From Our Bureau                       

21ST MAY 2020

A total of 1,12,359 confirmed cases of COVID-19 have been reported in the country so far and the death toll mounted to 3,435 on Thursday. India currently has 63,624 active cases. These are all under active medical supervision. Of the active cases, only 2.94 percent of the cases are in ICU.

The focus on timely case identification and proper clinical management of cases has resulted in the improvement in the recovery rate continuously. More than 40.32 percent of the confirmed cases have recovered so far, bringing the total to 45,300 recoveries, as of today.  This is a reminder that the disease is curable and the clinical management protocols adopted by India are effective.

The case mortality rate in India is 3.06 percent, which is much lesser in comparison to the global case mortality rate of 6.65 percent. An analysis of the deaths indicates 64 percent deaths in males & 36 percent in females.

In terms of age distribution, it is observed that 0.5 percent deaths are reported in less than 15 years age group, 2.5 percent in 15-30 years age group, 11.4 percent in 30-45 years age group, 35.1 percent in 45-60 years age group and 50.5 percent in people above 60 years.

Further, 73 percent of the death cases had underlying co-morbidities. Elderly people (above 60 years of age) and people having co-morbidities are identified as high risk groups for COVID-19.

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

Community awareness on COVID appropriate behaviour is an important intervention for prevention of spread of this disease. There is need to focus on personal hygiene, hand hygiene, and respiratory etiquettes and environmental sanitation. Face covers and masks should be used in public places and physical distancing should be followed. Large gatherings should be avoided. Individuals in high risk groups should stay at home except for essential and health purposes.

There are reports in a section of the media about some decisions of the government regarding the lockdown implementation and response to COVID-19 management.

The period of the lockdown has been gainfully utilized to ramp up the health infrastructure in the country. As on date, 45,299 people have been cured taking our recovery rate to 40.32 percent. As on date, 26,15,920 samples have been tested and 1,03,532 samples have been tested in the last 24 hours through 555 testing labs (391 in the government sector and 164 private labs).

Indian Council of Medical Research, New Delhi, in collaboration with Department. of Health and Family Welfare, Government of India and National Centre for Disease Control with support from State health departments and key stakeholders including WHO, is conducting a community based sero-survey to estimate the prevalence of SARS-CoV-2 infection in Indian population.

In collective efforts of Central as well as State Governments, as many as 3,027 dedicated COVID Hospitals and COVID Health Centres along with 7,013 COVID Care Centres have been identified. Additionally, more than 2.81 lakh isolation beds, more than 31,250 ICU beds, and 1,09,888 oxygen supported beds  have already been identified in Dedicated COVID Hospitals and COVID Health Centres.

Also, Government of India has supplied 65 lakh PPE coveralls and 101 lakh N95 masks to the States. Nearly 3 lakh PPE coveralls and 3 lakh N95 masks are now being manufactured per day by domestic producers, although they were not produced in the country earlier.

In addition, the Government is consulting and involving epidemiologists actively at all levels in order to combat COVID-19. The National Task Force (NTF) for COVID-19, constituted by the Indian Council of Medical Research (ICMR), has held 20 meetings since mid March 2020 and has systematically and effectively contributed towards the scientific and technical response to the pandemic.

A team of researchers from Jawaharlal Nehru Centre for Advanced Scientific Research (JNCASR), an autonomous Institute under the Department of Science &Technology (DST), Government of India, along with collaborator from IISc Bengaluru, have developed a heuristic predictive model for COVID-19 that provides short-term predictions about the evolution of the disease and the medical needs that are generated as a consequence.

Under the Union Minister for Health & Family Welfare, Science and Technology, and Earth Sciences, a well-coordinated approach has been adopted to activate the scientific community of the country and who are contributing by working round the clock to develop new testing kits, protective equipment, respiratory devices, etc.

This approach has helped in providing a common platform for sharing of best practices, collaboration of work, development of need-based innovations, and in avoiding duplication of research work.

With the help of institutions under DST and sister ministries, DST is taking the lead in coordinating the effort to map and upscale appropriate technologies in India for addressing a plethora of issues related to COVID-19. The DBT and its PSU, Biotechnology Industry Research Assistance Council (BIRAC) has announced a COVID-19 Research Consortium Call to support Diagnostics, Vaccines, Novel Therapeutics, Repurposing of Drugs or any other intervention for control of COVID-19. (eom)

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