Health Ministry revises strategy for testing coronavirus
Image Credit- IANS
New Delhi: The Ministry of Health and Family Welfare, on Saturday, issued a revised strategy of testing for COVID-19 infection.
According to the revised advisory, all asymptomatic individuals who have undertaken international travel in the last 14 days, should stay in home quarantine for at least 14 days. They should be tested only if they become symptomatic (fever, cough, difficulty in breathing). Besides, all family members living with a confirmed case should be home quarantined.
The revised strategy further stated that all symptomatic contacts of laboratory confirmed cases will be tested, all symptomatic health care workers will also be tested. All hospitalised patients with Severe Acute Respiratory Illness (fever and cough and/or shortness of breath) will also be tested for novel coronavirus.
“Asymptomatic direct and high-risk contacts of a confirmed case should be tested once between day 5 and day 14 of coming in his or her contact,” said the Ministry.
Direct and high-risk contact include those who live in the same household with a confirmed case and healthcare workers who examined a confirmed case without adequate protection as per WHO recommendations.
According to the Health Ministry there are at least 231 active coronavirus cases in India.
Currently, India has witnessed cases of COVID-19 mostly related to travel and local transmission from imported cases to their immediate contacts. Community transmission of the disease has not been documented till now. Once community transmission is documented, the above testing strategy will undergo changes to evolve into stage appropriate testing strategy.
Asserting the measures taken by states and union territories are not uniform, the Central government on Saturday issued a slew of guidelines on social distancing in the wake of coronavirus outbreak.
An expert group constituted under the Ministry of Health and Family Welfare, through Health Secretary Preeti Sudan, asked the state and union territories to regulate work in government offices to reduce congestion and maintain hygiene. The guidelines came after the number of coronavirus infected cases climbed up to 271 and claimed four lives.
Among other measures, they have also been directed to regulate working hours except in essential services. “Private sector to consider work from home, wherever feasible,” the guidelines stated.
Frequency of metros, railways, buses and airplanes should be decreased.
“Alternate seating to ensure social distancing; disinfection and crowd control in places like railway stations, metro stations, bus stands, airports, etc,” it further stated, adding that social distancing should be maintained even in small gatherings.
As per the guidelines, the educational institutions, theatres, museums, gyms and examination centres should remain closed.
“Sporting events, competitions and religious gatherings to be postponed and maintain required social distancing even in smaller gatherings.”
Barring public representatives, government servants and medical professionals, all senior citizens have been directed to remain indoors and avoid gatherings, except for medical reasons and need for essential services.
The guidelines added, “All children below ten years of age to remain at home and avoid going to public parks, picnics and other games requiring large number of participants.”
All health establishments should avoid non-urgent hospitalisation and minimise elective surgeries, the guidelines stated.
In wake of black marketing, the government also tightened the screw on regulation of prices of masks, sanitizer and medicines and ensure their availability.
“Sensitise on appropriate use of masks and good hygienic practices including washing hands with soap,” the government directed.
The state and union territories have been asked to motivate citizens, particularly the youth, to volunteer to support the the ongoing efforts in management of COVID-l9.
The government also gave the state and union territories a free hand to invoke relevant provisions of law in larger public interest.