New Delhi: India felt a "big jolt" with the sudden spike in cases following the Nizamuddin Markaz incident, Health Minister Harsh Vardhan said on Sunday, asserting that the incident was a lesson for all communities that when a collective decision is taken by the country it must be followed with discipline.
At the same time, he said there was no point talking about it now as strict contact tracing of the Tablighi Jamaat congregation participants was done and those who contracted coronavirus had been treated.
In an interaction with BJP spokesperson G V L Narasimha Rao, Vardhan said that the state governments, the IT department, National Security Advisor Ajit Doval and Home Minister Amit Shah played an important role following the Tablighi Jamaat incident.
Asked by Rao if the incident was a take-off point, Vardhan said, "We feel bad raising the issue, but there is no doubt that around the second week of March when coronavirus was spreading rapidly across the globe and even after one and a half months had passed following the first case in India, the number of cases were very few, in a few states, when this unfortunate and irresponsible incident happened." "In Delhi, the law was such that more than 10-15 people could not have gathered. At that time, people from about one or one and a half dozen other countries were there," he said, adding social distancing was not followed.
People coming from outside were bringing the disease with them and at such a time over 1,000 people were staying together without the knowledge of administration.
When that information was received by authorities, these people were removed while many left on there own, the BJP leader said.
"The country got a big jolt at that time when the cases increased suddenly and it resulted in the government deciding to take the drastic step of lockdown and other measures," he said.
"It was an unfortunate incident and is a lesson for all sections and communities in the country that when a country takes a collective decision everyone should follow it with discipline as it is in everyone's larger interest," Vardhan said.
A large congregation organised in March by the Tablighi Jamaat in the Nizamuddin area of the national capital had emerged as a major hotspot. Some of the participants, who were later tested positive for coronavirus, had travelled to their home states and other areas.
Vardhan hailed the lockdown imposition as a bold decision which acted as a "potent social vaccine" against the virus and said it was taken at the right time.
Many developed countries of the world put a lot of thought into taking this decision and decided to impose lockdown when the situation went out of control, he said.
Vardhan also visited the Dedicated COVID-19 Health Centre (DCHC) at Chaudhary Brahm Prakash Ayurved Charak Sansthan (CBPACS) Najafgarh, where he said the testing capacity has also been ramped up and around 1,50,000 tests can be conducted every day.
"Yesterday itself, we have conducted 1,10,397 tests. Till yesterday, we have conducted 29,44,874 tests," the minister said. India now has 422 government laboratories and 177 private laboratory chains, he said.
Informing about the healthcare infrastructure set up across the country to deal with the pandemic, he said, "These have been divided into three categories viz. Dedicated COVID Hospitals (DCHs), Dedicated COVID Health Centres (DCHCs) and COVID Care Centres (CCCs) with adequate number of isolation beds, ICU beds and other facilities." "A total of 968 Dedicated COVID Hospitals have been identified across the country with 2,50,397 beds (1,62,237 Isolation beds + 20,468 ICU beds); 2,065 Dedicated COVID Health Centres with 1,76,946 beds (1,20,596 isolation beds + 10,691 ICU beds); and, 7,063 COVID Care Centres with 6,46,438 beds," he said.
Talking about the protective equipment, he said the country is now making sufficient number of N95 masks and personal protective equipment (PPE) through the ramped up domestic manufacturing sector, and the requirements of the states are being sufficiently met.
He f informed that states and UTs as well as central institutions have been provided with around 109.08 lakh N-95 masks and around 72.8 lakh PPE.
Talking about the status of containment of COVID-19 in the country, Vardhan said, "Prior to lockdown, on March 25, 2020, the doubling rate was 3.2 when measured over a period of 3 days, 3.0 when measured over a period of 7 days and 4.1 when measured over a period of 14 days." "Today it stands at 13.0 over a 3-day window, 13.1 over a 7-day window and 12.7 when measured over a 14-day window. Similarly, the fatality rate stands at 2.9 per cent, while recovery rate has improved to 41.2 per cent. Clearly the situation has improved due to lockdown," he asserted.
This also reflects on the quality of healthcare being provided to the COVID-19 patients, he said.
Vardhan reviewed the arrangements at the centre for treatment of COVID-19 patients.
While in the COVID-19 Health centre, the minister also interacted with a team of doctors and enquired about the wellbeing of COVID-19 patients.
"Ayurveda is a traditional medicinal knowledge source from India and there is huge potential in it. Its inherent strength in holistic healing and wellbeing is being put to good use in treatment of the COVID-19 patients at this DCHC," Vardhan said.
This knowledge and experience will surely prove beneficial to people all over the world, especially in the battle against COVID-19, he said.
In his interaction with Rao, Vardhan said, "India has immensely benefited from the leadership of Prime Minister Modi in the fight against COVID as he swung into action preemptively and proactively. His decisions like lockdown and other advisories have worked as a potent social vaccine against the virus."