While recoveries have crossed 51 lakhs in India, which is the highest in the world; ICMR’s second sero-prevalence report has found that a considerable population is still vulnerable to SARS-COV-2 virus.This apart, more than 7 crore 30 lakh tests have been conducted so far, out of which 77.8 lakh tests were done in the last week. This has been briefed by Union Secretary, Ministry of Health and Family Welfare, Shri Rajesh Bhushan in a media briefing on latest updates, preparedness and actions taken on COVID-19, at the New Media Centre in New Delhi today.
The Health Secretary further stated that India still has one of the lowest cases (4453) as well as deaths (70) per million in the world. In the last seven days, India has recorded 425 new cases per million population. This apart, by the efforts of ICMR as well as private sector, India has crossed the mark of 50,000 tests per million population. Today (September 29, 2020) itself, 52,978 tests per million population have been done. Month-wise analysis also shows rapid increase of testing with 2.97 crore tests done in this month itself. Similarly, week-wise analysis shows that on an average 11,12,037 daily tests have been conducted in the week ending today (September 23-29, 2020). “India has achieved a capability of conducting 15 lakh tests per day. The number of tests done depends on various factors including the intensity of infection spread in an area. Hence, on a day-on-day basis, number of tests may increase or decrease”, stated the Health Secretary. Another analysis of a national trend shows, new recoveries have exceeded new cases in recent days. Further, an analysis of data since Septembe 15, 2020 shows a continuous and sustained decrease in the percentage of active cases and rise in percentage of recovered cases. As on date, there are only 15.4% active cases, while 83.01% are recovered cases. In Maharashtra, a decline in the number of average daily new cases has been observed in the week ending today. Stating these data, the Health Secretary reiterated the importance of social distancing and wearing a mask.
While briefing about the findings of ICMR Second Sero-survey for SARS-CoV-2 Infection, DG, ICMR Prof. (Dr.) Balaram Bhargava informed, there were 26–32 infections per reported case by August 2020. This apart, risk in urban slums is twice than that in non-slum areas and four times than the risk in rural setting. DG, ICMR further said, there still exists a considerable section of susceptible people who are yet unexposed to SARS-Cov-2. Lockdown, containment and behavior change at population level have effectively checked potential spread of SARS-Cov-2, he added.
The study further shows, one in 15 individuals aged 10 years or below were estimated to be exposed to SARS-CoV-2 by August 2020. Stating these, DG, ICMR concluded saying that non-pharmacological interventions like physical distancing, use of face mask/cover, hand hygiene, cough etiquette are still essential. This apart, people-centric & risk focused interventions in urban slums, urban non-slums and rural settings are to be developed & implemented. The DG, ICMR further called for inventive containment strategies to be implemented by the States in the light of the upcoming festivities, winter season and mass gathering.
Dr. V.K. Paul, Member (Health) in NITI Aayog said, labourers, who are running the country’s economy, are at higher risk of exposure. In this context, he stressed upon following ‘Safe Workplace Guidelines for Industrial Establishment’ issued jointly by the Ministry of Labour & Employment and Ministry of Health & Family Welfare to help protect the labour-force from infection. Stating that pneumonia and similar diseases become more common in the winter months and that a second peak is coming in the world, he reiterated the need for social vaccine in the form of COVID Appropriate Behaviours, social distancing and wearing a mask in the upcoming festive season and winter months.
In reply to a media query, Health Secretary stated, six domestic companies in India are producing Remdesivir. While earlier the price of this drug was Rs. 5500/- when there was only one manufacturer, it has come down to Rs.2800/- now.
In reply to another query, Health Secretary stated, National Expert Committee on Vaccine Administration has recommended an amount to be spent for vaccine administration on the basis of population prioritization and staggered immunization programmes based on it and that the Government has the provision for incurring that expenditure.