Why in news?

  • Even after the Health Ministry on March 28 acknowledged on its website that there was “limited community transmission”, India’s national taskforce for COVID-19 continues to deny it.
  • Now, a paper in the Indian Journal of Medical Research, by ICMR and Health Ministry researchers, provides evidence of community transmission in 36 districts in 15 States.

Details

  • With community transmission, or the third stage, now being confirmed in 36 districts, an expansion and change in testing strategy has become imperative in the high focus areas for the lockdown to be more meaningful.
  • Though the taskforce has not openly declared community transmission, it is reassuring to note that the ICMR has already initiated changes in the testing strategy in response to the change in the pattern of community spread.
  • On April 9, the ICMR revised the testing strategy for hotspots/clusters and large migration gatherings/evacuees centres.
  • While the criteria for testing across India remain the same, the testing norms for the high focus areas will now include people with influenza-like illness (ILI) with certain symptoms.
  • Antibody testing should be carried out whenever molecular tests on these patients turn out negative.
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