Eight states account for 90% active coronavirus cases in India
The Union health ministry informed during the Group of Ministers meet that there was a special focus on the regions showing a higher COVID-19 fatality rate.
Nearly 90 per cent of the active COVID-19 cases in the country have been reported from eight states -- Maharashtra, Tamil Nadu, Delhi, Karnataka, Telangana, Andhra Pradesh, Uttar Pradesh and Gujarat -- the Group of Ministers (GoM) on COVID-19 was informed on Thursday. It was also revealed during the meet that 80 per cent of the active cases have been reported from 49 districts.
Moreover, the GoM was told by the Union health ministry that six states -- Maharashtra, Delhi, Gujarat, Tamil Nadu, Uttar Pradesh and West Bengal -- account for 86 per cent of the COVID-19 deaths. As many as 32 districts account for 80 per cent of such fatalities, the ministry added.
The GoM, which held its 18th meeting under the chairpersonship of Union Health Minister Harsh Vardhan on Thursday, was briefed on the current COVID-19 status in India.
"As we move forward, our focus shall be on the management of COVID-19 through strict containment measures and surveillance, utilising the full testing capacity, monitoring of the co-morbid and elderly population, predicting the emerging hotspots, leveraging digital tools such as Aarogya Setu, ensuring seamless patient admission processes and infrastructure preparedness (critical-care beds, oxygen, ventilators and logistics)," Vardhan said.
Elaborating on the COVID-19 healthcare infrastructure in India, the GoM was told that as on Thursday that there were 3,914 facilities across the country with 3,77,737 isolation beds (without ICU support), 39,820 ICU beds and 1,42,415 oxygen-supported beds, along with 20,047 ventilators.
The GoM was also informed that over 21.3 crore N95 masks, 1.2 crore personal protective equipment (PPE) kits and 6.12 crore hydroxychloroquine tablets have so far been distributed. “Along with the states and Union territories, our aim is to reduce and keep the case fatality rate low by early identification and effective clinical management," Vardhan said.
"A global comparison between the five most-affected countries clearly depicted that India has one of the lowest numbers of cases per million (538) and deaths per million (15), compared to the global average of 1,453 and 68.7 respectively," the ministry said in a statement.
The GoM was briefed on the key steps taken regarding communication of information and raising public awareness. Empowered Group-8 (on information, communication and public awareness), which presented the data said that the group received 6,755 alerts of fake news, of which 5,890 were replied to directly and rebuttals published to 17 foreign media stories. The group also coordinated the issue of 98 daily COVID-19 bulletins, 92 media briefings and 2,482 press releases.
Keeping in mind the fact that there has been a steady rise in cases and a parallel easing of lockdowns, during Unlock 2.0, steps that would be taken include a sharp focus on containment and surveillance, including demarcation of containment zones and notifying such areas on the health ministry website.
It includes strict perimeter control with only essential activities allowed, intensive contact-tracing, house-to-house search or surveillance and buffer zones to be identified outside the containment zones. This will prevent missing out on identifying and testing potential victims of the virus.
Dr Sujeet K Singh, Director, National Centre for Disease Control, presented a detailed report on the surveillance efforts undertaken in India during the pandemic. The focus was on a strict containment strategy and surveillance, serological survey and enhancing the laboratory network for testing.
The major concern areas in the country were highlighted and the measures to be taken listed. This included prompt clinical management, testing and surveillance in the high-risk population with co-morbidities. This, the ministry, believes, will help reduce the case to fatality ration.
It was highlighted that the mental health issues related to the COVID-19 pandemic will be a major part of the communication strategy going forward through discussions in the media, the ministry said.
There was also a special focus on dissemination of messages and information in regional languages.
(With inputs from PTI)