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India expands testing for COVID-19, will now include patients with pneumonia, other severe acute respiratory infections

This is a huge leap from the earlier strategy when testing was only for symptomatic people with travel or contact history of health workers with symptoms.

Written by Abantika Ghosh | New Delhi | Updated: March 21, 2020 4:21:47 pm
A medic conducts screening of a patient as part of a precautionary measure for novel coronavirus (COVID-19) outbreak, at a government-run hospital in New Delhi. (Express Photo By Amit Mehra)

In a major expansion of testing for the novel coronavirus, India has now decided to test all hospitalised patients with severe acute respiratory infections, including pneumonia even if they do not have any history. This is a huge leap from the earlier strategy when testing was only for symptomatic people with travel or contact history of health workers with symptoms.

The expanded strategy includes the earlier three categories, all hospitalised patients with severe acute respiratory illness (fever cough, etc) and also asymptomatic direct and high-risk contacts of a confirmed patient (once between days 5 and 14 of having come in contact). India has been criticised for not doing enough tests even though the World Health Organisation has said that to beat the virus countries need to “test, test, test.”

coronavirus, coronavirus india, coronavirus chandigarh, chandigarh city news Meanwhile, the Indian Council of Medical Research has said in a statement that till 10 am on Saturday, 15,701 samples from 14,811 individuals had been tested and 271 have been found positive.

In an advisory to all hospitals, the ministry of health has said: “No suspected COVID-19 patient should be turned away from any hospital and the admission of any such patient should be notified to NCDC or IDSP immediately. Similarly, all pneumonia patients must also be notified to NCDC or IDSP so that they can be tested for COVID-19. Hospitals have been told to ensure social distancing in their premises.”

Meanwhile, the Indian Council of Medical Research has said in a statement that till 10 am on Saturday, 15,701 samples from 14,811 individuals had been tested and 271 have been found positive. 23 people have recovered and there have been four deaths so far.

The note on revised testing strategy prepared by the department of health research reads: “Currently, India has witnessed cases of COVID19 mostly related to travel and local transmission from imported cases to their immediate contacts. Community transmission of the disease has not been documented, the above testing strategy will undergo changes to evolve into stage-appropriate testing strategy.”

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