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Record jump in COVID-19 cases; Govt says India faring better than others in managing virus spread

Press Trust of India  |  New Delhi 

The COVID-19 death toll rose to 3,029 and the number of cases climbed to 96,169 on Monday, registering an increase of 157 fatalities and a record jump of 5,242 cases in 24 hours, even as the government asserted that India was faring better than others with 7.1 cases per one lakh population as against 60 globally.

Amid spurt in cases, the ICMR revised its testing strategy stating the returnees from abroad and migrants who show symptoms for influenza-like illness will be tested for COVID-19 within seven days of ailment and stressed that no emergency clinical procedure, including deliveries, should be delayed for lack of testing.

It 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.

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.

The ministry the number of active COVID-19 cases in the country stood at 56,316 till Monday morning while 36,824 people have recovered. In the last 24 hours, a total of2,715patients have been cured, taking the recovery rate to 38.39 per cent, it said in a statement.

However, a PTI tally of figures announced by different states and UTs as of 9.40 PM put the number of those having tested positive for the infection at 1,00,096, with a death toll of 3,078 and recoveries at 38,596 across the country.

To substantiating its point that the spread of the infection in the country has been slow, the health ministry referred to data from WHO situation report, saying 45,25,497 COVID-19 cases have been reported globally till Monday which is about 60 cases per lakh population.

Among the countries with very high load of coronavirus cases, the USA, with 14,09,452 instances of the infection so far, has around 431 cases per lakh population. Russia has reported 2,81,752 cases and has around 195 cases per lakh population, it said.

The UK has so far reported 2,40,165 cases which is 361 cases per lakh population while Spain with 2,30,698 instances of the disease has about 494 cases per lakh. In Italy has 2,24,760 total cases and about 372 cases per lakh population and Brazil with 2,18,223 cases has 104 cases per lakh population.

Germany which has registered 1,74,355 instances of the infection has around 210 cases per lakh population, Turkey with 1,48,067 cases has 180 cases per lakh population, France with 1,40,008 cases has around 209 cases per lakh population and Iran with 1,18,392 cases has 145 cases per lakh population.

"Aggressive and early measures so far have shown encouraging results," the ministry 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 sanitizers.

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.

As for offices, guidelines with respect to preventive measures specific to offices issued by the Department of Personnel and Training (DoPT) should be followed, it said.

The ministry, however, stated that, despite taking the measures, occurrence COVID-19 infection among the employees working in the office cannot be ruled out.

It stated that any staff reportedly suffering from a flu-like illness should not attend office and seek medical advice from local health authorities. Such persons, if diagnosed as a suspect or confirmed case of COVID-19 should immediately inform office authorities, it said.

high-risk exposure contacts will be quarantined for 14 days and they will follow the guidelines on home quarantine and undergo testing as per ICMR protocol while low-risk contacts shall continue to work and closely monitor their health for next 14 days, the ministry stated.

According to the health ministry data, the highest number of confirmed cases in the country are from Maharashtra at 33,053 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.

India has been under a lockdown since March 25, which was first supposed to be for 21 days or toll April 14, but was later extended till May 3, then further till May 17 and now for another two weeks till May 31.

(This story has not been edited by Business Standard staff and is auto-generated from a syndicated feed.)

First Published: Mon, May 18 2020. 22:44 IST