With Covid-19 cases spiking, Government widens testing protocol

Maitri Porecha New Delhi | Updated on May 18, 2020

All hospitalised patients with influenza-like symptoms must be tested: ICMR

The number of Covid-19 cases recorded every 24 hours across India is rising by the day. On May 18, 96,169 cases were reported by the Ministry of Health and Family Welfare (MoHFW), an increase of 5,242 cases over the previous day. Deaths rose to 3,029, up by 157 over the last 24 hours.

While earlier, new cases were increasing by 1,000, 2,000, 3,000 or 4,000 per day, this mark has now breached 5,000.

The MoHFW has charted out multiple parameters to be considered by states and local bodies for categorising administrative units into red, orange or green zones depending on the severity of Covid-19 cases. In a letter to the states, MoHFW secretary Preeti Sudan has pointed out that in areas where the total active cases are over 200, or 15 active cases per lakh population, it is desirable that there be zero cases or no cases reported in the last 21 days.

It must be ensured that in areas where cases are doubling in 14 days or less, the period of doubling should be 28 days or more. Case fatality rate of more than 6 per cent should come down to less than one per cent. Testing ratio (or number of tests conducted per lakh) should go up to more than 200 from less than 65. Also, sample positivity rate (confirmation rate) in a population should come down to less than 2 per cent from more than 6 per cent.

ICMR’s revised protocol

The Indian Council of Medical Research (ICMR) has widened its scope of testing by issuing revised guidelines on May 18. The revised protocol says that all hospitalised patients who develop influenza-like illness (ILI) symptoms must be tested through reverse transcription polymerase chain reaction (RT-PCR) mechanism by extracting throat and nasal swabs. Also, all symptomatic ILI returnees from abroad and migrants should be tested within seven days of illness. High-risk contacts and those with no symptoms of a confirmed case have to be tested once between Day 5 and 10 of coming into contact with a confirmed case. All patients suffering from Severe Acute Respiratory Infection and all symptomatic ILI contacts of confirmed cases, and health workers who were symptomatic were included among those to be tested.

The ICMR has reiterated that no emergency procedure (including deliveries) should be delayed for lack of testing.

Published on May 18, 2020

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