Doctors at Lal Bahadur Shastri Hospital in East Delhi (Express photo by Prem Nath Pandey)
The Union health ministry in an advisory has suggested hospitals located in and around COVID-19 containment zones to treat all patients coming to them as suspected cases of coronavirus infection. The total number of cases has crossed 20,000 as of April 22.
Prime Minister Narendra Modi is likely to interact with all Chief Ministers via video conference on April 27 to take stock of the Covid-19 situation in the country, according to sources. As per the latest updates from the Health Ministry, the number of cases has crossed the 20,000 mark while the death toll increased to 652.
Union minister Prakash Javadekar Wednesday said the Centre will not tolerate attacks on the healthcare workers in the country and has brought an ordinance to make it a punishable offence. Javadekar said the government will amend the Epidemics Diseases Act, 1897 to make the attacks on healthcare workers a cognisable and non-bailable offence, under which a violator may be awarded with a jail term of three months to seven years with a fine of Rs 50,000 to Rs 5 lakh.
Earlier in the day, Home Minister Amit Shah interacted with doctors from the Indian Medical Association (IMA) via video-conference, and assured them of their safety. The IMA, which had planned a candle-light vigil at 9 pm today to urge the government to enact a law against healthcare violence, withdrew the protest after Shah said the government was with them. (Read the top COVID-19 news from India)
COVID-19 Tracker LIVE | Coronavirus India & World Latest News Updates: India cases at 20,471; Maharashtra worst-hit; PM to interact with CMs on April 27; Amit Shah interacts with doctors, and more. Read latest news in Bangla, Tamil, Malayalam
The SAARC countries have recorded much lower infection rates in the region compared to the worst affected countries.
In a first clear indication of the Covid-19 time frame in India, NITI Aayog member Dr VK Paul told The Indian Express the battle will be tested in the months of June and July, after lockdown restrictions are eased. He also said the effect of the lockdown is now "clearly visible", as India has succeeded in flattening the curve.
Despite accounting for a fifth of the world’s population (21 per cent), the eight SAARC nations — India, Pakistan, the Maldives, Sri Lanka, Afghanistan, Bangladesh, Nepal, Bhutan — account for just 1.28 per cent of the world total of 24,80,503 coronavirus cases. In terms of fatalities, the SAARC total is nearly half a percentage point (0.54 per cent) or 937 of the total of 1,70,397 people who have died of the infection worldwide, according to data by worldometers.
The SAARC countries have recorded much lower infection rates in the region compared to the worst affected countries, including the US, Italy, Spain, the UK, Iran and China.
Amid the growth of cases of novel coronavirus disease (COVID-19), states have started to look at “rapid tests” — serological or blood tests — as an alternative to the longer, swab-based tests routinely being used. On Tuesday, the Indian Council of Medical Research on Tuesday advised states not to use rapid test kits for the next two days, saying it would issue an advisory after their teams carry out field validation of these equipment.
The serological test screens the plasma for antibodies that the body develops against the virus.
According to the Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health, “Serology tests are blood-based tests that can be used to identify whether people have been exposed to a particular pathogen. Serology-based tests analyse the serum component of whole blood. The serum includes antibodies to specific components of pathogens, called antigens. These antigens are recognized by the immune system as foreign and are targeted by the immune response.”
The serological test screens the plasma for antibodies that the body develops against the virus. It takes less than 30 minutes. It is important to note, however, that the PCR test is capable of identifying infection at an earlier stage. Only after the antibodies have developed, which takes several days, can the serological test come in. And even for serological tests, the positives will have to go through the PCR filter.
Facing a critical fiscal situation, the fund crunched Punjab government Tuesday announced a series of cost-cutting measures, including an immediate 25 per cent reduction in existing entitlements for petroleum product expenses of all government departments, except the frontline departments of Health, Medical Education, Police, Food and Agriculture.
In its fight against coronavirus, Punjab has started a door-to-door drive in hotspots and few other districts to check the residents with suspicious symptoms. (Express photo/Jaipal Singh)
Meanwhile, the CM has asked the health department to prepare a comprehensive budget for COVID related expenditure.