PM Narendra Modi
PM Narendra Modi
ANI Photo

Prime Minister Narendra Modi said on Monday that it was imperative for India to develop coronavirus-specific health infrastructure at a fast pace and the country now has more than 11,000 COVID facilities and more than 11 lakh isolation beds.

Launching the three new high-throughput labs of the Indian Council of Medical Research (ICMR) at Noida, Kolkata and Mumbai through video conference, he said the country had only one COVID testing centre in January and there are almost 1300 such labs now.

He said that at present, more than 5 lakh tests are being conducted in the country daily and efforts are underway to increase this capacity to 10 lakh in the coming weeks.

Noting that the country has has become the second-largest PPE kit manufacturer in the world, he said more than five lakh PPE kits and 3 lakh N-95 masks are being manufactured daily in the country.

He said production capacity has been developed to manufacture three lakh ventilators every year.

"During the coronavirus epidemic, everyone is busy with only one determination that every Indian has to be saved. This resolution has given amazing results to India. What India has done, especially about PPE, mask and test kits, is a big success story," the Prime Minister said.

"At one time in India, not a single PPE kit was manufactured. India is now the world's second-largest manufacturer of PPE kits. Just six months ago, there was not a single PPE kit manufacturer in the country. Today more than 1,200 manufacturers are producing more than 5 lakh PPE kits every day. At one time, N-95 masks were also sourced from outside. Today more than 3 lakh N-95 masks are being made in India every day," he said.

He said there was a time when India was dependent on other countries for ventilators. "Now, production capacity has been developed to manufacture three lakh ventilators every year," he said.

Noting that there has also been a significant increase in the production of medical oxygen cylinders, he said this has not only helped save lives but has also converted India from an importer to an exporter of all these items.

He said apart from developing the physical infrastructure, the country has also managed to swiftly ramp up its human resources including paramedics, ASHA workers and Anganwadis, who have played a significant part in controlling the spread of the pandemic.

He also spoke about the need to work continuously, attaching new and retired health professionals with the health system so that fatigue does not set in among corona warriors.

"Another major challenge was to prepare the human resource in the country for the fight against coronavirus. It is unprecedented that our paramedics, ASHA workers, ANMs, Anganwadi and other health and civil workers have been trained in such a short time," Modi said.

Union Health Minister Dr Harsh Vardhan, Maharashtra Chief Minister Uddhav Thackeray, Uttar Pradesh Chief Minister Yogi Adityanath and West Bengal Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee also participated in the event.

An official release said that the chief ministers thanked the Prime Minister for the launch of the testing facilities.

It said Thackeray praised the leadership of the Prime Minister in the tough circumstances. He spoke about the 'chase the virus' initiative in Mumbai and also discussed establishing permanent infection hospitals.

Banerjee appreciated the "cooperative attitude of the Prime Minister towards the states" and spoke about efforts to track cases, use of tele-medicine and also about the need to ramp up facilities in some of the existing labs in the state.

The release said that Yogi Adityanath expressed his gratitude towards the Prime Minister for "his untiring efforts in this fight against the virus".

He said that the labs launched today will dramatically reduce testing time and referred to testing ability ramped up in the state and the plan to increase the number of daily antigen tests.

The Prime Minister noted that the Centre had announced a package of Rs 15,000 crore at the beginning of the battle to ramp up infrastructure.

"In the fight against coronavirus, we have come to the point where we do not lack awareness, scientific data is expanding and resources are also increasing. We have to create new health infrastructure and also need to make our existing government and private dispensaries and clinics in every village more efficient. We have to do this also so that the fight against coronavirus in our villages will not be weakened," he said.

The Prime Minister urged people to be cautious during the celebrations in the upcoming festivals to prevent the spread of the virus.

"There are many upcoming festivals. We have to take every precaution to avoid spreading infection among people. We also have to keep in mind that poor families do not face any problem during this time of celebration," he said.

He underlined that the benefits of PM Garib Kalyan Anna Yojna should reach the poor on time.

"Till the time a vaccine is not developed, do gaz doori (social distancing), wearing masks and hand sanitisation are the tools at the disposal of the people to be safe," he said.

The Prime Minister said due to timely decisions taken by the government, India is better placed compared to other countries in terms of deaths due to COVID-19.

"The recovery rate is also higher than in other countries and is improving on a daily basis. The total number of people who have recovered from the virus is about to reach 10 lakh," he said.

He said citizens of the country were fighting the global pandemic very bravely.

"With the launch of the hi-tech state-of-the-art testing facility today, West Bengal, Maharashtra and Uttar Pradesh are going to get more strength in the fight against coronavirus," he said.

He said Delhi-NCR, Mumbai and Kolkata are major centres of economic activity where millions of youth come to fulfil their dreams and the new centres will add testing capacity of 10,000 per day.

These three high-throughput testing facilities have been set up strategically at ICMR-National Institute of Cancer Prevention and Research, Noida; ICMR-National Institute for Research in Reproductive Health, Mumbai; and ICMR-National Institute of Cholera and Enteric Diseases, Kolkata, and will be able to test over 10,000 samples in a day.

These labs will also reduce turnaround time and exposure of lab personnel to infectious clinical materials.

The labs are enabled to test diseases other than COVID as well, and post the pandemic, will be able to test for diseases including Hepatitis B and C, HIV, mycobacterium tuberculosis, cytomegalovirus, chlamydia, neisseria and dengue.

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