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549 COVID-19 cases in 24 hours, 1.7 crore PPEs and 49,000 ventilators ordered — top points from health ministry presser

As of April 8, out of 1,30,000 samples tested for coronavirus, the positivity rate stood between 3 and 5 per cent over the last two months, not signifying substantial changes, ICMR head Dr K K Gangakhedkar said.

By: Express Web Desk | New Delhi | Updated: April 9, 2020 6:34:21 pm
Regarding the stock of personal protective equipment and other medical safety gear in the country, the health ministry said supplies have started coming in. (Photo: AP)

With new coronavirus cases being reported from different parts of the country, India recorded 549 positive cases and 17 deaths in the past 24 hours, taking the total number of infections to 5,865, including 477 people who have been treated and discharged, the health ministry said on Thursday.

“549 cases and 17 deaths have been reported in the last 24 hours in India. Two Council of Scientific and Industrial Research (CSIR) labs have started whole genome sequencing of the novel coronavirus,” Lav Aggarwal, Joint Secretary, Health Ministry said.

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Regarding the stock of personal protective equipment and other medical safety gear in the country, Aggarwal said nearly 1.7 crore PPEs and 49,000 ventilators have been ordered, and supplies have started coming in.

Here are the important points from the briefing today:

— On the storage of PPEs, Aggarwal said not everyone needs them. “More important than the question about whether PPEs are sufficient is that these things be used as per requirements and risk profile,” Aggarwal said, adding that all medical items must be used as per process. Cited an example, he said if an N95 mask is disposed of after checking one patient and not worn for eight hours, it is a misuse.

— On lifting the export ban on Hydroxychlororquine (HCQ), the health ministry official reiterated that the country had enough stock for its requirements and there would be no shortage of the anti-malaria drug. He also said HCQ should be used only as per protocol, as it could cause cardiac irregularities. Aggarwal stressed that only people who need to should use it.

— As of April 8, out of 1,30,000 samples tested, the positivity rate stood between 3 and 5 per cent over the last two months, not signifying substantial changes, ICMR head Dr K K Gangakhedkar said.

— The ICMR official also said that the institute was in the final stages of finalising the protocol for trial on convalescent plasma and seeking DGCI approval. He added that while testing kits have not arrived yet, they are expected soon.

— When asked whether states delayed the containment plan, the health ministry official said, “We should project the question definitely because field workers have been working constantly and will be demotivated. Any action has to be commensurate with the type of challenge.”

— On the Centre’s health scheme and state inclusion in it, Aggarwal said: “COVID-19 emergency response and health systems package is a 100 per cent centrally funded scheme to help strengthen systems, procure essential medical equipment and consumables drugs. States can buy PPEs, masks, etc.”

— Nearly 10 teams of coronavirus specialists had been sent to 9 states.

— Urging people to stand by healthcare workers and doctors, the health ministry official said the Group of Ministers (GoM) on COVID-19 has said that doctors who are fighting like soldiers against the infection should get full support from communities. “Hospitals should follow infection control guidelines so that medical staff don’t contract coronavirus,” he said.

— The Railways has converted 3,250 coaches into COVID-19 isolation units with beds; total 5,000 coaches to be converted. “Indian Railways has produced 6 lakh reusable face masks and about 4,000 litres of hand sanitiser,” Agarwal informed.

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