People not wearing masks, maintaining social distancing driving Covid-19 in India: ICMR DG

PTI, Aug 26, 2020, 9:46 AM IST

New Delhi: ICMR Director General Balram Bhargava on Tuesday, August 25 said that “irresponsible” people not wearing masks and maintaining social distancing are driving the coronavirus pandemic in India.

He also said that the Indian Council of Medical Research (ICMR) has embarked on a second national serosurvey which shall be completed by the first week of September.

Speaking at a press briefing in response to a question, Bhargava said, “I would not say young or old, I would say irresponsible, less cautious people who are not wearing masks and not maintaining social distancing are driving the pandemic in India.”

The official said full paper of the last national serosurvey, carried out in May, has been peer-reviewed twice and is likely to be published in the Indian Journal of Medical Research by the end of this week.

“Most of the serosurveys are looking at antibodies. Neutralizing antibodies and T-cell responses are not being studied in these large serosurveys. Sero surveys are important to guide us on what phase of the epidemic we are in and what we need to do in terms of public health response and containment zones and measures,” he said.

The Union health ministry on Tuesday said that though Covid-19 testing has been increased exponentially, there has been a steady decline in the positivity rate and highlighted that the number of active cases of the infection reduced by 6,423 for the first time in a span of 24 hours.

The testing for the disease has been increased from 363 tests per million per day on August 1 to more than 600 tests per million per day at present, the ministry said with India having tested nearly 3.7 crore cumulative Covid-19 samples so far.

With 60,975 people testing positive for coronavirus infection in a day, India’s Covid-19 tally rose to 31,67,323, while the death toll climbed to 58,390 with 848 fatalities being reported in a span of 24-hours, the health ministry data updated at 8 am on Tuesday showed.

“With a record of 66,550 patients having recovered from Covid-19 in a day, the total recoveries have surged to 24.04 lakh pushing the recovery rate to 75.92 percent, while the active cases of coronavirus infection presently comprise only 22.24 percent of the total cases,” it said.

On the status of tele-ICU service started by AIIMS, Delhi in collaboration with the health ministry, Union Health Secretary Rajesh Bhushan said the initiative was started on July 8 with the intent to train doctors manning the intensive care units (ICUs) across the country.

The intent was also to answer some of the questions these doctors face while treating Covid-19 patients.

Every week, on Tuesdays and Fridays, these tele-ICUs are conducted at AIIMS and doctors working at ICUs join the interactive session.

“From July 8 to date, 14 such tele-ICUs have been held and they have covered 148 COVID hospitals across the country. A document is under preparation by AIIMS, New Delhi, which is a FAQ to help to treat doctors manning various ICUs across the country,” the official said.

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