US President Donald Trump, with Anthony Fauci and Deborah Birx, speaks during a Coronavirus Task Force news conference in the briefing room of the White House in Washington, D.C. | Photographer Kevin Dietsch/UPI/Bloomberg
US President Donald Trump, with Anthony Fauci and Deborah Birx, speaks during a Coronavirus Task Force news conference in the briefing room of the White House in Washington, D.C. in March 2020 | Photographer Kevin Dietsch/UPI/Bloomberg
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New Delhi: The World Health Organization (WHO) chief Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus said nations dealing with the coronavirus should “test, test, and test”. “You cannot fight a fire blindfolded,” he added. This has raised the question on whether we are testing enough or not in India.

Change in narrative on coronavirus

French president Emmanuel Macron, UK PM Boris Johnson and US President Donald Trump spoke strongly on their measures against coronavirus in separate press conferences Tuesday. Apart from them, their technical aides also took questions.

Trump perhaps took the coronavirus seriously for the first time and presented a timeline that predicts the virus will go away by July-August. Dr. Anthony Fauci, director of US’s National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases, said there will be a time when “you will be thankful we were overreacting, if we are”.

Dr. Deborah Birx, the White House coronavirus response coordinator, said though the people most threatened by the virus are the elderly, it’s the younger people who are likely carriers. Dr. Birx called for strong participation from millennials to protect the “greatest generation”.


Also read: Coronavirus death toll crosses 100 in US as outbreak spreads to all 50 states


Johnson, who had earlier commented that some people will lose their loved ones, and time and time again ridiculed the outbreak, is finally changing his stance and is ready to implement social distancing.

Dr. Chris Whitty, the UK government’s chief scientific advisor who had predicted the virus would affect 80 per cent of Britain, said schools, universities and other social gatherings would be shut down in a phased manner if the virus wasn’t controlled.

Test, test and test in India

India is among the lowest when it comes to mass testing (counted per million). In comparison, South Korea, China, Britain and Italy are testing a lot more.

Many suggest that India is testing too little and that the actual number of cases in the country is a lot more. As it stands, testing is right now only being conducted at government facilities, and unlike South Korea, individuals cannot get tested unless they are suspected of being coronavirus carriers.

In a new development, private labs will be allowed to test, but as the Indian Council of Medical Research (ICMR) chief suggests, they should be done for free.

The ICMR chief also presented results of a randomised test of pneumonia patients to rebut allegations of low testing in India. Of the 1,000 samples, results of 500 have come out and all of them are negative. The belief is that since these are negative, coronavirus is still in control in the country.

Pneumonia is what ultimately kills a coronavirus patient. The lung infection is a big problem in India, which sees 14 children die every hour.


Also read: Govt allows private labs to test for COVID-19, but its appeal for free tests has few takers


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