From Our Bureau
10th April 2020
The Corona Virus (CPVID-19) pandemic situation continued to worsen globally, with the confirmed cases across the world jumping to 15,21,352 and the death toll reaching 92,798 in the 212 affected countries and territories, according to the latest update from the World Health Organization (WHO).
In India, the number of confirmed cases touched 6,412 and the death toll hit 199 on 10th April. In all, 503 persons have been cured/discharged from the hospitals after recovery.
In Telangana State, the total number of confirmed cases increased to 487, with 12 deaths and 45 cases discharged.
Globally, European region continued to be the worst-hit, with 7,99,696 confirmed cases and 66,213 deaths. American region came next with 4,93,173 confirmed cases and 17,038 deaths. Western Pacific region’s tally stood at 1,17,247 confirmed cases and 3,978 deaths. Eastern Mediterranean region reported 88,657 confirmed cases and 4,607 deaths. South-East Asia region recorded 12,978 confirmed cases and 569 deaths and African region witnessed 8,789 confirmed cases and 382 deaths. WHO Risk Assessment at global level remained very high.
No new country/territory/area reported cases of COVID-19 in the past 24 hours. Dr. Bruce Aylward, Special Adviser to WHO’s Director-General, speaking of his recent mission to Spain at a press briefing, highlighted the need for countries to understand that the virus can overwhelm even the most robust health systems, resulting in the need to entirely reconfigure health sectors in response.
OpenWHO, a web-based learning platform, has launched a new online course Introduction to Go.Data – Field data collection, chains of transmission and contact follow-up. The Go.Data tool supports outbreak investigation, focusing on field data collection, contact tracing and visualisation of chains of transmission. It is available to WHO staff around the world, Member States and partners.
As the number of cases continues to climb in Europe, two new WHO tools launched today will help health planners in the European Region prepare for the rapidly increasing number of patients with COVID-19 requiring acute and intensive care in hospitals.
At a media briefing, WHO Director-General, Dr Tedros, said “Globally, nearly 1.5 million confirmed cases of COVID-19 have now been reported to WHO, and more than 92,000 deaths. In the past week, we’ve seen a welcome slowing in some of the hardest-hit countries in Europe, like Spain, Italy, Germany and France. On a personal note, I was pleased to see my friend Boris Johnson is no longer in intensive care. I wish him all the best – as I wish the best for everyone who is facing what he faced.”
The Director-General pointed out that “at the same time, we’ve seen an alarming acceleration in other countries. I want to take a moment to highlight Africa, where we are seeing the spread of the virus to rural areas. We are now seeing clusters of cases and community spread in more than 16 countries. We anticipate severe hardship for already overstretched health systems, particularly in rural areas, which normally lack the resources of those in cities.”
As Dr Moeti, the WHO Regional Director for Africa, observed, this means countries need to localize the response, by urgently strengthening the existing public health and primary health care infrastructure in countries. The recent meeting of the G20 countries expressed strong support for Africa, which must be expedited even though the numbers in Africa are still relatively small but accelerating.
“I know that some countries are already planning the transition out of stay-at-home restrictions. WHO wants to see restrictions lifted as much as anyone. At the same time, lifting restrictions too quickly could lead to a deadly resurgence. The way down can be as dangerous as the way up if not managed properly,” he added.
“WHO is working with affected countries on strategies for gradually and safely easing restrictions. Important factors to consider are: First, that transmission is controlled; Second, that sufficient public health and medical services are available; Third, that outbreak risks in special settings like long-term care facilities are minimized; Fourth, that preventive measures are in place in workplaces, schools and other places where it’s essential for people to go; Fifth, that importation risks can be managed; And sixth – and I cannot over-emphasize this point – that communities are fully aware and engaged in the transition.
“Every single person has a role to play in ending this pandemic. We are particularly concerned by the large numbers of infections reported among health workers. In some countries there are reports of more than 10 percent of health workers being infected. This is an alarming trend. When health workers are at risk, we’re all at risk.
“Evidence from China, Italy, Singapore, Spain and the United States is helping us to understand why this is happening, and what we can do about it. It shows that some health workers are actually being infected outside health facilities, in their homes or communities.
Within health facilities, common problems are the late recognition of COVID-19, or lack of training or inexperience in dealing with respiratory pathogens.
“Many health workers are also being exposed to large numbers of patients in long shifts with inadequate rest periods. However, the evidence also shows that when health workers wear personal protective equipment the right way, infections can be prevented. That makes it even more important that health workers are able to access the masks, gloves, gowns and other PPE they need to do their jobs safely and effectively.
“To support countries, WHO has launched three tools to help managers and planners calculate the health workers, supplies and equipment that will be needed for the increase in COVID-19 patients. I mentioned the new United Nations Supply Chain Task Force, to coordinate and scale up the procurement and distribution of personal protective equipment, lab diagnostics and oxygen to the countries that need it most.
“This initiative will be coordinated by WHO and the World Food Programme, building on existing collaboration between multiple partners from within and outside the UN. This system will consist of hubs in Belgium, China, Ethiopia, Ghana, Malaysia, Panama, South Africa and the United Arab Emirates. We estimate this supply chain may need to cover more than 30% of the world’s needs in the acute phase of the pandemic.
“Every month, we will need to ship at least 100 million medical masks and gloves; up to 25 million N95 respirators, gowns and face-shields; up to 2.5 million diagnostic tests; and large quantities of oxygen concentrators and other equipment for clinical care. To move these supplies around the world, the World Food Programme will deploy eight 747 aircraft, eight medium-sized cargo aircraft, and several smaller passenger planes to move humanitarian workers, technical staff, trainers and other personnel. Clearly the associated costs will be substantial.
“The WFP estimates it will need approximately US$280 million, simply to cover the costs of storing and moving supplies. The costs of procuring supplies will be much greater. We urge donors to support this vitally important system. We call on all donors to support the World Food Programme, the WHO Director-General added.
The Ministry of Health and Family Welfare Update on COVID-19 on April 10th said that the
Government of India is taking several steps along with the States/UTs for the prevention, containment and management of COVID-19 in the country. These are being regularly reviewed and monitored at the highest level.
Dr. Harsh Vardhan, Union Minister of Health and Family Welfare, held a video conference to review actions and preparedness for COVID-19 management with Health Ministers, Chief Secretaries/Health Secretaries of all States and UTs.
Dr. Harsh Vardhan suggested that there is a need to make dedicated COVID-19 hospitals in each district of the country and notify them as soon as possible so that people are informed about them. He said that detailed guidelines for which category of health worker/ professional need to use which category of PPE, are available at the Ministry’s website (www.mohfw.gov.in) and States need to create awareness about their rational use too. A video highlighting the appropriate use of PPE in different areas of hospitals has been uploaded.
The Government of India has announced sanction of Rs 15,000 Crores for ‘India COVID-19 Emergency Response and Health System Preparedness Package’. These funds can be used for treatment of COVID-19 patients and strengthen the medical infrastructure of the country with primary focus on COVID-19. This will boost the number of COVID-19 testing facilities and can be used to purchase Personal Protective Equipment (PPE), Isolation beds, ICU beds, Ventilators and other essential medical equipment and training of medical and paramedical manpower.
In all, 39 domestic manufacturers have been developed for Personal Protective Equipment (PPE) and Government of India has taken all required action to ensure adequate supply of PPEs for our frontline workers across all States. Around 20.4 lakh N-95 masks have been supplied to the States and further procurement has already been initiated to address future requirements. Also, an order for 49,000 ventilators has been placed and stock is being taken for future requirements.
Ministry of Health and Family Welfare has also issued guidelines on blood transfusions and voluntary blood donation to ensure adequate stocks of blood & blood components, especially for those patients where blood transfusions is a life saving measure.
Additionally, against the projected requirement of Hydroxychloroquine (HCQ) of 1 crore tablets (including Health Workers dealing with COVID-19 patients, ICU cases and high risk contacts) the availability, as of now, is 3.28 crore tablets, which is 3 times more than required for domestic use in the country. In addition to this, about 2-3 crore more have been stocked up.
Online training on Pregnancy and Labour Management has been taken up by AIIMS as part of their Webinars.
As of now, capacity of testing is up-scaled through 146 Government labs, 67 Private labs with more than 16,000 collection centres. On 9th April 2020, approximately 16,002 tests were taken up, of which 320 were found to be positive (approximately 2%). This figure, however, varies on a day-to-day basis depending on the samples collected.
Meanwhile, the Ministry of Health and Family Welfare, in its Update on COVID-19, on April 9th, said the Government of India is taking several steps along with the States/Union Territories for the prevention, containment and management of COVID-19 in the country. These are being regularly reviewed and monitored at the highest level.
The Director of Public Health and Family Welfare, Government of Telangana, in a media bulletin on April 10th, said that in view of COVID-19 global pandemic, the state of Telangana has strengthened surveillance, contact tracing and containment measures against the possible spread of disease. In all, 26 districts out of 33 in the State have reported positive cases so far. However, till date there is no evidence of community transmission in Telangana.
Diagnostic labs (6) are functional 24/7 to meet the Diagnostic demand. The travelers and the contacts of Markaz, Delhi are being tracked, tested and treated for COVID-19. Containment activity has been taken up in all the districts where the positive cases are reported. The State is taking all the measures to contain the spread of the virus to protect and safeguard the public. (eom)