The total number of cases in the country has now become 4,421. A total of 117 people in the country have died of the COVID-2019 infection; in the last 24 hours, 354 new cases and 8 deaths have been reported, while a total of 326 people have recovered and have been discharged so far.
The Government has been adopting a strategy for cluster containment and for managing outbreaks which are amenable to management; districts to have been oriented in this regard. The Government is happy to note that this strategy is producing positive results, especially in Agra, Gautam Buddh Nagar, Pathanamthitta (Kerala), Bhilwara and East Delhi. Action is being taken in Mumbai and in other districts too, as per this strategy.
This was informed by the Joint Secretary, Ministry of Health & Family Welfare, Luv Aggarwal, at the daily media briefing on the actions taken, preparedness and updates on COVID-19, held at National Media Centre, PIB New Delhi today.
The Joint Secretary informed that the Health Ministry has today come out with a very important document – a guidance document on appropriate management of suspects and confirmed cases of COVID-19. The purpose of the guidance is to provide Standard Operating Procedures (SOPs) which will help ensure optimal utilization of available resources and thereby provide appropriate care to all COVID-19 patients. This will ensure that available hospital beds capacity is used only for moderate to severe cases of COVID-19. The SOPs also specify the different types of facilities to be set up for various categories of COVID-19 cases.
The guidance document lays out three classes of facilities to be set up for various categories of COVID-19 patients. All 3 types of COVID Dedicated facilities will have separate earmarked areas for the suspect and confirmed cases. The suspect and confirmed cases should not be allowed to mix under any circumstances.
The Joint Secretary informed that the three types of facilities are as follows:
- COVID Care Centre: The COVID Care Centres shall offer care only for cases that have been clinically assigned as mild or very mild cases or COVID suspect cases. These are makeshift facilities. These may be set up in hostels, hotels, schools, stadiums, lodges etc., both public and private. If need be, existing quarantine facilities could also be converted into COVID Care Centres.
- Dedicated COVID Health Centre: The Dedicated COVID Health Centre are hospitals that shall offer care for all cases that have been clinically assigned as moderate. These should either be a full hospital or a separate block in a hospital with proper triaging, preferably separate entry/exit/zoning, so as to prevent the spread of infection. These hospitals would have beds with assured Oxygen support.
- Dedicated COVID Hospital: These are hospitals that shall offer comprehensive care primarily for those who have been clinically assigned as severe or critical cases of COVID-19. These shall be hospitals or dedicated blocks, preferably with separate entry/exit, and with fully equipped ICU facility, ventilators and beds with assured oxygen support.
The Centre has asked states to map each COVID Care Centre with one COVID Care Hospital and COVID Care Health Centre for the purpose of referral so that there is clarity at field level on where the patients can be shifted if need be. Aggarwal also informed that the Prime Minister Shri Narendra Modi interacted with the Central Ministers via video conference yesterday.
- The PM underlined the importance of being motivated, determined and vigilant in the battle against COVID-19.
- The PM told the Ministers that it is imperative that they communicate exhaustively with the state and district administration, especially in the districts which are hotspots for the pandemic, and apprise themselves of the ground situation and also provide solutions to the emerging problems.
- Emphasizing the importance of farmers’ welfare, the PM suggested harnessing technology and encouraging exploration of innovative solutions like using ‘truck aggregators’, on the lines of app-based cab services, to connect farmers with mandis.
- The PM stressed on the importance of monitoring continuously and ensuring that the benefits of PM Garib Kalyan Yojana keep reaching the intended beneficiaries in a seamless manner.
- Talking about the impact of COVID-19 on the economy, the Prime Minister said that the Ministries should prepare a Business Continuity Plan.
- The Prime Minister also asked the Ministers to popularize the Aarogya Setu app in the rural areas and grass-root institutions to further spread information and awareness about the pandemic.
The Joint Secretary further informed that:
- Smart Cities of Pune, Surat, Bengaluru and Tumakuru are using the integrated data dashboards, developed by the data analysts and data experts working with their Integrated Command and Control Centres (also functioning as COVID-19 War Rooms in many cities) to provide up-to-date information about the status of coronavirus in different administrative zones of their cities. They are using technology in surveillance, contact tracing, home quarantine management, information dissemination, training, predictive analysis using heat maps and Tele-counselling.
- The Home Ministry has written to states, asking them to give special attention to keeping the supply of Medical Oxygen smooth and hassle-free across the country.
- In order to supplement the national efforts in combating COVID 19, Indian Railways achieved almost half the initial task of 5000 coaches by being able to convert 2,500 coaches into isolation facilities, as a result of which 40,000 isolation beds are now ready for contingency. On average, 375 coaches are being converted by Indian Railways in a day. The work is being carried out at 133 locations in the country.
- The Ministry of AYUSH has come out with self-care guidelines for preventive health measures and boosting immunity with special reference to respiratory health.
Aggarwal further informed that:
- A study by ICMR had earlier found out that R0 – a measure of how many persons one infected person can infect – is in the range of 1.5–4, for the COVID-19 infection.
- A recent study has examined this and found that if R0 is assumed to be 2.5, then a single person, in the absence of any lockdown or social distancing measures, can infect up to 406 people in 30 days.
- On the other hand, if social exposure is reduced by 75%, then the same one infected person can infect only 2.5 people.
Citing this, the Joint Secretary reiterated the importance of social distancing and lockdown and appealed to the people to follow social distancing, noting that it is a social vaccine in management of COVID-19.
Informing that states are taking proactive measures to contain the spread of COVID-19, the Home Ministry representative informed that the states are increasing the extent of medical screening of contacts and taking up the implementation of lockdown effectively. The Ministry further informed that:
- Everyone’s cooperation is necessary for implementing lockdown. Given upcoming festivals in the coming weeks, community leaders have requested people to cooperate with the government in the strict implementation of lockdown.
- Home Minister has taken a review of essential goods and services and has asked to take strict action and inquiry against those who indulge in hoarding or black marketing. Department of Consumer Affairs is also following this up.
- The Government is also monitoring the movement of pharmaceutical goods; the movement of pharma goods via trucks has become almost stabilized now.
- Under Lifeline UDAN initiative of Ministry of Civil Aviation, 152 Lifeline UDAN flights have been operated, to transport more than 200 tons of medical cargo to various part of the country.
- In order to transport essential commodities, Indian Railways has loaded 8,897 rakes / 4,57,296 wagons, till April 6, 2020.
The ICMR representative informed that 1.07 lakh COVID-19 tests have been conducted so far; 11,795 tests were done yesterday, out of which 2,530 tests were done in the private sector. 136 government labs are functioning, and 59 private labs have been approved.
Responding to a media query on speculations being spread in social media regarding extension of nation-wide lockdown, the Joint Secretary, Health informed that whenever a decision is taken, it will be informed; he requested the media and the public to refrain from speculation, till a decision is officially communicated by the Government.
He also informed that the Health Ministry is in close coordination with the Ministry of Pharmaceuticals regarding the national requirement of Hydroxychloroquine (to be used only for critically ill patients and health professionals, based on medical advice); he said that proper matching has been done in this regard and that the nation has the required quantity available.