Rise in asymptomatic cases poses grave threat to India’s COVID-19 battle
India is under the second phase of its nationwide lockdown imposed to stem the spread of Coronavirus transmission in the country. However, with over 1300 fresh cases reported in the past 24 hours, the total number of Coronavirus cases in the country is nearing 20,000, according to latest figures by the Health Ministry (April 22).
The surge in Coronavirus infections is a matter of even major concern for the authorities amid the asymptomatic cases – a patient who presents no symptoms of the disease.
In a routine press briefing, the Indian Council of Medical Research (ICMR) confirmed that the majority of the confirmed COVID-19 patients across the country were asymptomatic, showing no symptoms of the illness – such as fever, cough, a running nose or breathing problems. The ICMR added that around 80% of infected patients who were tested did not show any symptoms of the diseases. Speaking in the matter, ICMR head of epidemiology and communicable diseases Dr. RR Gangakhedkar said that while there is one study that suggests there are around 80% asymptomatic cases, chances of the patients coming and reporting the disease becomes low when the symptoms are not clear/visible to them. He added that after looking at the number of tests done so far, it has been found that out of all the cases, 31% have shown mild or strong symptoms to the virus, while the rest 69% were asymptomatic.
It is important to note that out of 167 journalists who were tested in Mumbai, 53 tested positive for the disease, and the majority of them are asymptomatic cases. In almost 10 states in the country, two-third of diagnosed patients were termed as “silent spreaders” by the medical experts.Maharashtra affirmed that at least 70% of patients in the state did not show any symptoms of the virus.
This sparks a matter of concern for Indian medical professionals and governments, given that there is no way to detect or identify such cases. It poses even greater uncertainties there are many more asymptomatic people who are yet to be detected.
Amid the fight to combat the infectious disease, the Health Ministry has affirmed that they are using community surveillance and contact tracing to target the asymptomatic corona cases. ICMR is also analysing the possibilities of ‘door-to-door’ surveillance to monitor and test the people who don’t have symptoms amid the rising concerns. So far, India has tested over four lakh samples for the Coronavirus disease, and of these over 19,000 were positive. Due to a surge in the number of infected cases, the lockdown was extended till May 3 in a bid to flatten the Corona curve.