Coronavirus outbreak: Delhi lines up ‘five-Ts’, CM Kejriwal invokes South Korea experience

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Published: April 8, 2020 4:15:15 AM

The presence of antibodies would mean the person is immune to the virus. The antibody test happens to be a faster alternative to the direct test, known as Polymerase Chain Reaction (PCR), in which throat or nasal swabs are taken.

The presence of antibodies would mean the person is immune to the virus.

The Delhi government will start conducting rapid antibody tests, as recommended by the Indian Council of Medical Research (ICMR), in areas identified as coronavirus hotspots in the national capital, Chief Minister Arvind Kejriwal said Tuesday.

Kejriwal said the five-point action plan being rolled out by the government involves testing, tracing of contacts, treatment, teamwork and tracking. In terms of tracing, the government is going to expand the surveillance net by sharing mobile numbers with the Delhi Police of some 2,300 men who were present at the Tablighi Jamaat gathering at Markaz Nizamuddin last month.

“After consulting doctors and other experts, we have prepared a five-point plan, which are essentially five Ts. The first T is testing. Countries that did not undertake tests could not contain the spread of the virus. On the other hand, consider South Korea’s case, on how it got tests conducted at a mass scale,” he said.

“Carriers of the virus were identified so that they don’t infect others. If we don’t do that, we won’t even know who has contracted the virus. We were facing a shortage of testing kits; now the situation has improved. We had placed an order for 50,000 kits and have started receiving those. For rapid tests, we have ordered 1 lakh testing kits, which will start getting delivered from Friday,” Kejriwal said.

Apart from Delhi, states such as Karnataka, Rajasthan, Maharashtra, Andhra Pradesh and Telangana have also placed orders for the kits with the ICMR as well as private vendors. A Delhi government spokesperson said the orders have been placed with an ICMR-approved vendor in Delhi’s case.

The ICMR had on Saturday issued an advisory saying that the rapid antibody test be undertaken at hotspots across the country. The test involves taking blood samples to ascertain if a person has developed antibodies against the virus.

The presence of antibodies would mean the person is immune to the virus. The antibody test happens to be a faster alternative to the direct test, known as Polymerase Chain Reaction (PCR), in which throat or nasal swabs are taken.
Kejriwal said the rapid tests, for now, would be undertaken at the Nizamuddin and Dilshad Garden areas in the city. He added that direct tests would be conducted as well, but did not elaborate further.

“We will aggressively test to identify, treat, trace, quarantine and seal, along the lines of South Korea,” he later tweeted. For “tracing” quarantined people and ensuring they remain indoors, 27,702 mobile numbers have been handed over to police to mount surveillance so far, the CM said. The government is also providing a list of phone numbers of those from the Nizamuddin gathering to police to identify and seal areas visited by the men. Police have so far booked over 240 people for violating quarantine norms based on phone surveillance.

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