With over 1,200 COVID-19 cases so far, Heath Ministry officials asserted that rigorous contact tracing and cluster containment strategies are being implemented strictly to stop the spreading further.
The number of coronavirus hotspots in the country has increased as a result of "lack of public support" at some places and failure to inform authorities in time about suspected cases, the Health Ministry said on Monday.
With over 1,200 COVID-19 cases reported in the country so far, Heath Ministry officials asserted that rigorous contact tracing and cluster containment strategies are being implemented strictly to check the virus from spreading further.
Addressing the daily press conference to provide updates on the COVID-19 situation in the country, Health Ministry Joint Secretary Lav Agarwal said 227 cases have been reported in the last 24 hours. He further said wherever even a single case of the pandemic is reported it is as good as a hotspot for the government.
The official said a group of Union ministers Tuesday took stock of the situation and stressed on the need for readying dedicated COVID-19 hospitals. "With over 1,200 cases of COVID-19, the number of hotspots in the country has increased.
The reason for this sudden increase in cases has been due to lack of public support in some locations and failure to inform authorities in time," Agarwal said while underlining the need for collective support to fight the battle against coronavirus.
"The entire society may have to bear the brunt for the lack of cooperation on the part of even one individual," he said.
Agarwal also asserted that the government is making efforts towards increasing the availability of protective gear for medical professionals.
He said besides making efforts towards developing indigenous products, the Ministry of External Affairs (MEA) has identified suppliers in South Korea, Turkey and Vietnam to improve the capacity of PPE, N-95 masks, ventilators and other equipment as well as to boost logistics in the country during the COVID-19 crisis.
"We have told our procurement agencies and have discussed with Ministry of External Affairs that whichever country we plan to procure any of the items from, they should follow the required standards and technical guidelines," he said.
While acknowledging that there have been cases in a few locations of healthcare workers getting infected and also infecting their colleagues, he clarified that it was "not due to any negligence".
"With respect to infection associated with healthcare workers, it is a major area of concern for us and as part of our strategy to manage COVID-19 we have been taking up exhaustive training across the country to ensure that the healthcare staff is aware of what precautions need to be taken when it comes to COVID-19 management," he said.
Seeking cooperation from the public to fight the pandemic, Agarwal said there was no need to panic.
As far as home-made masks are concerned, he said international bodies like WHO have not given any categorical opinion on their usage so far. He, however, said anticipating that a need may arise to make them available, the whole issue was being technically examined by the health ministry and suitable guidelines will soon be issued.
He also said not everyone needs to wear masks and stressed on social distancing being a more important measure to prevent the spread of COVID-19.
Talking about the epidemiology of the virus which will impact research on vaccine development, Dr Raman R Gangakhedkar, head of the Epidemiology and Communicable Diseases at the ICMR, said so far there was no evidence to suggest that strains circulating in India were any less virulent.
He further said so far 42,788 samples have been tested for coronavirus infection out of which 4,346 samples were tested on Monday.
"This represents 36 per cent of India's capacity," he said, adding, 49 private labs have been given permission for testing so far and 399 patients were tested in such laboratories on Monday.
He further said the ICMR will work with the Department of Biotechnology, Department of Science and Technology and Council of Scientific and Industrial Research (CSIR) to further the agenda of developing a vaccine for the COVID-19 and diagnostic kits.
Commenting on a cluster of cases being reported from the Nizamuddin area here after a religions congregation, Agarwal said it was not the time to find faults and emphasised on implementing containment strategies.
"With respect to the Nizamuddin area, we all need to understand and appreciate that this is not the time to do fault finding. What is important for us is to take action as per our containment process in whatever areas we find a case," Agarwal said, adding that necessary action in the matter has been taken by the Delhi government.
The ministry on Tuesday also identified the essential features for ventilators to be used for the treatment of COVID-19 patients. The features have been framed in collaboration with the Director-General (Life Sciences), Defence Research & Development Organisation (DRDO), officials said.