Twenty-five districts across 15 states where COVID-19 infections were detected earlier have reported no new cases in the last 14 days and the credit for it goes to the proper implementation of containment strategies by the district administrations, Union Health Ministry said on Monday.
Addressing a press briefing here, Joint Secretary in the Health Ministry Lav Agarwal said 796 new COVID-19 cases and 35 deaths have been reported in the last 24 hours, taking the total number of cases to 9,152 and deaths to 308.
“The implementation of the action plan has started yielding appreciable results in 25 districts across 15 states which reported cases earlier. These districts have no case reported since the last 14 days and constant vigil is being maintained to ensure that no new cases may occur in future,” he said.
The districts are Gondia (Maharashtra), Raj Nand Gaon (Chhattisgarh), Davangiri (Karnataka), South Goa, Wayanad and Kottayam (Kerala), West Imphal (Manipur), Rajouri (J&K), Aizwal West (Mizoram), Mahe in Puducherry, SBS Nagar in Punjab, Patna, Nalanda and Munger in Bihar, Pratapgarh in Rajasthan, Panipat, Rohtak and Sirsa in Haryana, Pauri Garhwal in Uttrakhand and Bhadradari Kothagudem in Telangana.
Commenting over a recently published study which stated that administration of antiviral drug Remdesivir may reduce risk of death in critically ill coronavirus patients, Head of Epidemiology and Communicable diseases at Indian COuncil of Medical Research, Raman R Gangakhedkar said the drug which was used against Ebola virus, may affect the reproduction of the virus.
“Recently reported study on use of Remdesivir for COVID-19 treatment is not a clinical trial, but an observational study according to which two out of three patients after treatment with the drug may not need ventilator support or their need for oxygen support may reduce.
“We will come to know of further developments through the WHO Solidarity Trial, which has an arm looking into this,” he said.
He further said Remdesivir, developed by Gilead Sciences Inc, is not presently available in the country and the government is working to see if any pharmaceutical company can manufacture it.
Responding to a report of the Center for Disease Control and Prevention which stated that coronavirus can spread through shoe soles, Gangakhedkar said more evidence and research is required to conclude that.
“We have to see the strength of the evidence…to say that it has been transmitted via shoe soles will need a solid evidence and I will not accept it based on one report,” he said.
He further informed that 2,06,212 tests for COVID-19 have been conducted so far, adding that 14,855 tests took place at 156 government labs and 1,913 tests were done at 69 private labs on Sunday. “There is no need to worry. We have enough stocks to conduct tests for upto six weeks,” he said.
Reacting to reports which said ICMR’s nodal testing facility in Kolkata, West Bengal was not sending enough samples for COVID-19 testing, Agarwal said, “Our effort is to ensure that the guidelines and the do’s and don’ts of the infectious disease management are followed.
“The Home Secretary and the ministry of Health communicates regularly through video conferencing with states and we tell them our containment strategies and they are working in coordination.”
Agarwal also said the Core Strategy Group on COVID-19 set up at CSIR labs was working on rapid and economical diagnostics as well as new drugs.
“Union Health Minister Harsh Vardhan reviewed the research efforts of COVID-19 by CSIR (Council of Scientific & Industrial Research) in the presence of DG, CSIR and 38 CSIR Lab Directors.
“The CSIR laboratories are working in close partnership with major private sector industries, PSUs, MSME working on digital and molecular surveillance, rapid and economical diagnostics, new drugs/repurposing of drugs and associated production processes and hospital assistive devices and PPEs among others,” he said.
Under State Rural Livelihood Missions (SRLMs) across 27 states, 1.96 crore masks have been produced by 78,373 self-help group members, Agarwal said, adding the National Cadet Corps (NCC) volunteer cadets are helping civil administration under ‘Exercise NCC Yogdaan’.
As on April 10, under the Pradhan Mantri Garib Kalyan Package, more than 30 crore poor people have received financial assistance of Rs 28,256 crore to protect them from the impact of lockdown due to COVID-19, he said.
As many as 19.86 crore women account holders of Pradhan Mantri Jan Dhan Yojana have received Rs 9,930 crore while under the Pradhan Mantri Kisan Samman Nidhi (PM-KISAN), 6.93 crore farmers have received Rs 13,855 crore.
On instances of medical professionals contracting coronavirus infection, Agarwal said in majority of the cases, doctors who contracted the disease subsequently infected people associated with them during their regular infections, and were not on COVID-19 duty.
There have been miniscule percentage of doctors on duty testing COVID-19 positive, he said adding that the healthcare settings should implement infection prevention and control strategies.