COVID-19

No evidence of community spread yet: Govt

NEW DELHI: There is still no evidence of a wider spread of novel coronavirus through community transmission, the Centre said on Wednesday on the basis of sampling of ICU cases suffering from severe influenza symptoms. These patients are outside the testing focus on persons exhibiting symptoms who have travelled abroad or have been in contact with such a person.
Indian Council of Medical Research (ICMR) has informed that “as of now there is no community transmission,” health ministry Joint Secretary Lav Agarwal said. The official’s caution underlined the concern that the highly infectious disease has the ability of rapid transmission and the situation needs to be assessed on a daily basis.
Yet, the conclusion spelt relief for monitoring agencies as it was drawn based on testing of over 2,000 random samples drawn from patients hospitalised in intensive care units with severe acute respiratory infections (SARI) like pneumonia over past few weeks. These patients had no history of international travel, neither were they in contact with any such person who has travelled aboard recently.
While the government took proactive steps to first lock down the affected districts where positive cases were reported, and then eventually shutting down all states except for essential services, it maintained “social distancing and lockdown is essential to break the chain of transmission”, triggered by increased influx of Indians coming back mainly from the US and UK in past few weeks.
Rigorous testing of persons after they exhibit symptoms and contact tracing remain the basic elements of the government’s strategy to combat the spread of Covid-19. Despite stringent restrictions on international travel, nearly 64,000 persons have arrived from other countries just ahead of the complete ban on such travel. It was also seen that appeals to stay at home were not working and large number of people were heading for their homes in states from big cities, raising the prospects of the disease spreading into the hinterland.
“The steps taken by us are depending on the increasing trend in number of cases,” Agarwal said. Till Wednesday, the health ministry reported a total 616 confirmed cases of COVID-19 across the country. Of this, 553 were active cases, whereas 42 were cured and one was a migrated case. Besides, 10 deaths were also reported till Wednesday.
To tackle the rising burden and enable testing at a larger scale, the government has also ramped up its laboratory network in both public and private sectors. So far, there are 118 public labs with capacity to test 12000 samples a day. Besides, ICMR has also approved 29 private labs chains with 16000 collection centres.
“We don’t want testing without reason,” Agarwal said, articulating the view that random testing may be a waste of resource and even deliver a large number of false negatives, encouraging people who may later develop the infection to mingle freely. The government has held that only those who develop symptoms will be tested.

  • Source

    TOI

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