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Private Labs, Aggressive Random Sampling, Focus On Asymptomatic Persons: How India Is Ramping Up Its War Against Coronavirus

So Far, Indian Officials Have Been Testing Only Those Cases, Where An Individual Shows Symptoms And Has A Travel History. But This Will Change Soon.

News Nation Bureau | Edited By : Surabhi Pandey | Updated on: 17 Mar 2020, 03:19:59 PM
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To widen the ambit of testing protocols, ICMR is planning to rope in private labs across India. For the general public, it will mean paying for the COVID-19 test, which is done free of cost at the government hospitals. (Photo Credit: File Photo)

New Delhi:

Coronavirus pandemic has killed over seven thousand people across the world. Nearly 1 lakh cases have been confirmed from over 150 nations around the globe. Closer home, there has been a steady rise in the number of confirmed cases in India. At the time of publishing this story, 131 confirmed cases were reported across India. Three people have died due to the COVID-19 disease. While experts have hailed the early travel ban imposed by India, there have been grave concerns over not testing enough number of people. So far, Indian officials have been testing only those cases, where an individual shows symptoms and has a travel history. But this will change soon. (Coronavirus Live Updates)

The Indian Council of Medical Research has decided to expand the testing protocols. This means that from now on, more and more individuals will be tested.  It will also include those who are asymptomatic and don't have any travel history. To understand the importance of this step, one needs to understand the stages of any pandemic. According to the ICMR, there are four stages of a pandemic. Stage 1 involves most of the case being reported by those who have returned from the outbreak zone. That was in the first week of January when India reported the first cases of people who had travelled from China or Dubai.

Then comes Stage 2. This means people getting infected by those who imported the disease via travel to the affected nations. The localisation of the disease is the most alarming thing. India is at this stage at present. There have been cases of people testing positive after coming in contact with Covid-19 patients. Then comes the most crucial stage i.e. Stage 3. This is called community transmission. This means a larger group getting infected. This is where the shutdowns, lockdowns and zero contact can help. Experts at ICMR say that India has 100 days before coronavirus pandemic can affect larger communities. It is therefore absolutely necessary to go for aggressive random samplings to detect community transmission at the nascent level.

To widen the ambit of testing protocols, ICMR is planning to rope in private labs across India. For the general public, it will mean paying for the COVID-19 test,  which is done free of cost at the government hospitals.  At present, government labs in India are testing 60 to 70 samples. This will exponentially go up once the private labs come in the picture. Officials point to the strategy adopted by South Korea, which has made it compulsory to get tested for coronavirus. It has helped South Korea to maintain a low fatality rate and restrict the spread of the virus on stage 2. Even in cases of stage 3 of community transmission, South Korea has maintained a strict vigil to curb the spread to a very small region. Italy and other European nations, which are now being termed as the epicentre of the coronavirus pandemic have enforced total lockdown to control community transmission. In France, the army has been called in to manage the shutdown.

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First Published : 17 Mar 2020, 03:16:30 PM

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