'Long Covid' may affect multiple parts of body and mind, say experts

News Network
October 15, 2020

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London, Oct 15: Ongoing illness after infection with Covid-19, sometimes called "long Covid", may not be one syndrome but possibly up to four causing a rollercoaster of symptoms affecting all parts of the body and mind, doctors said on Thursday.

In an initial report about long-term Covid-19, Britain's National Institute for Health Research (NIHR) said one common theme among ongoing Covid patients - some of whom are seven months or more into their illness - is that symptoms appear in one physiological area, such as the heart or lungs, only to abate and then arise again in a different area.

"This review highlights the detrimental physical and psychological impact that ongoing Covid is having on many people's lives," said Dr Elaine Maxwell, who led the report.

Many thousands of people worldwide have linked up on social media platforms and online forums to share their experiences of ongoing Covid-19 symptoms. Some call themselves "long haulers" while others have named their condition "long Covid".

According to UK-based patient group LongCovidSOS, data from a King’s College London-devised symptom tracker app shows that 10% of Covid-19 patients remain unwell after three weeks, and up to 5% may continue to be sick for months.

Maxwell, who presented the findings of the "Living with Covid" report in an online media briefing, said health services are already struggling "to manage these new and fluctuating patterns of symptoms and problems".

She and her co-authors urged patients and doctors to log and track symptoms so that health researchers can learn more about the condition and how to ease it as swiftly as possible.

"Despite the uncertainties, people need help now," she said. "We need to collect more data."

For this initial report, Maxwell's team held a focus group with 14 members of a Facebook group called Long Covid.

Their testimony suggested ongoing Covid can be cyclical, Maxwell said, with symptoms fluctuating in severity and moving around the body including around the respiratory system, the brain, cardiovascular system and heart, the kidneys, the gut, the liver and the skin.

"There are powerful stories that ongoing Covid symptoms are experienced by people of all ages, and people from all backgrounds," the report said.

Maxwell said an urgent priority is to establish a working diagnosis recognised by healthcare services, employers and government agencies to help patients get support.

"While this is a new disease and we are learning more about its impact..., services will need to be better equipped to support people with ongoing Covid, as emerging evidence is showing there are significant psychological and social impacts that will have long term consequences," the report said.

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Agencies
November 18,2020

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New Delhi, Nov 18: Chief Justice of India S.A. Bobde on Wednesday said the Prime Minister's Office is an "unique office", as it denied adjournment during the hearing on sacked BSF constable Tej Bahadur's plea against the election of Prime Minister Narendra Modi from Varanasi constituency in Uttar Pradesh.

A bench headed by the Chief Justice said: "This is too important a matter to be adjourned so many times. The respondent occupies an unique office. He is the PM of India."

Bahadur's counsel repeatedly sought adjournment, as he was unable to answer a specific query by the top court.

The observation from the top court came as Bahadur's counsel repeatedly sought adjournment in the matter, but the Chief Justice refused citing that the matter has already been adjourned many times.

"We cannot hear this case indefinitely. It is too important to pass over, we are hearing you and not cutting you short. The adjournment has gone into months in this case," the Chief Justice added.

After a detailed hearing in the matter, the Supreme Court reserved its order on a petition by sacked the BSF trooper against election of Modi from Varanasi in 2019.

Bahadur had moved the top court challenging a Allahabad High Court order, which had dismissed his election petition against the Prime Minister.

Earlier, the top court allowed the Centre's plea to adjourn the hearing in the matter and sought its hearing after the Diwali vacation.

Bahadur's nomination papers were rejected as the Samajwadi Party candidate in Varanasi constituency in the 2019 Lok Sabha polls. Bahadur filed a special leave petition before the top court where he contended that his nomination papers were rejected by the returning officer allegedly under pressure from the BJP. He has urged the top court to set aside the rejection of his nomination papers.

He was sacked from service after he released a video in 2017 complaining about the quality of food served to soldiers. Senior advocate Harish Salve represented Modi.

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Agencies
December 2,2020

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Hong Kong, Dec 2: Chinese fintech giant Ant Group is considering selling its 30% stake in Indian digital payment processor Paytm amid tensions between the two Asian neighbours and a toughening competitive landscape, people with direct knowledge of the matter said.

Financial details of the possible transaction have not been firmed up and Ant, the Alibaba-backed payments-to-consumer credit behemoth, has not launched a formal sale process yet, four people told Reuters.

Paytm, which is also backed by SoftBank Group Corp among others, was valued at about $16 billion during its latest private fundraising round a year ago. At that valuation, Ant's stake in the Indian firm is worth about $4.8 billion.
Both Ant and Paytm said that the information was incorrect. A Paytm spokesman said, "there has been no discussion with any of our major shareholders ever, nor any plans, about selling their stake."

Ant's possible exit from Paytm would mark another reversal for the Chinese company hot on the heels of the dramatic suspension of its $37 billion stock listing last month, which would have been the world's largest.

It also would be a step back from its ambitions of becoming a global payments leader. Sources told Reuters in October that Ant was cutting its financial support to many of the overseas affiliated e-wallet firms.

The main trigger for Ant to consider the divestment of its stake in Paytm is the worsening diplomatic relations between India and China in the past few months, said the people, who declined to be named as the deliberations are confidential.

Relations between the countries are at a nadir, with troops locked in a border face-off in the western Himalayas for months after a clash in June in which 20 Indian soldiers were killed.

Since the clash, India has tightened rules for investments from China and banned dozens of Chinese mobile apps, including from tech giants Tencent, Alibaba and ByteDance. It banned 43 more apps late last month.

"There is a growing realisation within Ant management that it would not be able to raise its stake in the company," one of the people with direct knowledge said, adding senior managers at Ant have discussed the idea recently.

Even so, Ant was in the middle of an investment review and it could still decide to shelve a divestment if it failed to get the desired valuation, he said.

Two other sources said that as a result of the review Ant could end up retaining a small stake in Paytm.

Competitive intensity

Indian start-ups are heavily funded by Chinese investors such as Alibaba and Tencent. Bankers have previously said they were looking to bolster their presence in the country with an aim to grow their revenue outside China.

Alibaba has invested over $4 billion in India so far and had plans to invest around $5 billion in 2021, which have now been put on hold, one of the sources said.

Alibaba did not respond to a request for comment.

Ant first invested in Paytm in 2015 and owns its 30% stake in the firm via its parent company, One97 Communications, according to Ant's initial public offering prospectus, which described the Indian firm as a major associate.

In addition to the tighter investment rules for Chinese companies in India, tougher competition is likely another factor behind Ant's calculations regarding Paytm, which is losing its dominance, two of the people said.

Online transactions, lending and e-wallet services have been growing rapidly in India, led by a government push to make the country's cash-loving merchants and consumers adopt digital payments.

That has led to the entry and expansion of Facebook-owned WhatsApp, Alphabet Inc's Google Pay, and Walmart's PhonePe. Some domestic players are also expanding operations.

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Agencies
December 3,2020

New Delhi, Dec 3: The Supreme Court directed the Centre on Wednesday to install CCTV cameras and recording equipment at the offices of investigating agencies, including the CBI, the ED and National Investigation Agency (NIA), which conduct interrogations and have the power of arrest.

A bench headed by Justice R F Nariman said that states and Union Territories (UTs) should ensure that CCTV cameras are installed at each and every police station, at all entry and exit points, main gate, lock-ups, corridors, lobby and reception as also areas outside the lock-up rooms so that no part is left uncovered.

The apex court had in 2018 ordered installation of CCTV cameras in police stations to check human rights abuses.

It said further that the CCTV systems must be equipped with night vision and have audio as well as video footage and it shall be mandatory for the Centre, states and UTs to purchase such systems which allow storage of data for maximum period possible, at least one year.

In addition, the Union of India is also directed to install CCTV cameras and recording equipment in the offices of: Central Bureau of Investigation, National Investigation Agency, Enforcement Directorate, Narcotics Control Bureau, Department of Revenue Intelligence, Serious Fraud Investigation Office (SFIO), any other agency which carries out interrogations and has the power of arrest, said the bench, also comprising Justices K M Joseph and Aniruddha Bose.

As most of these agencies carry out interrogation in their office(s), CCTVs shall be compulsorily installed in all offices where such interrogation and holding of accused takes place in the same manner as it would in a police station, the bench said in its order.

The top court said that in September this year, it had impleaded all the states and UTs in the matter to find out the exact position of CCTV cameras in each police station as well as constitution of Oversight Committees in accordance with the April 3, 2018 order.

The apex court, while dealing with a matter related to custodial torture, had in July this year taken note of a 2017 case in which it had ordered installation of CCTV cameras in all the police stations to check human rights abuses, videography of crime scene and setting up of a Central Oversight Committee and such a panel in every states and Union Territory.

In its 12-page order, the bench noted that till November 24, compliance affidavits and action taken reports were filed by 14 states and majority of them have failed to disclose the exact position of CCTV cameras in each police station and other details.

It said that state level oversight committee (SLOC) must consist of secretary or additional secretary of home department, secretary or additional secretary of finance department; director general or inspector general of police and chairperson or member of the state women's commission.

It said district level oversight committee (DLOC) should comprise of -- divisional commissioner or regional commissioner or revenue commissioner division of district, district magistrate and superintendent of police and mayor of a municipality within the district or head of zilla panchayat' in rural areas.

It also specified the duties of SLOC which included purchase, distribution and installation of CCTVs and equipment, obtain budgetary allocation for the same.

It said DLOC shall have the obligations including interact with station house officer (SHO) about its functioning and to review footage stored from CCTVs in various police stations to check for any human rights violation that may have occurred but are not reported .

It said adequate funds be allocated for this by the states and UTs at the earliest.

It said duty and responsibility for working, maintenance and recording of CCTVs shall be of the SHO of police station concerned.

It said in areas where there is either no electricity or internet, it shall be the duty of states and UTs to provide the same expeditiously using any mode of providing power, including solar or wind.

Whenever there is information of force being used at police stations resulting in serious injury and/or custodial deaths, it is necessary that persons be free to complain for a redressal of the same, it said.

It said SLOC and central oversight body shall give directions to all police stations and agencies to prominently display at the entrance and inside police stations, offices of investigative agencies about the coverage of concerned premises by CCTV and this shall be done by large posters in English, Hindi and vernacular language.

It shall further mention that CCTV footage is preserved for a certain minimum time period, which shall not be less than six months, and the victim has a right to have the same secured in the event of violation of his human rights, it said.

It said authorities would implement its order both in letter and in spirit as soon as possible.

The bench, which posted the matter for hearing on January 27, said that affidavits be filed within six weeks by principal secretary or cabinet secretary or home secretary of each states and UTs giving a firm action plan with exact timeline for compliance with the order.

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