Coronavirus Outbreak: Govt ramps up testing, all pneumonia cases to be tested for COVID-19

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With Friday recording the highest jump in the positive cases of the Coronavirus by 63, the government has said that it will test all pneumonia patients for covid19, IE reported. Indian Council of Medical Research (ICMR), the nodal government agency battling the Coronavirus, had earlier restricted testing only to people having travel history and those who may have come in contact with the confirmed positive cases.

All pneumonia patients should be notified to the government authorities so that they can be tested for the novel Coronavirus patients and their admission should be notified to the National Centre For Disease Control (NCDC) or Integrated Disease Surveillance Programme (IDSP), the government notification said.

The shift in government stance came after concerns were raised about possible community transmission of the deadly virus with one person in Tamil Nadu contracting the virus despite having no travel history and positive Coronavirus contact.

In such cases, patients testimony are crucial and authorities have to believe it, head of epidemiology at ICMR Dr R R Gangakhedkar told IE. He further said, authorities are trying to probe the case.

Earlier, random samples taken by ICMR, to confirm whether the virus had reached the stage of community transmission, had tested negative. Health officials insisted that there is no community transmission of the virus but said testing of all pneumonia cases will further allay the concerns about its spread. Union Health Minister Harsh Vardhan in his reply in the Lok Sabha also said that there is no community transmission of the deadly virus.

World Health Organisation (WHO) has also stressed on more and more testing in order to isolate the confirmed cases. Director General of WHO, Dr Tedros Adhanom Ghebresus had asked all the countries in the world to "Test, Test, Test."

In a statement, ICMR said that countrywide more than 15,404 samples have been taken from 14,514 individuals as on March 20, IE reported. The figure of around 15,000 tests across the whole country gets dwarfed in comparison to more than 5,000 tests getting conducted per million people in countries like South Korea. South Korea and Japan have seen substantial reduction in the number of cases after they resorted to more testing.