Union Health Minister Harsh Vardhan
Union Health Minister Harsh Vardhan
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Union Health Minister Harsh Vardhan on Tuesday chaired the meeting of high-level Group of Ministers (GoM) on COVID-19 and said that people need to be "more disciplined in COVID appropriate behaviour" with the country having entered "Unlock1.0 phase" after over two months of lockdown.

He emphasised the need to observe norms of physical distancing, use masks and face covers at all public places, adhere to norms of hand hygiene and follow protocols of respiratory etiquette.

The GoM was informed that the Centre has provided 128.48 lakh N95 masks and 104.74 lakh Personal Protective Equipment (PPEs) to the states, UTs and central institutions and the Centre has further placed an order of 60,848 ventilators.

The GoM was also apprised about the growing medical infrastructure in the country and informed that as of June 2020, COVID-related health infrastructure has been strengthened with availability of 958 dedicated COVID Hospitals with 1,67,883 isolation beds, 21,614 ICU beds and 73,469 oxygen supported beds.

A Health Ministry release said that there were 2,313 dedicated COVID Health Centres with 1,33,037 isolation beds, 10,748 ICU beds and 46,635 oxygen supported beds.

It said 7,525 COVID Care Centres with 7,10,642 beds are now available to combat COVID-19 in the country. "The ventilators available for COVID beds are 21,494," it added.

The 16th meeting of GoM was attended by External Affairs Minister S Jaishankar, Civil Aviation Minister Hardeep Singh Puri, Minister of State for Home Affairs Nityananda Rai, Minister of State for Shipping and Chemical and Fertilisers Mansukh Lal Mandaviya, Minister of State for Health and Family Welfare Ashwini Kumar Choubey and Chief of Defence Staff Gen Bipin Rawat.

Harsh Vardhan chaired the meeting through video-conferencing.

"As we enter into the Unlock1.0 phase where restrictions have been eased and curbs have been lifted, we need to be more disciplined in our COVID appropriate behaviour to ensure that all follow norms of physical distancing, make use of masks and face covers in all public places, adhere to norms of hand hygiene and follow protocols of respiratory etiquette," Harsh Vardhan said.

"There is no space for complacency," he emphasised.

He also referred to the opening of government offices and appealed to heads of departments not to forget "social vaccine" against COVID-19.

"Let us also not forget social vaccine against COVID-19 through strict adherence of norms of physical distancing, hand hygiene and mask and face covers," he said The minister also urged people to download the Aarogya Setu app which will help in the self-risk assessment and in protection against COVID-19.

More than 12.55 crore people in the country have downloaded the app as on date, the release said.

The GoM was briefed about how SoPs issued by the Health Ministry for public and semi-public environments would allow the resumption of economic activity without compromising the preventive measures to contain COVID-19.

It was also briefed about the latest status, response and management of COVID-19 in the country.

A brief snapshot was presented to the GOM highlighting the comparative position of India vis-a-vis other countries in a similar stage of easing lockdown, underscoring the benefits that have accrued from the lockdown and how this can be leveraged in management of the disease.

The GOM was briefed on the progress made on the tasks assigned to the 11 Empowered Groups (EGs).

The release said that ICMR's testing capacity has increased through 553 government and 231 private laboratories (total of 784 labs).

More than 49 lakh cumulative tests have been conducted in the country as on date. Also, 1,41,682 samples have been tested in the last 24 hours.

Parameswaran Iyer, Chairman of Empowered Group-5, presented the critical strategies adopted by the EG to ease the burden of lockdown while enabling supply of critical items for the country to fight the pandemic.

Dr Raman Gangakhedkar from ICMR presented details on the status of testing labs, augmented capacities for testing across the country, and also enlightened the GoM on various issues related to HCQ, Remdesivir, and sero-surveillance studies.

The release said that a total of 1,29,214 people has been cured of which 4,785 patients were cured in the last 24 hours and India's recovery rate was 48.47 per cent.

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