The total number of COVID-19 cases in India rose to 12,759 on Thursday (April 16), including 420 deaths. The latest figures were updated on the Union health ministry’s website after a spokesperson said 941 fresh cases and 37 deaths were reported in the last 24 hours.
In its daily evening update, health ministry joint secretary Lav Agarwal said the fatality rate in India is 3.3 per cent, while the percentage of people who have recovered is around 12.02 per cent. He said 325 districts in India have not reported any coronavirus case so far because of actions initiated at field level.
“Also, the implementation of containment strategies in some districts which earlier had reported COVID-19 cases, have yielded positive results. One of such place is Puducherry’s Mahe district where no COVID-19 case has been reported in the last 28 days. There are 27 other districts also where no positive case has been reported in a fortnight,” said the health ministry official.
Meanwhile, it was announced at the evening press briefing that India received the much-awaited five lakh rapid COVID-19 testing kits from China on Thursday. However, ICMR official Dr Raman R Gangakhedkar said these testing kits will be used for surveillance and to monitor whether coronavirus hotspots in the country are increasing or decreasing.
Regarding concern over the efficacy of the rapid antibody testing kits, he said if an antibody test of a person turns out to be positive, one cannot necessarily be sure the person would not get infected ever again. “This means, even if antibody is present, that doesn’t mean it will necessarily be effectively able to fight the virus.”
“Rapid antibody tests are for monitoring surveillance, not for diagnosis. Hence there is no concern with respect to the testing kits being faulty, that concern was with respect to immune response alone,” Dr Gangakhedkar explained.
Related news: Lockdown not a solution, need aggressive COVID-19 testing: Rahul
Addressing a daily briefing, he said a total of 2,90,401 samples have been tested so far, of which 30,043 were tested on Wednesday itself. Out of the tests carried out on Wednesday, 26,331 were done in laboratories under Indian Council of Medical Research (ICMR) network and 3,712 in private labs, he added.
Commenting on the testing capacity of ICMR network, the official said “Working in one shift, more than 42,400 samples can be tested each day. If we work in two shifts, we will be able to test more than 78,200 samples daily.”
About Congress leader Rahul Gandhi’s allegation that India was not conducting enough coronavirus tests, the ICMR official said, “India tests 24 people for one positive case, while Japan tests 11.7, Italy 6.7 and US tests 5.3. So, one cannot say that India is testing less.”
(With inputs from agencies)