The current phase of the COVID-19 pandemic in India is on multiple trajectories across urban and semi-urban areas with Maharashtra, Andhra Pradesh, Tamil Nadu, Karnataka, Uttar Pradesh, West Bengal and Delhi being the most affected, the Lok Sabha was informed on Friday. “Since the country has a huge population, it is expected that there would be a large number of cases every day,” Minister of State (MoS) for Health Ashwini Choubey said in a written reply.
He also underlined that COVID-19 cases and deaths per million population in India is among the lowest if one were to compare between similarly affected countries. The epidemic curve of any pandemic goes through an ascending, peaking and descending phase, the MoS said.
The most affected states and union territories in the country are Maharashtra, Andhra Pradesh, Tamil Nadu, Karnataka, Uttar Pradesh, West Bengal and Delhi, he said. Elaborating on the series of actions taken by the government to prevent, control and mitigate the impact of COVID-19, Choubey said India followed a “whole of government and whole of society approach”. “Public health actions were taken in a pre-emptive, pro-active, graded manner based on the evolving scenario,” he said.
The MoS said a number of travel advisories were issued restricting the inflow of international travellers, till such a time, commercial flights were suspended on March 23. Till then, a total of 14,154 flights with 15,24,266 passengers were screened at airports. Screening was done at 12 major and also at 65 minor ports and land border crossings, he said. In the initial part of the pandemic, India brought back a large number of stranded passengers from countries like China, Italy, Iran, Japan and Malaysia, and again in the Unlock’ phase, a total of 13,18,891 passengers were brought back, as on September 14, and followed up, Choubey informed.
India had reported 451 COVID-19 cases and nine deaths till March 23 which increased to 36,91,166 cases and 65,288 fatalities, the minister said. India’s COVID-19 mounted to 52,14,677 with 96,424 people testing positive in a day, while the death toll climbed to 84,372 with the virus claiming 1,174 lives in a span of 24 hours, health ministry data updated at 8 am on Friday showed. The Integrated Disease Surveillance Programme (IDSP) is conducting contact tracing through community surveillance and as on September 14, a total of about 40 lakh persons have been kept under surveillance, he said.
The MoS said that as on September 15, a total of 15,360 COVID treatment facilities with 13,20,881 dedicated isolation beds without oxygen support have been created. He said there are also, a total of 2,32,516 oxygen supported isolation beds and 63,194 ICU beds, including 32,409 ventilator beds. So far 1.41 crore of PPE kits, 3.44 crore N-95 masks, 10.84 crore tablets of hydroxychloroquine and 30,663 ventilators and 1,02,400 oxygen cylinders have been supplied to states, UTs, central government hospitals, as on September 14, the Lok Sabha was informed.
MoS Choubey said that various cadre of personnel and volunteers across sectors and departments for COVID related works and maintenance of other essential medical services have been worked out, trained through resources made available on the website of MoHFW, iGOT (online platform) by the DOPT. He said a dedicated call centre and helpline (1075) has been started to guide citizens.
“No specific antivirals have been proven effective so far. Symptomatic treatment for fever and cough, appropriate rehydration, supplemental oxygen therapy remains the mainstay of treatment,” the minister said. The drug Hydroxychloroquine has been recommended for treatment of mild (but high-risk cases) and for moderate cases. In addition, provisions for investigational therapies has also been made for using Remdesivir, convalescent plasma and Tocilizumab for managing severe cases under close medical supervision, Choubey said. Guidelines on clinical management of COVID-19 cases were issued and are being regularly updated and widely circulated, he said. Testing and treatment of COVID-19 is free in all government facilities, the MoS said, adding that health is a State subject. “Ministry of Health and Family Welfare does not maintain state-wise data on average cost, treatment cost etc,” the minister said.