Covid-19: India between Stage 2 and 3, says govt

Maitri Porecha New Delhi | Updated on April 06, 2020

Lav Agarwal, Joint Secretary, Ministry of Health and Family Welfare (File photo)   -  PTI

Gearing up for worst-case scenario, ICMR to scale up testing

India has finally said it is between Stage two and Stage three of the Covid-19 outbreak, as the number of cases rises rapidly.

Lav Agarwal, Joint Secretary, Ministry of Health and Family Welfare (MoHFW), said there is localised community transmission in India, and that the country is between two stages, which implies that the government is unable to confirm the source of infection for all cases.

According to the WHO definition followed by India, Stage 2 is local transmission, when those who are infected and have a travel history spread the virus to close friends or family. Every person who comes in contact with the infected can be traced and isolated.

Stage 3 is community transmission, which is evidenced by the inability to relate confirmed cases through chains of transmission for a large number of cases, or by increasing routine testing.

India reported 4,281 confirmed cases of Covid-19 as of April 6 morning, of which 319 had recovered and 111 had died.

“India has reported 693 new cases within the last 24 hours as at 4 pm,” said Agarwal. Confirmed cases and deaths among men are higher, and so are the deaths, with men accounting for 73 per cent of deaths.

Agarwal revealed while only 19 per cent of patients over 60 had been identified as Covid-19-positive, death in that age group comprised 63 per cent share. And while 34 per cent of the cases were between 40 and 60 years, 30 per cent deaths occurred in that age group.

While 47 per cent cases have been confirmed in persons less than 40 years, only 7 per cent deaths have occurred in that age group.

“Patients who died showed signs of fever, cough, breathlessness, sore throat, headache and, in some cases, crepitation, which is crackling sounds made by lungs by popping open of small airways, when they are filled with fluid.

Some patients had underlying diseases like high blood pressure, diabetes, heart disease or kidney ailments,” said a health official, requesting anonymity.

“Youth have to be careful and ensure social distancing so as not to pass the infection to anyone in the family, especially the elderly, as even if the confirmed cases are low, deaths in that age group are high. Also, young people with co-morbidities are dying and are at equal risk,” said Agarwal.

The Indian Council of Medical Research is ramping up its testing capacity and has tested nearly one lakh samples till date, said R Gangakhedkar, head, infectious diseases, ICMR.

ICMR’s preparedness

ICMR is preparing for the worst-case scenario, said a statement. “This includes scaling up testing capacity to one lakh tests per day in upcoming months including expanding testing and collaborating with private labs. ICMR has procured 10 lakh Real Time Polymerase Chain Reaction diagnostic kits and seven depots have been established for supply of reagents across government labs,” said Lokesh Sharma, an ICMR Scientist.

Agarwal said that while ₹1,100 crore have already been provided to states under the National Health Mission, an additional ₹3,000 crore was being released.


Published on April 06, 2020

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