From Our Bureau                       

5th MAY 2020

A total of 46,711 confirmed cases of COVID-19 have been reported in the country so far and the death toll mounted to 1,583 on Tuesday.  As many as 13,161 persons have been cured with a recovery rate of 28.2 per cent. The number of active cases in the hospitals reached 31,967, according to the latest update from the Ministry of Health and Family Welfare.

As the highest increase so far in the number of confirmed cases and deaths has been reported in the last 24 hours, States/Union Territories are advised to effectively implement contact tracing, active case search and clinical management of cases.

Through a graded, pre-emptive and pro-active approach, Government of India is taking several steps along with the States/UTs for prevention, containment and management of COVID-19. These are being regularly reviewed and monitored at the highest level.

Dr. Harsh Vardhan, Union Minister of Health and Family Welfare, chaired the 14th meeting of Group of Ministers (GoM), where they had in-depth deliberation on containment and management of COVID-19, and the measures taken by the Centre and various States.  

GoM reviewed the adequacy and availability of PPEs, masks, ventilators, drugs and other essential equipment against the requirement. The performance, impact and effectiveness of Arogya Setu App was also presented to the GOM. 

Ministry of Health and Family Welfare has issued an additional guideline for rational use of PPE for health care workers and others in non-COVID treatment areas in non-COVID hospitals and hospitals with COVID blocks. This is in continuance with the guidelines already issued on the rational use of PPE on 24th March, 2020.  

Different levels of Personal Protective Equipments (PPEs) have been prescribed for different areas of the hospital like in OPD, chambers of doctors, pre-anaesthetic check-up clinic, IPD- Ward/ICU, labor room, operation theatre etc.

Ministry of Health and Family Welfare had already issued guidelines for Delivery of Non-Essential Health Services on 14th April, 2020. In accordance with these guidelines, the States/UTs have to ensure that all services like immunisation, maternal-child health services, services for critically ill patients such as dialysis, cancer, diabetes, TB and blood donation services are being provided in government and private non-COVID facilities as per the relaxations given in various zones.

The 14th meeting of the high level Group of Ministers (GoM) on COVID-19 was held at Nirman Bhawan, here today, under the chairpersonship of Dr. Harsh Vardhan, Union Minister of Health & Family Welfare. Hardeep S. Puri, Minister of Civil Aviation, Dr. S. Jaishankar, Minister of External Affairs, Nityananda Rai, Minister of State for Home, and Ashwini Kumar Choubey, Minister of State, Health & Family Welfare were present, along with Bipin Rawat, Chief of Defence Staff and Union Home Secretary Ajay Kumar Bhalla.

A detailed presentation on the present status of COVID-19 cases globally and within the country was made to the GoM. The Group of Ministers (GoM) had in depth deliberation on containment strategy and management aspects of COVID-19, as well as the measures being taken by the Centre and various States.

GoM was informed that all districts in the country have been divided into three categories i.e. Red Zone (130 Districts), Orange Zone (284 Districts) and Green Zone (319) Districts. The green category represents the districts which have not reported any case since last 21 days.

States have been asked to follow and further strengthen their contingency plans to combat COVID-19 on the basis of classification of the districts. Several other measures about strengthening capacity of states including devoting adequate resources for creating Dedicated COVID-19 Hospitals, equipping the medical institutions with adequate number of PPEs, ventilators and other essential equipment etc., were also discussed in detail.

GoM was apprised that as of now the death rate is around 3.2 percent while recovery rate is more than25 percent, which may be taken as a positive effect of the Lockdown in the country along with the cluster management & containment strategy.

Various recommendations of Government of India for the containment zone management pertaining to indicators, root causes and action required are already shared with the States/UTs for better and effective management of COVID-19 by the Ministry of Health and Family Welfare.

GoM was also informed that genome sequencing of strains of the novel coronavirus isolated from patients in different parts of the country has been initiated.

The Empowered Group-3 looking after ensuring essential medical equipment such as PPEs, masks, ventilators etc., apprised the GoM regarding the adequacy and availability of PPEs, masks, ventilators, drugs and other essential equipment against the requirement.

GoM was informed that domestic manufacturers have reached the production capacity of nearly 2.5 lakh PPEs per day and about 2 lakhs N95 masks per day which is sufficient to meet the requirement of the country in near future. In addition, manufacturing of ventilators by domestic manufacturers has also been started and orders have been placed. Steps have been taken to maintain the quality norms for PPEs, masks and ventilators. Adequate quantity of oxygen cylinders is also being procured.

GoM highlighted the need for ensuring that stringent measures of quality control were ensured for PPEs, mask, ventilators etc. Random batch sampling for ensuring compliance and adherence to the quality standards laid down were also stressed upon by the GoM. 

Union Home Secretary Ajay Kumar Bhalla, Chairman of Empowered Group-11, informed the GoM that they are monitoring and supervising the strategic issues arriving out of the measures taken so far in containing the pandemic. He also apprised the GoM that at different stages during lockdown, decisions on graded liberalisation were taken after consultations with stakeholders, cutting across various ministries and other Empowered Groups.

A presentation was made by Ajay Sawhney, Secretary (MeITY) and Chairman of Empowered Group-9, dealing with technology solutions and data management for combatting COVID-19. Various aspects pertaining to the performance, impact and benefits of Arogya-Setu application were discussed during the meeting. It was informed close to 9 crore users had downloaded the app as on 4th May, 2020.

People have informed about their health status on the application which has helped in tracing those suffering with any symptoms for COVID-19 containment. GoM was also informed that mechanism has also been devised to reach out to the people who have landline or featured phones through Interactive Voice Response System (IVRS) in local languages for better results. GoM expressed satisfaction over the work done by the Ministries and the Empowered Groups.

Dr. Harsh Vardhan stated that the use of technology is integral for the containment strategy and is helping the States to manage the COVID-19 in a more effective manner. (eom)

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