Growth of cases ‘more or less’ linear, says government
The government said on Thursday that it has been able to 'cut coronavirus transmission', minimise its spread and increase the doubling time of Covid-19 cases in the country during the 30-day period of the nationwide lockdown.
While asserting that the growth of coronavirus cases in the country has been more or less linear and not exponential, it also said testing has been ramped up consistently.
Addressing a press conference on the Covid-19 situation in the country, C. K. Mishra, the chairman of Empowered Group Two, said, 'One crucial weapon we employed during the 30-day lockdown period is RT-PCR test to ascertain if one has contracted the disease or not.'
As on March 23, nearly 15,000 tests were done across the country and by April 22 more than 5 lakh tests were conducted, which is about '33 times in 30 days', he said.
“But we are conscious of the fact that this is not enough and we have to continuously ramp up testing in the country and we will do that,' he said.
Of the empowered groups formed to suggest measures to ramp up healthcare, put the economy back on track and reduce misery of people once the lockdown is lifted, Mishra is the chairman of Group Two tasked with coordinating availability of hospitals, isolation and quarantine facilities, disease surveillance, testing and critical care training.
'The growth of Covid-19 cases has been more or less linear, not exponential; this indicates that the strategies we adopted have succeeded in containing the infection to a particular level. Post imposition of lockdown, while the number of new positive cases has increased by 16 times, testing increased by 24 times,' Mishra said in his presentation.
'During the 30 days of lockdown, we have been able to cut transmission, minimize spread and increase the doubling days of Covid-19. We have been able to consistently ramp up our testing and utilise our time preparing for the future in case the virus spreads further,' he said.
Mishra also said that in the last month, the number of dedicated hospitals for treating coronavirus patients has been increased 3.5 times and the number of isolation beds rose by 3.6 times.
'Despite a 24-fold increase in testing, percentage of positive cases is not rising. The percentage of positive cases as a ratio of testing is more or less the same as that a month ago,' he said.
Mishra also claimed that India has done better than a majority of developed countries with respect to the percentage of test cases yielding positive results.
'We need to evolve our strategy based on the current position... We seem to be doing well so far with our strategy which is intensely focused on areas where we see a lot of positivity and action happening. Our testing strategy has been focused, targeted and continues to expand,' he said.
Joint secretary in the health ministry Lav Agarwal said no new Covid-19 cases of the pandemic has been reported from 78 districts in the last 14 days.
He also said, '4,257 COVID-19 patients, which is 19.89 per cent of those infected have been cured so far. In the last 24 hours, 1,409 cases were reported, taking the total number of positive cases to 21,393.'
Plan to supply HCQ tablets
The government plans to ensure supply of around 15.40 crore Hydroxychloroquine (HCQ) tablets, used in treating coronavirus infections, in the domestic market in April, an official said on Thursday.
The government also plans to export HCQ medicine to 62 countries after ensuring strategic storage of the medicine for domestic use.
'In normal conditions, the monthly requirement for HCQ medicine is around 2 to 2.5 crore tablets in the country. However, in the month of April, 2020 we have planned to supply around 7.5 crore tablets for retail pharmacies/ trade,' an official told PTI.
Further, 6.75 crore tablets would be provided to the Centre against a requirement of 1.5 crore tablets this month. Besides, 80 lakh tablets to different state governments and 45 lakh tablets to various government institutes like ESIC and BPPI would be provided, according to the official.
'Thus, (around) 15.40 crore HCQ tables will be provided in the domestic market in April, 2020,' the official said.