New Delhi: The health ministry Tuesday asked people with influenza or flu-like symptoms to report themselves.
“This is done to detect positive cases in the field, as early as possible,” said Lav Agarwal, Joint Secretary, Ministry of Health and Family Welfare, at a press briefing.
He said people can report themselves either by calling the call centre (the Covid-19 helpline) or by reaching out to the frontline health workers. If need be, people will then be taken to the nearest hospital in their areas to conduct Covid-19 tests.
This advice from the health ministry comes a day after Principal Scientific Adviser K. VijayRaghavan issued guidelines on how to maintain hygiene in densely populated areas and asked all those with flu-like symptoms — fever, cold, sore throat and runny nose — to report to frontline medical staff, ASHA (Accredited Social Health Activist) and anganwadi workers.
According to the testing guidelines so far, with the latest issued on 9 April, those with influenza-like symptoms in Covid-19 hotspots were tested apart from those with foreign travel history, high-risk symptomatic and asymptomatic contacts of confirmed cases, health workers and those with severe acute respiratory illness.
Agarwal further said districts and blocks will be evaluated until 20 April to see if lockdown can be lifted in areas where the situation is under control.
The guidelines for evaluating the areas are expected Wednesday.
On India’s testing guidelines, Raman Gangakhedkar, head of infectious disease and epidemiology at the ICMR, said, “Our testing guidelines have been broad, if anyone wants to be tested, they can go and get tested.”
Agarwal said India has been following the testing protocol due to the limited number of testing kits in the country.
India has conducted 2,31,902 tests so far, said Gangakhedkar, who was also present at the briefing. He added that over 21,635 tests were conducted Monday in 166 laboratories.
India has ordered 33 lakh real-time polymerase chain reaction (RT-PCR) kits and 37 lakh rapid antibody test kits, he said.
RT-PCR is the gene sequencing that finds the genetic marker indicating the presence of SARS-CoV-2 (the virus that causes Covid-19).
“We have enough testing kits that will last us beyond six weeks,” he added.
India is testing very less people
India’s tranche of rapid antibody tests has been delayed by more than a week.
India is testing 161 people per million as compared to the US (8,625), the UK (5,537), South Korea (10,058) and Japan (17,333), according to an analysis.
As of late Tuesday evening, India has reported 9,272 active cases of coronavirus with 353 deaths. As many as 1,189 people have been cured/discharged.