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Union Minister Harsh Vardhan Takes Stock of Covid-19 Preparedness in Punjab, Appreciates Steps Taken

The Union health minister also added that as of Tuesday 2.75 per cent active COVID-19 patients were in ICU, 0.37 per cent on ventilators and 1.89 per cent on oxygen support.

The Union health minister also added that as of Tuesday 2.75 per cent active COVID-19 patients were in ICU, 0.37 per cent on ventilators and 1.89 per cent on oxygen support.

Vardhan, who reviewed the preparedness of Punjab for managing COVID-19, said as on Wednesday 74,281 coronavirus infection cases have been reported from across the country and while the doubling time in the past 14 days was 11, it has improved to 12.6 in the last three days.

  • PTI
  • Last Updated: May 13, 2020, 6:42 PM IST
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Nine states and UTs including Chhattisgarh, Ladakh, Manipur and Meghalaya have not reported any new case of COVID-19 in the last 24 hours while Daman and Diu, Sikkim, Nagaland and Lakshadweep have not reported any cases so far, Union Health Minister Harsh Vardhan said on Wednesday.

Vardhan, who reviewed the preparedness of Punjab for managing COVID-19, said as on Wednesday 74,281 coronavirus infection cases have been reported from across the country and while the doubling time in the past 14 days was 11, it has improved to 12.6 in the last three days.

As the death toll due to COVID-19 rose to 2,415 and the number of cases climbed to 74,281 registering an increase of 122 deaths and 3,525 cases in the last 24 hours till Wednesday 8 AM, the health minister said the fatality rate is 3.2 per cent and the recovery rate is pegged at 32.8 per cent.

Director of National Centre for Disease Control (NCDC), Dr S K Singh, who made a presentation on the status of COVID-19 cases in Punjab said as on May 12 all 22 districts stand affected by the disease with total 1,913 cases.

Three districts -- Ludhiana, Jalandhar and Patiala -- are in the red zone and 15 are in the orange zone. The total number of samples collected is 43,999 with sample positivity rate at 4.3 per cent, he said, according to a health ministry statement.

The pilgrims who returned from the Nanded Hazoor Sahib in Maharashtra constituted the bulk of cases in Punjab with 1,225 of the total 4,216 testing positive. The state has another challenge with round 20,521 migrant workers returning from other parts of the country, Singh said.

Punjab, according to health ministry data, has recorded 32 deaths and 1,914 coronavirus cases till Wednesday 8 am.

According to the statement, Vardhan during the meeting appreciated the steps taken so far by the Punjab administration regarding the stringent adherence to lockdown measures, meticulous contact tracing, screening of the entire population in the containment areas and home delivery of essential services, items and medicines.

He also requested the state to further strengthen SARI and ILI screening in unaffected districts, in addition to ensuring that non-COVID health services such as immunisation drives, TB case finding and treatment, providing blood transfusion for dialysis patients, treatment of cancer patients and antenatal care of pregnant women are not adversely affected, the statement said.

"As the available data indicate a decline in the notification of TB cases in the private and public clinics, the state needs to give priority to this area too," Vardhan highlighted.

Pointing out that timely payment of salaries and performance-linked incentives would boost the morale of the frontline health workers, the state was requested to release these in time, the statement said.

Vardhan also suggested that the downloading of Aarogya Setu app should be made compulsory for all returnees for better contact surveillance and suitable medical interventions.

Punjab Health Minister Balbir Singh Sidhu stated that even during the lockdown, the OPD services had been continued and non-COVID healthcare delivery has not suffered, the statement said.

The state has screened 6,58,000 people through house-to-house surveillance. Punjab has developed its own dashboard which generates a heat map which is used to define and demarginalise the emerging hotspots for effective containment measures, the statement said.

Sidhu said all the returning pilgrims from Nanded Sahib have been screened, tested and quarantined to prevent them from interacting with the community at large, thus effectively preventing the spread of the virus.

Moreover, a death audit has also been undertaken which has indicated that patients with co-morbidities formed a large percentage of the COVID-19 deaths in Punjab while more than 85 per cent patients are asymptomatic, Anurag Agrawal, Principal Secretary (Health) stated.

Elaborating on the health infrastructure preparedness in the country, Vardhan said 900 dedicated COVID-19 hospitals with a capacity of 1,79,882 beds (1,60,610 isolation and 19,272 ICU beds), 2,040 dedicated COVID-19 health centres with 1,29,689 beds (1,19,340 isolation and 10,349 ICU beds) and 5,577 COVID-19 care centres with 4,93,101 beds are available as of now.

Also, 8,708 quarantine centres are available till now, the statement said.

The Centre has also provided 78.42 lakh N95 masks and 42.18 lakh Personal Protective Equipments (PPEs) to the state, UTs and central institutions, he said.

The Union health minister also added that as of Tuesday 2.75 per cent active COVID-19 patients were in ICU, 0.37 per cent on ventilators and 1.89 per cent on oxygen support.

Vardhan highlighted that the testing capacity has increased in the country to 1,00,000 tests per day and a total 18,56,477 tests have been done so far for COVID-19 with 94,708 samples being tested on Tuesday.

The meeting with Punjab was part of a series of one-to-one discussions with various states and UT health ministers and Collectors of Red Zones and high priority districts to take stock of preparedness, and the actions being taken for management of COVID-19 there.


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