New Delhi: The coronavirus pandemic in India is increasing with each passing day. The country recently crossed another grim milestone, when the positive COVID-19 cases jump above the 3-lakh mark. According to the Ministry of Health and Family Welfare, India’s COVID-19 tally surged to 3,32,424 on June 15. Maharashtra had become the first state to record over 1 lakh coronavirus cases. On the other hand, according to the date by the ministry, India took just 10 days to hit 3-lakh mark after crossing 2 lakh cases on June 2. The earlier 2-lakh jump was recorded in 15-days.
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NDTV speaks with AIIMS chief Randeep Guleria to know about India’s testing status and the plan ahead.
Talking about testing, Randeep Guleria said,
We need to look testing from two points of view, one is to test individuals who are sick or can be infectious and therefore needs to be hospitalised. And, I think every individual who is having an illness like influenza, even if it is mild, they should be tested and that is the testing approach we need to follow to break the chain of infection in India.
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He further added that testing alone can’t help us win the war against coronavirus, testing along with social distancing norms in place is the necessity.
Highlighting about country’s testing strategy and the way ahead, he said,
The other part of testing that now various cities are following is called ‘Serosurveillance’, where you are testing the population not to see whether who is positive but who had the infection, even if it was a mild or asymptomatic infection and is recovered. Who has antibodies in their blood and there is the whole surveillance being done by ICMR and hopefully that will be out soon and then we should be able to say what is the number of people in different districts of India who are asymptomatic. Asymptomatic means you have no symptoms, so unless you are high-risk contact or you have symptoms, it will be very difficult to test every citizen or other person in India, every few days. But people who have influenza type symptoms or illness or who are COVID suspects, they must and should get tested.
Further talking about the high-risk patients, Mr Guleria added,
So, those people who are in close contact with COVID-19 patients or has some or the other person in the family who is COVID-19 positive are definitely high-risk patients. Apart from them, elderly, children below age 10 and expecting mothers also fall in that category and they should definitely be more cautious and take care of themselves with utmost precautions.
Mr Guleria also spoke about stage 3 of community transmission and if India is going through that stage, he said,
If you look at the national level, there are a large number of states or areas in the country where the cases are very few cases are coming down. But, if we start looking at hotspots like Delhi, Mumbai, Ahmedabad, the number of cases is increasing and there is a high chance that the local transmission has started there. The other message here is that we should start focussing on such areas, containment, isolation and social distancing or quarantining, all need to be followed very strictly here in these areas.
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Talking about the way ahead for a country like India, Mr Guleria added,
There is a need to have more coordinated efforts, which is currently missing. Government and healthcare system of India needs to work on a coordinated strategy, this is a pandemic we are dealing with, it needs to be fought with coordinated efforts.