There is no evidence of community outbreak of coronavirus in India as of yet, as more than 500 of the thousand samples tested for community transmission of coronavirus have come out negative while the results for the other half are awaited, according to the Indian Council of Medical Research (ICMR).
"It is reassuring that at the moment there is no evidence of community outbreak from this study," said Balram Bhargava, Secretary, Department of Health Research and Director General, ICMR.
Explaining the process, Dr Nivedita Gupta, Scientist at ICMR said, "Till date, we have picked up 20 samples from 51 sites over a duration of 15 days, and between March 1 and 15 we have collected more than a thousand samples from the 51 sites from individuals who were admitted with severe acute respiratory distress or pneumonia-like symptoms, but they did not have any travel history or contact with any known patient of COVID-19."
"Our results are pouring in and as of now we have results of more than 500 patients and all are negative. If we find a positive case at any of the sites then the cluster containment strategy, as per government of India guidelines and testing strategy according to that plan will be implemented," she added.
Gupta added that the samples will now be taken on a weekly basis because of the increase in the number of cases across the country.
In a bid to strengthen the COVID-19 testing capacity, the India Council of Medical Research (ICMR) is going to operationalise two rapid testing laboratories and 49 additional testing centres by the end of this week.
A rapid testing laboratory will be equipped to test as many as 1,400 samples each day. These high throughput systems will be set up one each in Delhi-NCR and Bhubaneswar to exponentially increasing rapid diagnosing of COVID-19.
The additional 49 testing centres will be at various medical colleges and other places. It includes the Council of Scientific and Industrial Research (CSIR), Department of Biotechnology (DBT), and Defence Research and Development Organisation (DRDO) among others. These would be fully equipped to test COVID-19 within this week.
As of Wednesday 9 am, India has reported 147 confirmed positive cases of coronavirus, including 25 foreign nationals. Out of this, 130 are active cases, 14 patients got cured and discharged while three people lost their lives due to the virus.