A total of 602 hospitals in the country have been earmarked as dedicated COVID-19 facilities with a capacity of 1,06,719 isolation beds and 12,024 intensive care unit beds, the Union health ministry said on Tuesday.
Addressing the daily briefing to provide updates on the COVID-19 situation in the country, joint secretary in the ministry of health, Lav Agarwal said as per World Health Organisation data, 76,498 confirmed cases and 5,702 deaths were reported across the world on Monday.
"It is due to our collective efforts that in a largely populated country like India, we had only 1,211 positive cases and 31 deaths reported in the last 24 hours," he said.
"Our effort has been to act in a preemptive manner. We started screening 12-13 days before COVID-19 was declared as a public health emergency. Our advance action has been a major contributory factor in how we have been able to manage," Agarwal said.
Highlighting the importance of the lockdown extension, he said the objective is to break the chain of transmission.
"If there is no case from a particular area for 28 days and the last case is found negative, we can say we have stopped the spread of the virus in that area," the official said.
Elaborating on the infrastructure preparedness in the country, Agarwal said," A total of 602 hospitals in the country have been earmarked as dedicated COVID-19 facilities with a capacity of 1,06,719 isolation beds and 12,024 ICU beds reserved for such patients in the country."
This number is being augmented continuously, he said.
Agarwal also highlighted that a dedicated COVID-19 facility has been set up at the AIIMS Trauma Centre and it has around 270 isolation beds and more than 150 ICU beds .
Talking about the lockdown till May 3 in reference to the prime minister's address on Tuesday, he said each city and every district will undergo an evaluation till April 20.
Thereafter, limited activity will be allowed in selected areas which have controlled the situation well, the joint secretary said
"As per the litmus test, selected activities will be allowed in the areas which have controlled the situation well from April 20. In places where the spread will not be in control, permissions can be withdrawn. A detailed guideline will be issued tomorrow by the government of India," Agarwal said.
Responding to a question on whether India was doing enough tests, he said, "We are doing COVID-19 testing as per our sampling criteria, non-criteria based testing can result in sub-optimal use of testing kits."
"Besides, we are progressively widening our sampling zone, we are testing those who have severe acute respiratory illness (SARI) or influenza-like illnesses," Agarwal said.
According to the head of epidemiology and communicable diseases at the Indian Council of Medical Research, Raman R Gangakhedkar, 2.31 lakh tests for COVID-19 have been conducted so far and this includes testing of 21,635 samples on Monday.
Out of these 18,644 tests were done in labs under the ICMR network, while 2,991 tests were conducted at private labs on Monday, he said.
Gangakhedkar said 166 labs are functional under the ICMR network as of now while 70 private laboratories have been given approval to conduct tests.
With respect to kits, he said, "We yesterday mentioned that we have kits that could last for six weeks. We have received another installment for RT-PCR kits which are far more sufficient in numbers, which would essentially mean that we would be able to meet out testing requirements for a considerably long time."
In addition, the government is ordering close to about 33 lakh kits for RT-PCR (Reverse Transcription-Polymerase Chain Reaction) and 37 lakh rapid kits are expected to arrive anytime, Gangakhedkar said.
Over the Maharashtra government approaching the ICMR seeking permission to use BCG vaccine for clinical trial on coronavirus infected patients, Gangakhedkar said, " the trial permission includes two parts, one has to register in the clinical trials registry set up by the ICMR's National Institute of Medical Statistics and (also) will have to take approval from the Drug Controller General of India "
Agarwal said the Office of the Principal Scientific Adviser to the government of India has issued guidelines for controlling the spread of COVID-19 in densely populated areas.
"The emphasis of this manual is to bring frugal sanitary and hygiene solutions and measures with focus on community shared toilet, washing or bathing facilities," he said.
The government officials said to ensure weaker sections of society continue to get basic amenities and is not impacted during the lockdown period, swift implementation of Pradhan Mantri Garib Kalyan Package is being monitored at the highest level.
They said as of April 13, financial support of Rs 29,352 crore was provided to over 32 crore poor people through DBT under the package. Free ration have been distributed to 5.29 crore beneficiaries under Garib Kalyan Yojna.
The officials said 3,985 MT of pulses have been dispatched to various states and union territories for distribution, and over 97 lakh free gas cylinders have been delivered to beneficiaries of the Pradhan Mantri Ujwala Yojna.
They added Rs 14,946 crore has been transferred to 7.47 crore farmers towards the first installment of the PM Kisan Scheme and Rs 9,930 crore have been disbursed to 19.86 crore women Jan Dhan account holders through DBT.