Coronavirus update: More ventilators will be available soon, says Centre

Updated on Mar 27, 2020 05:43 PM IST

“We have given an order to a PSU to provide 10,000 ventilators. Bharat Electronics Limited (BEL) has also been requested to purchase 30,000 additional ventilators in 1-2 months,” Lav Aggarwal, a joint secretary with the Union health ministry, said during a press conference.

Experts have said the estimated 40,000 working ventilators in the country said will be inadequate in case there is a surge in Covid-19 infections.(Saumya Khandelwal/HT file photo. Image for representational purpose.)
Experts have said the estimated 40,000 working ventilators in the country said will be inadequate in case there is a surge in Covid-19 infections.(Saumya Khandelwal/HT file photo. Image for representational purpose.)
Hindustan Times, New Delhi | By

The government is doing everything to ramp up the production of medical ventilators in the country, amid reports of a shortage of this critical equipment in the battle against Covid-19, a senior official said on Friday.

“We have given an order to a PSU to provide 10,000 ventilators. Bharat Electronics Limited (BEL) has also been requested to purchase 30,000 additional ventilators in 1-2 months,” Lav Aggarwal, a joint secretary with the Union health ministry, said during a press conference.

BEL is under the defence ministry.

“The government is doing all to make the availability of ventilators in the country,” Aggarwal said.

India’s number of Covid-19 patients jumped to 724 on Friday, Aggarwal said.

“Till now, 724 Covid-19 cases have been confirmed and the total deaths stand at 17. In the last 24 hours, 75 new positive cases and four deaths have been reported,” Aggarwal said.

Experts have said the estimated 40,000 working ventilators in the country said will be inadequate in case there is a surge in Covid-19 infections that, in approximately 5% of the cases, sends patients to intensive care units (ICU) with acute breathing problems.

The coronavirus attacks people’s lungs, in some cases compromising their ability to breathe as they develop pneumonia. Ventilators, which deliver air to the lungs through a tube placed in the windpipe, are crucial to keeping these patients alive.

India has banned exports of ventilators, cancelled elective surgeries to keep ICU beds on standby, and imposed a 21-day national lockdown to socially isolate people.

The government, Mint reported, has lifted controls on producing ventilators and plans to ask all interested manufacturing companies, including automakers, to start producing ventilators.

Companies require a license to make items listed as essential medical equipment under the Drugs and Cosmetics Act and Medical Device Rules. This rule has, however, been waived off considering the medical urgency but only if the manufacturer partners a licensed firm.

The Centre had on Tuesday reached out to five automakers—Tata Motors Ltd, Mahindra and Mahindra Ltd (M&M), Hyundai Motor India Ltd, Honda Cars India Ltd and Maruti Suzuki India Ltd—to explore the possibility of making ventilators at their plants.

It also urged the automakers to partner with nine companies who currently make ventilators in India and Tata Motors and M&M have already begun talks with some of them, Mint reported.

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