From Our Bureau                                                          

31ST JULY 2020

India witnessed a big surge with 55,078 fresh COVID-19 positive cases reported on Friday, the highest-ever for a single day, taking the country’s cumulative tally to 16,38,870. The death toll rose to 35,747, with 779 fatalities recorded in the last 24 hours.

Meanwhile, Dr. Harsh Vardhan, Union Minister of Health and Family Welfare, chaired the 19th meeting of the high-level Group of Ministers (GoM) on COVID-19 by a video-conference today.

At the outset, the GoM was briefed on the current status of COVID-19 in India. Dr. Harsh Vardhan stated that “India has achieved the milestone of more than 1 million recoveries which has taken the Recovery Rate to 64.54 percent. This shows that the active cases under medical supervision are only 33.27 percent or approximately 1/3rd of total positive cases. India’s Case Fatality Rate is also progressively reducing and currently stands at 2.18 percent, one of the lowest globally.”

As many as 37,223 patients recovered in the last 24 hours and the cumulative number of recovered cases rose to 10,57,805. The number of active cases was 5,45,318 today.

While speaking on the severity of cases found in India, the Union Health Minister said, “Out of the total Active Cases, only 0.28 percent patients are on Ventilators, 1.61 percent patients needed ICU support and 2.32 percent are on Oxygen support.”

On the rapidly expanding testing capacity of India, he highlighted that as on date, through a network of 1,331 labs (with 911 Government labs and 420 private labs), India has conducted a record 6,42,588 tests in the last 24 hours. This has taken the cumulative tests to more than 1.88 crore.

The GoM was also apprised of the ramping up of the domestic production capacities of various sectors for manufacturing PPEs, masks, ventilators and drugs such as HCQ. In terms of healthcare logistics, cumulatively 268.25 lakh N95 masks, 120.40 lakh PPEs and 1083.77 lakh HCQ tablets have been distributed to States/Union Territories and Central Institutions.

Dr. Sujeet K Singh, Director, National Centre for Disease Control, (NCDC) presented the global comparison on daily cases, deaths & growth rate in top 10 countries with the highest case load. The GoM was briefed that overall recovery rate for India is 64.54 percent with the highest recovery rate being recorded by Delhi at 89.08 percent, followed by Haryana (79.82 percent). Karnataka has the lowest recovery rate of 39.36 percent.

GoM was apprised on the distribution of confirmed cases along with locality and active cases in the containment zones across rural and urban India. Director NCDC also briefed the GoM on the growth rate in top 12 States (Maharashtra, Tamil Nadu, Delhi, Andhra Pradesh, Karnataka, Uttar Pradesh, West Bengal, Gujarat, Telangana, Bihar, Rajasthan and Assam); number of tests and tests positivity rate across the States/UTs; and the active cases & deaths in top 20 districts and containment zones across districts.

He pointed out that efforts are being made to reduce mortality in high case load districts / cities and cities showing recent upsurge like Pune, Thane, Bengaluru, Hyderabad etc.

The measures to be taken include revamping the strategy for effective management of containment zones through stricter perimeter control; widespread Rapid Antigen Tests; intensive & rapid door-to-door search; more isolation facilities for suspects/cases; standard case management protocols along with increase in oxygen supported beds & ventilators and assessing true burden through planned sero-surveys. Jan Chetana through targeted IEC campaigns and Jan Bhagidari (community involvement) were suggested as the way forward.

In moderate case load districts/cities, the efforts would focus on preventing spill-over from the high burden areas; limiting local spread; early identification of cases; strengthening contact tracing with the use of technology; and community involvement.

As for the low burden districts, the efforts aim at preventing infection among the population from other areas; strengthening Influenza Like Illness (ILI)/ Severe Acute Respiratory Illness (SARI) surveillance and targeted testing; rigorous contact tracing with targets to be set by the local administration (>15-20 contacts/case); and prior identification of high risk population. 

Amit Yadav, Director-General of Foreign Trade briefed the GoM on different items that were put under export restriction/prohibition during COVID-19 pandemic and their present status. The GoM deliberated upon the protocols being followed at the airports and the systemic improvements to improve the triaging of the incoming passengers. (eom)

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