Coronavirus: India’s Covid-19 count rises to 258, ICMR changes testing norms
Twenty-two fresh Covid-19 cases were reported in India on Saturday, taking the total number of people infected by the Sars-Cov-2 virus in the country to 258 even as the Indian Council of Medical Research (ICMR) issued guidelines for a new testing strategy for effective tracking of patients.
Himachal Pradesh (two cases) and Madhya Pradesh (four cases) are the newest entrants to the list of affected places. At present, infections have been found in 22 states and Union Territories.
On Saturday, Kerala reported the highest increase, with 12 new cases. Of these, seven cases involved Indians and five foreign nationals, according to the health ministry data.
Kerala was followed by Delhi, which recorded nine cases, taking the total count in the city-state to 26.
On Friday, India saw the sharpest increase in the number of Covid-19 cases on a single day, with a total of 63 cases being confirmed within 24 hours by the health ministry.
So far, four people — one each in Delhi, Karnataka, Punjab and Maharashtra — have died of the viral infection with flu-like symptoms.
The ministry’s data also shows that one person with the disease has “migrated”. This case involved a 44-year-old Delhi man, according to officials. He returned from Singapore in February, travelled to Canada in March, later gave a sample for testing in Delhi’s Ram Manohar Lohia hospital and took a flight back to Singapore before the test returned positive.
India reported its first Covid-19 case on January 30, the same day the World Health Organization (WHO) declared the disease a Public Health Emergency of International Concern. Two more cases were reported in the next couple of days; all three were medical students from Wuhan, the Chinese city believed to be the epicentre of the outbreak, who returned to their hometown in Kerala. All three have recovered.
After a lull, cases of Covid-19 surfaced again in early March — the first one in the national capital — and the number of cases increased ever since.
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ICMR has so far tested 15,404 samples from across the country. The numbers are likely to go up with the apex medical research body revising its testing criteria on Friday.
It now includes direct or close contacts of anyone who tested positive even if they do not have symptoms and all hospitalised cases of severe acute respiratory infections.
All India Institute of Medical Sciences director Randeep Guleria, who chairs the ICMR expert committee on testing criteria of Covid-19, said: “With the numbers rising, we have changed the case definition of people being tested to include asymptomatic contacts of positive treating Covid-19 and SARI cases. Now all pneumonia patients must also be notified to NCDC or IDSP so that they can be tested for Covid-19 for community transmission surveillance.”