By Sumit Saxena
New Delhi, April 5 (IANS) Community transmission or Stage 3 of the coronavirus outbreak threat looms large and social distancing has played a major role in avoiding India’s progress into it, said Dr R.N. Tandon, Secretary General, Indian Medical Association.

Speaking to IANS, Dr Tandon said during the period of nationwide lockdown, where most of the economic activity has ceased to exist, to contain the coronavirus outbreak, people should prioritize mental health. “People have been forcibly given time to whatever they want to do. They should positively use this time period. ‘Janata curfew’ was in solidarity with people who were quarantined after they were tested positive for coronavirus. It was for their good, and also for the good of everybody”, said Dr Tandon.

On the deadly strain of the virus in the country, Dr. Tandon said it is too early to comment if the virus has mutated and adapted to the country’s climatic condition; largely, it seems the strain is similar to the one found in China.

According to reports, virus mutations are common, but this does not change the virulence of any strain of the coronavirus. A strain is a sub-type of a virus, which is characterized by different cell surface proteins. Researchers are tracking the current strains of the SARS-CoV-2 virus, which causes illness COVID-19. The strains of the coronavirus have made their way globally, leading to a trail of death and disease.

Coronavirus is an enveloped virus, as it has an outer lipid membrane layer and the same strain with viral load can cause a range in severity of illness. “It is surrounded by a fat layer. How will the virus respond to an increase in the temperature (as the summers approach), is something too early to comment”, added Dr Tandon.

Speaking on the line of treatment of COVID-19 patients, Dr Tandon said some patients recover through symptomatic treatment and drugs as prescribed by Indian Council of Medical Research (ICMR). “Hydroxychloroquine is given to people who have been exposed to positive coronavirus patients. Immunity plays a crucial role. The old are vulnerable to this deadly virus”, added Dr Tandon.

Major pharma companies are in the race to roll out point-of-care test for coronavirus by claiming this test may make diagnosing COVID-19 as easy as the flu. The Food and Drug Administration (FDA), US, has authorized the new point-of-care test, and according to manufacturers it is expected the device will be able to deliver results in as little as five minutes.

Recently, Abbott announced it is launching a test that can detect COVID-19 in as little as five minutes — bringing rapid testing to the frontlines, as this portable device can be used in almost any healthcare setting.

When queried on the availability of such devices in the market, Dr Tandon said a coronavirus test is not as easy as a diabetes or pregnancy test. “The test cannot be carried out at a place where it cannot be controlled. Tests should be carried out in the presence of a doctor”, said Dr Tandon insisting the government has not rolled out any guidelines on the commercial availability of such devices. The ICMR has also expressed similar reservations on carrying out tests in the absence of medical supervision.

–IANS

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