The number of positive coronavirus cases in India rose to 283 on Saturday evening, the Union Ministry of Health and Family Welfare said. Forty-seven new cases were confirmed by the ministry on Saturday – the second highest so far only after the 63 cases reported a day before.
The latest total includes 39 foreigners, including 17 from Italy, three from the Philippines, two from the United Kingdom, one each from Canada, Indonesia and Singapore, PTI reported. The ministry said the total number of active cases in India is 256. Twenty-two patients have been discharged, one has left the country, while four have died.
The government denied there was any instance of community transmission so far and said that the public would be informed when it happens. When asked about a patient in Pune who was found to have no foreign travel history, Joint Health Secretary Lav Agarwal said contact tracing was still under way. He said official agencies across the country were tracing over 7,000 persons who were suspected to have come in touch with infected patients. He denied that Stage 3 – community transmission – of the virus had taken place.
Agarwal told reporters in New Delhi that guidelines for coronavirus tests have been revised, and asymptomatic direct, high-risk contacts of confirmed cases will now be tested once between the fifth day and the 14th day of coming in contact with an infected person. He added that the Centre is likely to issue guidelines for private laboratories conducting the tests later on Saturday.
Agarwal advised people not to opt for coronavirus testing as a “fashion” or as a confidence-building exercise. He said protocols are in place for testing and those must be followed.
The Ministry of Health and Family Welfare carried out training for critical care management at 1,000 places through video conferencing on Saturday, and will conduct a nationwide mock drill on Sunday for emergency response to handle coronavirus cases. Prime Minister Narendra Modi had earlier this week designated Sunday as the day of “janata curfew”, or a self-imposed citizens’ curfew from 7 am to 9 pm.
On Saturday, the Centre also said it was working to increase production of masks and hand sanitisers, and states had been asked to allow deodorant manufacturers to produce sanitisers. A government official said there is no shortage of these items, and people should not indulge in panic-buying.
Agarwal said that there is a lot of misinformation about masks. He said not everyone is supposed to wear them, and that social distancing is more important. He said over 262 people, mostly students, will be evacuated from Rome on Saturday. The Centre has so far evacuated over 1,700 Indians from foreign shores.
COVID-19 has infected 2,84,566 people worldwide and killed 11,868, according to an estimate from Johns Hopkins University.
The Ministry of Health has instructed hospitals to not turn away patients suspected of having coronavirus, and that patients with pneumonia should also be tested for the disease.