According to the latest update from the Ministry of Health and Family Welfare, the number of total Coronavirus cases in the country has climbed to 15,707, while the death toll stands at 507.
On Saturday evening, the Indian Council for Medical Research (ICMR) released data stating that 3.72 lakh tests had been conducted till 9 pm, of which 16,365 had come in positive. The council conducted 35,494 tests on Saturday and reported 2,154 positive cases of the virus.
ICMR has asked states to use rapid antibody tests for surveillance in COVID-19 hotspots underlying that the old standard frontline test for novel coronavirus diagnosis is a real-time PCR (Polymerase Chain Reaction) based molecular test, which is aimed at early virus detection.
In a letter to all chief secretaries and principal secretaries (health) of States, ICMR Director General Dr. Balram Bharagava listed the protocol for using the ‘rapid antibody test’ in hotspot area for epidemiological studies and surveillance.
India received five lakh rapid antibody testing kits from China on Thursday and these, health ministry officials said, are being distributed to the States for districts with a high burden of infection.
Chief of Epidemiology and Communicable Diseases at ICMR Dr. Raman R Gangakhedkar on Thursday said that the rapid antibody test kits procured are not meant for early diagnosis, but "only for surveillance and trend checking".
The country is currently in the second phase of the nationwide lockdown announced by Prime Minister Narendra Modi on April 14 and will go on till May 3. In an address to the nation on April 14, Prime Minister Narendra Modi said, "It is clearly evident from the experience of the past few days, that we have chosen the correct path. Our country has greatly benefited from social distancing and lockdown. From an economic only point of view, it undoubtedly looks costly right now; but measured against the lives of Indian citizens, there is no comparison itself. The path that India has taken within our limited resources has become a topic of discussion in the entire world today."