Coronavirus cases now doubling every 4.1 days, says government

Our Bureau New Delhi | Updated on April 06, 2020

Travellers who were quarantined in a hospital for a mandatory period of 14 days following their arrival from abroad, prepare to leave after they were tested negative against COVID-19, during the ongoing nationwide lockdown, in Bengaluru, on Sunday, Apr 5, 2020.

Rapid antibody testing likely from April 9

Novel coronavirus (Covid-19) cases, which were earlier doubling every 7.4 days, have now started doubling every 4.1 days, the Ministry of Health and Family Welfare (MoHFW) said on Sunday.

“After the spurt of cases from Tablighi Jamaat, the cases have started doubling at a fast pace since the last few days,” said Lav Agarwal, Joint Secretary, MoHFW.

With certain clusters emerging with a large number of cases, the Indian Council of Medical Research (ICMR) issued a rapid antibody testing advisory. Raman Gangakhedkar, Head of Infectious Diseases, ICMR, said that they are looking at initiating tests by April 9.

The ICMR has validated seven antibody kits by Guangzhou Wondfo Biotech and Mylan Labs, BioMedomics, Zhuhai Livzon Diagnostics, Voxtur Bio, Vanguard Diagnostics, HLL Lifecare and CPC Diagnostics. In addition, it has said that any antibody kit approved by European regulator CE-IVD can be used.

“We are awaiting approval from the Drug Controller General of India (DCGI) to issue approvals and import licence permissions to start selling directly to States,” said a company representative, seeking anonymity.

The DCGI has not yet made public the list of antibody kits that it has approved for sale in India.

According to the ICMR advisory, those in cluster hotspots or in large migration gatherings or evacuee centres who have cough, cold, low-grade fever or sore throat can be subjected to rapid antibody blood tests. If they are positive, they should be referred to a doctor for clinical assessment, hospital treatment or home isolation. In case they are negative, the antibody test should be repeated after 10 days, if confirmatory tests of Real time Polymerase Chain Reaction (RT-PCR) in labs have not been run on the suspect sample. If symptoms worsen, then such cases should be hospitalised, ICMR stated.

India had recorded 3,577 confirmed cases of Covid-19 as of Sunday evening, of which 275 have recovered and 83 have died. “There have been 472 new cases reported on April 5 as at 4 pm, with over 11 deaths in the last 24 hours,” said Agarwal.

Punya Salila Shrivastava, Joint Secretary, Ministry of Home Affairs, said about 12.5 lakh migrant workers who were stopped from transitioning back to their villages when the 21-day lockdown was initiated, have been sheltered in 28,000 relief camps. Another 13.6 lakh migrant workers are living on factory premises and their owners are taking care of their food and shelter.

On whether the virus is airborne and spreads widely in air, Gangakhedkar said: “We are dependent on a balanced evidence approach. If this was airborne, all family contacts would be positive, and in the hospital all other patients would also be positive.”




Published on April 05, 2020

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