Updated: March 30, 2020 9:09:32 am
Eight deaths of novel coronavirus (COVID-19) patients were reported in the last 24 hours — the highest single-day toll so far — taking the total toll to 27. With 151 fresh cases being confirmed on Sunday, the number of positive cases has now touched 1,024, of which 95 have recovered.
At the daily briefing, Lav Agarwal, Joint Secretary, Ministry of Health and Family Welfare, did not give details of those who died in the last 24 hours, but said that “most cases of death have seen old age and co-morbidity play a very major role.”
An analysis of the 19 deaths till March 27 shows that 14 were aged above 60 years; 12 had confirmed co-morbid conditions such as hypertension, diabetes and asthma; seven had a history of travel abroad.
Good sign, will help planning
These are still early days in the outbreak in India, and the number of cases has just crossed 1,000 when the global total is over 7 lakh — even so, the fact that such a small number of COVID-19 patients needed to be admitted to the ICU offers a glimmer of hope regarding the virulence of the infection. These hopeful signs will also help Kerala plan its next steps in the battle better, according to officials in the state.
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A 38-year-old man who died in Patna had a history of chronic kidney disease.
A total of 34,931 samples have been tested so far.
The government on Sunday set up 11 empowered groups to coordinate the management and control of the disease across the country. The groups will look at issues related to the medical emergency management plan, availability of hospitals, isolation and quarantine beds, availability of critical medical equipment, human resources supply chain management, coordination with private sector, economic and welfare measures, communication, technology, public grievances and strategic issues on lockdown.
Each group has a representative from the Prime Minister’s Office (PMO) and Cabinet Secretariat; they held meetings at the PMO on Sunday. The group on medical emergency is headed by NITI Aayog member Dr V K Paul, while NITI Aayog CEO Amitabh Kant heads the group on private sector. All the others are headed by Secretaries.
Amid reports of shortages across the country, a government stocktaking exercise has found that 3.17 lakh personal protective equipment (PPE) and 11.47 lakh N95 masks are currently available.
Central PSUs are in the process of manufacturing 40 lakh more masks — 13 lakh have been procured and 5 lakh received as donation.
Masks and PPEs are essential for health workers engaged in management of COVID-19. There are already reports of several doctors being infected, and at least one death of a Mumbai urologist.
Reports have also appeared citing Invest India estimates that the current requirement of masks in the country is 3.8 crore and PPEs is 62 lakh.
Responding to a question about the reported shortage of PPEs and masks etc, Agarwal said: “Invest India is a government body but they may not be completely updated… We have started manufacturing and procuring PPEs, ventilators and N95 masks, and are trying to get them from abroad too. We just got one shipment yesterday. We are making all efforts to upgrade logistics and hospitals.”
“The requirement is a function of our graded response and it keeps changing. Our strategy has been to anticipate and plan in advance… initially, PPEs were made of imported cloth that was not easily available. After many efforts, the Ministry of Textiles had a series of meetings with Indian manufacturers. We have amended PPE guidelines, keeping the virus in mind. Currently, over 10 manufacturers in India have been approved and they have started production. We are looking at others too,” he said.
The Department of Expenditure has issued special instructions to enable fast decisions in matters related to procurements.
There are now 1,26,720 isolation beds that have been earmarked for COVID-19 patients across the country. This includes 17,631 beds in central government institutions and 1,09,089 in the states. However, there are only 25,743 ICU beds so far.
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