As many as 76% of all Covid-19 patients in India so far are males, the Centre said on Monday. The age group of 60 years and older made up for only 19% of all infections, but accounted for 63% of all deaths, the government said.

The Ministry of Health and Family Welfare released the age-wise and gender-wise distribution of Covid-19 patients in its daily press conference. The number of Covid-19 positive cases confirmed by the Centre until the time of the press conference was 4,067, including 109 deaths – both numbers have risen since then.

Joint Health Secretary Lav Agarwal said people below the age of 40 made up 47% of all patients by the time the data was announced, 34% of the cases were between 40 and 60 years of age, and 19% were older. Of those who died, 30% were between the ages of 40 and 60, and 7% were younger, he said.

However, Agarwal said the young also needed to be careful, because as many as 86% of all patients who died had co-morbid conditions, such as diabetes, chronic kidney disease, hypertension and heart-related problems.

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Tablighi Jamaat

During the press conference, Joint Home Secretary Punya Salila Srivastava said that over 25,500 local workers of Islamic missionary group Tablighi Jamaat and their contacts had been identified and quarantined by states. The Union health ministry said at least 1,445 cases out of the country’s 4,067 had been traced to a Tablighi Jamaat congregation held in Delhi in March.

Thousands of Indians and hundreds of foreigners had attended the religious congregation. Several among them fanned out across the country to recruit people after this, raising concerns about the scale of the potential spread of infection at the conference. The Union health ministry on Sunday had asserted that the Tablighi Jamaat religious gathering pushed up the rate at which the number of cases in India were doubling to 4.1 days from the estimated 7.4 days.

Testing kits

Meanwhile, the Indian Council of Medical Research said it had ordered for five lakh rapid antibody testing kits for conducting Covid-19 tests in hotspots. The council will reportedly begin conducting rapid antibody-based blood test by Wednesday in areas reporting coronavirus clusters and hotspots showing high incidence of confirmed cases.

The research organisation, which is overseeing the country’s testing regime, is expected to receive about 7 lakh rapid antibody testing kits by then. So far, India has used the RT-PCR or reverse transcriptase polymerase chain reaction test on nasal or throat swab samples of suspected patients to test for Covid-19. The RT-PCR tests look for the presence of the virus in the DNA. They can take anywhere between 12-24 hours to show results.

The central government authorities also reasserted that anti-malarial drug hydroxychloroquine may only be used for a limited number of situations, adding that it must not be used by the community due to lack of evidence in its favour in case of Covid-19.