From Our Bureau

21ST JULY 2020

India witnessed a big surge with 37,148 fresh COVID-19 positive cases reported on Tuesday, taking the country’s cumulative tally to 11,55,191. The death toll mounted to 28,084, with 587 fatalities recorded in the last 24 hours.

Sustained, proactive, progressive and evidence-based strategies for effective surveillance, testing through expanded effective country-wide network of labs, coupled with Standard Treatment Protocol for ensuring effective clinical treatment of COVID-19 cases have resulted in a progressive increase of 24,491 in COVID-19 recoveries during the last 24 hours. This has pushed the cumulative figure of recovered cases among COVID-19 patients to 7,24,578, as on date.

National Recovery Rate improves to 62.72%, Case Fatality Rate dips to 2.43%

The recovery rate has further improved to 62.72 percent. This has also ensured that India continues to have one of the lowest Case Fatality Rates, at 2.43 percent, which is consistently falling.

The gap between the number of recovered cases and active cases has increased to 3,22,049 at present. Presently, there are 4,02,529 active cases and all are under medical supervision.

In the last 24 hours, 3,33,395 samples were tested. Cumulatively 1,43,81,303 samples have been tested in the country. This has been possible through ever expanding diagnostic lab network of 1,274 labs, including 892 labs in the government sector and 382 private labs. These include: Real-Time RT PCR based testing labs: 651 (Govt: 398 + Private: 253), TrueNat based testing labs: 516 (Govt: 457 + Private: 59) and CBNAAT based testing labs: 107 (Govt: 37 + Private: 70).

The “Test, Track, Treat” strategy encapsulates the holistic framework for management of COVID-19. Led by the Central Government, it has been implemented through various measures by the State/Union Territory governments. While States/UTs have substantially expanded their testing network, they have also undertaken measures to facilitate widespread testing by people at large. As a result, the national average of tests/day/million has substantially jumped to 180, as on date.

19 State/UTs conducting more than 140 tests/day/million, as advised by WHO

WHO, in its Guidance Note on “Public Health Criteria to Adjust Public Health and Social Measures in the Context of COVID-19,” has advised comprehensive surveillance for suspected COVID-19 cases. WHO has advised that a country needs 140 tests/day/ million population.

There are currently 19 State/UTs which are conducting more than 140 tests per day per million. The State of Goa is testing highest at 1,333 tests per day per million.

The Central Government and ICMR have continually advised the State/UT governments to improve the number of tests conducted. Through the coordinated efforts, India’s testing per million (TPM) has increased to 10,421. This has helped in early detection and timely and effective clinical management of COVID-19 cases.

India currently has 8.07 % Positivity Rate

In tandem with increased testing, the Confirmation Rate or Positivity Rate for India is continuously reducing and currently stands at 8.07 percent. There are 30 State/UTs in India which have lower Positivity Rate than the India average. This indicates that Centre-led initiative of increased testing is working in yielding positive results.

Sero-prevalence study conducted by National Center for Disease Control [NCDC], MoHFW, in Delhi, June 2020

The Ministry of Health and Family Welfare [MoHFW] commissioned a sero-surveillance study in Delhi. This study has been done by the National Center for Disease Control [ NCDC] in collaboration with Government of National Capital Territory of Delhi, following a rigorous multi-stage sampling study design.

Study was conducted from 27th of June 2020 to 10th July 2020. For all the 11 districts of Delhi, survey teams were formed. Blood samples were collected from selected individuals after taking written informed consent and then their sera were tested for IgG antibodies and infection using COVID KAVACH ELISA approved by Indian Council for Medical Research [ICMR]. It is one of the largest sero-prevalence studies conducted in the country using the ELISA testing.

In all, 21,387 samples were collected as per lab standards and were tested. The tests were done to help in identification of presence of antibodies in the general population. This test performed is not a diagnostic test but only provides information about past infection due to SARSCoV-2 in individuals who test positive.

Antibody testing repeatedly done over time i.e. sero-surveillance, generates important evidence for assessing the spread of the pandemic from time to time.

The results of the sero-prevalence study show that on an average, across Delhi, the prevalence of IgG antibodies is 23.48 percent.  The study also indicates that a large number of infected persons remain asymptomatic. This implies the following:

Nearly six months into the epidemic, only 23.48 percent of the people are affected in Delhi, which has several pockets of dense population. This can be attributed to the proactive efforts taken by the Government to prevent the spread of infection including prompt lockdown, effective containment and surveillance measures, including contact tracing and tracking, as well as citizen’s compliance to COVID Appropriate Behaviours.

However, a significant proportion of the population is still vulnerable. Therefore, the containment measures need to continue with the same rigour. Non-pharmacological interventions such as physical distancing, use of face mask/cover, hand hygiene, cough etiquette and avoidance of crowded places etc., must be followed strictly. (eom)

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