Coronavirus: India allows asymptomatic patients to go home as tally nears 30,000

As the cases in India neared 30,000, the Centre on Tuesday announced that the Covid-19 patients who have very mild symptoms of coronavirus or those pre-symptomatic can opt for home isolation

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The Centre on Tuesday said that Covid-19 patients who exhibited mild or no symptoms can opt for self-isolation at home as they recover from the novel coronavirus, which has affected nearly 30,000 people across the country and killed over 930.

As per the Union Health Ministry data, the number of cases in India has reached 29,974 and the death toll has climbed to 937. In the last 24 hours, the country has registered an increase of 51 deaths and 1,594 cases.

The positive news is that 23.34 per cent of all people infected in India have recovered, including 111 foreign nationals.

Asian Development Bank issued India a loan of $1.5 billion to help the country fight the virus while Moody’s Investors Service slashed India’s growth forecast to 0.2 per cent for the 2020 calendar year from the earlier projection of 2.5 per cent released in March due to the economic crisis induced by the nationwide lockdown in wake of novel coronavirus.

Here are all the latest updates on the outbreak of novel coronavirus in India:

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India’s coronavirus tally

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Death toll due to Covid-19 rose to 937 and the number of cases climbed to 29,974 in the country on Tuesday, registering an increase of 51 deaths and 1,594 cases since Monday evening, according to the Union Health Ministry.

The number of active Covid-19 cases stand at 22,010, while 7,026 people have recovered, and one patient has migrated, the ministry said.

Thus, 23.44 per cent of the infected people have recovered so far, a senior Health Ministry official said.

The total number of cases include 111 foreign nationals.

A total of 51 deaths were reported since Monday evening of which 27 fatalities were from Maharashtra, 11 from Gujarat, seven from Madhya Pradesh, five from Rajasthan and one from Jammu and Kashmir.

Of the 937 deaths, Maharashtra tops the tally with 369 fatalities, followed by Gujarat at 162, Madhya Pradesh at 113, Delhi at 54, Rajasthan at 46 and Andhra Pradesh and Uttar Pradesh at 31 each.

The death toll reached 26 in Telangana, 24 in Tamil Nadu while West Bengal and Karnataka have reported 20 deaths each.

Punjab has registered 18 fatalities so far. The disease has claimed seven lives in Jammu and Kashmir, four in Kerala while Jharkhand and Haryana have recorded three Covid-19 deaths each.

Bihar has reported two deaths, while Meghalaya, Himachal Pradesh, Odisha and Assam have reported one fatality each, according to the ministry data.

However, a tally of the figures reported by various states as on Tuesday showed 29,993 cases 945 deaths in the country.

According to the Health Ministry data updated in the evening, the highest number of confirmed cases in the country are from Maharashtra at 8,590 followed by Gujarat at 3,548, Delhi at 3,108, Madhya Pradesh at 2,368,

Rajasthan at 2,262, Uttar Pradesh at 2,043 and Tamil Nadu at 1,937.

The number of Covid-19 cases has gone up to 1,259 in Andhra Pradesh and 1,004 in Telangana.

The number of cases has risen to 697 in West Bengal, 546 in Jammu and Kashmir, 520 in Karnataka, 482 in Kerala, 346 in Bihar and 313 in Punjab.

Haryana has reported 296 coronavirus cases, while Odisha has 118 cases. A total 103 people have been infected with the virus in Jharkhand and 51 in Uttarakhand. Himachal Pradesh and Chandigarh have reported 40 cases each, Assam has 38 while Chhattisgarh has registered 37 infections so far.

Andaman and Nicobar Islands have 33 Covid-19 cases while Ladakh has reported 22 infections so far. Meghalaya has reported 12 cases, Puducherry has eight cases while Goa has seven Covid-19 cases. Manipur and Tripura have two cases each, while Mizoram and Arunachal Pradesh have reported a case each.

Self-isolation for asymptomatic patients

As the cases in India neared 30,000 mark, the Centre on Tuesday announced that the Covid-19 patients who have very mild symptoms of coronavirus or those pre-symptomatic can opt for home isolation

The patients opting for self-isolation must have the requisite self-isolation facility at their residence so as to avoid contact with other family members, the Union Health Ministry said.

According to a new set of guidelines, the patient should be clinically assigned as a very mild case or pre-symptomatic case by the treating medical officer.

The patient should regularly inform his health status to the district surveillance officer for further follow up by the surveillance teams.

Also, the caregiver and all close contacts of such cases should take Hydroxychloroquine as a preventive medication according to the protocol and as prescribed by the treating medical officer.

In an earlier statement, the health ministry had said that nearly 80 per cent of all Covid-19 patients exhibit very mild or no symptoms. If the majority of such patients can be sent home, then the load on the medical symptom will reduce significantly.

Lockdown or herd immunity

Pulitzer Prize-winning journalist and New York Times columnist Thomas Friedman on Tuesday said that India should switch from lockdown to herd immunity as a strategy to tackle the Covid-19 outbreak.

Speaking at India Today TV’s E-Conclave on Coronavirus, Thomas Friedman said that while lockdown was a crucial step to break the chain of virus transmission in India during the early days, however, sustaining it over a long period of time could be challenging.

“It’s hugely challenging when people are asked to return their villages and wash their hands multiple times a day. That can be challenging for underprivileged and poor people. [It’s a challenge] when they are told if you feel sick go to a doctor because India has a ratio of 10,000 to 1 doctor in rural areas. Social distancing can also be challenging when so many people don’t have another room to go into,” Thomas Friedman told Rahul Kanwal.

Thomas Friedman said that India’s best option right now is to opt for herd immunity, which is to shelter and protect its most elderly and let its young get back to work and attain immunity against the virus.

Friedman also suggested that people in India who have already experienced Covid-19 virus with mild or no symptoms should also be allowed to go back to work.

“The trick is to get your people out to acquire immunity naturally but get only those out those who may experience Covid-19 virus mildly or asymptomatically so that you don’t overwhelm the healthcare system,” Thomas Friedman said.

Plasma therapy not a certified cure of Covid-19

At a time when the success of plasma therapy in a few Covid-19 cases has given hope to patients, the government has clarified that it is not yet a certified treatment for the virus.

The Union Health Ministry said the therapy is at an experimental stage and that there is no evidence yet to support that it can be used as treatment for Covid-19.

“Till ICMR concludes its study and a robust scientific proof is available, plasma therapy should be used only for research or trial purpose. If plasma therapy is not used in a proper manner under the proper guidelines, then it can also cause life-threatening complications,” he said.

As the Indian Council for Medical Research (ICMR) asked state governments to return the rapid antibody testing kits that India had procured from China over inaccurate results, China has questioned the handling of the testing kits by Indian agencies.

โ€œWe have learned that there are strict requirements for the storage, transportation and use of COVID-19 antibody rapid test kits. Any operation which is not carried out by professionals in accordance with the product specifications will lead to testing accuracy variations,โ€ Counselor Ji Rong, spokesperson of the Chinese embassy in New Delhi said on Monday.

ICMR has said that the rapid antibody tests showed a wide variation in results, which is against the assurances given by the manufacturers. States have been advised to return the kits to these companies.

Citing statements issues by the two medical companies, Ji Rong defended the two Chinese companies saying, โ€œWe have noticed that Guangzhou Wondfo Biotech and Zhuhai Livzon Diagnostics already issued statements on this issue. They both stressed that their COVID-19 antibody rapid test kits had obtained the certification from the National Medical Products Administration of China (NMPA), meet the quality standards of China and exported countries, and have also been validated and approved by ICMR through National Institute of Virology (NIV), Pune and considered as satisfactory products.โ€

โ€œThe COVID-19 antibody rapid test kits produced by these two Chinese companies have been exported to and well recognized in many countries in Europe, Asia and Latin America,โ€ the statement further said.

The Centre had procured 5 lakh kits from two Chinese companies – Wondfo Biotech and Livzon Diagnostic and distributed among the states.

But after several state governments complained of inaccurate results, the kits were tested by the ICMR, following which they asked the states to stop future procurements and use of the ones distributed earlier.

While questioning India on the handling of the kits, the Chinese embassy also reminded New Delhi of the help being extended by Beijing in handling the coronavirus crisis.

โ€œChina not only sincerely supports India in its fight against Covid-19, but also takes concrete actions to help. The quality of medical products exported from China is prioritised. It is unfair and irresponsible for certain individuals to label Chinese products as “faulty” and look at issues with preemptive prejudice,โ€ she said.

Corona warriors still under attack

Despite umpteen requests and directives from the Centre and state authorities regarding proper treatment with the health care and security personnel working at the frontlines of the Covid-19 battle, the attacks refuse to cease.

At least two new cases of attacks were reported on Tuesday where cops were attacked as they tried to impose lockdown to help break the chain of virus transmission.

In Maharashtra’s Aurangabad, three cops were injured as a group of men and woman attacked them for trying to disperse crowd gathered outside a mosque on Monday night.

Similarly, when a police patrol reached Tikiapara area in West Bengal’s Howrah after receiving inputs that a large number of people were jostling in a local market, violating the lockdown, they were attacked by the mob with stones being pelted at them. The incident took place on Tuesday.

Additional forces had to be deployed in both areas to control the situation.

ADB gives $1.5 billion loan to India to fight Covid-19

The Asian Development Bank has given India a loan of $1.5 billion to help the country fight the Covid-19 outbreak. The loan has been signed under the ADBโ€™s Covid-19 Active Response and Expenditure Support Programme (CARES Programme).

The loan amount is intended to be used for Covid-19 containment and prevention, as well as social protection for the poor and economically vulnerable sections of the society, especially women and disadvantaged group.

India’s GDP growth forecast slashed to 0.2 per cent

Moody’s Investors Service on Tuesday slashed India’s growth forecast to 0.2 per cent for the 2020 calendar year from the earlier projection of 2.5 per cent released in March.

Stating that the economic costs of the shutdown of the global economy are accumulating rapidly, Moody’s in its Global Macro Outlook 2020-21 (April 2020 Update) projected that all G-20 advanced economies would contract by 5.8 per cent in 2020.

In November last year, before the emergence of the coronavirus, the rating agency was expecting the global economy to grow by 2.6 per cent this year.

Among the emerging economies in G-20, Moody’s projected India to grow at 0.2 per cent in 2020 and 6.2 per cent in 2021. This compares to 5.3 per cent growth clocked in 2019.

“India extended a nationwide lockdown to 40 days from 21 days, but relaxed restrictions in rural areas to facilitate agricultural harvesting in the second half of April. The country has determined that many of these areas are free of the virus. India also plans a phased opening of different regions while continuing to carry out identification and contract tracing,โ€ Moody’s said.

China is projected to grow by 1 per cent in 2020 and 7.1 per cent in 2021, as against 6.1 per cent in 2019.

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