Coronavirus outbreak: Govt set to expand testing to atypical pneumonia patients

Abantika Ghosh
Coronavirus outbreak, Covid-19, Central Armed Police Forces, atypical pneumonia patients, latest cornavirus updates, coronavirus cases in india

While the total number of novel coronavirus (Covid-19) cases rose to 151 on Wednesday, with 14 fresh cases being reported, the ministry of health and family welfare released data which said 15,980 isolation beds and 37,326 quarantine beds are available.

This means that there is one isolation bed for every 84,000 Indians, and one quarantine bed for every 36,000 Indians. Officials said the data is still being compiled. While the new cases were reported from Delhi, Haryana, Karnataka, West Bengal and Puducherry, the Army reported its first case with a
34-year-old soldier of Ladakh Scouts testing positive. The soldier, a resident of a village in Leh, had come in contact with his father, who returned from Iran on February 20 and tested positive.

The Ladakh Scouts Regimental Centre has been locked down, and the Army has strengthened its prevention and check mechanism, including suspension of war games and training activities. The Central Armed Police Forces (CAPFs) has cancelled all non-emergency leave and asked its personnel to get into "battle mode".

In a letter to the principal secretaries and secretaries in charge of transport, transport commissioners of all states/UTs, the ministry of road transport and highways has called for minimising transport numbers, saying that refund of fare may be considered against advance bookings.

Faced with criticism about its low testing base, India is set to include atypical pneumonia patients among those who need to be tested for the virus.  Speaking to The Indian Express, WHO country representative Dr Henk Bekedam said: "I understand that India is already considering increasing the scope to include atypical pneumonia patients, people showing signs of severe acute respiratory infection. This is something similar to what was done at the time of SARS."

In West Bengal, following reports that a teenaged son of a senior bureaucrat had flouted the quarantine protocol after returning from the UK, and apparently with history of Covid-19 contact, Chief minister Mamata Banerjee said: "I welcome whoever is coming. But I am not welcoming the disease. You can't suddenly come from abroad and go off to shopping malls without getting tested and then 500 people get affected… Just because someone from my family is influential so I don't test… I don't support this."
According to data compiled by the Health Ministry, the isolation beds include 8,900 in the states and Union territories, 591 in AIIMS and other institutes of national importance, 150 in Safdarjung Hospital, 127 in hospitals under the ministry of coal, 200 in those under the ministry of steel, 1,100 in railway hospitals, 400 in ESI hospitals, 3,135 in government medical colleges and 1,375 in the private sector.

The quarantine beds include 4,350 in facilities operated by the armed forces, 1,000 of the labour ministry, 11,934 under the central government, 13,458 in states and Union territories, 1,004 of the railways, 5,140 under the Home Ministry and 440 under SAIL.

While 14 Covid-positive patients have been discharged so far, three deaths have been reported - a 63-year-old man from Mumbai with travel history to Dubai, a 76-year-old man from Kalaburagi in Karnataka who had returned from Saudi Arabia, and a 68-year-old woman in Delhi.

The government has banned the entry of passengers from Afghanistan, Philippines, Malaysia, European Union countries, Turkey and the UK till March 31.