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Coronavirus | ICMR to test for community transmission in 75 districts

Firefighters use a hydraulic platform to sanitise an area in Ahmedabad on May 9, 2020.   | Photo Credit: AP

With India registering 3,320 new COVID-19 cases in the past 24 hours, taking the overall tally as reported by State Health Departments to 62,584, the Indian Council of Medical Research (ICMR) on Saturday said it will initiate a study in the worst-affected 75 hotspot districts to check for community transmission.

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In a separate development, the Health Ministry announced that it will deploy central teams to 10 States witnessing high case load and spurt in cases.

“The teams are being sent to Gujarat, Tamil Nadu, Uttar Pradesh, Delhi, Rajasthan, Madhya Pradesh,Punjab,West Bengal, Andhra Pradesh and Telangana. This is besides the 20 central teams of public health experts earlier sent to the high case load districts.

A high-level team had recently been deputed to Mumbai to support the State’s efforts,” the Ministry said.

“The teams will support State health departments in containment measures,” it added.

An ICMR official said the study on community transmission was scheduled for the first week of April but had “subsequently got derailed”. “We had drawn up places based on hotspots, which being dynamic have changed; a final list will be announced soon,” he said.

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“But we will go into 75 districts to find the spread, if any, and extent of community spread,” said a senior ICMR official. Community transmission is said to have taken place where tracing the source of infection is not possible, he said.

The ICMR, which was supposed to use the rapid antibody test kits for the survey, will now use the enzyme-linked immunosorbent assay (ELISA) test — used in HIV detection — for the survey.

On Saturday, the country registered 95 more deaths taking the total COVID-19 fatalities to 1,981; 17,847 persons have been cured so far with 1,307 cured in the last 24 hours. India now has a fatality rate of 3.3% and recovery rate is 29.9%, a Health Ministry release said.

Data from State Health Departments put the nationwide death toll at 1992, with 40,382 active cases. out of a tally of 60, 632

The overall number of cases stood at 60,632. A total of 280 new cases were reported from Ahmedabad along with 20 more deaths on Saturday, taking the total case count to 5,540 in the district and fatalities to 363, a Gujarat Health department official said. Maharashtra reported 1165 new case, taking its tally to 20, 228. The State also reported 48 deaths, taking the death toll to 779, said a health department official.

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More tests

Cumulatively, 15,25,631 tests have been done so far for COVID-19, the Ministry added.

Union Health Minister Harsh Vardhan on Saturday instructed all States with international borders to take adequate measures to prevent exposure by conducting screening of all individuals entering the State at entry points and following quarantine protocols.

He added that States need to focus on more effective surveillance, contact tracing, house-to-house surveys and early diagnosis.

“Surveillance for Severe Acute Respiratory Infections (SARI)/ Influenza Like Illness (ILI) should be intensified in unaffected districts and districts which have not reported cases from last 14 days. States should also aggressively pursue the download of Aarogya Setu app to aid contact tracing and surveillance and for self-assessment by people,”he added.

The Ministry has now advised States to put the information of the earmarked facilities for COVID-19 like the dedicated COVID hospitals, COVID Health Centres and Care Centers in public domain to help people access the services.

Coronavirus | ICMR to test for community transmission in 75 districts
 

“The States have been informed that funds have been allocated for strengthening of the health infrastructure and they have been reminded that in addition to the COVID-19 care, non-COVID-19 health services were equally important and should not be neglected. Due attention was required to be paid to health care services such as ANCs for pregnant women, immunization drives, OPD/IPD services, screening of NCDs and TB diagnosis and treatment,” added the release.

The Ministry has advised that adequate measures for prevention of vector borne diseases also need to be taken.

“States should ensure that payments, salaries and incentives were paid to the healthcare staff, paramedics and other healthcare workers. They have been informed that helpline number 104 in addition to 1075 can be used for grievance redressal for non-COVID essential services, and for providing the needed information to the people on their location etc. We have advised States to keep adequate stock of essential medicines and explore home delivery by engaging volunteers for the purpose,” said the Health Minister.

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He added that in view of the larger prevalence of non-smoking tobacco usage in some States, the Health Ministry has these States to ensure concrete actions for prohibiting its prevelance and for prohibiting spitting in public places to help in preventing the spread of COVID-19.

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Printable version | Oct 21, 2020 10:11:14 AM | https://www.thehindu.com/news/national/coronavirus-icmr-to-test-for-community-transmission-in-75-districts/article31547402.ece

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