Vardhan says India better positioned in COVID fight; record rise in cases for 7th consecutive day

India is better positioned in the fight against COVID-19 compared to other nations but there is no space for complacency, Union Health Minister Harsh Vardhan said on Tuesday, even as a record rise in coronavirus cases for the seventh consecutive day in the country pushed the tally to over 2.6 lakh.
High-level central teams have been deployed in 15 states and union territories (UTs) with more than 50 districts or municipal bodies witnessing high case load and high spurt of cases, the Union Health Ministry said.
The teams will assist state governments by providing technical support for containment and facilitate management of the COVID-19 outbreak, it said.
The death toll due to the coronavirus infection rose to 7,466 and the cases mounted to 2,66,598 in the country.
India is the fifth worst-hit nation by the COVID-19 pandemic after the US, Brazil, Russia and the UK, according to Johns Hopkins University data.
Several states like Haryana, Jammu and Kashmir, Assam, Haryana, Karnataka, Chhattisgarh and Tripura have been showing a spurt in cases.
A total of 266 new COVID-19 fatalities and 9,987 cases were reported in the last 24 hours till Tuesday 8 am, according to Union Health Ministry data.
The number of RT-PCR tests for detection of COVID-19 in India crossed the five million mark on Tuesday, ICMR sources said. Till 6.30 PM Tuesday, 50,30,700 samples were tested.
With cases multiplying, multi-disciplinary central teams are helping states and UTs address challenges like testing bottlenecks, low tests per million population, high confirmation rates, risk of capacity shortfall over the next two months, potential bed shortage, growing case fatality rate, high doubling rate and sudden spike in active cases, the ministry said.
These states and UTs are Maharashtra (seven districts/ municipalities), Telangana (four), Tamil Nadu (seven), Rajasthan (five), Assam (six), Haryana (four), Gujarat (three), Karnataka (four), Uttarakhand (three), Madhya Pradesh (five), West Bengal (three), Delhi (three), Bihar (four), Uttar Pradesh (four), and Odisha (five).
Meanwhile, Vardhan chaired the 16th meeting of the high-level group of ministers (GoM) on COVID-19 which reviewed the containment strategies pertaining to the pandemic via video-conferencing here, the health ministry said.
The GoM was briefed about the latest status, response and management of COVID-19 in the country.
A brief snapshot was presented to the GOM highlighting the comparative position of India vis-a-vis other countries in a similar stage of easing lockdown, underscoring the benefits that have accrued from the lockdown and how this can be leveraged in management of disease, the ministry said.
As the country entered the “Unlock 1.0 phase” when restrictions have been eased and curbs lifted, Vardhan stressed that people need to be more disciplined and adopt appropriate behaviour to ensure norms of physical distancing, use of face covers, hand hygiene and respiratory etiquette are followed.
India is better positioned in the fight against COVID-19 compared to other nations,”but there is no space for complacency,” Vardhan strongly reiterated.
He also reminded everybody to download the Aarogya Setu app which will help in self risk assessment and in protection against COVID-19.
More than 12.55 crore people in the country have downloaded the app, as on date, the ministry said in a statement.
In the wake of all government offices opening now, Vardhan appealed to the heads of departments, “Let us also not forget the ‘social vaccine’ against COVID-19 through strict adherence of norms of physical distancing, hand hygiene and mask/face covers.” The GoM was informed that as on June 9, COVID-related health infrastructure in the country has been strengthened with the availability of 958 dedicated COVID hospitals with 1,67,883 isolation beds, 21,614 ICU and 73,469 oxygen supported beds.
Also, 2,313 dedicated COVID health centres with 1,33,037 isolation beds, 10,748 ICU beds and 46,635 oxygen supported beds have also been operationalised.
Moreover, 7,525 COVID care centres with 7,10,642 beds are now available to combat COVID-19 in the country. The ventilators available for COVID beds are 21,494, the ministry said.
The Centre has further placed an order of 60,848 ventilators, it added.
The central government has also provided 128.48 lakh N95 masks and 104.74 lakh personal protective equipment (PPEs) to the states, union territories and central institutions.
Minister of External Affairs S Jaishankar, Civil Aviation Minister Hardeep Singh Puri, Minister of State for Home Affairs Nityananda Rai, Minister of State for Shipping and Chemical and Fertilizers Mansukh Lal Mandaviya and Minister of State for Health Ashwini Kumar Choubey along with other senior officials took part in the meeting which was held following norms of physical distancing, the ministry said.
Parameswaran Iyer, Chairman of Empowered Group-5, presented the critical strategies adopted by the EG to ease the burden of lockdown while enabling supply of critical items for the country to fight the pandemic.
Head of Epidemiology and Communicable Diseases at ICMR, Dr Raman R Gangakhedkar also presented details on the status of testing labs, augmented capacities for testing across the country, and also enlightened the GoM on various issues related to hydroxychloroquine, remdesivir, and sero-surveillance studies.
The number of active novel coronavirus cases stands at 1,29,917 till Tuesday 8 AM.
So far, a total of 1,29,214 people have recovered with 4,785 patients having been cured in the last 24 hours.
“This takes the total recovery rate to 48.47 per cent,” the ministry said.
The rise in cases comes at a time when the country has stepped out of a 75-day coronavirus lockdown with malls, religious places and offices opening in several parts of the country under strict conditions.
Since the onset of June, the country has also been witnessing over 200 COVID-19 fatalities each day. Also, the country has registered over 9,000 coronavirus infection cases for the sixth day in a row.