In an interim advisory, the Indian Council of Medical Research recommended the use of the rapid antibody test in the country’s coronavirus hotspots.
The number of COVID-19 cases continued to rise in the country with 336 new cases reported in the past 24 hours taking the total tally to 2,547, while 18 more deaths were reported, the Union Health Ministry said on April 3.
India has registered 62 deaths due to COVID-19 so far, while 162 patients have been discharged. Nationwide, 66,000 samples have been tested so far, which includes repeat tests on patients to confirm health status. Maharashtra has reported the most number of deaths so far at 16, followed by Gujarat 8, Telengana 7, Madhya Pradesh 6, Punjab 5, Delhi 4, Karnataka and West Bengal 3 each, Jammu and Kashmir 2, Uttar Pradesh 2, and Kerala 2.
“India, due to its early measures, had been able to keep its COVID-19 numbers low but one incident has caused our numbers to rise, which highlights the need for absolute compliance. The 647 coronavirus cases reported over the last two days are linked to the religious gathering of the Islamic sect Tablighi Jamaat in Delhi. These cases are spread across 14 States. Some deaths have also been linked to this,” Joint Secretary at the Union Health Ministry Lav Agarwal said at the Ministry’s daily press briefing.
Maharashtra continued to report the most cases at 417, followed by Tamil Nadu and Delhi where numbers have spiked to 411 and 386 repectively. Kerala reported 286 cases, while Telangana reported 229 cases.
Despite the rise in cases, Mr. Agarwal said the revised testing guideline is still under consideration and would be released by April 4. He added that the Ministry’s newly launched app — Aarogya Setu — had been downloaded by 30 lakh people.
Rapid antibody test
In an interim advisory, the Indian Council of Medical Research (ICMR) recommended the use of the rapid antibody test in the country’s coronavirus hotspots. The decision was taken at an emergency meeting on Thursday of the National Task Force dealing with the COVID-19 crisis. “Population in hotspot areas may be tested using rapid antibody test. Antibody positives to be confirmed by RT-PCR (reverse transcription-PCR) using throat/nasal swab, and antibody negatives to be quarantined at home,” the ICMR advisory said.
The official said the Health Ministry was in touch with the States to trace, track, isolate and treat cases.
“Union Health Minister Harsh Vardhan has appealed to patients and their families not to create any obstacle and allow the medical staff to discharge their duties. He is concerned about the violence against medical staff being reported from various part of the country,” Mr. Agarwal said.
Joint Secretary in the Home Ministry Punya Salila Srivastava added that the MHA had written to State governments directing them to take strict action in cases of attack on healthcare/frontline workers and ensure the security to medical fraternity.
Mr. Agarwal added that President Ram Nath Kovind, along with Vice-President Venkaiah Naidu, interacted with the Governors, Lt Governors and administrators of all States and Union Territories via video conferencing on April 3 to discuss measures to combat COVID-19.
Dr. Vardhan visited Dr. RML and Safdarjung Hospitals on April 3, to review preparations to tackle the COVID-19 outbreak. At RML Hospital, the Minister visited the flu corner, emergency care centre, trauma centre and corona screening centre while at Safdarjung he took reviewed facilities available at the super speciality block which has been converted into a COVID-19 isolation management centre, with 400 isolation and 100 ICU beds.
Dr. Vardhan said the current lockdown was an appropriate opportunity to contain the effect of COVID-19 where everyone’s contribution by staying at home is collectively an important weapon to contain the spread.
Meanwhile, the Home Ministry launched two more COVID-19-related helpline numbers —1930 (all India toll free number) and 1944 (dedicated to Northeast) in addition to the existing ones.