Covid-19 may affect brain, trigger neurological problems, says doctor

COVID-19 may have been viewed and treated primarily as a respiratory illness, but it is more sinister and pervasive in its impact on the human body as it may affect the thereby accelerate or trigger neurodegenerative diseases such as Alzheimer’s and Parkinson’s, according to a doctor.

Describing the pandemic as ‘a beast with a thousand heads’, Dr Yatish Agarwal, senior professor, Vardhman Mahavir Medical College and Safdarjung Hospital, New Delhi, says the effect of the COVID-19 extends far beyond the nose, throat, and lungs and may infect the brain, the most vital bodily organ.

Vast clinical studies reveal that neurological complications occur in 36-84 per cent of COVID-19 patients.

Strangely, many people who experience neurologic symptoms that linger after the disease are less than 50 years old and were healthy prior to the infection, he points out in an exclusive article for Manorama Yearbook 2023.

Panic attacks, obsessive compulsive disorder and depression can occur among a fair number of the survivors.

These may also trigger a range of unhealthy behaviours, such as excessive alcohol consumption, substance use, suicidal tendency, delusions and paranoia.

Moderate-to-severe anxiety symptoms are common in the COVID-19 infected, their family members and the community.

Substantive evidence now exists that the multi-variant can affect the function, behaviour and intellectual abilities in several ways.

“While some of these effects are acute, and fade away in a short time, others are long-lasting and can turn a patient’s life into a bag of misery,” says Dr Agarwal, who is also Dean, University School of Medicine and Para Medical Health Sciences, Guru Gobind Singh Indraprastha University.

“Without sounding the alarm bells too loud, definite evidence now exists that it may be a good idea to stay on watch for COVID’s possible long-term cognitive consequences. This could have a telling effect on the individual’s life and knock off their thinking, reasoning, and remembering thus casting its dark shadow on their day-to-day functioning,” he says.

Developing a good understanding of COVID’s neuropsychiatric and cognitive consequences is vital, as the disease has affected millions of people.

Many more are possibly undetected, and the number of infections is still rising.

“If even a small number of these individuals suffer from neuropsychiatric and cognitive complications, the public health implications are bound to be considerable,” he warns.

Dr Agarwal says such a scenario makes it imperative to develop simple clinical and public health strategies to create awareness and understanding of these effects.

“In people who are affected, a timely individual clinical assessment must be carried out to evaluate their capacity to work effectively, manage finances, participate in daily family activities, and make informed decisions.”

Based on the clinical assessment, a rehabilitation programme depending on the individual need could be drawn for those COVID survivors who require help.

A team comprising a family physician, neurophysician, physiotherapist, psychiatrist, and psychologist could help in the reparative process.

“The goal is to help the individual overcome their insufficiencies and return to normal life”, he observes.

Describing the large morbidity and mortality caused by the disease across the world as “tandava (dance of destruction) effect,” he says COVID-19 has several neurological complications, but the most significant of them relates to injury to the body’s immune system.

“The virus triggers the body’s defence system, but instead of acting against the coronavirus, the defence system is fooled into targeting the body’s own cells as its foe. The disarrayed system thus attacks the cells, and other organ systems. In the brain, this sometimes produces serious inflammation, known as encephalitis,” he says.

The virus can even induce direct brain injury by breaching the blood-brain barrier, produce a brain haemorrhage by raising pressure in the blood vessels, and trigger a stroke and cause dysfunction in the body’s clotting system, the doctor says in the article.

infections can produce a range of neurological symptoms. Close to two-thirds of COVID-19 patients complain of loss of smell and loss of taste. These are often the first symptoms of the disease, and they may persist for long.

In the current pandemic setting, these tell-tale symptoms help in rapid identification of the disease. But some patients may suffer brain inflammation, swelling, strokes, and brain haemorrhage. The patients carry a high risk and may require long intensive hospitalisation to make a full recovery.

Even though it is too early to call, but doubts have been cast on the potential long-term implications of neuroinflammation and neuronal injury observed in acute COVID-19. The current landscape is a bit foggy, but the jigsaw pieces have begun to fall in place, says the doctor.

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NEET PG 2023: Govt extends internship deadline for candidates to Aug 11

The Ministry of Health on Tuesday decided to extend the last date of internship completion for to be eligible for PG 2023, to August 11.

The ministry said that the decision was taken considering the future of over 13,000 MBBS students who were not eligible for the PG 2023 exam due to the delayed internship.

“Considering the future of more than 13,000 MBBS students across 5 States/UTs who were not eligible for PG 2023 exam due to delayed internship, MoHFW has decided to extend the last date of completion of the internship for eligibility to 11th August 2023,” Ministry of Health said.

It further said that more than 3000 BDS students across states and Union Territories were not eligible for NEET MDS 2023 exam due to the delayed internship.

“To benefit them, MoHFW has decided to extend the last date of completion of the internship for eligibility to 30th June 2023. Wishing all candidates the very best,” the Ministry added.

Meanwhile, Health Ministry in consultation with the National Medical Commission (NMC) has decided to reduce the eligibility criterion for NEET-Super Speciality courses from 50 percentile to 20 percentile.

NEET PG 2023 will be conducted on March 5 for candidates seeking admission to MD/MS/PG Diploma Courses for the academic year 2023-24.

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NEET PG aspirants seek postponement of exam to May-June to save time

The NEET PG aspirants under the Federation of All India Association (FAIMA) on Tuesday staged a protest at Jantar Mantar in Delhi demanding the postponement of the postgraduate entrance test.

The Neet PG 2023 exam is scheduled for March 5. The doctors’ body sought the exam to be postponed by May-June. As per the calendar issued by National Board of Examinations, the NEET PG 2023 results will be out around March 31, and the counselling process will start in July 2023.

The candidates are pushing an extension in the NEET PG 2023 exam by two to three weeks to reduce the gap between the result declaration and counselling process.

“At present with the eligibility bar for interns is June 30 and exam date on March 5, there is a large gap between the counselling and the examination date, this time could be utilised by the students to study for the examination and pursue their dream subject,” said doctors’ association FAIMA.

“We also want to convey that this is the year where we are adjusting with the delays of Covid Pandemic in which health care sector played a major role. Henceforth, we request the government to postpone NEET PG 2023 with immediate effect and allow maximum interns to take part in the examination system,” Manish Jangra, chief advisor of FAIMA, said.

The representatives of FAIMA from Dr Ram Manohar Lohia Hospital, Safdarjung Hospital, All India Institute of Sciences (AIIMS) and Maulana Azad Medical College (MAMC) joined the protest.




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Application for CUET-UG 2023 to be announced shortly: UGC Chairman Prof

The registration process of Common University Entrance Test (CUET UG – 2023) for admission to Undergraduate Programmes into Central universities and other participating universities will be announced in a couple of days, Chairman Professor Mamidala Jagadesh Kumar, told IANS.

After the registration process, CUET will be conducted between the May 21 and 31. believes that from this session, more private, state-run and Deemed to be universities will take part in Common University Entrance Test. All central universities of the country have already adopted the CUET for the undergraduate admissions.

chairman said that the number of subjects and pattern of question papers will remain the same. Assamese, Bengali, English, Gujarati, Hindi, Kannada, Malayalam, Marathi, Odia, Punjabi, Tamil, Telugu, and Urdu will be the medium, Kumar added.

(NTA) is working on preparing 1000 test centres for CUET-UG across the country, out of which 450 to 500 centres will be used per day.

Results of CUET-UG are planned to be announced in the third week of June 2023 and those of CUET-PG in the first week of July 2023. With the above schedule of CUET-UG and CUET-PG, universities can complete their admission process by the end of July 2023 and begin the academic sessions by August 1, 2023, UGC India said.

The (NTA) has been entrusted with the responsibility of conducting the Undergraduate and Postgraduate Entrance Test for Central and other participating Universities for the academic session 2023- 2024.

Accoding to the NTA, the Common University Entrance Test provided a common platform and equal opportunities to candidates across the country, especially those from rural and other remote areas and help establish better connect with the Universities. A single examination enables the candidates to cover a wide outreach and be part of the admissions process to various Central universities and other participating universities. The applicants are also given the opportunity to make corrections in the particulars of their online application forms.

Last year the examination was held in the Computer Based Test (CBT) mode. The test was of objective type, comprising of Multiple Choice Questions (MCQs).



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DU offers 2 seats each in UG, PG courses to orphans from next academic year

The will offer two seats each under supernumerary quota to orphans in all undergraduate and postgraduate programmes from the next academic year, officials have said.

Such students will also be exempted from payment of any kind of fees, they said.

The proposal in this regard was passed during the varsity’s Executive council meeting on Friday.

“The Executive Council today passed the proposal regarding offering admission to orphans in every undergraduate and postgraduate programme offered at the university from the next academic year,” an official said.

“Such students, when admitted, will be exempted from payment of any kind of fees whatsoever which will include exemption from payment of their hostel fees, examination fees and other such mandatory fees as well,” the agenda in the matter, accessed by PTI, read.

The expenses for admission and continuance of study of such students shall be met from the University Welfare Fund or College Students’ Welfare Fund, as the case may be, it said.

Meanwhile, members also raised the issue of the absorption of ad hoc teachers and demanded that the displacement of teachers be prevented.

“We raised the matter of displacement of teachers which was discussed in detail. We demanded that the ad hoc teachers be accommodated,” Council member Seema Das said.

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2nd admission list for entry-level in Delhi’s pvt schools likely on Monday

A few in Delhi are expected to publish the second list of shortlisted students for admission to entry-level classes Monday with many others having already closed the process with their first list itself.

The first list was issued on January 20.

President of Delhi State Public School’s Management Association R C Jain said several schools do not issue a waiting list or a second list of students as the seats fill up after the first draw of lots itself.

The draw of lots is conducted under videography and its footage are retained by the school. The slips are shown to the parents before being put in the box used for the draw of lots.

A child needs to be at least four years old to fill out the form for nursery admission. The age limit is five years for admission in kindergarten and at least six years for Class 1 as on March 31, 2023.

The registration process for admission to entry-level classes in more than 1,800 in Delhi for the 2023-24 academic session began on December 1 and ended on December 23.

The Department of had said that a non-refundable amount of Rs 25 can be charged as admission registration fee. The purchase of a prospectus of a school by the parents will be optional, it had said.

According to the circular, all will reserve 25 per cent of seats for economically weaker sections and disadvantaged group students as well as for differently-abled children.

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JEE-Main January session registers all-time high attendance of 95.8%

The Joint Entrance Examination (JEE)-Main 2023 registered an all-time high attendance of 95.8 per cent in the January session, officials said on Thursday.

The January session of the test got over on Wednesday, and the next session would be conducted in April.

The crucial exam is being conducted at 574 centres across the country.

According to the National Testing Agency (NTA) officials, over 8.6 lakh candidates registered for Paper 1 (BE/BTech), while over 46,000 registered for Paper 2 (BArch).

The exam was conducted in 13 languages — English, Hindi, Assamese, Bengali, Gujarati, Kannada, Malayalam, Marathi, Odia, Punjabi, Tamil, Telugu, and Urdu.

is conducted for admission to undergraduate engineering programmes at NITs, IIITs, other centrally funded technical institutions, and institutions or universities funded or recognised by participating state governments. It is also an eligibility test for JEE (Advanced), which is conducted for admission to IITs.

Of the total of 8,60,058 aspirants for Paper 1 (BE/BTech programmes), 8,23,850 took the computer-based exam.

The test for BE and BTech programmes was conducted over six days, starting from January 24.

Paper 2 was conducted on January 28 which registered 75.8 per cent attendance.

Of the total registration of 9,06,523 candidates, women comprise 30.7 per cent. Among the female candidates, 11.4 per cent are from the EWS category, 37 per cent from SC, 9.1 per cent from ST and 3.4 per cent from the OBC categories.

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Social sector: The emphasis of Budget is on the consolidation of schemes

The finance minister has taken a pragmatic approach in the last full budget before the general election next year. There is a clear departure from the past three budgets, where the focus was on cushioning the adverse impact created on the poor and rural areas, post-pandemic. The 2023-24 largely ring-fences financial outlays made to various social sectors, and it is reflected in nominal increases and consolidation of schemes and programmes to make them more effective.

It is anticipated that actual spends would be more demand-driven in key schemes such as MNREGA and the National Rural Livelihoods Mission (NRLM), with the government retaining the recourse to supplementary budgets during the year. The green growth agenda announced in the current Budget will need a measured approach, as the transition to a less-carbon economy would have a greater adverse impact on the poor and vulnerable sections of society.



The budgeted expenditure on has reached 2.2 per cent of GDP, against the 2025 target of 2.5 per cent set by the National Policy 2017. In the post-Covid-19 scenario, human resources, infrastructure development, research and disaster preparedness have emerged as critical focus areas. Reaffirming this, the outlay for the Pradhan Mantri Ayushman Bharat Health Infrastructure Mission has been increased by 122 per cent over last year, and by 70 per cent for health sector disaster preparedness and response. There is a renewed focus on developing human resources in the sector, with a 59 per cent increase in allocation, which includes establishing 157 new nursing colleges.

However, the reduced allocation to One Health (-14 per cent) and pandemic-related research deters the prospects of deriving insights to prevent and prepare for future pandemics. The Budget specifically calls out focus on eliminating Sickle Cell Anemia by 2047, which is a welcome measure benefiting a large section of the tribal population.


Sustaining gains in after the pandemic that adversely impacted livelihoods and food security, requires significant budgetary allocation towards interventions. However, the allocations embedded in programmes such as ICDS and the mid-day meal scheme have only seen marginal increases. The launch of the new PM Garib Kalyan Anna Yojana (PMGKAY) aims to provide free food grain to all Antyodaya and priority households (8 million beneficiaries) for the next one year is a welcome move.


mid-day meal

Overall allocation to (nearly Rs 1.13 trillion) has been increased by 13 per cent, and is around 3 per cent of GDP. Increased public sector spending on education, to reach 6 per cent of GDP, is critical to implement reform initiatives envisioned in NEP 2020.

The flagship scheme, Samagra Shiksha, at Rs 37,453 crore, has received a 16 per cent increase over last year. The move to re-envision teacher training through innovative pedagogy, curriculum transaction, continuous professional development, dipstick surveys, and ICT implementation is a welcome move to enhance the teaching-learning process.

To improve the quality of in middle- and high-level schools in remote areas for tribal children, 740 Eklavya Model Residential Schools (EMRS) will recruit 38,800 teachers and support staff serving 350,000 tribal students. The increased allocation of Rs 800 crore (100 per cent more than FY23) for theStrengthening Teaching-Learning and Results for States (STARS) programme also reinforces the focus on achieving learning outcomes. The Pradhan Mantri Schools for Rising India (PM-SHRI), with an outlay of Rs 4,000 crore, is a welcome initiative. It will prepare more than 15,000 schools of excellence, which in turn will help showcase the implementation of NEP 2020.

Budget allocations for higher have focused on research and development, fellowships and scholarships for students, grants to Indian Institutes of Technology and other national higher education institutions, interest subsidies for education loans and implementation of flexible academic programmes.

Skill Development


Within the social sector, has seen the highest growth (85 per cent) in budget allocation. The increased allocation to key schemes such as Pradhan Mantri Kaushal Vikas Yojana 4.0 (PMKVY.4.0), Pradhan Mantri – National Apprenticeship Promotion Scheme (PM-NAPS), and Jan Shikshan Sansthan indicate the focus on skilling and preparing youth for new-age jobs.

Schemes such as Skill Acquisition and Knowledge Awareness for Livelihood Promotion (SANKALP) and Skill Strengthening for Industrial Value Enhancements (STRIVE) funded through externally aided projects have seen an increase of more than 100 per cent in allocation, indicating a renewed focus on institutional strengthening, market relevance and quality of short/long-term training programmes in the vocational education space.

The agenda is also embedded in some of the cross-sectoral interventions such as the ‘Dekho Apna Desh’ inititative in Tourism and multidisciplinary courses for futuristic medical technologies, high-end manufacturing and research in medical devices.

Livelihoods and rural development

The current budget allocation of Rs 60,000 crore for the flagship rural employment guarantee scheme MGNREGA is 33 per cent lower than projected expenditure for FY23, keeping in line with the decreasing trend from the all-time high allocation of over Rs 1 trillion allocation in FY21.

At the current average wage rate per day of Rs 218 per person, these allocations will provide employment for only 18 days to the current 151 million active card-holders. Increased demand from beneficiaries may require a supplementary allocation during the year.

Around 150 per cent increase in the Budget for the Pradhan Mantri Awas Yojna (Rural) and an increase in capital outlay to Rs 10 trillion are in line with the government’s goal of “Housing for All”. The eligible beneficiaries will be able to obtain one-time monetary assistance and home loans from banks and housing finance firms at a reduced interest rate. Approximately 4.5 million families can avail themselves of this benefit in FY24.

The allocation for National Rural Livelihood Mission (NRLM) continues to be in line with past expenditure trends. This includes the current laudable initiative of mobilizing rural women into Self Help Groups (SHGs) and opening of 47.8 crore “JanDhan” accounts to promote financial inclusion.


For economic empowerment of women, two major pronouncements include the Deendayal Antyodaya Yojana National Rural Livelihood Mission, which will continue to empower 8.1 million self-help groups of rural women through formation of large producer enterprises and the new savings scheme for women and girl children, the Mahila Samman Saving Certificate.

The overall gender budget has seen only a marginal increase of 4 per cent for FY24, and an increase in allocation would have helped accelerate the social and economic empowerment of women.

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Budget 2023 promises to train students, teachers for the job market

sent positive signals for bridging the gap between the skill-development system and traditional degree .

Finance Minister announced that the District Institutes of and Training will be developed for re-formulating teachers’ training through curriculum, professional development, and surveys.

Sitharaman promised to provide stipend to 47 lakh youth in the next three years—a target that will be accomplished through Direct Benefit Transfer initiated under the India National Apprenticeship Promotion Scheme that will be rolled out soon. She announced the establishment of 30 International Centres in states and the launch of a unified Digital platform for demand-driven formal skilling.

The focus came on the back of industry complaints that the training course and curriculum, as well as the practical skill imparted under Pradhan Mantri Kaushal Vikas Yojana (PMKVY), did not align with industry requirements. Arecent report by the Parliamentary Standing Committee on Labour, Textiles and acknowledged this.

“Under PMKVY 4.0, on-job training, industry partnership, and alignment of courses with needs of industry will be emphasised. The scheme will also cover new age courses for Industry 4.0 like coding, AI, robotics, mechatronics, IOT, 3D printing, drones, and soft skills,” Sitharaman said.

The centre will recruit 38,800 teachers and support staff for the 740 Eklavya Model Residential Schools, serving 3.5 lakh tribal students, over the next three years. The plan to boost Ekalavya schools is part of the larger plan to improve the socio-economic conditions of the particularly vulnerable tribal groups (PVTGs).

The PVTG Development Mission will allocate Rs 15,000 crore to help the development of facilities such as safe housing, clean drinking water and sanitation, improved access to education, health and nutrition, road and telecom connectivity, and sustainable livelihood opportunities.

The finance minister also highlighted that the tourism and lab grown diamonds is an emerging field that has immense opportunities for youth employment. Sitharaman also proposed a reduction in Basic customs duty on artificial diamond seeds to promote job creation.

Sitharaman also announced the PM Vishwakarma Kaushal Samman (PM VIKAS) a package of assistance for artisans and craftworkers which will enable them to improve the quality, scale, and reach of their products, integrating them with the MSME value chain.

The components of the scheme will include financial support, access to advanced skill training, knowledge of modern digital techniques, brand promotion, linkage with local and global markets, digital payments, and social security. PM VIKAS is aimed at benefiting the Scheduled Castes, Scheduled Tribes, OBCs, women, and people belonging to the weaker sections.

Here’s how experts said about the Budget proposals.

Taral Pathak, Assistant Professor, Business Management, MICA, Ahmedabad:

To begin with, there is an improvement in the gross enrollment ratio (GER) and gender parity in schools. GER’s have improved at Primary, Upper Primary and Secondary levels for girls as well as boys. These ratios were stagnant between F717 and FY19 but improved in FY22. At the same time school dropout rates have dropped steadily specially for girls (from 14.5% in 2013-14 to 12.3% in 2021-22). This is primarily due to Samagra Siksha, RTE Act, improvement in school infrastructure, residential hostel buildings, availability of teachers, regular training of teachers, free textbooks, uniforms for children, Kasturba Gandhi Balika Vidyalaya and the PM POSHAN Scheme.

I am very hopeful and excited by the launch of Centrally Sponsored Scheme (CSS) called PM Schools for Rising India (PM SHRI).

Vikas Aggarwal, Partner – Government and Public Sector, EY India

While as sector may not have seen big-bang announcements, it is good to see linking back with recent policy developments. A good example is that of the announcement on revitalising DIETs and their transformation into vibrant Institutes of Excellence and how it ties back to the NEP 2020 demonstrating synergies in letter, spirit and action.

Koneru Satyanarayana Chancellor at KL Deemed to be University

“The budget for this year has taken an inclusive and progressive approach, with greater emphasis on capacity-building, teacher training, and youth empowerment. It is definitely encouraging to witness newer initiatives getting adopted for promoting digitalisation in India.

The launch of the National Digital Library will aid in the promotion of the country’s reading culture and increase accessibility. Also, upskilling the youth in new age courses such as robotics, artificial intelligence, and drones through the PM Kaushal Vikaas Yoajna 4.0 and industrial collaboration would increase employability and help address the digital gap.

The current emphasis on recruiting a large number of teachers and developing a sustained teacher training programme that equips them with multilateral skills would go a long way toward boosting the educational quality of the country”.

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6,000 teachers in TN aided colleges may not receive salary on time

Teachers of aided colleges in are in a fix as around 6,000 of them will not get salaries on time.

According to the Association of University Teachers (AUT), the Higher Department has suspended salary disbursal, citing that funds were not allocated by the government.

AUT leader P. Thirunavakkarasu, in a statement on Monday, said that by the last week of every month, aided colleges would upload salary details of the teachers on a portal provided by the government solely for this purpose, but the portal link has not yet opened and has delayed the salary for the month of January which is generally paid by January 31st.

He said that the previous Director of Collegiate had erred in the preparation of statements regarding the estimation of salaries and this was causing the delay in disbursal. He added that the state government allocates a grant to 184 aided colleges in the state and the Director of Collegiate must prepare an estimate for the same well in advance which was not done leading to the crisis.

Thirunavakkarasu said that the Higher Education Department has stopped the payouts under the career advancement scheme for teachers.

The teachers union leader called upon the state government to immediately intervene in the matter and to resolve the issue at the earliest.




(Only the headline and picture of this report may have been reworked by the Business Standard staff; the rest of the content is auto-generated from a syndicated feed.)

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