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India records highest 24-hr jump in coronavirus cases; 918 positive now, 19 dead

Working to implement rigorous contact-tracing, containment strategies: Health ministry

India records highest 24-hr jump in coronavirus cases; 918 positive now, 19 dead

New Delhi, March 28

The total number of coronavirus (COVID-19) cases in India reached 918 with 179 fresh cases being reported on Saturday, the highest single-day increase so far, while the death toll rose to 19, according to the Union Health Ministry data.

Deaths have so far been reported from Maharashtra (5), Gujarat (3), Karnataka (2), Madhya Pradesh (2) and one each from Tamil Nadu, Bihar, Punjab, Delhi, West Bengal, Jammu and Kashmir and Himachal Pradesh.

In its updated data at 5.45 pm, the ministry stated that the number of active COVID-19 cases in the country was 819, which is an increase of 179 since Friday when it was 640.

The total number of 918 cases in the country included 47 foreigners, the data stated.

As many as 79 people were either cured or discharged and one had migrated.

Maharashtra has reported the highest number of COVID-19 cases so far at 180 (including three foreign nationals), followed by Kerala at 176, including eight foreign nationals, according to the ministry data.

In Telangana, the number of cases has gone up to 56, including 10 foreigners while Karnataka has reported 55 cases till now.

The number of cases in Rajasthan has climbed to 54, including two foreigners.

Uttar Pradesh has reported 55 cases, including a foreigner while in Gujarat, it has gone up to 45, including one foreign national.

In Tamil Nadu 40 people, including six foreigners, have tested positive, while the number of positive cases in Delhi has gone up to 39, including a foreigner.     

Punjab has reported 38 cases, while 33 COVID-19 cases have so far been detected in Haryana, including 14 foreigners.

Madhya Pradesh has recorded 30 cases, Jammu and Kashmir 20, West Bengal 15, Andhra Pradesh 14 and Ladakh has reported 13 COVID-19 cases.

Bihar has nine cases, Chandigarh eight and Chhattisgarh has reported six cases so far.

Uttarakhand has five cases, including a foreigner. Himachal Pradesh and Odisha have reported three cases each. Six cases have been reported from the Andaman and Nicobar Islands. Goa has reported three coronavirus cases.

Puducherry, Mizoram and Manipur have reported one case each.

The ministry on its website stated, “Remaining nine cases are being assigned to states to initiate contact tracing.”

The Union Health Ministry said it is focusing on high disease-burden hotspots and working in tandem with states to implement rigorous contact-tracing, community surveillance and containment strategies.

Joint secretary in the ministry Lav Agarwal said 149 new COVID-19 cases, including two deaths, have been reported since Friday.

Combined efforts are on to ensure 100 per cent lockdown and that social distancing gets implemented, he said at a press briefing on the current COVID-19 situation in India.

The government is working with states on health infrastructure preparedness and the focus is on having dedicated COVID-19 hospitals and blocks in every state, Agarwal said.

He said arrangements are being made to ramp up isolation and Intensive Care Unit beds and other required logistics.

The joint secretary said 17 states have so far started work on this and doctors are being provided online training by their counterparts  at the AIIMS New Delhi on the management of COVID-19 patients.

'Online training for nursing officers'

"A series of online training for nursing officers will be conducted by AIIMS in the next 5-7 days.This includes training in caring for patients and suspected cases of COVID-19," he said.

Agarwal said Union Health Minister Harsh Vardhan on Saturday inaugurated a 24x7 national tele-consultation centre at the AIIMS through which doctors in other hospitals and medical colleges will be provided clinical guidance on managing COVID-19 patients. 

"We have been pre-emptive and graded in our approach and had anticipated the situation much before, and went for a lockdown when we were getting limited cases of local transmission while other countries took steps much later," he said, adding that results will be known only after a few days.

As of now we are utilising only 30 per cent of our capacity. 44 laboratories have so far been given approval for testing and 400 people have been tested in private sector

Raman R Gangakhedkar, Head, Epidemiology and Communicable Diseases, ICMR

Head of Epidemiology and Communicable Diseases at the ICMR Raman R Gangakhedkar said  all patients with severe acute respiratory illness (SARI) are being tested for the coronavirus infection, according to the revised guidelines of COVID-19.

Refuting the possibility of community transmission, Gangakhedkar said that they have just started testing SARI cases.

"There are some sporadic instances where people are not revealing their exposure history but their numbers are not significant that we take it that the virus is spreading rapidly," Gangakhedkar said.

"Till the time we see a significant number of cases to indicate community transmission, let us not over interpret things, he said.

Over India's testing capacity, he said said 111 government laboratories are currently functional across the country and with the private sector being roped in, it has been increased.

"As of now we are utilising only 30 per cent of our capacity. 44 laboratories have so far been given approval for testing and 400 people have been tested in private sector.

"More than 5 lakh probes that were imported from US have arrived, which means we can test an additional 5 lakh people. More so, labs have still have reagents to test more than one lakh patients," Gangakhedkar said.

Responding to a question over the use of hydroxychloroquine, he said, "So far we know that there has been a reduction in the viral-load  in COVID-19 patients who have been given the drug."

Gangakhedkar said the drug was being given as a preventive medication to healthcare workers and household contacts looking after a positive case and the data of the people who are being given the medicine will analysed to come out with a concrete conclusion.

"It is not recommended for everyone," he said. — PTI 

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