India on Tuesday registered an increase of 1,211 COVID-19 cases and 31 deaths in the past 24 hours, making it the largest spike in cases since January.
The total number of cases stands at 10,815, with 353 deaths. As many as 1,189 persons have been discharged after treatment, the Union Health Ministry said.
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Following the Prime Minister’s announcement of extension of the lockdown till May 3, the Ministry said the move was essential to break the chain of transmission. “As per the World Health Organisation data, 76,498 confirmed cases and 5,702 deaths were reported across the world on Monday and it is due to our collective effort that in a large country like India, we have been able to restrict the numbers,” Joint Secretary in the Health Ministry Lav Agarwal said.
According to reports from the State Health Departments, the death toll rose to 390, with 11,350 cases overall of which 9,791 are active ones.
Mumbai alone reported 204 cases, taking the total number of affected people in the city to 1,753, the Brihanmumbai Municipal Corporation said. The death toll in the city stood at 111 with 11 more fatalities.
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“Health Ministry is continuously working with States/UTs to strengthen the health infrastructure in the country,” Mr. Agarwal said.
“As of now, a total of 602 dedicated COVID-19 hospitals with 1,06,719 isolation beds and 12,024 ICU beds have been developed,’’ he added.
He added that the Ministry has now issued guidelines to control COVID-19 spread in high density areas. “The Office of Principal Scientific Adviser to the Government of India has issued guidelines for controlling spread of COVID-19 in densely populated areas. The emphasis of this manual is to bring frugal sanitary and hygiene solutions & measures with focus on community shared toilet, washing or bathing facilities,” noted the Ministry.
“218 Lifeline Udan flights carrying 377.50 tonne essential medical cargo have been sent to different parts, particularly in north-east region, hilly States and Island territories,” said Mr. Agarwal.
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The Indian Council of Medical Research’s (ICMR) head of the Epidemiology and Communicable Diseases-I, R. Gangakhedkar noted that over 2.31 lakh cases have been tested so far with over 18,664 were tested on Monday.
He said India has received its first batch of testing kits and added that with the country ordering 33 lakh RT-PCR (Reverse Transcription-Polymerase Chain Reaction) more, it will be “getting another 37 lakh rapid test kits soon which should have us covered.”
“We have mentioned earlier that we have kits that could last for 6 weeks. This new consignment of RT-PCR kits will be more than sufficient,’’ said Dr. Gangakhedkar.
Responding to a question on whether India was testing enough tests, Mr Agarwal said, “We are doing COVID-19 testing as per our sampling criteria. Non-criteria based testing can result in sub-optimal use of testing kits.”
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“Besides, we are progressively widening our sampling zone, we are testing those who have severe acute respiratory illness (SARI) or influenza-like illnesses,” he added said.
On the Maharashtra government’s request to the ICMR seeking for permission to use BCG vaccine for clinical trials on coronavirus infected patients, Dr. Gangakhedkar said, “The trial permission includes two parts, one has to register in the clinical trials registry set up by the ICMR’s National Institute of Medical Statistics (NIMS) and (also) will have to take approval from the Drug Controller General of India (DCGI).”
Labour Ministry has set up 20 control rooms and grievance centres to address wage-related grievances of workers.
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The Health Ministry meanwhile has noted that during this period special care of the elderly must be take, especially those who have chronic disease. “People should completely adhere to lockdown measures and social distancing, use immunity enhancing measures suggested by Ayush Ministry by consuming warm water ‘Kadha’ and download and use the Aarogya Setu Mobile App to help prevent the spread of corona infection,’’ added Mr. Agarwal.