Reports from the States put the number of deaths at 18 with Maharashtra, Karnataka and Jammu and Kashmir each reporting a fatality.
With 18 deaths and over 710 COVID-19 positive cases, India is now showing a relatively slower spread of COVID-19 infection rate, Joint Secretary, Union Health Ministry, Lav Agarwal said on Thursday. But he added, “We cannot be relaxed about restrictions put in place to contain the virus.”
Reports from the States put the number of deaths at 18 with Maharashtra, Karnataka and Jammu and Kashmir each reporting a fatality. The total number of positive cases stood at 716 — Kerala had the highest number at 137, followed by 129 in Maharashtra and 52 in Karnataka.
Briefing the press, Mr. Agarwal said while these trends were not definitive indications of a reduction, the measures including social distancing, contact tracing and quarantine were important deterrents to the spread of the virus and could even enable India to keep community transmission away or delay it.
He added that measures had been put in place through the All India Institute of Medical Sciences, New Delhi, to educate doctors online about care of patients to ensure uniform treatment availability.
“The National Institute of Mental Health and Neuro-Sciences (NIMHANS) has been roped in to provide behavioural health modules and educate about mental health while training is being offered to ASHAs and grassroots-level health workers to educate, help in surveillance and assist with care of patients,” said Mr. Agarwal.
ating that this is the biggest challenge that country faces Mr. Agarwal said the “mistake of even a single individual not complying with the rules laid down by the government could prove costly for him and his family.”
“We are all in this together. Any person who doesn’t support us — in social distancing, self-declaration, staying quarantined is doing a disservice to himself and the society. We also request people who have come from abroad to follow quarantine. There are 64,411 of those who have come into India currently under surveillance and of this 8,300 are in home quarantine.”
Answering a question about houseflies spreading COVID-19 he said there is no evidence of this so far and added that India is still not registering any community transmission.
“The Cabinet secretary had a meeting with chief secretaries of states on preparedness and 17 States have started work on putting in place a dedicated hospital for COVID-19 patients.”
Joint Secretary, Home Ministry Punya Salila Srivastava, said measures have been put in place to ensure the regular supply of essential goods and health services to even remote area of India with special flight to northeast.
Head of Epidemiology, Indian Council of Medical Research (ICMR) Raman Gangakhedkar, said the Council had not still felt the need to test all health care workers and that there is no trend to indicate that elderly in India are at added risk. The need of the hour is social distancing.
“We have further increased our laboratory strength by roping in 25 private labs. They have nearly 20,000 collection centres. However, testing has not been majorly expanded as these labs are still getting their testing kits etc and also we don’t have the numbers yet to press all of them into action.”