Coronavirus | 118 labs ready to test for COVID-19, says ICMR

Number of positive cases touches 564, which include 522 Indian and 42 foreign nationals.

Updated - March 24, 2020 11:03 pm IST

Published - March 24, 2020 10:28 pm IST - NEW DELHI

Delhi Police official uses thermal screening device on the government employees, in the wake of deadly coronavirus, at Vijay Chowk near North-South Block in New Delhi.

Delhi Police official uses thermal screening device on the government employees, in the wake of deadly coronavirus, at Vijay Chowk near North-South Block in New Delhi.

The coronavirus ( COVID-19 ) death toll touched 10 on Tuesday with 564 confirmed cases nationwide (522 Indian and 42 foreign nationals); 40 persons have recovered and 1,87,904 are currently under surveillance.

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Briefing the press, Joint Secretary, Health Ministry Lav Agarwal said the Centre has asked the States to ensure adequate, earmarked hospitals and ventilator facilities are made available.

“We are also procuring more ventilators and looking at a prototype made at All India Institute of Medical Sciences (AIIMS) to increase the availability of this essential commodity. The Government is also in talks with personal protection equipment manufactures to ensure that we have enough and steady supply of these commodities,’’ he said.

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Meanwhile, Union Minister of Health & Family Welfare Harsh Vardhan, visited National Centre for Disease Control (NCDC) Control Room and the testing laboratories on Tuesday.

“The 24x7 helpline for COVID-19 undertaken by NCDC has in all got more than 2 lakh calls and nearly 52,000 emails have been answered,” he said.

He added that the need of the hour is that all the people who are either in home or facility quarantine, need to maintain strict vigil, and practice the laid down protocols of social distancing, and personal hygiene.

“Special care needs to be taken of the elderly, pregnant women and small children”, he said.

Michael J Ryan, Executive Director, WHO Health Emergencies Programme in a statement issued on Tuesday noted that India, like China, is a hugely populous country. “The future of this pandemic to a greater extent will be determined on what happens in very large and densely populated countries. So it’s really important that India continues to take aggressive action at the public-health level and at the level of society to contain, control, suppress this disease and to save lives.”

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Dr. R Gangakhedkar, head, epidemiology and communicable diseases, ICMR said that currently 118 laboratories are testing for COVID-19.

“Our capacity to test has gone up to 12,000 samples per day. Also as per our study we have estimated that India may be able to reduce its COVID-19 cases by up to 62% if social distancing and quarantines are strictly observed,” he said. The study has also shown that thermal screening can deter spread from three days to three weeks.

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