India reports biggest 24-hour rise in coronavirus cases as lockdown eases

India, a country of 1.3 billion people reported a total of over 118,000 confirmed cases on Friday. (AP)
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Updated 22 May 2020

India reports biggest 24-hour rise in coronavirus cases as lockdown eases

  • The country of 1.3 billion people reported a total of over 118,000 confirmed cases
  • Prime Minister Narendra Modi has extended a lockdown to May 31

MUMBAI: India registered some 6,000 new cases of the novel coronavirus on Friday, the country’s biggest jump in 24 hours, as New Delhi eases a nationwide lockdown and airlines prepare to resume some domestic flights.
The country of 1.3 billion people reported a total of over 118,000 confirmed cases on Friday, a roughly 5 percent increase from Thursday’s figures. Included in the total are 3,583 deaths.
Prime Minister Narendra Modi has extended a lockdown, begun on March 25, to May 31, but relaxed rules in areas with lower numbers of cases and allowed state governments to issue their own guidelines on some matters.
India’s airlines will be allowed to resume flights with about a third of operations as of Monday, but only on domestic routes and under rules that are among the strictest in the world.
“This surge in cases has happened after movement of people has been partially allowed. But if you see overall, this is a much lower exponential trajectory as compared to the rest of the world,” said Giridhar Babu, a professor of epidemiology with the Public Health Foundation of India.
“The only question now is: How do you reduce mortality? Do we have the capacity? The answer seems to be yes,” Babu added.
India’s contagion hotspots include the capital New Delhi, financial hub Mumbai, Modi’s home state of Gujarat, and the southern state of Tamil Nadu.
“Our COVID wards have been full for the past week, and we are expanding capacity to enable us to admit more patients,” said Dr. Lancelot Pinto, a respirologist at the P. D. Hinduja Hospital in Mumbai.


Proteins in COVID-19 patients’ blood could predict severity of illness, study finds

Updated 38 min 15 sec ago

Proteins in COVID-19 patients’ blood could predict severity of illness, study finds

  • The markers could lead to the development of a test that would help doctors predict how ill a patient might get
  • Could also provide new targets for the development of potential treatments for the disease

LONDON: Scientists have found 27 key proteins in the blood of people infected with COVID-19 which they say could act as predictive biomarkers for how ill a patient could become with the disease.
In research published in the journal Cell Systems on Tuesday, scientists at Britain’s Francis Crick Institute and Germany’s Charite Universitaetsmedizin Berlin found the proteins are present in different levels in COVID-19 patients, depending on the severity of their symptoms.
The markers could lead to the development of a test that would help doctors predict how ill a patient might get when infected with the new SARS-CoV-2 coronavirus, they said, and could also provide new targets for the development of potential treatments for the disease.
The COVID-19 pandemic has killed more than 374,000 people worldwide and infected more than 6.7 million.
Doctors and scientists say those infected with SARS-CoV-2, the virus that causes COVID-19, respond differently — with some developing no symptoms at all, while others need to be hospitalized and others suffer fatal infection.
“A test to help doctors predict whether a COVID-19 patient is likely to become critical or not would be invaluable,” said Christoph Messner, an expert in molecular biology at the Crick Institute who co-led the research.
He said such tests would help doctors decide how best manage the disease for each patient, as well as identify those most at risk of needing hospital treatment or intensive care.
Messner’s team used a method called mass spectrometry to rapidly test for the presence and quantity of various proteins in blood plasma from 31 COVID-19 patients at Berlin’s Charite hospital. They then validated their results in 17 other patients with COVID-19 at the same hospital, and in 15 healthy people who acted as controls.
Three of the key proteins identified were linked with interleukin IL-6, a protein known to cause inflammation and also a known marker for severe COVID-19 symptoms.