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Lockdown has cut growth of virus cases by nearly 40%: Government

On the virus cases, Lav Agarwal, joint secretary, health ministry, said an average growth factor of 1.2 has been seen since 1 April compared to 2.1 in the previous two weeks. (Pradeep Gaur/Mint)Premium
On the virus cases, Lav Agarwal, joint secretary, health ministry, said an average growth factor of 1.2 has been seen since 1 April compared to 2.1 in the previous two weeks. (Pradeep Gaur/Mint)

  • Before the lockdown, the cases doubled in about 3 days, but for the past 7 days, it has taken 6.2 days to double
  • The government said manufacturing of indigenous RT-PCR kits had started and 1 million kits would be produced every month from May

NEW DELHI : The country has recorded a 40% drop in growth of virus cases during the nationwide lockdown, the government said on Friday, indicating that the restrictions have helped contain the contagion. The Centre said that before the lockdown, the number of cases doubled in about three days, but for the past week, it has taken 6.2 days for the cases to double.

“An average growth factor of 1.2 has been observed since 1 April as compared to 2.1 in the two weeks preceding that (15 March to 31 March). This is about a 40% decline in growth factor," said Lav Agarwal, joint secretary, Union ministry of health and family welfare.

As many as 19 states and Union territories, including Kerala, Uttarakhand, Haryana, Ladakh, Himachal Pradesh, Chandigarh, Puducherry, Bihar, Odisha, Telangana, Tamil Nadu, Andhra Pradesh, Delhi, Uttar Pradesh, Karnataka, Jammu and Kashmir, Punjab, Assam and Tripura, are showing a doubling rate that is better than the national average.

The government credited the success to the increase in testing, including that of cases with severe acute respiratory infection (SARI) and influenza-like illness (ILI).

India has conducted 319,400 covid-19 tests, of which 28,340 tests were conducted on Thursday. Of these, 23,932 were done at 183 laboratories of the Indian Council for Medical Research (ICMR) network and the rest at 80 private laboratories.

“This reflects that rate of increase of cases in these places has been reduced to some extent. Also, the death rate is 3% while the recovery rate is 12%, which is better than most of the countries and may be taken as a positive effect of the lockdown along with the cluster management and containment strategy," said Agarwal.

A total of 1,919 dedicated covid-19 hospitals with 173,746 isolation beds and 21,806 intensive care unit (ICU) beds have been identified at both Centre and state level, the government said. This includes 672 dedicated covid hospitals with 107,830 isolation beds and 14,742 ICU beds, 1,247 dedicated covid health centres with 65,916 isolation beds and 7,064 ICU beds.

ICMR on Friday said that it is noticing mixed coronavirus strains in India because patients came here from different countries.

“Indian patients who tested positive and had a history of travel to countries such as Iran had similarity to Wuhan virus, while others from US, Italy and other European countries had a mixed strain because there is a lot of travelling in these parts of the world," said Dr Raman R. Gangakhedkar, head, epidemiology and communicable diseases, ICMR.

The apex biomedical research agency also said it will begin a study next week about the efficacy of Bacille Calmette-Guérin (BCG) vaccination in the treatment of covid-19.

“Unless we have a definitive result about the efficacy, we are not recommending BCG for the protection of health workers or treatment of covid-19 patients," Gangakhedkar said. The vaccine is given to children and protects for 15 years, he said. “If we want to receive the vaccine again, it can be done in adolescence but won’t prevent someone at the age of 70 from contracting covid-19," Gangakhedkar said.

The government said manufacturing of indigenous RT-PCR kits had started and 1 million kits would be produced every month from May.

About 500,000 rapid antibody test kits have been distributed across states and districts on the basis of high case burden. India’s ventilator manufacturing capacity is 6,000 per month, it added.

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