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Covid case count nears 2-lakh mark, ICMR says ‘far away from peak’

“We are very far away from the peak. Our preventive measures have been very effective. We are in a much better position vis-a-vis other countries and you will see the data soon,” Dr Gupta said.

Written by Abantika Ghosh | New Delhi | Updated: June 3, 2020 6:42:55 am
Passengers wearing mask to protect themselves from Coronavirus at Chandigarh Railway Station.

As the total Covid-19 case count nears the 2-lakh mark, Indian Council of Medical Research (ICMR) scientist Dr Nivedita Gupta said on Tuesday that the country is still “very far away from the peak”.

In an infectious disease, a peak signifies the point at which the daily case count will start to fall. Over the last few days, over 8,000 new cases have been reported from across the country daily.

“We are very far away from the peak. Our preventive measures have been very effective. We are in a much better position vis-a-vis other countries and you will see the data soon,” Dr Gupta said.

This is in line with several statements by top government officials, including from NITI Aayog and AIIMS, that the worst months are likely to be June and July.

With 8,171 new cases and 204 deaths being reported in the last 24 hours, the total case count is now 1,98,706, including 5,598 deaths and 95,526 cured/ discharged.

Whether there is a single peak, multiple ones, or waves, experts say that when an infectious disease hits a peak, it may not mean the outbreak is over but it usually means that the worst is over. However, there could be another wave or peak later. With Covid-19 being a new pandemic, nobody knows how it will pan out.

On the issue of community transmission, Dr Gupta said: “In an infectious disease… the important thing is the extent of the spread. Instead of using the word community transmission, it is important to understand the spread and where we stand vis-a-vis other countries. To that end, ICMR has started a sero-survey under which close to 34,000 people will be covered. The results will be in public domain by the end of the week.”

Also read | Covid test should track viral load too, says new ICMR study

This comes days after three medical organisations, represented by experts from AIIMS and ICMR’s own research groups, said community transmission has set in.

According to the health ministry’s analysis, of the total deaths so far, 50% were aged over 60 years, and 73% had co-morbidities.

This is the first time that ICMR was represented by Dr Gupta at the briefing. Both Dr Balram Bhargava, ICMR DG, and Dr R R Gangakhedkar, head of epidemiology and infectious diseases, are in self-quarantine following contact with a positive case last week.

Health Ministry Joint Secretary Lav Agarwal confirmed that states have been asked to requisition all possible places which can be converted into facilities where patients can be housed.

“Covid is known to affect oxygen saturation levels. However, our experience has been that very few patients need ventilator or ICU support, so states have been asked to concentrate on more oxygen beds,” he said.

Till May 30, there were 942 dedicated Covid hospitals with 1,58,908 isolation beds, 20,608 ICU beds and 69,384 oxygen-supported beds; 2,380 dedicated Covid health centres with 1,33,678 isolation beds, 10,916 ICU beds and 45,750 oxygen-supported beds; 7,304 Covid care centres with 6,64,330 beds; and 10,541 quarantine centres.

Agarwal said approval for use of remdesivir in case of emergency has been given as per established procedures. On India being ranked alongside other countries in terms of its Covid-19 numbers, he said: “It is not a fair comparison to say we are in such and such position. You have to take into account the population of those countries and our population.”

Meanwhile, the health ministry has shot a video featuring actor Akshay Kumar in an attempt to address the public fear over Covid-19.

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