State Times NewsNEW DELHI: Maharashtra, Delhi and Haryana are among the states making a big push for use of convalescent plasma therapy for treatment of critical coronavirus patients as new COVID-19 cases in the country on Monday rose by over 15,000 for the sixth consecutive day. The Centre also issued guidelines for the month-long ‘Unlock 2’ from Wednesday — the “phased re-opening” of activities that had been barred to contain its spread — and said educational institutions, Metro rail services, cinema halls and gyms will continue to remain shut. ‘Unlock 1’, a graded exit from the national lockdown imposed on March 25, is due to end on Tuesday. Political, academic, cultural, religious, sporting events and other large congregations continue to be prohibited in ‘Unlock 2’ phase, the Ministry of Home Affairs(MHA) said, adding that lockdown will remain in force in COVID-19 containment zones till July 31. Domestic and international (under the Vande Bharat mission) flights and passenger trains, already operational in a limited manner, will be further expanded in a calibrated manner, it said. Hours before the guidelines were issued by the MHA on Monday night, Maharashtra and Tamil Nadu extended the lockdown till July 31 without any more relaxations, joining West Bengal and Manipur. Nagaland also extended the lockdown with existing curbs but like in Manipur it will be in force only till July 15. Maharashtra Chief Minister Uddhav Thackeray launched a convalescent plasma therapy-cum-trial project with a state medical education department official calling it the “largest” initiative of its kind in the world. In the national capital, Delhi Chief Minister Arvind Kejriwal announced setting up of a ‘plasma bank’ while Haryana Health Minister Anil Vij said the state will soon start convalescent plasma therapy in all its medical colleges. Plasma therapy involves taking antibodies from the blood of a person who has recovered from COVID-19 and transfusing those into a coronavirus patient to help kickstart the immune system to fight the infection. According to the ICMR’s ‘Clinical Management Protocols for COVID-19’, convalescent plasma therapy, also called passive antibody therapy, may be considered for patients with moderate illness with no improvement in condition despite the use of steroids. The recipient is to be closely monitored for several hours after transfusion for any adverse events and its use should be avoided in patients with immunoglobulin A deficiency or immunoglobulin allergy. A Maharashtra government official said all critical patients will receive two doses of 200 ml convalescent plasma free of cost. “The project, titled ‘Platina’, is the largest convalescent plasma therapy-cum-trial project in the world. With it, we intend to save lives of some 500 critical COVID-19 patients. The trial will be held in 17 medical colleges under the department of medical education and drugs, and four BMC-run colleges in Mumbai,” he added. Addressing an online media briefing, Chief Minister Kejriwal said the planned plasma bank will start working in the next two days, adding the AAP government will encourage those who have recovered from COVID-19 to donate their plasma. He said the AAP government has so far conducted clinical trial of plasma therapy on 29 COVID-19 patients and the result was “encouraging”. Haryana to start Plasma Therapy for treatment of Covid-19 patients in all its medical colleges after approval from ICMR, said state Health Minister Anil Vij in a tweet. AIIMS Director Dr Randeep Guleria recently said the number of people infected is not important as long as the mortality is low. Our aim is to work towards keeping a low mortality. As states ramp up testing, Uttar Pradesh Chief Minister Yogi Adityanath directed officers to increase COVID-19 testing facilities in the state and operate available TrueNat machines at full capacity. Use of TrueNat machines should be promoted in private hospitals, he said addressing an unlock review meeting with senior officers and ministers. “The testing capacity for COVID-19 should be increased. Available TrueNat and rapid antigen machines should be operated at full capacity for doing maximum tests in the state,” an official release said quoting the chief minister. As part of its efforts to ramp up the testing capacity, the ICMR had approved the use of TrueNat, a diagnostic machine for tuberculosis, for conducting coronavirus tests.
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