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Coronavirus | Anticipating an increase in number of cases, government readies train coaches

A train coach undergoes changes to function as a coronavirus isolation ward at the Integral Coach Factory in Chennai on April 2, 2020.   | Photo Credit: B. Jothi Ramalingam

For the second consecutive day, India on May 6 recorded a three-digit rise in COVID-19 deaths though, at 126, it was lower than the previous day’s spike of 195. 

The number of confirmed COVID-19 cases rose by 2,958, the fifth day running when the daily increase exceeded 2,000. At 49,391 confirmed infections on May 6, only 14 countries have more cases than India. There were 33,514 active cases while 1,457 people recovered in the past 24 hours, the Health Ministry said. The death toll stood at 1,694.

Interactive map of confirmed coronavirus cases in India  | State-wise tracker for coronavirus cases, deaths and testing rates

However, reports from the State Health Departments put the total number of cases at 52,468, of which 35,545 are active. The number of deaths rose to 1,771. 

On May 6, the Centre indicated that it was preparing for an “increase in cases” and readying railway coaches to function as COVID care centres. These carriages would be deployed at 215 stations. 

To house mild cases

While the Railways had said in March that it would offer coaches if needed, this was the first time a detailed set of guidelines explaining how these compartments would be used were publicised by the Health Ministry. A COVID care centre coach ideally ought to have just one patient, but if need be it could have two at the most. These coaches would be used to house people with mild symptoms, who could then be moved to dedicated hospitals, if required, the notification said.

Maharashtra leads the number of confirmed cases by a wide margin, with 12,089 active cases — Gujarat comes next at 4,496 — and 617 deaths. On Tuesday, the Health Ministry explained that the rise in casualties from Monday was due to some States reclassifying some deaths as COVID-19 ones. For some weeks, West Bengal had stopped counting patients who died with COVID-19, but had accompanying ailments — diabetes and heart conditions, etc., — as “COVID deaths”.

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There was no media briefing by the Health Ministry on May 6, a practice institutionalised two weeks ago.

Union Health Minister Harsh Vardhan held a meeting with top Ministers in Gujarat and Maharashtra to review action plans in these States.

Coronavirus | Anticipating an increase in number of cases, government readies train coaches
 

States needed to ensure that screening and testing of severe acute respiratory infections (SARI) and influenza-like illnesses were undertaken, and data from this exercise would be used to identify hotspots. “Aggressive behaviour change communication exercises need to be taken for removing stigma against reporting COVID-19,” he noted.

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This was because there were instances of people suppressing their illness or reporting too late to hospitals because of “fear or stigma”, the Health Ministry said in a statement.

States needed to publicise the Aarogya Setu application and have more people use the Aarogya Setu Interactive Voice Response System that could be accessed by giving a missed call at 1921. The latter is useful for those who don’t use smartphones and rely on feature phones. The use of the application would help users know if they were in the vicinity of someone who had tested positive for the disease. 

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Printable version | Mar 8, 2021 7:33:23 AM | https://www.thehindu.com/news/national/coronavirus-india-prepares-for-an-increase-in-number-of-cases-readies-railway-coaches-to-function-as-covid-care-centres/article31519809.ece

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