India better positioned in fight against COVID-19 but no space for complacency: Harsh Vardhan
New Delhi, June 09: India is better positioned in the fight against COVID-19 compared to other countries but there is no space for complacency, Union Health Minister Harsh Vardhan said on Tuesday as the death toll due to coronavirus infection rose to 7,466 and the cases mounted to 2,66,598 in the country.
Vardhan chaired the 16th meeting of the high-level group of ministers on COVID-19 which reviewed the containment strategies pertaining to the pandemic via video-conferencing here, the heath ministry said.
The GOM was briefed about the latest status, response and management of COVID-19 in the country. A brief snapshot was presented to the GOM highlighting the comparative position of India vis-a-vis other countries in similar stage of easing lockdown, underscoring the benefits that have accrued from the lockdown and how this can be leveraged in management of disease, the ministry said.
As the country entered the "Unlock 1.0 phase" when restrictions have been eased and curbs lifted, Vardhan stressed that people need to be more disciplined and adopt appropriate behaviour to ensure norms of physical distancing, use of face covers, hand hygiene and respiratory etiquette are followed.
India is better positioned in fight against COVID-19 compared to other nations, "but there is no space for complacency," Vardhan strongly reiterated. He also reminded everybody to download Aarogya Setu app which will help in self risk assessment and in protection against COVID-19. More than 12.55 crore people in the country have downloaded the app, as on date, the ministry said in its statement.
In the wake of all government offices opening now, Vardhan appealed to the heads of departments, “Let us also not forget the 'social vaccine' against COVID-19 through strict adherence of norms of physical distancing, hand hygiene and mask/face covers."
The GoM was informed that as on June 9, COVID-related health infrastructure in the country has been strengthened with the availability of 958 dedicated COVID hospitals with 1,67,883 isolation beds, 21,614 ICU and 73,469 oxygen supported beds. Also, 2,313 dedicated COVID health centres with 1,33,037 isolation beds, 10,748 ICU beds and 46,635 oxygen supported beds have also been operationalised. Moreover, 7,525 COVID care centres with 7,10,642 beds are now available to combat COVID-19 in the country. The ventilators available for COVID beds are 21,494, the ministry said.
The Centre has further placed an order of 60,848 ventilators, it added. The Centre has also provided 128.48 lakh N95 masks and 104.74 lakh personal protective equipment (PPEs) to the states, union territories and central institutions. ICMR's testing capacity has increased through 553 government and 231 private laboratories (total of 784 labs). More than 49 lakh cumulative tests have been conducted in the country so far with 1,41,682 samples been tested in the last 24 hours till 9 AM.
Minister of External Affairs S Jaishankar, Civil Aviation Minister Hardeep Singh Puri, Minister of State for Home Affairs Nityananda Rai, Minister of State for Shipping and Chemical and Fertilizers Mansukh Lal Mandaviya and Minister of State for Health Ashwini Kumar Choubey along with other senior officials took part in the meeting which was held following norms of physical distancing, the ministry said.
Parameswaran Iyer, Chairman of Empowered Group-5, presented the critical strategies adopted by the EG to ease the burden of lockdown while enabling supply of critical items for the country to fight the pandemic.
Head of Epidemiology and Communicable Diseases at ICMR, Dr Raman R Gangakhedkar presented details on the status of testing labs, augmented capacities for testing across the country, and also enlightened the GoM on various issues related to hydroxychloroquine, remdesivir, and sero-surveillance studies. The number of active novel coronavirus cases stands at 1,29,917 till Tuesday 8 AM. So far, a total of 1,29,214 people have recovered with 4,785 patients having been cured in the last 24 hours. "This takes the total recovery rate to 48.47 per cent," the ministry said.