Coronavirus (COVID-19) Tracker India Live News Updates:
In other news, the government released a list of additional services exempted from the lockdown, including agricultural and financial services, and construction activities in rural areas. The government has also removed curbs on exports of formulations made from paracetamol. Maharashtra remains the worst affected state, with a total of 3,205 cases and 194 deaths, followed by New Delhi with 1,640 infections and 38 fatalities.
With four days to go for conditional easing of restrictions in specific areas, as India ramps up testing - the number of samples tested in the last 24 hours crossed 30,000 for the first time on Thursday - the first consignment of 5 lakh rapid COVID-19 testing kits has arrived from China.
Indicating that more testing kits are on their way, Vikram Misri, Indian Ambassador to China tweeted: “A total of 650,000 kits, including Rapid Antibody Tests and RNA Extraction Kits have been despatched early today from Guangzhou Airport to India.”
This means that rapid tests, where the results take take less than 30 minutes, can be used in the 170 hotspots across the country, as per the guidelines of the Indian Council of Medical Research (ICMR).
However, as the ICMR reiterated on Thursday, the tests are only for surveillance and should not be used for diagnosis.
“We have received 5 lakh kits (from China): 2 lakh from a company called Nuzon and 3 lakh from another called Wantro. They have a sensitivity of over 80%. One needs to understand that these are serological tests. This is not for early diagnosis because it takes time for antibodies to develop. This is for surveillance in hotspots, to periodically check the spread of the disease,” said Dr R R Gangakhedkar, head of epidemiology and infectious diseases, ICMR.
Meanwhile, in a significant development for COVID-19 diagnosis and testing in India, a reputable medical institute in Kerala has been successful in developing a low-cost diagnostic testing kit that can give results of the viral infection in two hours. A release from the Union Ministry of Science and Technology said Thursday that a team of clinicians and scientists at the Sree Chitra Tirunal Institute for Medical Sciences and Technology (SCTIMST) in Thiruvananthapuram has been able to come up with a test kit which is deemed highly specific for SARS-CoV-2 N-gene and can detect two regions of the gene, which will ensure that the test does not fail even if one region of the viral gene undergoes mutation during its current spread.
In another news, the IPL Governing Council of the BCCI has decided to suspend the tournament till further notice. The cricket body released a statement in this regard that stated that keeping the health and safety of the cricketers in mind, BCCI along with all the associates involved with IPL have decided to commence the tournament only when it feels safe to conduct.
On the international front, the UK government is preparing to formally extend the initial three-week strict social distancing measures imposed last month to try and curb the rapid spread of the coronavirus pandemic as the country’s death toll from COVID-19 crosses 12,868. Europe was still in the "eye of the storm" of the coronavirus pandemic, the World Health Organization warned Thursday, as parts of the continent moved to ease restrictions but others extended lockdowns and postponed major events.