New Delhi: The health ministry and the Indian Council of Medical Research on Saturday looked to brush aside concerns of low rate of tests for coronavirus, and said testing has been expanded and 5 lakh new probes that have arrived from the United States will help further improve detection of cases.
News18 had on Friday reported how India’s rate of testing, at nearly 18 tests per one million of the population, is one of the lowest in the world. Experts have argued that the low number of coronavirus cases could be because of limited testing and the actual figures of infected people may be much higher.
At a joint press briefing, an ICMR official said that testing criteria was expanded to include all patients who have severe acute respiratory illness. The official said surveillance and random sampling is not being done anymore as testing criteria has been widened.
The officials said that 44 private laboratories have now been given approval for testing the coronavirus, and more labs are being added on a daily basis. This in addition to the 11 government facilities.
The health ministry also affirmed that social distancing and a nation-wide lockdown could play an important role in breaking the chain of transmission. "We have been pre-emptive and graded in our response to arrest spread of coronavirus," joint secretary for the ministry Lav Aggarwal said.
As of now, the country reported 873 coronavirus cases and 19 deaths.
The government on Saturday also said India is boosting its overall health infrastructure by initiating measures like designating dedicated hospitals for affected patients in states, ramping up procurement of ventilators and mobilising resources of Railways and armed forces to deal with any eventuality.
In an urgent communication, the Centre has asked all states to earmark hospitals only for treating COVID-19 patients and ramp up their capacity to manage increasing number of cases. At least 17 states have started work on it, Aggarwal said.