The number of coronavirus cases in India crossed 1 lakh on Tuesday, with the casualty count crossing 3,000. This comes on the back of a record number of cases on Monday, a jump of 5,242 cases in 24 hours. As of Monday, Maharashtra accounted for 33,053 of the cases, followed by Gujarat at 11,379, Tamil Nadu at 11,224, Delhi at 10,054 Rajasthan at 5,202, Madhya Pradesh at 4,977 and Uttar Pradesh at 4,259. Amid this inexplicable spurt, the ICMR revised its testing strategy. Now, returnees from abroad and migrants who show symptoms for influenza-like illness will be tested for COVID-19 within seven days of ailment. The ICMR stressed that no emergency clinical procedure, including deliveries, should be delayed for lack of testing.
The jump in cases comes amid a relaxation in lockdown; states have been busy planning an economic restart.
The ICMR also added that all hospitalised patients who develop symptoms for influenza-like illness (ILI) and frontline workers involved in containment and mitigation of COVID-19 having such signs will also be tested for coronavirus infection through RT-PCR test. Besides, asymptomatic direct and high-risk contacts of a confirmed case are to be tested once between day five and day 10 of coming in contact, the revised test strategy document stated.
At the same time, in a worrying development,The Indian Express reported on the possibility of asymptomatic populace in the national capital, claiming that, out of 835 samples taken from migrant workers who returned to Bihar from Delhi, as many as 218 were coronavirus positive. "This works out to a positivity rate of over 26 per cent, while the rate in the national capital is about 7 per cent. Until May 18, Bihar tested a total of 8,337 samples of migrant workers and about 8 per cent were found to be infection-positive, double the national average," according to the publication.
India faring much better in global infection rates, says Centre
The Centre asserted that, with 7.1 cases per one lakh population, India was faring better than most other countries. The global average is around 60 cases per lakh population, and Spain ranks the bottom.
Spain: 2,30,698 cases (494 cases per lakh population)
US: 14,09,452 cases (431 cases per lakh population)
Italy: 2,24,760 cases (372 cases per lakh population)
UK: 2,40,165 cases (361 cases per lakh population)
Germany: 1,74,355 cases (210 cases per lakh population)
France: 1,40,008 cases (209 cases per lakh population)
Russia: 2,81,752 cases (195 cases per lakh population)
Turkey: 1,48,067 cases (180 cases per lakh population)
Iran: 1,18,392 cases (145 cases per lakh population)
Brazil: 2,18,223 cases (104 cases per lakh population)
Low mortality rate
According to NITI Aayog data shared by CEO Amitabh Kant on Monday, India, even though it has a population of 1.3 billion, had just 2 COVID-19 deaths/million. The number was 511 in Spain.
India: 2 deaths per million
Germany: 96 deaths per million
US: 275 deaths per million
France: 431 deaths per million
UK: 511 deaths per million
Italy: 528 deaths per million
Spain: 591 deaths per million
The fatality rate of the coronavirus in India is similarly low. Mortality rate is three, as against 16 per cent in France.
India: 3.15 deaths/total cases
Germany: 4.56 deaths/total cases
USA: 5.95 deaths/total cases
Spain: 9.36 deaths/total cases
Italy: 14.15 deaths/total cases
UK: 14.21 deaths/total cases
France: 15.65 deaths/total cases
"These rates are among the lowest in the world," Kant noted.
Clusters dominate infections
NITI Aayog data, as of Monday, showed that five cities—Mumbai, Delhi, Ahmedabad, Chennai and Pune—accounted for around 50 per cent of the coronavirus infections in the country.
Mumbai: 17.78 per cent contribution to national cases
Delhi: 10.92 per cent contribution to national cases
Ahmedabad: 9.07 per cent contribution to national cases
Chennai: 7.18 per cent contribution to national cases
Thane: 4.12 per cent contribution to national cases
"We need to hyper-localise, with proactive containment measures,contact tracing and treatment to improve recovery rate," said Kant.
Central guidelines amid relaxation
With relaxation in lockdown measures, the health ministry issued guidelines on preventive steps to contain the spread of the virus in workplaces, outlining that the entire office building need not be closed if one or two cases of COVID-19 are reported there and work can resume after it is disinfected as per protocol.
However, if there is a larger outbreak, the entire building will have to be closed for 48 hours. All staff will work from home till the building is adequately disinfected and is declared fit for re-occupation, it said.
In its guidelines for workplace settings, it said, "There is a need to prevent importation of infection in workplace settings and to respond in a timely and effective manner in case a suspect case of COVID-19 is detected in these settings so as to limit the spread of infection."
The basic preventive measures include maintaining physical distancing of at least one meter, mandatory use of face covers or masks, practising frequent hand-washing for at least 40-60 seconds even when hands are not visibly dirty and use of alcohol-based hand sanitisers.
Respiratory etiquettes such as covering mouth and nose while coughing or sneezing with a tissue, handkerchief or flexed elbow and disposing of used tissues properly should be strictly followed besides self-monitoring of health by all and reporting any illness at the earliest, the guidelines state.