RT-PCR Test of Covid-19

Of all the Covid-19 tests that came to light in the wake of the Covid-19 pandemic situation globally, the RT-PCR Test stood out as the ultimate Covid-19 test. Its full-form is reverse transcription polymerase chain reaction. RT-PCR Test, when invented, used to cost as much as Rs. 5000 and was unaffordable by common people. However, as production grew, following advancement in technology, the price of RT-PCR Test has come down to as low as Rs. 300. In this article, let us see how this test works.

The sample is collected using a nose swab from your throat and nose. A swab is a thin, flexible stick that is inserted in your nostrils and throat to collect the virus. Covid-19 virus, if present, will get accumulated in the stick. The sample then reaches the laboratory, where the virus is extracted. The extraction process isolated genetic material from the sample, including genetic material of any viruses that may be present. The third step is the PCR, or polymerase chain reaction, in which millions of copies of the virus are produced for detection. Without the PCR, the number of viruses in the sample is too small to be detected. If Covid-19 is present, then the chemicals used in the process produce fluorescent light. It is the signal to suggest that the sample contains the Covid-19 virus.

A positive test result means that it is very likely you have Covid-19. If you test positive, don’t panic. Contact your doctor or healthcare provider, and follow the quarantine and self-isolation rules. Most people will recover following mild or no symptoms. A negative test result means you are unlikely to be affected by Covid-19 at the time of the test. However, you still have to follow all precautions given by the Government in your state, as you are still vulnerable to Covid-19 at the time of test or afterwards. Due to high sensitivity, you may test Covid-19 positive if you had been infected by Covid-19 a few weeks back and have recovered from it since then.

RT-PCR Test has numerous advantages:

  1. It delivers a report within 24 hours.
  2. It is the most reliable and accurate Covid-19 test, which can detect even residual virus, such as remnants of a virus from a near-past infection.
  3. Collection of sample is also hassle-free, and it could be processed in railway stations, entry and exit checkpoints, office buildings, that is it does not consume a large space and do not require extremely skilled labour.

Advantages of the RT-PCR Test made us possible to test for Covid-19 at tourist destinations at a minimal cost and also tour hassle-free in most tourist destinations in the country.

Written by – Himadri Paul

Tokyo 2020 Olympics is Underway

It is always said that it is better late than never. The Olympics was originally scheduled to be held initially in the summer of 2020 in Tokyo, Japan. However, the onset of the Covid-19 pandemic postponed the mega event that occurs every 4 years. However, extensive research on Covid-19 and the invention of vaccines mean that the games could still be conducted amid strict pandemic protocols. Tokyo has taken the initiative to proceed with the Olympic games in July 2021.

As of now, only two countries have pulled out of the Tokyo Olympics – North Korea and Guinea. Some Czech, US, and British athletes have also pulled themselves out of the Olympics as they are infected with Covid-19. Covid-19 also showed its presence in the games village, where several athletes were found to be Covid-19 positive. Games related Covid-19 cases have till date shot off to 155, of which 20 are residing in the village. Some well-known athletes have also been affected by the deadly virus, including Czech beach volleyball player Ondrej Perusic, Dutch tennis player Jean-Julien Rojer, U.S. tennis player Coco Gauff, British shooter Amber Hill, and Russian swimmer Ilya Borodin.

Russian athletes will be participating in the Tokyo Olympics as ROC, or Russian Olympic Community. Russians are not allowed to use their flag or national anthem in the event as the World Anti-Doping Association, or WADA, has banned Russia from participating in Olympics for 4 years, which has now been cut down to 2 years. As a result, 335 Russian athletes, who have cleared themselves of being unaware of doping scandals, will now participate under the name ROC.

The tournament kicked off well for India, with Mirabai Chanu from Manipur, clinching the silver medal in women’s weightlifting in the 49kg category. She became the second person to get an Olympic medal in weightlifting after Karnam Malleshwari’s bronze medal at the 2000 Sydney Olympics. Mirabai lifted a total of 202kg to secure the second spot after China’s Hou Zhizhi, who lifted 210kg in total, creating Olympic record. The veteran badmintonist and Rio Olympic’s silver medallist, PV Sindhu, the boxing legend and London Olympic’s bronze medallist, Mary Kom, and the Indian men’s hockey team have started well in their Olympics campaign.

Written by – Himadri Paul

Partial Lockdown vs Complete Lockdown Conditions

As the second wave of Covid-19 wrecks havoc in many states, there is again the need for a lockdown phase 2. This time first partial lockdown was imposed, which was expected to slow down the spread of the virus. But the reality was just the opposite. Hence complete lockdown was imposed in most states. The importance of lockdown during Covid-19 times was felt as the second wave has started to decrease from a peak value. So why was complete lockdown not imposed as soon as the number of cases rose? Let us now compare between partial and complete lockdown and understand which solution is more practical. Note that lockdown itself is not enough to save you. Instead, everyone has to strictly follow all Covid-19 guidelines and maintain good health and hygiene.

In lockdown phase 1, when the whole country underwent a strict and complete lockdown, much middle class lost their means of livelihood, the people suffered a lot, and the migrant workers and students got stuck in unknown places. Thus the Government does not want to impose such stringent measures around the country that may impact most citizens. This time around, the states were asked to impose partial or complete lockdown to curb the spread of the virus. So many states imposed a partial lockdown when the number of cases started rising. However, it didn’t work out at all due to the negligence of the citizens. Let us now see why partial lockdown failed in most regions.

Partial lockdown hardly reached anybody’s ears. It has become a norm that as long as the police do not arrest anybody, it is safe to disobey Government rules and regulations in lockdown. The Governments are to be blamed as well. The Kumbha Mela at Haridwar turned out to be the biggest super spreader of Covid-19 in the world. People from all over the country gathered at Haridwar to take a bath in the Holy Ganga during Kumbha Mela. Uttar Pradesh and Uttarakhand happened to be the primary source of the Mumbai strain of the Sars-Cov-2 virus after Mumbai. Also to be blamed are the election rallies in Tamil Nadu, West Bengal, Kerala and Assam that accounted for a significant outbreak of the virus in these states. The markets are to be blamed as well. There was a sudden urge of everybody to go out shopping, and in February and March, people behaved as if there was never any pandemic situation here. The Chaitra sale in Kolkata looked as if pre-pandemic times had returned. Schools reopened only to be shut down immediately due to teachers and students getting affected.

Amidst all these, Delhi, Mumbai and Lucknow were the worst affected cities that faced a severe oxygen crisis. The travellers were by far responsible for spreading the virus to some metropolitan cities and rural countryside. Today, a chunk of the country’s population are migrant workers, and a significant number of middle-class families are tourism-lovers. The Bengal strain, an escape immunity variant of Sars-Cov-2, had actually spread in January 2021, when the tourism-lovers visited tourist places and workers migrated to other states for work when lockdown restrictions were lifted.

However, complete lockdown instead of partial lockdown worked in favour of curbing the spread of coronavirus. It is evident from the figures that peak was achieved in many states in mid-May, and the number of cases has declined since. Delhi, Maharashtra, Gujarat, Karnataka, Telangana, Tamil Nadu have battled the coronavirus and are now looking forward to easing lockdown restrictions. However, this time the Government is not taking it lightly, as the severity of the second wave forced the Government and the citizens to be aware of an even more destructive third wave shortly. Also, vaccination drive has hoped to limit the damage caused by Sars-Cov-19 in the body.

With Bengal, Odisha, Assam and some other states yet to reach their peak caseload, it is expected that despite easing situations in other parts, these states still have to maintain their lockdown restrictions to minimize further damage by Covid-19. One of the best practical moves is creating awareness and enforcing a few conditions for a few more weeks so that there is not much congestion of people in a particular area. Limitation of market hours, refrain from rallies, festivals, and gatherings, restriction of people’s movement through public transport are good options. The Home-delivery system should be increased and implemented in as many fields as possible. Virtual conferences, online classes, and work from home should be a part of the new normal until the virus is eliminated from the country. If China can do it, New Zealand can do it, Australia and some other countries can do it, then we Indians can do it as well.

Written by – Himadri Paul

MENTAL HEALTH IN THE TIME OF COVID-19

It is time to face the truth: Covid is affecting our mental health. The crisis is having an adverse effect not only on our daily life but also on our mental health. At times, conditions might aggravate, and the individual must seek a physician’s help. This is no time to shy away or to hide one’s worsening conditions under the shield, for that may worsen situations.

Since the onset of the pandemic, which had been warning the world of severe mental crises among patients and their family members, India somehow battled through the rising covid cases and returned to a comparatively safer status in 2020. But the second wave has swept us and somewhat caught us off guard. Each day accounts for more than thousands of active cases and hundreds of deaths throughout the country. The Health sector of the nation, mainly in Delhi, Maharashtra, Madhya Pradesh, and West Bengal, is thoroughly rattled by their inadequacy and dearth of essential equipment and supplies, one of them being Oxygen cylinders. To add to that, the pyres never seem to stop burning. This is a terrible time when uncertainties have encroached on our lives along with the virus.

Every single phone call seems to be ominous and bearer of bad news. It is often observed in senior citizens living in constant fear of being affected by the virus, despite the vaccine doses. The continuous demand and chaos concerning the availability of medical help, medicines, and oxygen cylinders have gotten to their nerves. It is worse for those whose children might have to be quarantined in some other part of the country. Anxiety and panic attack is gripping both young and old minds. We are living through a dark time where the idea of breathing without a mask often accompanies the thought of death. It is often reported how covid patients suffer from depression. This can be a result of witnessing crises and death from a first-hand purview. Observing such devastations and human agony from close quarters can be disastrous to mental health.

Last year’s covid situation has prompted the government to close down schools-colleges until normality restored. Almost a year has passed since the decision and that of online classes. Sitting before a computer/laptop/mobile phone and that too without the plausible interaction with the teacher and physical interactions with friends is gradually becoming tiring. Needless to say, quality learning decreased from what lasted from before. To add to that, students often find it difficult o focus in class for a longer duration. Such strenuous classes often result in pain in the ear or redness in the eye, or headache. As a student, I have often felt I am losing my urge to learn or study. Many of my college-going friends have affirmed this and conjectured at the creative block and intellectual stagnancy.

Covid-19 trauma is challenging to do away with. Yet, this is also true that maintaining or sporting healthy mental status makes it easier for an individual to combat. WHO has recommended deep-breathing, connectivity among friends and relatives, a balanced lifestyle, etc., among many others. There are various psychologists, counsellors, and activists who are reaching out to listen to your worries and anxiety. Trust them and give them a chance. Mental Health is a massive taboo in our country. The time has come to break away from these redundant shackles and seek help when need be. Staying healthy is all that matters right now.

As I look at my burning country and the increasing death counts and active cases, a line from King Lear comes to my mind:

“As flies to wanton boys are we to the gods.”

Written by – By Trina Ganguly

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Exercise and Covid-19

Exercise plays an essential role in maintaining a healthy and hygienic lifestyle. Exercise has also been known to boost our immunity and keep diseases away. Now, new research has found out that exercise can make Covid-19 infection less severe. However, it doesn’t guarantee you that you won’t get affected by Covid-19, nor does it says that people who exercise daily do not die.

In a study on 50,000 Californians who developed Covid-19, those who had been most active before infection were least likely to be hospitalized or die. The data also found out that the ones who lead a sedentary lifestyle are at greater risk of severe infection, hospitalization or even death. Regular exercise, whether swim, walk, run or ride a bicycle, lowers the risk of getting severely infected by Covid-19. Exercise is also known to increase antibody responses quickly on common cold, influenza, and other related viral diseases.

Another study by Glasgow Caledonian University revealed that exercising for 30 minutes a day reduces the risk of death or severe illness by 37%. The same survey reported that you are likely to have 50% more antibodies after vaccination if you are active than somebody who is inactive. So being physically active makes you more immune to the virus after vaccination. That doesn’t mean you soon after taking a vaccine dose. You will start high-intensity workouts. Exercise, whatever mentioned here, does not mean something extraordinary athletic but refers to easy and moderate exercises that a healthy individual can do daily without any guidance. On the contrary, it is better to rest for a few days after vaccination as your immunity lowers temporarily, causing side effects like tiredness, drowsiness, weakness, or even slight fever.

Now comes the critical point that whether a workout is good post-recovery from Covid-19. If you are asymptotic but Covid-19 positive, you shouldn’t be working out too much as an intense workout lowers immunity. It is best to take a rest and remain in isolation until you recover. Now you have tested negative, it doesn’t mean you are fully recovered from Covid-19, as the virus can damage many body parts. It takes some time before your body starts functioning normally. Thus before beginning any moderate or high-intensity exercise, you should consult a doctor. Usually, respiratory exercises are first suggested after Covid-19 recovery as the respiratory system is most prone to get damaged. After that, aerobic activities like brisk walking or cycling may be taken up, followed by moderate exercises after a good number of days.

Yoga is an age-old Indian traditional exercise done regularly to keep the body fit. Breathing forms one of the key factors in yoga, and there are several breathing exercises such as pranayama. Pranayama has shown a positive response from both doctors and yoga specialists as effective against Covid-19. Thus, while lockdown is in place outside, it is better to remain active at home doing exercises and yoga.

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Written by Himadri Paul