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No community transmission of COVID-19 in India, says Health Minister Harsh Vardhan

The Health Minister's assertion has come amid mounting fears of a COVID-19 transmission in India, now the 3rd-worst-hit country in the world

No community transmission of COVID-19 in India, says Health Minister Harsh Vardhan

Sentinel Digital DeskBy : Sentinel Digital Desk

  |  9 July 2020 11:11 AM GMT

Guwahati: Union Health Minister Harsh Vardhan, who chaired a Group of Ministers meet to review the COVID-19 situation, said on Thursday that there is no "community transmission" of the dreaded virus yet in the country.

After the meet, the Union Health Minister stated, "During our discussions today, experts again stated that there is no community transmission in India. There may be some localized pockets where transmission is high but as a country, there's no community transmission."

In the GoM meet, the Health Minister was joined by Dr. S. Jaishankar, Union Foreign Minister, Hardeep S. Puri, Union Minister of Civil Aviation, Ashwini Kumar Choubey, Minister of State, Health & Family Welfare, and Mansukh Mandaviya, Minister of State, Chemical and Fertilizers, & Shipping. Dr. Vinod Paul, Member (Health), Niti Aayog joined the meeting through video conference link.

At the outset, the GoM was briefed on the current status of COVID-19 in India. The global comparison between the five most affected countries showed that India has one of the lowest cases per million (538) and deaths per million (15) compared the global average of 1453 and 68.7, respectively.

Within the country, eight states (Maharashtra, Tamil Nadu, Delhi, Karnataka, Telangana, Andhra Pradesh, Uttar Pradesh, and Gujarat) contribute to around 90% of the active caseload and 49 districts account for 80% of active caseload, as of today. Moreover, six states (Maharashtra, Delhi, Gujarat, Tamil Nadu, Uttar Pradesh, and West Bengal) account for 86% of total deaths, and 32 districts account for 80% deaths.

During the discussions on the COVID-19 healthcare infrastructure in the country, the GoM was briefed that as of today, there are a total of 3,914 facilities in the country with 3,77,737 Isolation beds (without ICU support), 39,820 ICU beds and 1,42,415 oxygen supported beds along with 20,047 ventilators. In terms of healthcare logistics, cumulatively 213.55 lakh N95 masks, 120.94 lakh PPEs, and 612.57 lakh HCQ tablets have been distributed.

During the period of Unlock 2.0, the future steps include a sharp focus on containment and surveillance including demarcation of Containment Zones; Containment Zones to be notified on the websites; strict perimeter control and with only essential activities to be allowed; intensive contact tracing, house-to-house search/surveillance; and Buffer Zones to be identified outside the Containment Zones to contain potential new cases.

"As we move forward, our focus shall be on the management of COVID-19 through strict containment measures and surveillance; utilizing full testing capacity; focus on monitoring of co-morbid and elderly population; predicting emerging hotspots leveraging digital tools such as Aarogya Setu; ensuring seamless patient admission processes; focus on infrastructure preparedness such as critical care beds, oxygen, ventilators, and logistics", Harsh Vardhan said.

Sujeet K Singh, Director of the National Centre for Disease Control presented a detailed report on surveillance efforts undertaken in India during the pandemic. The focus was on strict containment strategy and surveillance through SARI/ILI cases, serological survey, and increase in lab network to widen countrywide testing.

The major concern areas in the country were highlighted and the measures to be taken were listed including timely clinical management along with testing and surveillance in the high-risk population with co-morbidities to reduce the Case Fatality Ratio.

In a detailed presentation by Amit Khare, Chairman of Empowered Group-8 (on Information, Communication and Public Awareness), the GoM was briefed on the key steps taken in the Communication of Information and in raising public awareness. The group received 6,755 alerts of fake news out of which 5,890 were replied to directly and rebuttals were published to 17 foreign media stories.

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