh, 41 from Punjab, 40 from Andhra Pradesh, 38 from Delhi, and 35 from Madhya Pradesh.

The total 1,02,685 deaths reported so far in the country include 38,084 from Maharashtra followed by 9,784 from Tamil Nadu, 9,286 from Karnataka, 6,029 from Uttar Pradesh, 5,981 from Andhra Pradesh, 5,510 from Delhi, 5,194 from West Bengal, 3,603 from Punjab, and 3,496 from Gujarat.

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

‘1 in 10 people have COVID-19’

The head of emergencies at the World Health Organisation (WHO) says its “best estimates” indicate that roughly one in 10 people worldwide may have been infected by the coronavirus, as per The Associated Press.

Dr Michael Ryan, speaking Monday to a meeting of the WHO’s 34-member executive board focusing on COVID-19, said the figures vary from urban to rural, and between different groups, but that ultimately it means “the vast majority of the world remains at risk.”

The estimate — which would amount to more than 760 million people based on a current world population of about 7.6 billion — far outstrips the number of confirmed cases as tallied by both WHO and Johns Hopkins University, now more than 35 million worldwide.

Experts have long said that the number of confirmed cases greatly underestimates the true figure.

Mental health toll of pandemic ‘devastating’: WHO

The COVID-19 pandemic is having a “devastating impact” on mental health services globally, the World Health Organisation said Monday, ahead of a large fundraising push, reported AFP.

It warned that mental health had been overlooked in the crisis, pointing to a survey conducted between June and August that revealed severe disruptions to services in 93 countries.

While 83 percent of the 130 countries surveyed had included mental health in their coronavirus pandemic response plans only 17 percent had actually set up the full funding required, it said.

“This is a forgotten aspect of COVID-19,” WHO mental health director Devora Kestel told a virtual media briefing, stressing the urgent need for increased funding.

A visualisation of the COVID-19 virus. Image courtesy Fusion Medical Animation

New Zealand beats virus ‘again’

Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern declared on Monday that New Zealand “beat the virus again” and announced restrictions in the country’s largest city would be eased after a second COVID-19 wave was contained, reported AFP.

The virus was believed to have been eradicated in late May after a strict national lockdown led to New Zealanders enjoying 102 days without community transmission.

But a new cluster emerged in Auckland in August, forcing the city into lockdown for almost three weeks. With no new confirmed cases in Auckland for 12 days, Ardern said on Monday that the virus was now under control and congratulated residents for enduring the second lockdown.

Despite infection, Trump ventures out

Infected and contagious, President Donald Trump briefly ventured out in a motorcade on Sunday to salute cheering supporters, a move that disregarded precautions meant to contain the deadly virus that has forced his hospitalisation and killed more than 209,000 Americans.

Hours earlier, Trump’s medical team reported that his blood oxygen level dropped suddenly twice in recent days and that they gave him a steroid typically only recommended for the very sick. Still, the doctors said Trump’s health is improving and that he could be discharged as early as Monday.

The move capped a weekend of contradictions that fueled confusion about Trump’s health, which has imperiled the leadership of the US government and upended the final stages of the presidential campaign.

While Trump’s physician offered a rosy prognosis on his condition, his briefings lacked basic information, including the findings of lung scans, or were quickly muddled by more serious assessments of the president’s health by other officials.

In a short video released by the White House on Sunday, Trump insisted he understood the gravity of the moment. But his actions moments later, by leaving the hospital and sitting inside the SUV with others, raised doubt in the minds of many.

With inputs from agencies

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