The Maharashtra government on Tuesday issued a circular giving a nod for the use of Hydroxychloroquine (HCQ) for high-risk contacts of COVID-19 positive patients. The government in its circular has also recommended administering the drug to all healthcare workers, frontline workers, including those working in COVID-19 care centres, hospitals and so on across the state after getting consent.
On the other hand, a high-power committee panel to audit the Coronavirus deaths in Maharashtra has cautioned the health department about the use of HCQ in combination with the antibiotic Azithromycin for confirmed COVID-19 patients should be closely monitored as there is a possibility of cardiac issues. Reportedly, during the audit of the first lot of 21 COVID-19 patients, it was found that the combination of HCQ with other drugs may have caused cardiac toxicity.
Meanwhile, the Brihanmumbai Municipal Corporation (BMC) has begun distributing HCQ doses in around 85 quarantine centers and wards. The health workers in Mumbai have been taking the dosage for the last five weeks. Along with it, Mumbai Police has also started distributing HCQs among themselves.
The Indian Council of Medical Research (ICMR) has said that anti-malarial drug Hydroxychloroquine or HCQ should be used as prophylaxis (preventive healthcare) to prevent the novel Coronavirus amid high-risk persons as a prophylactic and not as a treatment for COVID-19. HCQ, a common anti-malarial drug has been, in some quarters, touted as a possible “miracle drug” in the fight against COVID-19 - this is untrue.
Raman R Ganagakhedkar, Head Scientist, ICMR, told ANI, "Two trials were conducted abroad. The trials were not good enough. So, we thought if it needs to be used in our country, it should be used as prophylaxis, and not as a treatment. We have decided that if it reduces the chances of COVID-19 among doctors and their contacts, then we will advise it to others. The results of the effect of HCQ in them is yet to come."
On Saturday, sources in Maharashtra government informed Republic TV that there was no possibility of lifting the lockdown in the Mumbai Metropolitan Region and the Pune Metropolitan Region after May 3, when the national lockdown is set to end. As per these sources, such regions in the state shall continue to remain under lockdown due to the increasing number of cases. It is likely that the current restrictions will remain in place at least till June, as per sources.
According to the Union Health Ministry, Maharashtra currently has a total 9,318 cases of Coronavirus. With 6,169 cases and 244 deaths, Mumbai remains a major COVID-19 hotspot in the state.