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'Irresponsible people' not wearing masks driving coronavirus pandemic in India


New Delhi, Aug 25: The Indian Council of Medical Research (ICMR) on Tuesday said those who don't wear face masks are driving the pandemic in India.

"Irresponsible, less cautious people who are not wearing masks are driving the pandemic in India," said ICMR Director General Balram Bhargava at a press briefing with Ministry of Health officials.

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He also said that three vaccine candidates are the frontrunners in the country.

"Three Covid-19 vaccines are ahead in the race in India. Serum Institute's vaccine is in phase 2(B) & phase 3 trials and Bharat Biotech and Zydus Cadila's vaccines have completed phase 1 trial," said Dr Bhargava.

Though testing for COVID-19 has been increased exponentially, there has been a steady decline in the positivity rate and highlighted that the number of active cases of the infection reduced by 6,423 for the first time within a span of 24 hours, the health ministry said.

The testing for the disease has been increased from 363 tests per million per day on August 1 to more than 600 tests per million per day at present, the ministry said.

Health Ministry Secretary Rajesh Bhushan said on the basis of 7-day rolling average the positivity rate of COVID-19 which was 11 per cent during the first week of August has come down to 8 per cent now.

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    'While the tests for detection of COVID-19 have increased exponentially, there has been a steady decline in the positivity rate. For the first time, active cases of COVID-19 have reduced by 6,423 in a span of 24 hours,' he said.

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    Bhushan also said 2.70 pc of the active cases of coronavirus infection are on oxygen support while 1.92 per cent are in ICU and 0.29 per cent are on ventilators He also said the recovered COVID-19 cases are 3.4 times the number of active cases.

    Presenting a mortality analysis on the basis of age and gender, Bhushan said 69 per cent of COVID deaths have been reported in men and 31 per cent in women.

    He said, '36 per cent of the deaths reported in people with age group between 45-60 years and 51 per cent deaths in people aged 60 and above. 11 per cent deaths were reported in the age group of 26-44 years and 1 per cent each among people aged 18-25 and those below 17'.

    Responding to a question, Bhushan said as far as the COVID-19 vaccine Sputnik V developed by Russia is concerned, both countries (India and Russia) are in communication. 'Some initial information has been shared while some detailed information is awaited,' he said.

    On augmentation of the testing capacity, Indian Council of Medical Research (ICMR) DG Balram Bhargava said gradually the testing capacity was increased and on August 21 it finally reached the landmark of testing one million COVID samples in a day.

    'COVID-19 testing capacity has increased significantly -- from 10 tests per day on January 30 to touching 1 million tests per day on August 21,' he said.

    'We have 1,524 COVID testing laboratories in India and as on 25th August 2020, 3,68,27,520 tests have been done,' Bhargava said.

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