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BJP gives ‘full marks’ to PM Modi for lockdown citing Oxford study, but stands corrected




A deserted street in Paharganj during the nationwide lockdown | Photo: Suraj Singh Bisht | ThePrint
A deserted street in Paharganj, Delhi, during the nationwide Covid-19 lockdown | Photo: Suraj Singh Bisht | ThePrint

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New Delhi: The Bharatiya Janata Party’s official Twitter handle shared a Covid-19 response tracker by the University of Oxford’s Blavatnik School of Government. The tracker notes the varying degrees of stringent government policies across the world to arrest the spread of coronavirus.

With the Narendra Modi government being the only regime to have announced a 21-day long nationwide lockdown, the tracker puts India high on the stringency index. India Monday entered the penultimate day of its three-week long nationwide lockdown.

Sharing the tracker last week (10 April), the BJP tweeted saying: “The ‘full marks’ underline Modi government’s proactiveness, seriousness and swiftness in implementing effective lockdown.”

On Monday, however, the Blavatnik School of Government, which teaches and does research through the Oxford University, replied saying: “Thanks for your interest in our tracker, which simply records the number and strictness of government policies. The related stringency index should not be interpreted as measuring the appropriateness or effectiveness of a country’s response – there are no ‘marks’ as such.”

A similar statement is also present in bold on the tracker’s website. It adds: “A higher position in the Stringency Index does not necessarily mean that a country’s response is ‘better’ than others lower on the index.”

The Blavatnik School of Government, founded in 2010, is a public policy department in the Oxford University. It was founded by Professor Ngaire Woods, who is also the department’s current dean.

Also read: Think you can prove yoga, meditation ward off Covid-19? Modi govt has an offer for you

About the tracker

The Oxford Covid-19 Government Response Tracker (OxCGRT) collects publicly available information by a team of over 100 students and staff from all over the world.

It began in March 2020 to collate “systematic information on which governments have taken which measures, and when, can help decision-makers and citizens understand the robustness of governmental responses in a consistent way, aiding efforts to fight the pandemic”.

The OxCGRT collects data on a scale of 13 indicators. A higher score suggests higher degree of measures taken by a government.

Nine of the 13 indicators, S1-S7, S12 and S13, focus on policies such as travel bans, closure of schools, closing public transports, restrictions on internal movement, testing policies and contact tracing. Meanwhile, S8-S11 focuses on monetary and fiscal support, and initiatives such as emergency investment in healthcare and funding for vaccines, among others.

While the data collated is not an indication of the effectiveness of stringent measures, “they can be useful input to studies that analyse factors affecting disease progression”.

India’s nationwide lockdown is scheduled to end Tuesday (14 April). However, certain states like Maharashtra, Telangana, Odisha, West Bengal and Punjab have already extended their state-wide lockdowns till 30 April. As of Monday, India has 9,240 cases and 331 deaths.

Also read: Palaniswami-led Tamil Nadu govt springs surprise with stellar Covid-19 crisis management


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Andhra doctor, suspended for alleging PPE shortage, now beaten by cops for ‘creating nuisance’




doctor with a stethoscope
A doctor with a stethoscope (Representative image) | Pixabay

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Bengaluru: A doctor with a government hospital in Andhra Pradesh, who was suspended for questioning the shortage of PPE kits, was admitted to a mental health facility Sunday, a day after he was allegedly manhandled by the police and arrested for creating nuisance in Visakhapatnam.

Dr Sudhakar Rao, a government civil surgeon, was beaten, his hands tied behind his back and dragged by police officers Sunday. During the incident, Sudhakar allegedly verbally abused the Jagan Mohan Reddy government in an inebriated state. Videos of the incident have since been widely shared online.

“The police control room received a call about a person creating nuisance on Beach Road Hospital in Visakhapatnam. The Fourth Town police was rushed there and found that the person was the suspended doctor, Sudhakar.

“When the police tried to control him, he snatched the mobile phone of an officer and threw it away. He is suffering from mental disorder and he was drunk. He was sent for a medical examination,” Vishakapatnam Police Commissioner R.K. Meena told the media Sunday.

Sudhakar was admitted to a mental hospital Sunday after doctors at the King George Hospital in Vishakapatnam said he suffered from anxiety.

“Since the doctor is in anxiety and talking irrelevant things, I have referred him to a mental care hospital in Visakhapatnam,” said Dr Radha Rani, medical superintendent, King George Hospital.

A statement released by the hospital said: “Dr Sudhakar was brought to the KGH casualty ward at 6.30 pm. From the smell, it was found that he was in a drunk condition. Under the influence of alcohol, he did not cooperate with anybody there and kept abusing all. Still, his pulse, BP were checked. Pulse was 98, BP 140/100. Blood samples were sent to forensic lab to ascertain alcohol content in his blood.”

Also read: 6 toilets for 20 houses, inadequate testing: Why Mumbai’s Worli chawls are a Covid hotspot

‘Treatment towards Sudhakar was inhuman’

Sudhakar, who spent more than 10 years at the Narsipatnam Government Hospital in Andhra Pradesh, was suspended from his duties in March after he openly criticised the Reddy government for failing to provide PPE kits and N95 masks to doctors treating Covid-19 patients.

He had alleged that the state government was giving N95 masks and PPE kits meant for doctors to politicians and the police.

A video of Sudhakar criticising the government was also shared widely. In the clip, he can be heard saying: “We are putting our lives at risk here. We are asked to use the same mask for 15 days and a fresh mask will be provided only twice a month.”

Speaking to ThePrint, Dr P. Gangadhar Rao, member of the National COVID Committee of the Indian Medical Association, said the manner in which Sudhakar was manhandled by the police was “inhuman” and “violated” human rights.

“We strongly condemn the way he was taken into custody. He was not carrying a weapon, he was alone, the number of policemen outnumbered him. Why treat him like that? We also saw a video where a policeman beats him with a lathi,” said Dr Gangadhar.

He added that Rao was one of the most experienced anaesthetists the Andhra Pradesh government had.

“Our next step of action is to get Sudhakar to write an unconditional apology for having used filthy language, abusing the chief minister and the government. We will then take our appeal to the CM seeking that he be reinstated,” Gangadhar said.

Also read: Face shields, gowns, masks — the new attire for cabin crew post lockdown


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