Fight corona better: Know about India's testing strategy
New Delhi, Mar 17: The Indian Council of Medical Research, Ministry of Health and Family Welfare has laid guidelines for testing strategy in India. It also states that there is currently no community transmission of COVID-2019.
However, it has now intensified random sampling of people who display flu-like symptoms but don't have any history of travel to the affected countries. The preliminary result of the samples is likely to come on Wednesday.
So far, India has detected 125 positive confirmed cases of COVID-19 and it has killed three people.
India is currently following a highly restricted testing protocol. Here are the guidelines:
- Body had earlier said there is no community transmission
- Disease primarily in individuals with travel history to affected countries or via close contact with positive cases
- Everyone needn't be tested, it had said earlier
- However, ICMR had conducted random tests on people with flu-like symptoms
- Results likely to come in on Wednesday
Why is India not testing those without travel history?
Though India has activated 67 laboratories for conducting the first test, the government labs are not facing a high testing load as of now and there is a good reserve capacity in government lans, as per ICMR scientists.
According to experts the confirmed cases reported is based on a narrow testing of cases.
This is because the government's protocol, as health officials limits coronavirus tests in India to people who have travelled to affected countries recently or who have contact history with such travellers - and have symptoms of the disease.
According to officials from Ministry of Health and Family Welfare and ICMR, most cases in India can be categorised as imported cases, referring to the foreign source of the virus while some cases have been categorised as local transmission. These are the persons who tested positive after coming in contact with a relative or friend who returned from abroad.
"There are three stages of the disease. Stage I is seen through imported cases and in Stage II there is local transmission. We are not worried up till Stage 2. In Stage III, we will see community transmission and in Stage IV it becomes an epidemic," Dr.Balram Bhargava, Director General, ICMR said.
However, India will expand its testing protocol to cover those who are symptomatic of Covid-19 but do not have a travel history or have not been zeroed in on through contact tracing.
India's testing strategy on people is contrary to that of South Korea where they have tested over 140,000 people so far, and has frequently seen more than 10,000 tests per day. People can even get tested at drive-through counters, where the whole process is done in a matter of minutes.
Apart from India, the other country where the number of tests is low in relation to the population is the United States.
Meanwhile, according to World Health Organization (WHO) experts, about 20 vaccines are currently under development by several research groups around the world.