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Centre tells states to conduct 2.5L tests by Apr 14

Centre tells states to conduct 2.5L tests by Apr 14

New Delhi: A decision on the extension of lockdown may be out soon and keeping pace with the current situation, India has intensified its fight against the Coronavirus with the Centre asking the states to double the number of tests conducted to at least 2.5 lakh by April 14.

If the Union Health ministry claims are to be believed, there is no community transmission of COVID-19 infection in the country yet as out of a total number of 16,002 samples tested for Coronavirus, only 2 per cent have been found positive.

The country reported 6,976 cases of COVID-19 on Friday, including 580 patients who have recovered and 207 deaths.

Maharashtra has reported over one-fifth of these cases at 1,574 and 95 deaths. India reported 38 new deaths in the last 24 hours on Friday.

However, the claims of the Union Health ministry contradicts the findings of a study conducted by Indian Council of Medical Research (ICMR) which has pointed out that about 40 per cent of the total randomly selected samples that found COVID-19 positive didn't report any history of contact or foreign travel.

Defending the ICMR study, Joint Secretary (Health) Lav Agarwal said: "Samples collected by Virus Research and Diagnostic Laboratory Network (VRDLN) were from the areas where COVID-19 patients were in existence."

Meanwhile, the WHO has also admitted that India has a cluster of cases and not community transmission.

According to the Union Health ministry's report, Maharashtra reported a maximum of 1,574 cases, followed by Delhi (903), Tamil Nadu (834), Telangana (473), Uttar Pradesh (431), Andhra Pradesh (363) and Gujarat (241).

During the daily briefing, Agarwal said: "At least 16,002 samples were tested on Thursday, of which only 320 tested positive for COVID-19, which means only 2 per cent cases tested positive. At this point, we can say that the infection rate is not high, but need to remain aware and alert."

On the strengthening of testing labs, he said: "At present, there are 213 functional labs, which was just one in January. There are 146 government and 67 private labs operational, which means we have opened labs at a rate of 2.5 per day."

ICMR's Manoj Murhekar, who is director of the National Institute of Epidemiology, said: "A total of 1,44,910 samples were tested till 9 pm on Thursday from 1,03,792 suspected patients."

On the availability of hydroxychloroquine tablets, the ministry official maintained: "It is estimated that the country will require about one crore HCQ tablets now and 1.6 crore tablets by the month-end and currently, we have 3.28 crore HCQ tablets. So we are not going to face a shortage of the 'restricted' drug."

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