Coronavirus India Roundup April 14: 1,211 new cases, UP gets approval for pool testing, SC limits free testing by private labs
Per the ICMR, over 2.3 lakh tests have been conducted so far, and 33 lakh test kits along with 37 lakh rapid test kits are arriving shortly.
In the latest press briefing, Lav Agarwal, Joint Secretary, Health Ministry said that 1,211 cases and 31 deaths were reported in the last 24 hours, taking the cumulative figures to 10,363 and 339 respectively. About 1,036 people have recovered as well. Per the ICMR, over 2.3 lakh tests have been conducted so far, and 33 lakh test kits along with 37 lakh rapid test kits are arriving shortly.
Google Maps has launched a feature to locate food and night shelter in over 30 Indian cities, including Delhi, Jaipur, Agra, Pune and Thane. The feature may soon be available in Hindi and other languages and also in more cities.
India's largest COVID-19 Care Centre, with 2,000 beds, is being readied in Ahmedabad. It will be for patients who don't have any underlying conditions to ease the load on government hospitals.
PM Modi extends national lockdown until the 3rd of May
In a much-anticipated announcement, PM Modi confirmed that the country would remain in lockdown for another 19 days until Sunday, May 3rd. Until the 20th of April, the whole country will be under strict observation in terms of new cases and compliance to the containment measures, and those areas and districts that are deemed safe at the end of this period will gradually make their way out of the lockdown.
The government will release a detailed document tomorrow discussing measures for day labourers who have suffered heavily from these drastic measures.
Areas will be classified as one of 3 zones. Red zones will be areas that have a high number of cases and hotspots - strong curbs will be in place here. Orange zones will areas that have fewer cases and no increase in cases - some relaxations will be allowed here. Green zones are those where no new cases have been reported in the last two weeks; restrictions may be lifted here.
There are 49 red zones in Delhi. Goa may become the first green state if no new cases are confirmed by April 17.
Supreme Court modifies order on free testing in private labs; those under PM-JAY eligible for free testing
On the 8th of April, the SC had ruled in favour of private labs providing free COVID-19 tests for all. However, private labs objected to this, citing a lack of clarity in the compensation process and arguing that the test kits were expensive and the Rs 4,500 price tag was justified.
Justices S Ravindra Bhat and Ashok Bhushan amended the ruling to include all those under PM-JAY (the government insurance scheme for the poor) to be eligible for free testing, as well as including other groups from EWS (Economically Weaker Sections) as deemed necessary by the Centre. In other words, those who can pay will need to do so.
Uttar Pradesh becomes the first state to get approval for pool testing
The ICMR gave UP permission to conduct pool testing. In pool testing, samples from several people are taken together and tested using a single kit to check for the virus. If the sample is negative, then every person in the group is cleared, however, a positive result warrants individual testing. As India pushes to step up testing, this method can accelerate the reach and rate of diagnostic measures. UP is still working on guidelines, and services are expected to roll out this week. Maharashtra is also seeking approval from ICMR to make this method an option in the state.
Maharashtra and Rajasthan suggest Hydroxychloroquine (HCQ) for cops and other vulnerable groups
After several cops across Rajasthan and Maharashtra tested positive for COVID-19, sparking the quarantine of other members of the force, Rajasthan and Maharashtra governments have recommended HCQ as a prophylactic drug for the police. The antimalarial drug has caused controversy after various countries had approved emergency use despite a lack of evidence and contraindications for certain conditions such as cardiovascular problems.
In Maharashtra, cops must first consult a medical officer and get an ECG done before the drug is prescribed. Similarly, in Rajasthan, which intends to roll out the practice this week, clearance from a doctor is required.
Following cases in Dharavi, an urban slum in Mumbai, the Maharashtra government will offer HCQ to one lakh volunteers to test its efficacy. One half of the population will get HCQ with vitamin C tablets while the other half will get HCQ with zinc tablets and the results will be compared.
For more information, read our article on Mild vs Severe Symptoms of COVID-19.
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Most of the cases have been reported from North 24 Parganas, Howrah, Kolkata, Hooghly, Murshidabad, South 24 Parganas, Jalpaiguri and Darjeeling districts
The active cases comprise 0.10 per cent of the total infections, while the national COVID-19 recovery rate increased to 98.71 per cent.
The “strong” recommendation replaces previous conditional recommendations for their use and is based on emerging evidence from laboratory studies that these drugs are not likely to work against currently circulating variants, such as Omicron