NITI Aayog member and head of the government’s group on vaccinations, Dr V K Paul said, “It is time people start wearing masks inside their homes as well, especially when everyone is sitting together.” He said mask protocol should definitely be followed if there is a person isolated due to Covid at home to reduce risk of infection.
“In this situation, masks are absolutely necessary, so do not go out unnecessarily. Stay with family. And also, even within the family, please wear masks. Do not invite people inside homes. There is a transmissibility angle. We must protect ourselves and our family members to the best of our ability,” Dr Paul said at the weekly briefing on Covid on Monday.
The government also highlighted improper use of masks and lack of physical distancing can increase the risk of transmission by 90%. It cited studies to show such a risk with two individuals not wearing a mask and failing to maintain adequate social distancing. The risk gets reduced to 30% if the unaffected person is wearing a mask.
No shortage of testing or diagnostic kits: Govt
The government said studies show an infected patient can end up passing the infection to 406 people in 30 days in the absence of physical distancing. The risk comes down to infecting 2.5 persons in 30 days if he follows physical distancing measures. The government also said in the current circumstances, people with symptoms of Covid-19 should be treated as positive cases even if their RT-PCR status is negative or not available.
India on Sunday recorded 3.52 lakh Covid-19 cases. This was the fifth day in a row when over three lakh cases were registered.
Amid concerns about RTPCR test results showing negative despite symptoms of Covid-19, AIIMS director Dr Randeep Guleria said: “Often it can happen that RTPCR test is negative because the sensitivity of the test is not 100%. In such situations, if clinical symptoms are classical and there is a close contact who is positive, you should assume you have Covid.”
He added that many hospitals have now created a Covid suspect ward for such patients who are awaiting a positive report but have symptoms. “The state of the pandemic being what it is, I think we have to treat these people as Covid patients,” he said. The government maintained there is no shortage of testing or diagnostic kits in the country.
The Centre also stressed the need to ramp up vaccination. “We cannot let the pace of COVID-19 vaccination decline or slacken in the face of the emerging situation. In fact, it should be escalated and with that intent the government of India brought a revised (vaccination) policy. We believe and are confident that will bring in more acceleration,” Paul said.