New Delhi, Oct 13 (IANS): Union Health and Family Welfare Minister Harsh Vardhan on Tuesday chaired the 21st meeting of the high-level Group of Ministers (GoM) on Covid-19, by video conference.
At the outset, he offered salutations to all the Covid-19 warriors who have been steadfastly fighting against the pandemic since many months. He also informed his colleagues of the sturdy public health response mounted by India in its fight against the pandemic and the encouraging results so far.
“With 62,27,295 recovered cases, India has the highest recovery rate of 86.78 per cent in the world. Fatality Rate of 1.53 per cent is the lowest in the world and we are reporting the three-days Doubling Time has been successfully raised to 74.9 days.”
“A total of 1,927 labs at present have led to an upsurge in testing. India’s testing capacity has been hiked to 1.5 million tests per day. Close to 11 lakh samples were tested in the last 24 hours,” he added.
External Affairs Minister S. Jaishankar, Civil Aviation Minister Hardeep S. Puri, Minister of Civil Aviation, Shipping Minister Mansukh Lal Mandaviya, Minister of State for Health Ashwini Kumar Choubey, NITI Aayog’s Member (Health) Vinod K. Paul were also present.
Harsh Vardhan, who is the Chairperson of the GoM, reiterated his concern and appeal to everyone regarding observance of Covid appropriate behaviour during the forthcoming festival season and the winter months, when the likelihood of an increase in the disease is high.
“The Prime Minister has launched the countrywide Jan Andolan to encourage people to adopt and encourage Covid appropriate behaviour to curb spread of the diseases while celebrating the festivals,” he stated.
NCDC Director Dr. Sujeet K. Singh presented a detailed report on how the data driven graded government policies have helped India achieve a significant control over the pandemic, showing figures related to number of cases, number of deaths, their growth rate and how they compared favourably to the world due to the aforesaid policy interventions.
While the overall recovery rate for India is 86.36 per cent, he informed that Dadar and Nagar Haveli and Daman and Diu have the highest recovery rate of 96.25 per cent, followed by Andaman and Nicobar Islands (93.98 per cent) and Bihar (93.89 per cent). Kerala has the lowest recovery rate of 66.31 per cent because of the huge surge in number of cases in the recent days.
Pointing out the pattern of Influenza and Vector-Borne Diseases which peak during this season, he noted with concern the less reporting of cases of influenza due to the pandemic.
He also apprised the ministers of the advisories issued for improving the testing and surveillance activities for Seasonal Influenza to simultaneously detect it with Covid-19 in view of the upcoming influenza season in the country.
Reiterating Harsh Vardhan’s concern on the fresh challenge to the containment efforts in view of the upcoming winters and festive season, he stressed on the gradual transition to mitigation in affected cities over the next few weeks and a sustained campaign to instil Covid appropriate behaviour among the people.
Through a detailed presentation, Paul apprised the GoM of the process of Covid vaccine development in India and around the world.
He presented a comprehensive study on the priority sections of the population that would have initial access to the vaccine drawing upon recommendations of Centre for Disease Control (CDC), US and the WHO.
Paul also presented an age-group wise gender composition of Covid deaths, the percentage composition of the vulnerable age-groups in the Indian population and the overlap of known Covid co-morbidities amongst these age-groups.
The eVIN network which can track the latest vaccine stock position, temperature at storage facility, geo-tag Health Centres, and maintain facility level dashboard is being repurposed for the delivery of Covid vaccine.
He apprised everyone present that the listing of Healthcare Workers (HCWs) would be complete by the end of October or early November while the task of identifying frontline workers, recalibration of digital platform, logistics of non-vaccine supplies, cold chain augmentation are being carried out as per the detailed implementation plan.
Union Health Secretary Rajesh Bhushan noted the importance of keeping up aggressive testing to keep the positivity rate below 5 per cent, the countrywide mortality rate below 1 per cent and the deepening and strengthening of Covid appropriate behaviour among the general population.
He also cautioned the need to observe the trajectory of the disease in key states of Kerala, Karnataka, West Bengal, Rajasthan and Chhattisgarh which have recently exhibited a surge in cases.