From Our Bureau                       

19th April 2020

A total of 15,712 confirmed cases of COVID-19 have been reported in the country and the death toll rose to 507 till Sunday. As many as 2,231 persons, that is, 14.19 percent of the total cases, have been cured/ discharged after recovery. An increase of 1,334 new cases and 27 new deaths has been reported since Saturday, according to the latest update from the Ministry of Health and Family Welfare.

Several steps for prevention, containment and management of COVID-19 are being taken by Government of India along with the States/UTs. These are being regularly reviewed and monitored at the highest level.

A high-level Task Force has been formed to work on the frontiers of science related to drug testing and vaccines. This task force is co-chaired by Member (Health), NITI Aayog and Principal Scientific Advisor to the Prime Minister. Apart from this, other members are representatives from AYUSH, ICMR, Department of Science and Technology, Biotechnology, Council of Scientific and Industrial Research (CSIR), DRDO, Directorate General of Health Services (DGHS) and Drug Controller General of India (DCGI).

This Task Force will expedite coordination of work done by all Ministries on the issue related to vaccine development. This will further enable to speed up the research work carried out through international efforts by academia & research institutions. Also, Dept of Biotechnology has been a nodal agency for vaccine development. Their efforts will be focussed towards identifying pathways for vaccine development.

Through the Task Force, the Government will further facilitate, keep track and monitor the progress of national and international efforts in vaccine development. The Task Force will focus on “clinical cohorts” which will focus on long-term follow up of people for having better understanding of disease and management.

From 20th April, 2020 onwards, restrictions will be eased in non-containment areas, but containment areas in HOTSPOT districts will not be given any relaxation. States / UTs may impose further additional measures according to local requirements. The containment zones as per the guidelines of the Health Ministry are mentioned below:

Hotspots are areas with large COVID-19 outbreaks or clusters with a significant spread. Where more cases have been or where the doubling rate of cases is less than 4 days. Within hotspots, local administration demarcates containment zones and buffer zones to control disease spread.

Within containment zones, activities shall not be permitted within a strict perimeter control except for essential services. For places where selective relaxations are granted, States / UTs / District administrators must ensure that strict compliance of existing lockdown measures is done and preparatory actions as per SOPs related to social distancing are being followed in offices, workplaces, factories and establishments.

As this is a rolling criteria if cases come to some places, then these places can also become part of the red zone and containment zone. For the containment zones, they should strictly implement lockdown measures so they can gradually return to normalcy. Relaxation areas also have to follow and adhere to all SOPs of social distancing to ensure that all preparatory actions are being undertaken.

Cumulatively, 2144 dedicated COVID-19 hospitals have been identified at both Centre and State level which includes 755 dedicated COVID hospitals and 1389 Dedicated COVID Health Centres (DCHC).

Mahe (Puducherry) & Kodaggu (Karnataka) have not reported fresh cases during the last 28 days. There are now 54 Districts from 23 States/UTs that have not reported fresh cases during the last 14 days. Apart from the previous list, 10 new districts have been added. These are: Gaya and Saran (Bihar); Bareilly (Uttar Pradesh); Fatehgarh Sahib and Rupnagar (Punjab); Bhiwani, Hisar, Fatehabad (Haryana); Cachar and Lakhimpur (Assam). (eom)

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