Coronavirus (COVID-19): On the day the nationwide lockdown was extended by another 19 days, India recorded the highest single-day spike in novel coronavirus disease (COVID-19) cases so far — 1,463 — and saw 29 deaths from the infection.
With this, the total number of cases detected so far has touched 10,815, of which 353 have died while 1,190 recovered.
Till now, the highest single-day jump was 918 cases on April 12, which was followed by 905 cases on April 13. The last three days have together seen an increase of 3,286 cases, which is over 30 per cent of the total cases so far.
The worst-hit are Maharashtra (2,337 cases) and Delhi (1,510 cases), which together account for over 35 per cent of the total national tally. They are followed by Tamil Nadu (1,173 cases) and Rajasthan (879 cases).
For the first time, the number of daily tests has crossed 20,000, with 26,351 samples being tested in the last 24 hours. The total number of samples tested so far is 2,44,893.
At the daily briefing, Joint Secretary, Health Ministry, Lav Agarwal said that after April 20, a “litmus test” would decide whether restrictions can be eased in some districts, but warned that the decision could be revoked in case of violations.
Asked about the rationale behind a cumulative 40-day lockdown, he said: “The major effort is to break the chain of transmission. That is why we follow up for 28 days, and use that as the benchmark for deciding whether that has happened in a particular area; that is why we are promoting social distancing with lockdown.”
Dr R R Gangakhedkar, head of epidemiology and infectious diseases at ICMR, sought to allay concerns over his comments on Monday that India has enough testing kits for six weeks. “We have since then received more kits that will last us for a very long time. We have also ordered 33 lakh RTPCR kits and 37 lakh rapid test kits,” he said. The first consignment of rapid test kits is “expected any time now,” he said.
There are now 602 dedicated COVID-19 hospitals with 1,06,719 isolation beds and 12,022 ICU beds.
The office of the principal scientific advisor to the Government of India has listed guidelines for densely populated areas, like Dharavi in Mumbai, which includes installation of foot-operated hand-washing stations and dos and don’ts for use of public toilets like not spitting or sneezing inside and avoiding overcrowding.
The guidelines specify that “all patients in the community with ILI (influenza-like illness) symptoms such as fever, chills, dry cough, running nose (must) immediately report to the nearest ASHA/ anganwadi/ frontline worker.”
The Health Ministry also issued guidelines, including on maternal, newborn and child health, prevention and management of communicable diseases, treatment for chronic diseases to avoid complications, and addressing emergencies. It asked states to rope in either the private sector or NGOs for the purpose.
The ICMR has also invited letters of intent from institutes for clinical trials of plasma exchange and for convalescent plasma therapy for COVID-19 patients.
Meanwhile, following reports about the BCG vaccine — which is primarily used against tuberculosis — providing some protection against COVID-19, the World Health Organisation (WHO) said there is no such evidence.
“There is no evidence that the Bacillus Calmette-Guérin vaccine (BCG) protects people against infection with COVID-19 virus. Two clinical trials addressing this question are underway, and WHO will evaluate the evidence when it is available. In the absence of evidence, WHO does not recommend BCG vaccination for the prevention of COVID-19,” it said.
“WHO continues to recommend neonatal BCG vaccination in countries or settings with a high incidence of tuberculosis. There is experimental evidence from both animal and human studies that the BCG vaccine has non-specific effects on the immune system. These effects have not been well characterised and their clinical relevance is unknown,” WHO said.
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