ICMR warns against using hydroxychloroquine sans prescription

Raman Gangakhedkar, senior scientist at the Indian Council for Medical Research (ICMR), on Tuesday warned against using a drug called hydroxychloroquine against coronavirus without medical prescription.

Speaking at a press conference, Gangakhedkar said, “Do not go for COVID-19 test just on suspicion or consume hydroxychloroquine medicine without a doctor’s prescription because the medicine has its side effects. Observe social distancing even at home with your family member’s.”

Gangakhedkar also said that although the ICMR approved to give hydroxychloroquine in some cases but it was still at ean xperimental level.

“The empiric use of hydroxychloroquine for prophylaxis of SARS-Cov-2 infection is recommended only for asymptomatic healthcare workers involved in the care of suspected or confirmed cases of COVID-19 and asymptomatic household contacts of laboratory-confirmed cases,” he said.

Gangakhedkar added that the ICMR would not recommend the medicine for children below 15 years and elderly people above 60 years of age as it had many side effects on kidney and heart.

“There is sufficient access to testing so there is no need to panic. It is not just government’s responsibility to keep you healthy but you will have to be responsible for your own health. Therefore, follow all the instructions of social distancing given by the government,” said the doctor.

There are now 118 government laboratories included in the ICMR network for COVID19 testing. The network has capacity to test 12,000 samples a day.

“On an average we have been testing at least 1,350 samples per day,” Gangakhedkar informed the media.

Besides this, 22 private laboratory chains with about 15,500 collection centres have been registered with the ICMR till today for conducting tests for novel coronavirus, Gangakhedkar said.

According to the mathematical model of transmission of COVID-19, if social distancing is followed sincerely, the threat of coronavirus transmission could be reduced by 62 to 90 per cent in a week, Gangakhedkar said.

Lav Agarwal, Joint Secretary at the Ministry of Health and Family Welfare, was also present at the press conference. He said the ministry has asked states to make dedicated COVID-19 hospitals.

“As per the information we’ve received so far, work has started at the state level in Gujarat, Assam, Jharkhand, Rajasthan, Goa, Karnataka, Madhya Pradesh and Jammu & Kashmir,”- Agarwal said.