Coronavirus: India’s response robust; needs to ramp up testing, it’s on path, says WHO representative

FE Online

Coronavirus Scare: India's response to the coronavirus outbreak has been "robust and comprehensive"! India is currently tackling its second stage of the Coronavirus outbreak and the government is working in full swing to curb the impact of it. According to WHO's representative in India Dr Henk Bekedam, India has been robust in testing, IE reported. He said that the government has demonstrated a "high level of political commitment" including by Prime Minister Narendra Modi and is making efforts to contain the novel Coronavirus. Significant measures include increasing surveillance, improving the laboratory capacity along with tracing and contacting people who are likely to be affected by the deadly virus.

He further said that the Health Ministry have been calling states on a regular term and have mobilised the states also. "A whole government approach" where centre, state and all health experts work together, will be mobilised if the outbreak becomes large, the report said.

While India has been testing patients with acute respiratory illness with the help of surveillance systems, it does need to ramp up its testing, the report asserted. The country is also working on increasing the capacity of testing. The Health Minister had earlier announced that they will be opening 15 more labs for testing. Even on the commercial side, a lot of tests are being done which are currently being evaluated by ICMR. Upon validation, they can be used for more testing in private sector laboratories, the report said.

Moreover, according to the report, India is also considering increasing the scope of testing that may help in including tests for atypical pneumonia patients. He highlighted that the government has been tackling the outbreak seriously. Bekedam believes that this is one of the pandemics that can be controlled. Countries like China, South Korea and Singapore have been successful in containing the Coronavirus currently and India needs to adhere to a similar approach, the report said. While tests are currently free for the time being, India still needs to develop tools, medicines, diagnostics and vaccines to fight it, the report added. As of today, a country like South Korea is able to test within 4-5 hours. India is also expected to follow a similar approach.