The Centre on Sunday issued new coronavirus-related guidelines for peri-urban, rural and tribal areas, taking note of the “gradual ingress” of the infection in these regions.
The health ministry said that every village should undertake active surveillance of influenza-like illness or severe acute respiratory infection periodically by Accredited Social Health Activist, or ASHA workers. Community health officers and auxiliary nurses at public health centres should be trained to perform Rapid Antigen Testing for Covid-19 infection, the ministry said.
Depending on the intensity of the surge and the number of cases in villages, contact tracing must be done as far as possible based on the Integrated Disease Surveillance Programme’s guidelines, the release stated.
The new guidelines came two days after Prime Minister Narendra Modi expressed concern over the virus spreading fast in rural India. At a high-level meeting on Saturday too, the prime minister said healthcare resources in rural areas must be augmented to focus on door-to-door testing and surveillance.
The spread of the coronavirus in rural India has caused alarm among health experts.
Noting that nearly 80%-85% of the coronavirus cases are asymptomatic or show mild symptoms, the health ministry guideline released on Sunday advised health workers to counsel such patients to isolate themselves till test results are available.
The guidelines also said that a home isolation kit should be provided to such patients. It should include required medicines such as paracetamol, ivermectin, cough syrup and multivitamins as prescribed by the doctor.
“Patients under home isolation will stand discharged and end isolation after at least 10 days since the onset of symptoms (or from date of sampling for asymptomatic cases) and no fever for three days,” the guideline stated.
On Sunday, India registered 3,11,170 new coronavirus cases, pushing the country’s tally of infections since the pandemic began in January 2020 to 2,46,84,077. The toll rose by 4,077 to 2,70,284. The daily rise in new cases has shown a downward trend in hotspots like Delhi and Mumbai over the last few days, which reflects on the overall numbers as well. However, states such as Karnataka, Andhra Pradesh and Tamil Nadu are still witnessing an upward curve.