Without Checks, One Covid-19 Patient Can Infect 406 People In 30 Days: ICMR Study
A lab technician wearing protective suit collects a throat swab from a man for Covid-19 test in a locality in Ahmedabad, Gujarat, on Tuesday, April 7, 2020. (Photo: PTI)

Without Checks, One Covid-19 Patient Can Infect 406 People In 30 Days: ICMR Study

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A Covid-19 patient can infect 406 people in 30 days if preventive measures, such as lockdowns and social distancing, are not implemented, according to an ICMR study.

But the risk of infection reduces to an average of 2.5 persons if preventive measures are followed, Joint Health Secretary Lav Agarwal said on Tuesday.

Referring to the study conducted by Indian Council of Medical Research, Agarwal said the current basic reproduction number, or ‘R0’, for the novel coronavirus is somewhere between 1.5 and 4.

'R0', or R Zero, is a mathematical term that indicates how contagious an infectious disease is. It tells the average number of people who will catch a disease from one infected person.

"If we take the 'R0' to be 2.5, then one positive person can infect 406 people in 30 days, if the lockdown and social distancing measures are not in place,” Agarwal said. But if social exposure is reduced by 75 percent, then that one sick person will only be able to infect only 2.5 persons.”

He appealed to people to adopt social distancing and follow the lockdown order as they are crucial in containing the coronavirus pandemic in India.

On Extension Of Lockdown

A lot of state governments, as well as experts, are requesting the central government to extend the nationwide coronavirus lockdown beyond April 14, and the central government is thinking in this direction, government sources said on Tuesday.

When asked about this, Agarwal said, "Whenever a decision is taken, it will be informed. Till a decision is officially communicated, please refrain from speculation."

About the containment measures implemented so far, he said cluster containment strategies and action plans for outbreaks, which are amenable to management, are producing required results in some areas, including Agra and Gautam Budh Nagar in Uttar Pradesh, Pathanamthitta in Kerala, Bhilwara in Rajasthan, East Delhi and Mumbai.

These strategies are also being adopted in other coronavirus-affected districts, he said.

Also Read: India Panel Recommends Partial Lifting of Lockdown

Healthcare Facilities

The joint health secretary said that the government has classified hospitals and facilities for management of Covid-19 patients in three categories.

Mild and suspected cases will be kept in dedicated Covid-19 care centres, which can be makeshift facilities or government or private facilities like schools, hostels, stadiums and hotels, among others.

"Then there will be dedicated Covid-19 health centres where clinically moderate level of serious patients will be monitored and such facilities can be a full hospital or dedicated block in a hospital.

"Besides there will be dedicated Covid-19 hospitals which will provide comprehensive care to severe and critical cases. Again such facilities can be an entire hospital or a dedicated block with fully equipped ICU facilities, ventilators and beds with oxygen support," Agarwal said.

The Indian Railways, meanwhile, has converted 2,500 coaches for 40,000 isolation beds. On an average, 375 coaches are being converted in a day. The work is being carried out at 133 locations in the country.

Follow latest news updates on the coronavirus situation in India here.

Covid-19 Testing

Raman R Gangakhedkar, head of epidemiology and communicable diseases at ICMR, said that 17,006 tests have been conducted so far.

"11,795 tests were done yesterday (Monday), out of which 2,530 tests were done in private sector," he said. At present, 136 government labs are functioning in India and 59 private labs have been given approval for conducting tests for Covid-19.

Also Read: When, and How, Does the Coronavirus Pandemic End?

Agarwal said that the central health ministry is working in close coordination with the Ministry of Pharmaceuticals. The government has taken stock on the availability of hydroxychloroquine, an anti-malarial drug touted as a “game-changer" in the fight against the coronavirus. There is sufficient quantity of drugs for management for coronavirus in the country, as and when needed, he said.

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