Indian Express Explained-02/07/2020

Print Friendly, PDF & Email

1) If you are infected: demystifying Covid-19 care

  • After three months of missteps, there seems to be consensus — or rather a late realisation — that not all patients with Covid-19 need to be taken to hospitals.
  • And yet, for nearly one hundred days, confirmed cases of Covid-19 in India’s cities were being admitted to hospitals, irrespective of the severity of disease.
  • This blunder — with no clinical justification — resulted in first paralysing, then overwhelming, and finally crushing entire health systems.

There are a finite number of permutations that can occur, when someone is exposed to Covid-19. Let’s walk through these possibilities, and the possible care pathways each situation warrants.

Asymptomatics: If exposed, one gets Covid-19 or one doesn’t. Of all who get it, most will be asymptomatic: they will show no symptoms, but will continue to spread it. They, however, need no treatment.

Presymptomatics and mild cases: Of the few that are symptomatic, all will first be pre-symptomatic. Most of these symptomatic cases will only have mild symptoms and will also need no treatment. Home remedies may help with some of this, but there is no evidence that they alter the course of the disease.

Symptomatics, moderate: Of the remainder, some will develop moderate symptoms, and some will develop severe disease. Only these two categories need sophisticated medical intervention.

  • Those with moderate symptoms will benefit from oxygen therapy, and “pronation,” which in plain English, means lying on your belly, instead of your back.
  • But the principal intervention for those with moderate severity is oxygen — which can be delivered through a mask and tube connected to a portable oxygen tank. They do not need ventilators, or intensive care specialists — especially when no city in India has enough of either, and most smaller towns and villages have neither.

Severe cases: Unlike run-of-the-mill pneumonias, we have observed that the shortness of breath in patients with Covid-19 can progress abruptly, and these patients need ventilators. The patients then have to be kept sedated (asleep) with a precisely dosed intravenous medication — an overdose of which can easily kill the patient. And finally, plasma donated from Covid-19 survivors helps some of the sickest.

2) Explained: How new Hong Kong security law gives China more controls on city state

China unveiled a sweeping new national security law for the island city, taking aim at the pro-democracy movement that had captured global attention since last year.

Title- ‘The Law of the People’s Republic of China on Safeguarding National Security in the Hong Kong Special Administrative Region’

What the Law says

  • The new law includes the following as offences– Secession, Subversion, Terrorist Activities, and Collusion with a Foreign Country or with External Elements to Endanger National Security.
  • All four offences can invite life imprisonment as the maximum punishment, followed by lesser penalties.
  • Bolstering its presence in Hong Kong, mainland China will establish a new department here called the ‘Office for Safeguarding National Security’. With Beijing’s approval, the Office would be able to take over jurisdiction from the city’s independent law courts in cases involving National security.
  • If a trial involves “State secrets” or “public order”, it could be closed to the media and the public; only the judgment would be delivered in open court.
  • The Hong Kong Police Force will also have a separate department to deal with national security matters, and the city’s Justice Department will have to form a specialised prosecution division.
  • A new body called the ‘Committee for Safeguarding National Security’ will be formed with Hong Kong’s Chief Executive at its helm, and will be immune from judicial scrutiny.

Hong Kong

  • A former British colony, Hong Kong was handed over to mainland China in 1997, becoming one of its Special Administrative Regions.
  • It is governed by a mini-constitution called the Basic Law — which affirms the principle of “one country, two systems”, and upholds Hong Kong’s liberal policies, system of governance, independent judiciary, and individual freedoms for a period of 50 years from 1997.
  • Under Article 23 of the Basic Law, Hong Kong was supposed to enact the national security law on its own.
  • But, when the city government first tried to enact the law in 2003, the issue became a rallying point for massive protests that year. Ever since, the government steered clear of introducing the legislation again.

3) Parliament represents will of the people, ways must be found for it to convene and debate in times of Covid-19

Central Theme- The people are eagerly awaiting the resumption of Parliament, especially at a time the country is reeling from a monstrous pandemic and concerned about the Chinese aggression.

Will of People

  • According to constitutional experts, parliamentary democracy consists of the representation of the people, responsible government and accountability of the council of ministers to the legislature.
  • The Members of Parliament, owe our power directly or indirectly to the people of India. Parliament is considered the arena of debate and dialogue, decency and discussion — the diadems of parliamentary niceties.

There is no gainsaying the fact that COVID-19 has affected every segment of our national life. Each and every institution has been undergoing a paradigm shift to deal with this threat. One such institution is Parliament, the sanctum sanctorum of Indian democracy.

How will Parliament resume business?

This time, a new modus operandi for the functioning of the House has to be worked out. Several options can be considered, learning from the best practices of legislatures around the world.

  • First, there can be the usual meetings/sittings but with preventive measures in place to protect MPs. In addition to ensuring social distancing, Parliament’s premises can be sterilised as per WHO guidelines.
  • Second, Parliament sessions can be attended remotely through video conferencing and web meetings.
  • Third, a hybrid model, which incorporates elements of both the above models, can be considered. The Philippines and the United Kingdom can serve as a guide in this regard.

The maximum gap of six months between sessions is important to be kept in mind. The last sitting of the 17th Lok Sabha was on March 23. Six months or 180 days will elapse on September 19. The House must be summoned before that date.

Leave a Reply

%d bloggers like this: