New Delhi, March 31 A total of 1,251 total cases and 32 deaths have been reported so far in India, the Ministry of Health and Family Welfare said on Tuesday.
Of this at least 227 new confirmed cases and new 3 new deaths have been reported in 24 hours. "The deaths have been reported from West Bengal, Gujarat and Madhya Pradesh," Joint Health Secretary Lav Agarwal told media, adding "the spike in the number of cases has been noted because some people at some locations did not inform the authorities timely and did not support the containment measures."
The joint secretary asserted that the battle against the contagious novel coronavirus disease could only be fought if the government got support from the community. He also said that the Indian government did not wait for the world health body to take any stand on the coronavirus outbreak and started taking containment measures even before it was declared a Public Health Emergency of International Concern.
"Did we wait for the World Health Organisation to announce it a Public Health Emergency of International Concern? We had started taking containment measures 13 days in advance," said Agarwal. When asked if the Markaz Nizamuddin episode was an intelligence failure, Agarwal said "With respect to the Nizamuddin area, we all need to understand that this is not the time for fault finding. What is important for us is to take action as per our containment process in whatever areas we find a case".
"The Delhi government has issued an order under Epidemic Disease Act to District Magistrates, Municipal Corporations and Police, to take action wherein landowners are forcing doctors and nurses to vacate their property," Agarwal told media. Talking about the supply of personal protective equipment, Agarwal told media that the Ministry of External Affairs had identified suppliers from South Korea, Turkey and Vietnam to increase the availability of logistics items in the country.
"DRDO is also working with local manufacturers to increase the supply of N95 masks," said Agarwal. The Chief Scientist of the Indian Council of Medical research, Dr Raman Gangakhedkar, who was also present at the presser, said "Till now we have tested 42,788 samples, including 4,346 samples that were tested yesterday. It represents 36% of our capacity. 123 labs have been made functional, 49 private labs have been given permission. Yesterday 399 patients were tested in private labs."
"Council of Scientific and Industrial Research, Department of Science & Technology, and Department of Biotechnology will work with Indian Council of Medical Research to further the agenda of the development of a vaccine for COVID-19." said Dr Gangakhedkar.
Defining the hotspot as per the protocol, Agarwal said "as soon as even one case is reported, for us that area becomes a hotspot and we start taking measures. We are not dealing with a non-communicable disease but a pandemic therefore no such criteria for defining hotspot. If two or three cases are reported from the same area, we accelerate our efforts. The concept of hotspot area is dynamic."