Cases top 900, biggest spike in 24 hrs; ‘no proof’ of community transmission

Cases top 900, biggest spike in 24 hrs; ‘no proof’ of community transmission

Novel lesson A Chennai cop with Covid helmet raises awareness. PTI

Aditi Tandon

Tribune News Service

New Delhi, March 28

India witnessed its first highest 24-hour rise in the number of new Covid-19 cases, recording 194 fresh cases. Overall burden crossed 900 cases, resting at 918 by this evening with two fresh deaths since yesterday.

The toll is now 19 and 90 per cent deaths involve the elderly with a history of cardiovascular, hypertension, diabetes, asthma or renal conditions.

The rate of rise in cases, which had hovered between 11 and 16 per cent for five days until Friday, today crossed the 20 per cent mark, raising a question mark on whether India was on the verge of community transmission.

On fears of community spread, which the government wants to delay using lockdown and public health response, Indian Council of Medical Research (ICMR) Chief Epidemiologist Raman Gangakhedkar said there was no evidence of such transmission as of now.

For the first time though, the ICMR admitted it had seen sporadic cases with unknown history of travel exposure in some general people hospitalised with severe pneumonia and subjected to Covid-19 test.

After ICMR’s mid-March random sampling of 826 persons in the community revealed there was no transmission in the general population, the apex health research body had changed disease detection guidelines to include all hospital patients with severe acute respiratory illness (SARI).

Prior to this, only symptomatic recent travellers and contacts of confirmed Covid-19 cases were being tested.

“Among SARI patients we are monitoring, we have seen sporadic cases where people have not been able to give the history of exposure. But such cases are not significant enough to conclude community transmission,” Gangakedkar said noting there was “definitely a rise in case numbers and the utilisation of ICMR lab testing capacity had reached 30 per cent today as against 10 per cent last week”.

The government, meanwhile, said it would take some time to evaluate the results of lockdown. Health Ministry sources said they were worried about potential clusters among migrant people who had walked close to one another in unhygienic conditions. India has also ramped up testing capacity to five lakh additional samples.

US lab unveils 5-min portable test kit

Washington: A US-based lab has unveiled a portable test that can tell if someone has Covid-19 in as little as five minutes, it said in a statement. Abbot Laboratories said the US Food and Drug Administration (FDA) had given it emergency authorisation to begin making the test available to healthcare providers as early as next week. The test, which is the size of a small toaster and uses molecular technology, also shows negative results within 13 minutes, the company said. AFP

World Bank, IMF urge debt relief

Washington: The heads of World Bank and IMF have underscored the need to provide debt relief to poorer countries hit by the Covid-19 pandemic, and said official bilateral creditors would have to play a major role. Both have launched emergency programmes to offer grants and loans to member countries. AFP

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