From Our Bureau                       

14th MAY 2020

A total of 78,003 confirmed cases of COVID-19 have been reported in the country so far and the death toll mounted to 2,549 on Thursday. As many as 26,235 patients have been cured so far. In the last 24 hours, 3,722 new confirmed cases were reported. The total number of active cases now is 49,219.

Union Minister of Health, Dr Harsh Vardhan, said it was heartening news that today, the last three days’ doubling time has slowed down to 13.9 days, while the doubling time in the past 14 days was 11.1.  The fatality rate is 3.2 percent and the recovery rate has further improved and today stands at 33.6 percent (it was 32.83 percent a day before). There are 3.0 percent active COVID-19 patients in ICU, 0.39 percent on ventilators and 2.7 percent on oxygen support.

“Today, there are 14 States/Union Territories which have not reported any cases of COVID-19 in last 24 hours, namely, Andaman & Nicobar Islands, Arunachal Pradesh, Andhra Pradesh, Chandigarh, Dadra & Nagar Haveli, Goa, Chhattisgarh, Gujarat, Jharkhand, Manipur, Meghalaya, Mizoram, Puducherry and Telangana. Also, Daman & Diu, Sikkim, Nagaland and Lakshadweep have not reported any cases till,” he pointed out.

The Union Health Minister also visited the Control Room and the Testing Laboratories, and reviewed the current status of COVID-19 testing with Dr S K Singh, Director (NCDC) and senior officials.

Highlighting the achievements in ramping up the testing capability, Dr. Harsh Vardhan said, “We have now developed a capacity to conduct 1,00,000 tests per day. Today marks an important milestone as we have tested nearly 20 lakh tests for COVID-19 so far at  more than 500 laboratories including 359 Government laboratories and 145 private laboratories in the country.”

“NCDC has been now equipped with the COBAS 6800, a fully automated, high end machine for performing real time PCR testing COVID-19 in the service of nation. COBAS 6800 will provide quality, high-volume testing with a high throughput of test around 1,200 samples in 24 hours. It will largely increase the testing capacity with reduction in pendency,” he added.

Highlighting its other features, the Union Minister said that COBAS 6800 is a sophisticated machine enabled with robotics that minimizes the chance of contamination as well as the risk of infection to the health care workers since it can be operated remotely with limited human intervention. As the machine requires a minimum BSL2+ containment level for testing, it cannot be placed at just any facility. COBAS 6800 can also detect other pathogens like Viral Hepatitis B & C, HIV, MTb (both rifampicin and isoniazide resistance), Papilloma, CMV, Chlamydia, Neiserreia etc.

Expressing his deep gratitude to the selfless services being rendered every day since the beginning of the pandemic, Dr. Harsh Vardhan said praised the pathologists, lab technicians, scientists and other staff who are our ‘Corona Warriors’ and working under tremendous risky conditions in their line of duty, day and night to save the fellow countrymen.

He added that the nation needs to shun stigma and applaud the contribution of these frontline healthcare providers. He also lauded the dedication, hard work and sincerity of all the surveillance officers and encouraged them to continue the fight with renewed vigour.

The Union Health Minister emphasised on the quality and sturdiness of the community surveillance and contact tracing. “It is the need of the hour that all the people who are either in home or facility quarantine, need to maintain strict vigil, and practise the laid down protocols of social distancing, and personal hygiene. Special care needs to be taken of the elderly, pregnant women and small children,” he pointed out. (eom)

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