NEW DELHI: While Union health minister Dr Mansukh Mandaviya directed officials to focus on surveillance and Genome Sequencing and to monitor hospitalisation amid rising cases of COVID-19 in the country, health experts feel that the actual numbers may be much more as people are self-doctoring.
Dr Mandaviya held a high-level review meeting following an escalation in COVID-19 cases on Thursday. The meeting was attended by Dr Bharati Praveen Pawar, MoS Health & Family Welfare, Dr VK Paul, member, NITI Aayog and Dr NK Arora, Dr Randeep Guleria and the core COVID expert team along with ministry officials.
The Union Minister stressed the need to focus on districts reporting high case positivity and undertake adequate testing (with a higher proportion of RT PCR) & effective COVID-19 surveillance to assess and control the spread of infection on time.
Dr Mandaviya directed the officials to continue to focus on surveillance and on Whole Genome Sequencing (WGS) to scan for any possible mutation.
The daily positivity rate had started mounting up between May 5 to May 12 and then slowed down. However, the rate has been rising since early June. As reported by the ministry, the positivity rate rose to 2.81 per cent on June 23.
Delhi, Tamil Nadu, Telangana, West Bengal, Maharashtra, UP, Kerala, Gujarat, Karnataka and Haryana are seeing a COVID-19 surge. Dr Mandaviya asked the officials to monitor and stress genome sequencing in the states that are reporting a higher number of cases.
Meanwhile, health experts said the number of cases being observed can exceed in reality as many people are opting for ‘no test’ and self-medication following no or mild symptoms.
Doctors also reiterated that people are becoming complacent about COVID-appropriate behaviour which they should not, especially at this juncture.
While talking to The New Indian, Dr Suranjit Chatterjee, senior consultant, Internal Medicine, Apollo Hospital said, “Number of COVID cases are going up and there is no doubt about that but this time severe cases are not there in large numbers. The number we are seeing may not be a true reflection of the actual number of cases.”
“Quite a few people are no more testing themselves self-doctoring it as flu, viral, hence true numbers are far from reflecting. The only good thing is that people with comorbidity are having mild symptoms. But that in no way means we become complacent toward COVID appropriate behaviour because that is lacking. If the economy has to go up, if normal life has to continue individuals need to follow COVID appropriate behaviour,” the doctor added.
Dr Atul Mathur, executive director, Interventional Cardiology & Chief of Cath Lab, Fortis Escorts Heart Institute said, “The restrictions and behavioural changes to avoid with this COVID variant to be evaluated accordingly. However, in closed spaces (metros, malls or cinema halls, etc) overcrowding should be avoided.
Dr Mathur added, “Marking should be mandatory to reduce the number of people getting infected. This is because long-term effects in the human body, due to this COVID infection, have still not been evaluated (long COVID).”
Union health ministry’s updated data shows that 13,313 new coronavirus infections were reported in the last 24 hours taking the infection tally to 4.3 crores. Active cases have mounted to 83,990 with 5.24 lakhs. There are 38 deaths.
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