NEW DELHI: With 50 fresh cases of coronavirus getting added to the Union health ministry’s list on Friday, the government revised its testing criteria, allowing pneumonia patients hospitalised across India to be tested for Covid-19 as well. The country now has 223 active cases.
So far, only those with a history of travelling abroad and developed some symptoms or those who came into contact with infected cases and became symptomatic, were being tested.
In a fresh advisory on Friday, the Centre said all pneumonia case, including the suspected Covid-19 ones, be reported to the National Centre for Disease Control (NCDC) or the Integrated Disease Surveillance Programme (IDSP).
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“No suspected Covid-19 patient should be turned away from any hospital and the admission of any such patient should be notified to NCDC or IDSP immediately. Similarly, all pneumonia patients must also be notified to NCDC or IDSP so that they can be tested for COVID 19,” the advisory said.
Meanwhile, the railways cancelled operations of around 3,700 express/mail passenger trains on Sunday in line with the Janata curfew call by PM Narendra Modi. No passenger train will begin journey from midnight to 10 pm on that day. India’s toll stayed at four, though an Italian tourist who had been infected, died on Friday.
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There was no clarity on the case of a man in Tamil Nadu who tested positive without any history of international travel or apparent contact with any infected person. The state government had hinted that his could be a case of community transmission, but the Centre has not taken the call yet. Dr R R Gangakhedkar, chief epidemiologist at the Indian Council of Medical Research, said: “We don’t know yet.”
The Centre also sent a circular to states asking them to expand the universal screening for all passengers coming from Australia, UK and USA and risk profiling them for either quarantine or isolation upon their arrival.
Video conference with Chinese experts
Sources said health officials had a video conference with their Chinese counterparts on Friday and exchanged notes on tackling the outbreak. “We got tips on treatment protocols and outbreak containment...,” an official said. Foreign Secretary Harsh Vardhan Shringla took part in a telephonic conference call with US Deputy Secretary of State for talks among Indo-Pacific countries.