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No Dearth of Beds, Ventilators for Covid-19 Patients in Centre-run Hospitals: Health Ministry

Representational Image (Reuters)

Representational Image (Reuters)

Minister of State for Health Ashwini Choubey replied in the negative to a question on whether an increase in deaths of patients has been registered due to insufficient beds and ventilators in hospitals.

Sufficient number of beds and ventilators for coronavirus infected patients were available after March 24 in AIIMS and other central government-run hospitals of the country, Minister of State for Health Ashwini Choubey told the Lok Sabha on Friday. The minister replied in the negative to a question on whether an increase in deaths of patients has been registered due to insufficient beds and ventilators in hospitals.

There were 1,707 beds and 292 ventilators in March which have been increased to7,403 beds and 906 ventilators in September in the Health Ministry's 13 COVID dedicated hospitals in the country, Choubey said. Providing data on the number of pathological labs available across the country for conducting COVID-19 tests in response to a question, Choubey said the Indian Council of Medical Research (ICMR), an autonomous organisation under the Department of Health Research, has informed that as on September 13, a total of 1,717 COVID-19 testing laboratories are registered on its portal comprising 1,049 government labs and 668 private labs.

In addition, ICMR has a total of 5,134 antigen testing sites in their database as on September 17, he said. "The ICMR has informed that till September 13, a total 5,72,39,428 COVID-19 tests have been performed by the testing laboratories, of which 48,46,427 have been reported as COVID-19 infected," the minister said.

He also stated that ICMR has informed that it is in the process of on-boarding more new labs through its 14 mentor institutes. Private and government medical institutions that have not yet set-up a lab have been issued instructions to expedite the process for the same. According to ICMR, there are more than 250 labs which are in the process of setting-up COVID-19 testing facilities, the minister said.

Further, in response to another question, the minister informed that India's testing strategy includes rapid antigen test for fast detection of COVID-19 infected patients. Rapid antibody tests can be used for detecting the presence of antibodies in recovered individuals. These are not used for patient diagnosis, he said. The ICMR has informed that it has been interacting with national and international manufacturers who have expressed their interest in supplying diagnostics to India.

The kit manufacturers are required to submit their product for validation at the designated centres of ICMR. "Only the approved kits are provided marketing permission by the Drugs Controller General of India. However, US-FDA approved kits are exempted from validation.

"Price of procurement is based on a competitive tendering process. ICMR's validation process is based on standardized protocols developed under consultation of experts and are in line with global standards," he said.

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