Coronavirus | No community transmission yet, says Health Ministry

Health Ministry says COVID-19 positive cases have touched 606, with 10 deaths

March 25, 2020 11:01 pm | Updated 11:20 pm IST - NEW DELHI

No help: A physically-disabled man had to leave empty handed due to a shortage of food in New Delhi.

No help: A physically-disabled man had to leave empty handed due to a shortage of food in New Delhi.

The Union Health Ministry on Wednesday said there was “no community transmission yet,” with the country registering 606 coronavirus ( COVID-19 ) positive cases with 10 deaths. The Ministry’s data indicate that 563 Indians and 43 foreigners have tested positive, with 553 active cases. “So far, 15,24,266 passengers have been screened at our airports and 22,928 samples collected,” it said.

Also read | Interactive map of confirmed coronavirus cases in India

Joint Secretary in the Health Ministry, Luv Agarwal, told presspersons that the Indian Council of Medical Research (ICMR) had indicated that no community transmission had been found so far.

Watch | Your COVID-19 queries answered

Speaking about the Delhi death registered on Tuesday night allegedly due to COVID-19, Mr. Agarwal said the subsequent sample testing gave a negative report, which led the Ministry to revise its numbers.

Home delivery

Punya Salila Srivastava, Joint Secretary, Home Ministry, noted that all measures are being taken to allow adherence by public of the Prime Minister’s call for 21-day lockdown to fight the spread of COVID-19.

“We are working with various agencies to ensure that essential supplies reach the general public. We are also encouraging e-commerce companies and State governments on home delivery.”

Watch | What is contact tracing?

Union Health Minister Harsh Vardhan on Wednesday highlighted the critical importance of social distancing , home quarantine protocols and supporting medical staff in combating COVID-19, after the Group of Ministers held a meeting at Nirman Bhavan.

He said around 64,000 persons have arrived from other countries to India since March 21, 2020 of which 8,000 had been put in various quarantine facilities and 56,000 were in home isolation.

‘Follow protocols’

“We are fighting an infectious disease. In order to protect ourselves and others, it is highly important that we follow all the protocols, guidelines and directions issued by the government, failing which may lead to legal actions under Section 188 of IPC,” said the Minister.

He urged that medical staff should not be ostracised and that the public should avoid spreading rumours or unauthenticated information

Giving information about the GoM meeting, Dr. Harsh Vardhan said the Ministers discussed about strengthening the capacity of States, which need to devote adequate resources for creating dedicated COVID-19 hospitals, equipping the medical institutes with PPEs, ventilators and other essential equipment etc.

“States have been asked to ensure that essential services and supplies remain open. These include hospitals, medical shops and establishments engaged in manufacturing of medicines, vaccines, sanitisers, masks and medical devices,” he said.

Dedicated hospitals

He said Gujarat, Assam, Jharkhand, Rajasthan, Goa, Karnataka, Madhya Pradesh and Jammu and Kashmir were setting up hospitals dedicated for the management of COVID-19.

The Cabinet Secretary had also written letters and conducted videoconference with Chief Secretaries, Health Secretaries and Directors-General of Police and instructed them to enforce implementation of lockdown measures, said Dr. Harsh Vardhan.

Distribution issues

Meanwhile, pharma and medical device manufacturers on Wednesday said they were facing distribution issues as some of the district administrations in various States / UTs had incorrectly given directions to close the manufacturing operations also in the pharmaceutical / medical device industry as part of various measures to contain the spread of the coronavirus and there were reports of officials unwilling to listen until orders reach them.

“We on behalf of the Indian medical device industry appeal to local administration and police to recognise that medicines, raw materials, components to make masks, sanitisers and other equipment are most essential healthcare delivery products at this critical hour of crisis, so we request them to extend their support and give free passage to the people in the supply chain of essential commodities to reach factories, manufacturing plants and there on the distribution and logistics chain to reach hospitals and clinics etc,” said a statement issued by Rajiv Nath, forum co-ordinator of Association of Indian Medical Device Industry (AiMeD).

‘Make tests free’

Organisations working in the area of healthcare access for all, including Jan Swasthya Abhiyan (JSA), All India Drug Action Network (AIDAN) and All India Peoples Science Network (AIPSN), have asked the government to make COVID-19 tests in private laboratories free of charge and make necessary arrangements to extend free treatment even in private healthcare institutions.

Replying to this Mr. Agarwal said: “The test and treatment is free at government hospitals and the pricing capping for testing facility was offered after discussion with the private sector.”

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