Covid-19 death toll rises to 29 in India, total no. of cases 1,071
It took 12 days for covid-19 cases to rise from 100 to 1,000; India still in local transmission stage — Health ministry
New Delhi, March 30 (PTI): Reiterating that Covid-19 is still in the local transmission stage in India, the Health Ministry on Monday said it took 12 days for cases of infection to rise from 100 to 1,000 in the country and that the rate of increase has been slower than some of the developed countries.
Addressing the daily press briefing on the actions taken, preparedness and updates on Covid-19, Joint Secretary in the Ministry of Health Lav Agarwal said 92 new cases and four deaths due to coronavirus have been reported in India since Sunday, taking total cases to 1,071 and the number of deaths to 29.
“It took 12 days for cases to rise from 100 to 1,000 in our country, whereas seven other developed nations having lesser population than us have seen multiple increase,” he said.
Agarwal attributed the slow pace of rise in cases in India to people’s participation in strictly following the social distancing guidelines and the collective pre-emptive actions taken by the Centre in tandem with state governments.
Underlining the importance of social distancing, he said even one person’s carelessness can lead to the spread of this pandemic.
He, however, said instead of panic, there is a need for creating awareness about the respiratory ailment.
“Technically, Covid-19 is still in the local transmission stage in the country as there has been no community transmission as of now,” he said, adding, “If there will be a community transmission we will want to convey it to the community through you (media) to increase the level of alertness and management for the infection at the field level.”
Speaking at the same press conference, Raman R Gangakhedkar, Head of Epidemiology and Communicable diseases at the Indian Council of Medical Research (ICMR), said 38,442 tests have been conducted till now, out of which 3,501 were done on Sunday.
He said 47 private laboratories have been given approval for conducting Covid-19 tests and in the last three days, 1,334 tests have been done in private labs, he said.
“It is still below 30 per cent of or testing capacity,” he said.
On reports about death of doctors due to heart attack apparently after consumption of Hydroxychloroquine recommended by ICMR for healthcare workers taking care of Covid-19 patients, Gangakhedkar said that they do not have details of the cases.
“We do not have full details of the case but anyone dying due to cardiac arrest after taking two doses seems a pretty difficult calculation unless they already had an increased QT interval or had cardiac issues. It is difficult for me to say anything as I do not know the profile of the patient.”
Over several people being allegedly quarantined in a particular area in Delhi’s Nizamuddin after they showed symptoms of coronavirus infection, Agarwal said they initiate action as per the protocol.
Be it in Nizamuddin or any part of the country healthcare teams go and take action as part of the containment strategy, he said, adding the government was focusing on hotpsots from where large number of cases are being reported and working in tandem with states to implement rigorous contact-tracing, community surveillance and other containment strategies to break the chain of transmission.
Responding to a question over a video on social media showing a group of migrant workers allegedly being sprayed with some disinfectant by the Bareilly municipal corporation personnel,Agarwal said that the District Magistrate concerned has already clarified that it was some overzealous employees who did something which was not required.
“He has reprimanded all those officials. It was done by field officers out of ignorance or out of fear. There are no guidelines in terms of spraying disinfectants on people.
“This is an overzealous action done by field officers either out of fear or out of ignorance,” he said.
No plan to extend 21-day lockdown — Government
The government on Monday said that there was no immediate plan to extend the 21-day lockdown amid fears that shutdown of businesses across the country to counter the spread of coronavirus may trigger severe economic and social distress.
The clarification by Cabinet Secretary Rajiv Gauba came after hundreds of thousands of migrant labourers undertook long journeys from major urban centres on foot to their homes in the last five days, reflecting their struggle for survival due to job losses following the lockdown.
The central government has already directed states to make arrangements for shelter and food for the migrant workers.
In a tweet, the government’s Press Information Bureau said: “There are rumours & media reports, claiming that the Government will extend the #Lockdown21 when it expires. The Cabinet Secretary has denied these reports, and stated that they are baseless.”
A Group of Minister (GoM) headed by Defence Minister Rajnath Singh on Sunday carried out a comprehensive review of the situation arising out of the lockdown, including movement of the migrant labourers.
There has been fears that the lockdown may spark severe economic and social distress.
In a letter to Prime Minister Narendra Modi, Congress leader Rahul Gandhi on Sunday said the sudden lockdown has created immense “panic” and “confusion”. He called for steps other than a total lockdown announced by some developed nations to tackle the deadly disease.
Gandhi said the number of poor people in India who are dependent on a daily income is too large to unilaterally shut down all economic activities in the wake of the pandemic.