ICMR suggests hydroxychloroquine for healthcare workers

Hydroxychloroquine for healthcare workers, persons caring for COVID-19 patients in households: ICMR

Health workers wearing facemasks amid concerns over the spread of the COVID-19 novel coronavirus, spray disinfectant at the corporation office in Chennai on March 20, 2020. (Photo by Arun SANKAR / AFP)

ICMR Director General Balrama Bhargava on Monday recommended the use of hydroxychloroquine for treating healthcare workers tackling the suspected or confirmed coronavirus cases and also the asymptomatic household contacts of the lab-confirmed cases.

The treatment protocol recommended by the National Task Force has been approved by the Drug Controller General of India (DGCI) for restricted use in emergency situations.

Commenting on the lockdown initiated by several states to contain the coronavirus infection, a health ministry official said the states have been told to order superintendents of police and district magistrates to enforce the lockdown strictly.

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"Partial lockdown defeats the purpose of breaking the chain of transmission of novel coronavirus," the official said.

On private laboratories being allowed to conduct testing for COVID-19, Bhargava said 12 private-lab chains have been registered and have started working after being allowed the testing.

These 12 labs have 15,000 collection centres, he said.

So far the country has reported 415 cases, the health ministry officials said, adding the death toll stands at seven. 

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