NITI Aayog member (health) V.K. Paul on Tuesday warned that India could see an explosion of coronavirus (COVID-19) cases during the festival season which starts next month if people do not follow COVID-appropriate behaviour. He added that until a vaccine is found, “wearing a mask, following social-distancing norms etc. is our best safety mechanism against the virus.”
“We have to remember that this pandemic has to be controlled and deaths due to COVID kept at minimum and for this people have to wear the mask as a service to the society and the country. It has to become a social movement. Crowding during the festival season can lead to an explosive situation,” Dr. Paul said at a Health Ministry press briefing.
Dr. Paul added that the next two to three months are going to be very crucial. “We have seen that respiratory problems increase during the winter months and we appeal to all to continue wearing the mask because there is evidence that shows that mask wearing can reduce cases by 50%. It is everyone’s responsibility to work towards breaking the transmission,” he said.
Stating that India for the first time since May had registered more recoveries than new cases, Health Secretary Rajesh Bhushan addressing the briefing, said the country, aided by increased number of tests is able to catch and isolate cases early. The number of tests has gone from one crore in July to over 6 crore currently, he said.
“We have even advised States that continue to register a relatively higher number of COVID cases, especially Punjab, to increase testing and also track down symptomatic negative patients so that they don’t become super spreaders,” the official said.
Giving a breakup of the COVID cases/recoveries and deaths, Mr. Bhushan said in India currently one-fifth or 17.54% of the total COVID cases are active, 80.86% have recovered and 1.60% is the total deaths due to the virus.
“The Ministry is now working closely with the States to ensure that there is adequate and uninterrupted oxygen supply across India for treating COVID patients,” he said.
Mr. Bhushan added that States have been asked to focus on analysing district level and health facility level status and effectively plan and manage logistical issues related with oxygen availability and alert the Centre in case of any shortage, over charging and even inter-state transport problems.
“Ensuring the availability of health infrastructure and district wise oxygen availability is the current priority,” he said.
Meanwhile a release issued by the Health Ministry said that India has recorded the highest number of single day recoveries in the last 24 hours.
“More than 1 lakh (1,01,468) new recoveries have been registered in the last 24 hours in the country. The trend of very high number of single day recoveries has sustained for the past four consecutive days. With this, the total number of recoveries are nearly 45 lakh (44,97,867),” it said.
The Ministry added that 79% of the new recovered cases are being reported from 10 States/UTs — Maharashtra, Karnataka , Andhra Pradesh, Uttar Pradesh and Tamil Nadu, Odisha, Delhi, Kerala, West Bengal and Punjab.
“Maharashtra continues to lead with more than 32,000 (31.5%) new recovered patients. Andhra Pradesh contributed more than 10,000 to the single day recoveries,” it said.