India on Wednesday reported 50 new COVID-19 deaths and the recovery of 3,959 patients, taking the recovery rate to 19.36% from 17% previously.
The Union Health Ministry said 20,971 individuals have been confirmed positive as of now, while the death toll stood at 652. Since Tuesday, 1,383 new cases were reported.
However, reports from the States put the toll at 683 and the total number of positive cases at 21,330, out of which 16,493 are active. Maharashtra has the most number of cases (5,649), followed by Gujarat (2,407) and Delhi (2,248).
The Ministry said the Indian Council of Medical Research (ICMR) had promised to collect data from the States to assess the scope and extent of the utility of the rapid antibody test in field conditions.
“It [ICMR] shall keep advising the States on a regular basis. The States have also been advised to follow the prescribed protocol for this test and use it for the purpose for which it is meant,” said a release issued by the Ministry. The ICMR had reiterated that the rapid test was largely to be used as a tool for surveillance.
“Globally also, the utility of this test is evolving and it is currently being used for detecting the formation of antibodies in individuals. The test results are also dependent on field conditions,” the release noted and asserted that the test cannot replace the RT-PCR test to diagnose COVID-19 cases.
Health workers’ safety
The Ministry said it had directed State Chief Secretaries and the UT administrations to ensure the safety of health workers. “Their skill and service amongst all professionals place them in a unique position to save people in present times. The States and the UTs have been advised to take up various measures, including human resource and capacity-building training, medical safety, timely payments, psychological support, training of front line workers and life insurance cover,” it stated.
The Cabinet had recommended promulgating an ordinance to ensure the safety of medical staff under the Epidemic Disease Act, 1897, it pointed out.
The Central government would conduct a telephonic survey, where citizens will be contacted on their mobile phone from the number 1921, through the National Informatics Centre (NIC), it said.
“This is a genuine survey. All citizens are requested to participate to help get proper feedback on the prevalence and distribution of COVID-19 symptoms. Also, please be aware of any other calls by pranksters or calls from any other number in the guise of such a similar survey. The States/UTs are requested to inform the public about the survey through media. They are also requested to inform people about the official nature of this exercise and create awareness of any other calls by pranksters or phishing/fishing attempts from any other number. They are also to host the information about this survey on the Health Departments’ home pages and other Depts,” the release stated.