Coronavirus outbreak: ICMR says no community transmission of COVID-19 yet, all 500 samples test negative

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New Delhi: As everyone around the world worries and is anxious about the coronavirus outbreak, India recently entered stage 2 of the global pandemic. Currently, the spread of the disease-causing virus is restricted to people who have travel history to coronavirus-hit countries, and their immediate contacts. Stage 3 of the pandemic would be when the virus leads to a community outbreak, something that the government and citizens are trying to avoid by self-quarantine, isolation, and practicing proper hand and respiratory hygiene.

As a ray of hope that boosts morale in this time of health crisis, the Director-General of the Indian Council of Medical Research, the apex health research body in India, Balram Bhargava, said that on Tuesday, 500 random samples had tested negative for coronavirus, and no evidence of community transmission of COVID-19 had been found as yet.

“We at ICMR are regularly monitoring for community transmissions. Our labs are looking at random samples of patients who suffer from influenza-like illnesses/ severe acute,” he said, as reported by Busines Standard.

Bhargava also asserted the importance of intensifying testing and bringing in private firms and laboratories for the purpose. ICMR chief epidemiologist RR Gangakhedkar said it was incorrect to compare India’s testing strategy with those of other countries. “Those countries have established that they are at stage 3. The strategy will be different if we find any such evidence. The surveillance was done to check whether we have moved to community transmission. This is an ongoing activity, and we will continue to monitor,” he said, as reported by Economic Times.

Around 1000 sample were collected by ICMR to randomly test the spread of COVID-19. While the 500 samples tested till now have all been found positive, the other 500 were to be tested on Wednesday morning, and the results of the same are awaited.

Realising the importance of accessible testing facilities, ICMR has also scaled up the same. Bhargava said the ICMR has scaled up its testing facilities. There are now 121 functional laboratories equipped to test for the novel coronavirus. Laboratories operated by other government departments and hospitals will soon be equipped to carry out testing, he said.

“We are also operationalising two rapid testing laboratories. We are getting the reagents to make them functional and they will be able to test up to 1,400 samples a day. They will be operationalised by the end of this week.”, the ICMR director-general said, ET reported.

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