Headlines March 15, 2020
More aggressive testing for Coronavirus needed, say experts
Experts are calling for an aggressive scaling up of testing in India to ensure that the deadly Coronavirus infection doe snot spread further. The virus has claimed over 5,000 lives across the world. They say that the current screening capacity may not be enough if there is a sudden rise in infection.
India has made arrangements to nearly double its capacity to test for Coronavirus. But in a country as large as India, the community transmission phase of the disease, when it is at its most dangerous and spreads to people who have neither been to a global hot spot nor been in direct contact with someone testing positive, could have deadly a fallout.
India’s top medical body, the Indian Council for Medical Research, said it is ready for a sudden surge in cases, by adding to its network of laboratories capable of testing. “We have added the number of labs to about 65 and at this point we can perform 100,000 tests, effectively about 10,000 tests in a day. We have made further arrangements to procure reagents to be able to do about 200,000 more tests, if required,” said Dr Balram Bhargava, Director General, ICMR.
Experts say that the South Korea model [of aggressive testing] is good, as it worked well. It can be tried in India also. In South Korea, which is experiencing the largest outbreak of the epidemic outside mainland China where the virus originated late last year, authorities have enforced a unique and aggressive testing regimen.
Experts link these strategies with a fall in the number of new infections, and have now called for similar methods to be employed in the United States. Here authorities have been criticised for slow rates of testing. Other countries such as Vietnam and Singapore have also followed the model of South Korea, which has tested the highest number of people per capita in the world.
India has been able to manage the infection until now, but some experts worry that in the next few weeks, the country will be at risk of a dramatic rise in numbers.
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