According to the Union Minister, current situation in the world is alarming and requires special measures to mitigate the number of COVID-19 casualties

Interacting with health ministers of World Health Organisation’s member countries through video conferencing, Union Minister for Health and Family Welfare Dr Harsh Vardhan on Thurs day said: “India was first to respond to COVID -19 and stands on a better footing then the rest of the world because of the valuable and sincere services of our Corona warriors.”

An ENT specialist, Dr Harsh Vardhan termed India’s response to COVID-19 outbreak as “proactive and pre-emptive.”

He said the current situation in the world on COVID-19 is alarming and requires special measures to mitigate the number of casualties. “Work together by sharing our best practices to eradicate COVID-19,” the Union Health Minister said while exhorting the participants.

Referring to the active surveillance efforts made by the government agencies to monitor potential victims or carriers of the disease, Dr. Harsh Vardhan said, “We know the enemy and its whereabouts. We are able to check this enemy through community surveillance, issuance of various advisories, cluster containment and dynamic strategy.”

Speaking about how the crisis arising out of COVID-19 has been turned into an opportunity to strengthen the healthcare delivery system in the country, Dr. Harsh Vardhan said, “We had only one Lab at the National Institute of Virology (NIV) at Pune, to perform tests for COVID-19 initially.”

He added: “During the last 03 months we have scaled up the number of government labs to 230 aided by another 87 private labs with more than 16,000 collection centers. Till now we have tested more than 05 Lakh people for COVID-19. We are going to increase the numbers of government labs to 300 and ramp up our present daily testing capacity of 55,000 to 01 Lakh per day by 31st May 2020.”

Elaborating further on the preparations made by the country to deal with the crisis, he said, “The government has ensured preparedness for high loads of patients in times to come. The government has classified COVID treatment facilities based on severity of the disease, into three categories, which are – COVID Care Centers for patients with mild symptoms, COVID Health Care Centers – for patients with medium symptoms and Dedicated COVID Hospitals for patients with severe symptoms.

These three types of COVID centers are duly mapped to facilitate transfer of patients as per the severity of the case. We have in all 2,033 dedicated facilities in the country with more than 1,90,000 isolation beds, more than 24,000 ICU beds and more than 12,000 ventilators. All these facilities have been organized within last 03 months.”

Further, while referring to the solutions meant to create awareness among the people about the risk hovering around their surroundings, Dr. Harsh Vardhan highlighted the effectiveness of ‘AarogyaSetu’ mobile application, which has been downloaded by more than 7.2 crore people. It is a mobile application developed by the Indian government to connect essential health services with the people of India in our combined fight against COVID-19.

The App is aimed at augmenting the initiatives of the government of India, in proactively reaching out to and informing the users of the app, regarding risks, best practices and relevant advisories pertaining to the containment of COVID-19.

IVD Bureau