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2 Noida, 4 Mumbai healthcare workers are confirmed cases of reinfection

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MUMBAI: Two healthcare workers from a Noida hospital could be the country’s first genetically proven cases of Covid-19 reinfection, according to the preprint of a research paper submitted by the prestigious Institute of Genomics and Integrative Biology, a Council of Scientific and Industrial Research laboratory located in Delhi.

The IGIB team has also established reinfection in four healthcare workers from Mumbai – three from Nair Hospital in Mumbai Central and one from Hinduja Hospital, Mahim. The Mumbai results were submitted to an international medical journal for publication six days ago.

Stating that his laboratory’s work proved Covid-19 reinfection in India, IGIB director Dr Anurag Agarwal told TOI, “Apart from the two cases in a Noida hospital, our laboratory has found variations in six other samples. While four are from Mumbai, two others are from a Delhi hospital.”

Using genetic sequencing, an IGIB team has so far analysed samples of 16 healthcare workers (HCWs) from across the country. Two swab samples per HCW – one from the first infection and another from the second – were used for the sequencing.

In case of the Noida HCWs – a 25-year-old man and a 28-year-old woman — the test showed nine variations between the two SARS-CoV2 viruses that infected them. The HCWs tested PCR-positive for the first time on May 5 and May 17 respectively; the second time was on August 21 and September 5 respectively. The IGIB sequencing machine takes around 24 hours to establish the genetic differences.

Dr Rakesh Gupta from Government Institute of Medical Sciences, Greater Noida, said both the healthcare workers were asymptomatic both times. “While one is admitted in our hospital for observation, the other one is in home isolation,” he added.

Dr Shridhar Sivasubbu from IGIB said these healthcare workers could be diagnosed only because of the continuous surveillance carried out in collaboration with IGIB. “Without surveillance, these workers could have carried the infection around, exposing their family, colleagues and patients,” he said.

“Our analysis suggests that asymptomatic reinfection may be potentially under-reported,” said the IGIB preprint. However, on Tuesday, Indian Council of Medical Research head Dr Balram Bhargava said globally reinfections have been noted, but they are “very rare” and not a “matter of serious concern.”

In Mumbai, three cases of reinfection were suspected among healthcare workers in BYL Nair Hospital and one from PD Hinduja Hospital. All three Nair doctors had tested for Covid-19 for the second time within one to three months of recovering from their first episode. Among them was a resident doctor from the medicine department, a senior medical officer and an additional professor from the department of anaesthesia.

The anaesthesia professor, in her late 40s, suffered the second bout exactly three months after the first infection. Dr Charulata Deshpande, head of the department, recalled the doctor had symptoms such as dry cough, severe bodyache and sore throat during the first infection, while massive exhaustion alerted her of the infection second time round. “Since it was the second time she was infected, we were closely observing her condition. To our relief she has recovered well,” she said. The professor has since resumed work.

The 27-year-old resident doctor from the medicine department tested positive for the second time in a span of a month. Her symptomatic period was 9-10 days in the first episode and 8-9 the second time. “Her symptoms were almost similar during both episodes. Fever and cough were common,” said one of the batchmates. The resident too has resumed work. A suspected case of reinfection in Sion Hospital of an anaesthesia resident, though, has not been studied in detail, a doctor from the hospital said.

The Mumbai samples were initially processed by Nair Hospital’s microbiology department and BMC’s molecular diagnostics lab in Kasturba Hospital before being sent to the IGIB lab. BMC’s additional municipal commissioner Suresh Kakani said the initial tests showed a genome sequence that is not normally found in SARS-CoV2. “We have now sent the samples to Pune for further genome investigations. We are awaiting further communication,” he said.

Reinfection has grabbed headlines ever since a Hong Kong lab proved it using entire genome sequencing in late August. Random cases have been reported from across the world, including the US and the Netherlands. If reinfection is more common than expected, vaccination norms for Covid-19 would have to be drawn up accordingly.

ICMR head Dr Bhargava said, “One point has been noted. In cases of reinfection, both infections (episodes) have been mild and therefore the reinfection occurs,” he said.

The Times of India is an Indian English-language daily newspaper owned by The Times Group. It is the third-largest newspaper in India by circulation and largest selling English-language daily in the world. according to Audit Bureau of Circulations.

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INDIA

India, Japan naval exercise JIMEX-2020 begins in Arabian Sea

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NEW DELHI: Indian Navy and Japanese Maritime Self-Defense Force (JMSDF) ships conducted operations in close formation at JIMEX-2020, the 4th edition of India-Japan Maritime bilateral exercise.

It is being held in the North Arabian Sea from September 26 to 28.

The 4th edition of India-Japan maritime bilateral exercise JIMEX, which is conducted biennially between the Indian Navy and Japanese Maritime Self-Defense Force (JMSDF) will be held in the North Arabian Sea from 26 to 28 September 2020.

JIMEX series of exercises commenced in January 2012 with a special focus on maritime security cooperation. The last edition of JIMEX was conducted in October 2018 off Visakhapatnam, India.

Naval cooperation between India and Japan has increased in scope and complexity over the years. Advanced level of operations and exercises planned during JIMEX-20 are indicative of the continued upswing in Indo-Japanese defence relations and continued efforts by both Governments to work closely for a more secure, open and inclusive global commons, in accordance with international regulations.

JIMEX 20 will showcase a high degree of inter-operability and joint operational skills through the conduct of a multitude of advanced exercises, across the spectrum of maritime operations.Multi-faceted tactical exercises involving weapon firings, cross deck helicopter operations and complex surface, anti-submarine and air warfare drills will consolidate coordination developed by the two navies.

JIMEX 20 is being conducted in a ‘non-contact at-sea-only format’, in view of COVID-19 restrictions.

Indigenously built stealth destroyer Chennai, Teg Class stealth frigate Tarkash and Fleet Tanker Deepak, under the command of Rear Admiral Krishna Swaminathan, Flag Officer Commanding Western Fleet, will represent the Indian Navy. The Japanese Maritime Self-Defense Force will be represented by JMSDF Ships Kaga, an Izumo Class Helicopter Destroyer and Ikazuchi, a Guided Missile Destroyer, led by Rear Admiral Konno Yasushige, Commander Escort Flotilla – 2 (CCF – 2).

In addition to ships, P8I Long Range Maritime Patrol Aircraft, integral helicopters and fighter aircraft will also participate in the exercise. JIMEX 20 will further enhance the cooperation and mutual confidence between the two navies and fortify the long-standing bond of friendship between the two countries.

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Centre earmarks 30,000 central security forces personnel for Bihar polls

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NEW DELHI: The Centre has directed deployment of about 30,000 central security force personnel for the conduct of the three-phase assembly polls in Bihar, officials said on Sunday.

The Union home ministry has directed that 300 companies of the Central Armed Police Forces (CAPFs) and the Railway Protection Force will be deployed for “area domination to ensure peaceful conduct of assembly polls” in the state.

The maximum 80 companies, as per an official order reviewed by PTI, will be drawn from the Central Reserve Police Force (CRFP) followed by 70 from the Sashastra Seema Bal (SSB), 55 from the Border Security Force (BSF), 50 from the Central Industrial Security Force (CISF), 30 from the Indo-Tibetan Border Police force (ITBP) and 15 from the RPF.

A single company of these forces has an operational strength of about 100 personnel.

“A total of 300 companies or about 30,000 personnel of these CAPFs and the RPF have been ordered to be withdrawn immediately from various units including from the borders and training for deployment in Bihar polls,” a senior officer said.

Polls for the 243-member Bihar assembly will be held in three phases– October 28, November 3 and November 7- and counting of votes will be held on November 10.

The Election Commission, while announcing the poll schedule for the state on September 25, had said that the electoral exercise will be one of the biggest elections globally to be held during the prevailing Covid-19 pandemic situation.

“Border guarding forces like the ITBP, BSF and SSB have also been asked to withdraw their units and send for the Bihar elections pool. Although, the ITBP is heavily committed due to the current situation along the LAC and the BSF against Pakistan on the western front, these forces could not be spared (from doing poll duty) this time,” a senior officer privy to the development said.

Officials have recently said that the home ministry is working on an “ambitious” plan to gradually remove border guarding forces- the BSF, the ITBP and the SSB- from internal security duties in order to strengthen protection at various frontiers of the country.

The internal security and conduct of elections task will increasingly be rendered by the CRPF that is designated as the lead internal security force of the country, they had said.

The home ministry, in the latest order, has said that the CRPF will be the nodal agency for the deployment of these central forces in the state and it will coordinate with the state agencies for moving these contingents in Bihar.

The EC had said voting will begin as usual at 7 am in Bihar but the period will be extended by one hour until 6 pm, except in the Left Wing Extremism affected areas, so that Covid-19 patients can vote in the last hour of the day.

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INDIA

76% of new recovered Covid-19 cases reported from 10 States, UTs: Health ministry

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NEW DELHI: A total of 92,043 new Covid-19 recoveries have been reported in the last 24 hours in the country, according to the Union ministry of health and family welfare on Sunday.

The Ministry informed that 76 per cent of the new recovered cases are from 10 States and Union Territories.

“92,043 new recoveries have been reported in the last 24 hours in the country. 76 per cent of the new recovered cases are found in 10 States and UTs,” said the ministry.

Maharashtra has contributed more than 23,000 Covid-19 recoveries, followed by Andhra Pradesh with more than 9,000 cases.

While 77 per cent of the newly reported cases were from 10 States and UTs. Maharashtra continues to lead this tally and contributed more than 20,000 cases followed by Karnataka and Andhra Pradesh with more than 8,000 and 7,000 cases respectively.

“A total of 88,600 new cases have been reported in the last 24 hours in the country. 10 States/UTs account for 77 per cent of the new confirmed cases, the ministry added.

There have been 1,124 deaths in the past 24 hours and 38 per cent of these deaths were reported from Maharashtra with 430 deaths. With 86 and 85 deaths respectively, Karnataka and Tamil Nadu followed the State.

“10 States/UTs account for 84% of the deaths in the last 24 hours due to Covid,” as per the ministry.

According to the ministry, India’s Covid count reached 59,92,533 including 9,56,402 active cases, 49,41,628 cured, discharged or migrated and 94,503 deaths as of Sunday.

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