Coronavirus India Roundup, April 10: Death toll crosses 200, first Operation SHIELD deemed successful in Delhi, Punjab extends lockdown
At around 6,760 positive cases, India's per million infection rate is relatively low at about 4.95 per million population.
India's coronavirus death toll crossed 200 on Friday - Ministry of Health and Family Welfare data shows that so far, 206 people have died due to COVID-19 related complications in the country.
Across the country, however, a concerted effort to break the chain of transmission could be seen, with states like Punjab declaring lockdown extensions till April 30. (Prime Minister Narendra Modi — who is meeting state chief ministers over video conference Saturday — is also widely expected to extend the countrywide lockdown beyond April 14, Tuesday, after the meeting.)
Efforts are also on to seal identified "hotspots". In Gurugram, the local municipal corporation sealed nine areas including the tony Nirvana Country in sector 54. Residents of sealed areas in Haryana have been directed to call the COVID-19 helpline to place orders for groceries, milk and vegetables while medicine shops will stay open in these localities.
Operation SHIELD rolled out in Delhi at Dilshad Garden where 123 medical officers tested 15,000 residents in more than 4,000 homes and reported zero new cases.
In other news, health ministry joint secretary Lav Agarwal in his press briefing for Friday said that 678 new cases had been confirmed and 33 more people had succumbed to the disease on Thursday. According to the Indian High Commissioner to Singapore, 250 Indians living in the Southeast Asian country had tested positive for this infection - most of these people live in hostels for foreign workers which have turned out to be hotbeds for coronavirus transmission in that country. Indian Council of Medical Research (ICMR) data showed that some 38% of patients with a severe acute respiratory illness linked to COVID-19 had no travel history. That said, at around 6,760 positive cases (according to health ministry data), India's per million infection rate is relatively low at about 4.95 per million population.
Testing to be stepped up, 2.5 lakh tests to be conducted by the end of the lockdown
ICMR on Friday said that it had administered 1,44,910 test to 1,30,792 people for COVID-19 as of 9 pm IST on 9 April 2020. ICMR aims to conduct 2.5 lakh tests by Tuesday. The criteria for testing the population was initially those with a travel history exhibiting symptoms, healthcare workers displaying symptoms, and caretakers of the sick or those in contact with positive cases will be prioritized.
Now, the ICMR has broadened the ambit of testing to include symptomatic people residing in hotspots. Further, out of the 450+ districts that have not reported any cases, random testing will be conducted to confirm that there is, in fact, no community spread.
Dr R. Gangakhedkar, the ICMR chief, had said earlier this week that arrival of five lakh rapid testing kits is imminent.
ICMR framing protocol for blood plasma treatment
The ICMR said that it was in the final stages of approving convalescent plasma therapy on a trial basis. Patients in critical condition and those on ventilator support will be administered plasma therapy after small studies from across the world have suggested that the therapy may help those who are sick. Convalescent plasma therapy involves taking the blood plasma of a recovered patient and transferring the plasma to an active patient to help trigger an immune reaction. Plasma contains antibodies made by the body to ward off pathogens. Canada is set to launch the largest clinical trial on the treatment to get a deeper understanding of its efficacy.
Odisha’s decision to extend lockdown may set the tone for what is to come
After Odisha announced that it would extend lockdown in the state another two weeks, other states have expressed similar intentions as well. Karnataka and Punjab have both suggested that now is not an opportune time to lift restrictions given that cases are growing by the day. The general consensus is that the country will emerge from the lockdown in a staggered way: the major decision is expected to be taken tomorrow when PM Modi will have a conversation with the CMs of all the states.
According to Bihar, the migrant exodus has not had a significant impact on state COVID-19 figures
Bihar set up over 3,000 quarantine zones as lakhs of migrant labourers returned to the state. There was a lot of concern that they would bring the disease with them and drive a major cluster of infection.
However, over a lakh have been screened (not tested, but undergone thermal scanning and symptom examination) and none have come out positive.
The officials are maintaining that all the cases in the state so far have travel history or links to those with travel history. The migrants are approaching the end of their 14-week quarantine period.
While these signs are encouraging, it must be stressed that cases cannot be ruled out without adequate testing.
For more information, read our article on How does COVID-19 spread?
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