Usually found between the pages of a book or contemplating the nuances of the universe. But mostly, I tell stories.
As India grapples with the novel coronavirus, World Health Organisation's representative in India, Dr Henk Bekedam has said that the country needs to step up testing.
"India does need to step up testing, and it is on that path. What is important is that since mid-February, India has included testing for patients having severe acute respiratory illness from the surveillance system — these are people who have no travel or contact history," Dr Bekedam told The Indian Express.
On multiple occasions, WHO has stressed on the importance of testing.
"We have a simple message to all countries - test, test, test," WHO director-general Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus had said while addressing a press conference in Geneva. "All countries should be able to test all suspected cases, they cannot fight this pandemic blindfolded," he added.
Dr Bekedam suggested two things to tackle COVID-19, one is increasing capacity, the other is increasing scope. "I understand that India is already considering increasing the scope to include testing of atypical pneumonia patients. This was one of the lessons from SARS (2003)," he said.
Talking about the capacity issue, he said that the government is already substantially increasing the capacity.
"The most effective way to deal with an outbreak is to act as soon as possible. We still hope that India is in the early part of responding to an infectious disease, and has the advantage of learning from the world," he said.
He also welcomed India's call for social distancing and said effective implementation of the strategy will help in the containment of the virus.
Dr Bekedam also praised India's response to the outbreak. "India's response has been comprehensive and robust. Right from the onset, the government has taken things very seriously, as reflected in the high level of political commitment, including by the Prime Minister himself," he said.
"The (Health) Minister and (Union Health) Secretary have been calling the states regular. They have mobilised the states very effectively. Also, various departments and ministries were involved — what we call a whole-of-government approach. They are well mobilised in case of a larger outbreak at this stage," he added.
He also lauded India's contact tracing and isolation process and said that thousands have so far been tracked, isolated, and tested when required.
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