Utilised curbs to ramp up health care infrastructure: Centre
All the dedicated health facilities together have 281,000 isolation beds, 31,250 intensive care unit (ICU) beds, and 11,387 beds with oxygen support for patients.Updated: May 22, 2020 03:28 IST
India has used the lockdown imposed on March 25 gainfully to ramp up its health-care infrastructure and kept its coronavirus disease (Covid-19) mortality rate relatively low, health ministry officials said on Thursday in response to reports that questioned the effectiveness of what has been billed as the world’s strictest lockdown.
Together, the central and state governments have put in place 3,027 dedicated Covid-19 hospitals and Covid health centres besides 7,013 Covid care centres. All the dedicated health facilities together have 281,000 isolation beds, 31,250 intensive care unit (ICU) beds, and 11,387 beds with oxygen support for patients.
Health minister Dr. Harsh Vardhan, at an event marking the government’s Ayushman Bharat health insurance scheme reaching 10 million beneficiaries, listed some of India’s achievements.
“India has managed to put up a better fight against Covid-19 as compared to many other developed and developing countries. Of the 1 lakh cases, we have sent a significant number (more than 40,000) home after treatment, and most of the remaining 60,000 people are also on the road to recovery. As far as Covid-related deaths are concerned, India has managed to keep the mortality rate also low, as compared to other countries. We are doing fine,” Harsh Vardhan said.
India so far has reported over 1,12,000 cases, 45,300 recoveries and 3,435 deaths. When compared with situation globally, health ministry says, India has reported 7.9 cases per 100,000 population as compared to 62 globally. As for deaths, India has reported 0.2 deaths per 100,000 population as compared to 4.2 globally.
Even so, some reports have questioned the effectiveness of the lockdown, which confined citizens indoors, shut factories and services not deemed to be essential, including clubs, gymnasiums and entertainment centres.
“This is not correct to say. The idea was to work towards improving healt-care services so that all who need treatment get it in time,” said a senior health ministry official, requesting not to be identified.
So far, the Centre has supplied 6.5 million personal protection equipment (PPE) coveralls and 10.1 million N-95 masks to the states. From importing most of the PPE components, India has tasked domestic manufacturers with producing them. India is producing nearly 300,000 PPE coveralls and 300,000 N-95 maskseach day.
“This is a remarkable achievement and was made possible because the government had time to prepare for infrastructure upgrade. The country is fully prepared to manage the situation if the cases were to surge. We are comfortably placed at the moment; there is no need to panic,” the ministry official cited above said.
On the surveillance and research front, the Indian Council of Medical Research (ICMR) has constituted a National Task Force that has held 20 meetings since mid March and is responsible for taking scientific and technical decisions in managing the viral disease.
“A well-coordinated approach has been adopted to activate the scientific community of the country and who are contributing by working round the clock to develop new testing kits, protective equipment, respiratory devices, etc. This approach has helped in providing a common platform for sharing of best practices, collaboration of work, development of need-based innovations, and in avoiding duplication of research work,” the health ministry said in a statement on Thursday.
“With the help of institutions under department of science and technology (DST), and sister ministries, DST is taking the lead in coordinating the effort to map and upscale appropriate technologies in India for addressing a plethora of issues related to Covid-19. The department of biotechnology and its PSU, Biotechnology Industry Research Assistance Council (BIRAC) has announced a Covid-19 research consortium call to support diagnostics, vaccines, novel therapeutics, repurposing of drugs or any other intervention for control of Covid-19.”
Preventive steps taken very early in the Covid-19 outbreak have paid off for India and also managed to induce behavioural change, experts said.
“The lockdown was supposed to buy us time, which it has managed to do, and to consolidate the gains. People will now need to incorporate the behavioural changes for good such as avoiding mass gatherings, wearing masks, maintaining hygiene, following cough etiquettes, staying at home if feeling sick etc.,” said Dr Jugal Kishore, head of the department of community medicine at Vardhman Mahavir Medical College and Safdarjung Hospital.