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Coronavirus | Govt. denies religious profiling of patients

Medical staff asking people to maintain social distance outside a bank during nationwide lockdown as a preventive measure against the COVID-19 coronavirus, in Srinagar, on May 11, 2020.

Medical staff asking people to maintain social distance outside a bank during nationwide lockdown as a preventive measure against the COVID-19 coronavirus, in Srinagar, on May 11, 2020.   | Photo Credit: Nissar Ahmad

Coronavirus tracking app Aarogya Setu is secure as has been designed keeping in mind the privacy of people, says Joint Secretary in Health Ministry Lav Agarwal.

COVID-19 sees no religion or community, the Union Health Ministry said on Monday, denying that any religion-based mapping of patients was done and termed any news in this regard as “baseless, incorrect and irresponsible”.

The statement comes on a day when the country registered its highest spike in 24 hours, with an addition of 4,213 positive cases, taking the number of cases overall to 67,152. An additional 97 deaths were reported, taking the nationwide toll to 2,206.

The country currently has 44, 029 active cases; 20,916 persons have recovered.

“In the last 24 hours, there were 1,559 recoveries which takes the recovery rate to 31.15%,” Joint Secretary in the Health Ministry Lav Agarwal said.

According to State Health Department data, the nationwide death toll was 2,295, with 45,930 active cases. The total number of cases stood at 70,766.

Responding to allegations about the government mulling community/religion-based mapping of the COVID-19 spread, Mr. Agarwal said, “This is a very irresponsible piece of news. The virus does not see people's caste, creed or religion.”

Fighting stigma

“The Supreme Court has already said no fake news should be published, and news should be published after checking facts. News should not spread fear, we should stay united to fight this virus. Nobody should encourage non-factual news,” he added.

“Awareness and adhering to guidelines issued by the government is our best weapon against the virus. We have to fight the stigma falsely associated with coronavirus. People having COVID-19 symptoms should come forward to report so that they don't spread infection to their family members and others,” he added.

The Ministry also announced further changes in its discharge policy and revised the home isolation guidelines for very mild/pre-symptomatic cases. Under the new guidelines there is no need for testing after the end of the home isolation period for such cases.

Stating that India is yet to register community transmission, the Health Ministry said the country, however, has some relatively large outbreaks in certain locations. It added that it is important to focus on containment efforts to ensure that the country does not reach the community transmission stage.

Coronavirus tracker app Aarogya Setu can play a crucial role in this. If not contained properly, the transmission rate would go higher. So, it is important for us now to focus on containment efforts,” said Mr. Agarwal.

The Ministry, at the press conference, also relaxed its discharge policy and revised the home isolation guidelines for very mild/pre-symptomatic COVID-19 cases. Under the new guidelines, for very mild/pre-symptomatic cases, there is no need for testing after the end of the home isolation period.

Also read: Coronavirus | Key ICMR panel on vaccines dissolved

The Ministry said revisions are based on Indian Council for Medical Research (ICMR) review from lab surveillance data. The earlier criteria for discharging a patient with an RT-PCR positive tests were a clear chest radiograph and two consecutive negative test results on RT-PCR.

“Recent studies have also shown that viral load peaks in the pre-symptomatic period (2 days before symptoms) and goes down over the next 7 days which makes the revised discharge policy safe. However, cleared patients still have to follow rules issued by the Ministry,” Mr. Agarwal said.

Also read: Coronavirus | India shares two SARS-CoV-2 genome sequences

He added that the discharge policy has been changed in several countries where they have opted to move from test-based strategy to symptom and time-based strategy. “India has also changed its policy based on this,” he said.

Responding to a question on why Zydus Cadila has been selected to manufacture ‘Covid Kavach Elisa’, the first indigenously developed IgG Elisa test for antibody detection by the ICMR, National Institute of Virology (NIV), Pune, the Ministry said, “It is looked at who had the capacity to deliver the kits at this time and would later rope in other companies when required.”

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Printable version | Jul 11, 2020 11:16:33 AM | https://www.thehindu.com/news/national/coronavirus-some-relatively-large-outbreaks-noticed-in-particular-locations-govt/article31558321.ece

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