Monday, April 13, 2020

Andaman & Nicobar has started conducting ‘pool tests’ for Covid-19 - first in India


TMI Bureau
New Delhi/ Port Blair, 13 April: The Andaman and Nicobar administration has been ‘pool testing’ the samples of suspected coronavirus patients to reduce the number of test kits used, in view of the acute shortage of kits across the country.
They have been conducting these Covid-19 tests for the past ten days and according to government sources, the union territory is the first to do so in India.
The process involves testing multiple swab samples in a single test. If the combined sample tests positive for coronavirus, the samples are then tested individually to determine who has the infection. This reduces the number of test kits utilised, compared to the testing of individual samples.
“Five samples per testing kit are used. So, less than 25 kits are being used for testing 100 samples,” a government official told agencies.
The government sources also indicated that the method has been approved by the Indian Council of Medical Research (ICMR) and with several states running out of test kits, the rest of the country is reportedly going to follow suit.
Cost-effective way of testing
Over 886 tests have been conducted by the administration in Andaman and Nicobar, which has a population of approximately four lakh people as per 2011 census.
In a tweet Friday, Chetan Sanghi, Chief Secretary of the Andaman and Nicobar Islands said that one-fourth of test kits are being used by pooling samples leading to more tests on an average in the union territory.
A study by researchers at the Texas A&M University, Centre for Disease Dynamics, Economics and Policy (CDDEP) and Princeton University in the US had assessed the feasibility of pooled real-time Reverse Transcription Polymerase Chain Reaction (RT-PCR) testing. The RT-PCR test is used to determine whether an individual has contracted Covid-19.
The study revealed that pooling test samples is cost-effective and can determine an estimation of the prevalence of the infection, especially in countries with limited resources.
11 confirmed coronavirus cases in Andaman and Nicobar
The Andaman and Nicobar Islands are home to five endangered indigeneous tribes and were one of the first to stop the entry of non-residents and outsiders on 24 March, to curb the spread of the virus.
The union territory had confirmed 11 cases of coronavirus, nine of whom had participated in the Tablighi Jamaat’s event in Delhi last month.
When compared to other island nations like Maldives and Malta, Andaman and Nicobar has the least cases. Maldives has reported 19 cases while Malta has 350 confirmed cases of coronavirus.
Following the Tablighi Jamaat development, intense contact tracing was carried out by the authorities. Additionally, people who had allegedly attended the Jamaat event on two flights to the Andamans were also isolated and most of them were tested.
Ten patients have recovered from the infection and will be shifted from hospitals to institutional quarantine for two weeks. Till Monday, only one active case of Covid-19 was confirmed in the islands.

Home Ministry directs States / UTs for strict implementation of lockdown

Chief Secretary directs for strict compliance of guidelines of MHA

 Port Blair, Apr 13: The Home Ministry, Govt. of India, in exercise of the powers conferred under Section 10(2)(1) of the Disaster Management Act 2005, has directed States/UTs to take effective measures so as to prevent the spread of COVID-19 in the country which has already been declared pandemic by the World Health Organization. The Ministry has also asked the States/UTs for implementation of the lockdown guidelines in letter and spirit and also to maintain the supply of essential goods in the country.
    In a letter addressed to the Chief Secretaries of all the States and Union Territories on April 12, 2020, the Home Secretary, Govt. of India, Shri Ajay Bhalla has reiterated for strict observance by the authorities at various levels of guidelines and clarifications by the MHA on 24th March, 2020 and clarifications issued subsequently.
    With a view to brining in clarity at the implementation level, the Home Secretary has reiterated the following for strict observance by the authorities at various levels:
i.        Inter-state and intra-state movement of all trucks and other goods / carrier vehicles with one driver and one additional person is allowed as long as the driver is carrying a valid driver's license. This is irrespective of the nature of the cargo, whether essential or otherwise. No further permit or approval would be required.
ii.       Empty trucks/ goods carriers should also be allowed to operate while on way to pick up goods, or returning after completing a delivery. Hence, there is no cause to stop empty trucks provided they have valid documents such as driving license & road permit etc.
iii.     Local authorities should actively facilitate the movement of truck drivers and cleaners from their place of residence to location of their trucks.
iv.      Local authorities should facilitate the easy to and fro movement of workers to workplace and back, in respect of all the permitted industrial/ commercial activities.
v.      Railways, Airports, Seaports, and Customs authorities have already been authorized to issue passes for their staff and contractual labour. This may be ensured.
vi.     Regarding issuance of passes to workers engaged in the manufacturing of permitted categories, the State/ UT Governments are advised to expeditiously issue passes on the basis of authorizations issued by companies/ organizations. The State/ UT Governments shall ensure that these passes are honored both for movement within their State/ UT and in bordering areas of other States/ UTs.
vii.       MSMEs engaged in the manufacture of essential items like wheat flour (atta), pulses (dal) and edible oils should be allowed to function freely, without any hindrances.
viii.    Warehouses/ cold storage should be allowed to freely function with allowance for to and fro movement of trucks and without regard to the nature of the goods whether essential or otherwise. Warehouses of companies should also be allowed to operate.
   Consequent upon this, the Chief Secretary, A&N Administration, Shri Chetan B. Sanghi has ordered that the guidelines and clarifications issued by the MHA shall be applicable in the whole of UT of A&N Islands with immediate effect. The instructions issued by the Ministry of Home Affairs should be fully complied with, the order to this effect issued by the Chief Secretary, A&N Administration said.

Alternative learning platform through DD, Cable TV & AIR in A&N Islands

Subject wise virtual classes for Classes VIII to XII  to start from April 16

Port Blair, Apr 13: Consequent on the lockdown due to the COVID-19 pandemic, the normal teaching learning process in the schools of this Union Territory has been suspended. In order to facilitate learning opportunity to the students from their homes, the Department of Education is initiating an alternative learning platform through the local Doordarshan, Cable TV Network and All India Radio.
The recorded contents prepared by few selected teachers of Education Department will be telecast/broadcast through Doordarshan, All India Radio as well as the local Cable TV channels. Initially it is proposed to start the telecast of the contents for Classes VIII to XII which shall start from 16th April, 2020. The Classes for the Primary and Upper Primary students from Class I to VII will be followed shortly. The date-wise schedule for the telecast/broadcast of recordings will be as per the following schedule.
Days
Broadcast through Cable TV
(Timings: 10 a.m. to 12 noon)
VIII
IX
16.04.2020
English
Social Science
Mathematics
Science
17.04.2020
Mathematics
Science
English
Social Science
18.04.2020
Social Science
English
Science
Mathematics
20.04.2020
Science
Mathematics
Social Science
English
21.04.2020
English
Social Science
Mathematics
Science
22.04.2020
Mathematics
Science
English
Social Science
23.04.2020
Social Science
English
Science
Mathematics
24.04.2020
Science
Mathematics
Social Science
English
25.04.2020
English
Social Science
Mathematics
Science
27.04.2020
Mathematics
Science
English
Social Science
28.04.2020
Social Science
English
Science
Mathematics
29.04.2020
Science
Mathematics
Social Science
English
30.04.2020
English
Social Science
Mathematics
Science
  

Days
Broadcast through Doordarshan
(Timing: 5.15p.m. to 6.15 p.m.)
X
XII
20.04.2020
English
Physics
21.04.2020
Mathematics
English
22.04.2020
Social Science
Accountancy
23.04.2020
Science
Geography
24.04.2020
English
Chemistry
27.04.2020
Mathematics
Economics
28.04.2020
Social Science
Mathematics
29.04.2020
Science
Business Studies
30.04.2020
Mathematics
Biology

The students, parents and all stakeholders have been appealed to make use of this facility to the maximum extent for the benefit of enhancing teaching-learning activity during this lockdown period. Parents have also been requested to engage their wards to compulsorily attend the virtual classes as per the schedule and feel free to contact the teachers for any clarification on the content.