Lockdown prevented 37k-78k deaths: Harsh Vardhan tells Lok Sabha
Four months of lockdown has prevented approximately 14–29 lakh cases and 37–78,000 deaths due to Covid-19, said Union health minister Harsh Vardhan on Covid-19 management during the first day of Parliament’s monsoon session on Monday.
“These four months were utilised to create additional health infrastructure, enhance human resource and produce within India critical elements such as PPEs, N-95 masks and ventilators. A case in point is the increase in dedicated isolation beds 36.3 times and dedicated ICU beds above 24.6 times to what existed in March 2020. Whereas there was no indigenous manufacturing of PPE, with the requisite standards, at that point in time, we are now self-sufficient and, in a position to even export the same,” he said.
The minister also said that India has been able to limit its cases and deaths per million to 3,328 and 55 respectively, which is one of the lowest in the world as compared to similarly affected countries.
The maximum cases and deaths have been primarily reported from Maharashtra, Andhr Pradesh, Tamil Nadu, Karnataka, Uttar Pradesh, Delhi, West Bengal, Bihar, Telangana, Odisha, Assam, Kerala and Gujarat. All these states have reported at least 100,000 cases.
“Many of the epidemiological parameters, such as mode of transmission, subclinical infection, period of virus shedding, role of immunity etc. are still being researched. Once a person is exposed to the infection, the disease may develop anytime between 1-14 days,” he said in Lok Sabha.
The government has taken several proactive measures to contain the disease spread, including creation of a group of ministers (GoM) on February 3, under the chairmanship of Union health and family welfare minister Harsh Vardhan.
The GoM consists of minister of external affairs, minister of civil aviation, minister of state for home affairs and minister of state for shipping among other senior government functionaries, and has met 20 times since its inception.
On March 29, 11 empowered groups were created to manage Covid-19 epidemic in the country. On September 10, the groups have been restructured based on the need and evolving scenario.
The idea is to take an informed decision on issues ranging from medical emergency planning, availability of hospitals, isolation and quarantine facility, disease surveillance and testing, ensuring availability of essential medical equipment, augmenting human resource and capacity building, supply chain and logistic management to coordination with private sector among other things.
For appropriate management of Covid-19 cases, a three tier arrangement of health facilities: Covid Care Center with isolation beds for mild or pre-symptomatic cases; dedicated Covid Health Centre with oxygen supported isolation beds for moderate cases and dedicated Covid Hospital with ICU beds (for severe cases) has been implemented.
As on September 12, 2020, a total of 15,284 covid treatment facilities with 1,314,646 dedicated isolation bed without oxygen support have been created. Also, a total of 231,093 oxygen supported isolation beds and 62,717 ICU beds (including 32,575 ventilator beds) have been created.
“Constant monitoring of the disease trend, analysis of available infrastructure and planning in advance for the future has averted a major crisis as was faced by many developed countries. In addition, a total of 12,826 quarantine centres with 598,811 beds have been created,” said Harsh Vardhan in the House.