New Delhi, May 10: As India enters the last week of the 54-day lockdown, Prime Minister Narendra Modi will hold a video conference with chief ministers on Monday with the focus expected to be on reviving economy and scaling up all efforts to bring more ‘red’ zones with high COVID-19 case load into ‘orange’ or ‘green’ zones.
The chief ministers of the states and union territories are expected to push for stepping up economic activities in a calibrated manner, as the Centre weighed the pros and cons of further easing of restrictions for a graded exit from the twice extended 54-day coronavirus lockdown due to end on May 17. Sources said the restrictions still in place are unlikely to be withdrawn in one go.
The Prime Minister’s Office(PMO) on Sunday said the video conference will begin at 3 PM on Monday. This will be Modi’s fifth interaction with the chief ministers since the coronavirus outbreak in the country.
Union Health Minister Harsh Vardhan, meanwhile, said no COVID-19 case has been reported in 10 states and union territories in the last 24 hours and the recovery rate has increased to over 30 per cent, asserting India was moving fast on the path of success in the fight against the pandemic.
According to health ministry data, 1,511 COVID-19 patients recovered in the last 24 hours — the highest number of recoveries recorded in one day.
Sources in the union government said the focus of the prime minister’s meeting would be on boosting economic activities and pushing efforts to convert ‘red’ zones with high COVID-19 case load into ‘orange’ or ‘green’ zones.
The Union Health ministry on May 1 classified 733 districts as 130 in the red zone, 284 in the orange zone and 319 in the green zone, taking into consideration incidence of cases, doubling rate, extent of testing and surveillance feedback.
In some good news in efforts to ramp up testing, Vardhan said the National Institute of Virology(NIV) in Pune has successfully developed the first indigenous test kit that will play a critical role in surveillance of proportion of population exposed to coronavirus infection.
The test kit has the advantage of testing 90 samples together in a single run of 2.5 hours, so that healthcare professionals can proceed quickly with necessary next steps on their patients’ triage paths, Vardhan said.
“National Institute of Virology, Pune has successfully developed the 1st indigenous anti-SARS-CoV-2 human IgG ELISA test kit for antibody detection of COVID-19,” the minister said in a series of tweets.
Vardhan said India carried out 86,000 tests for COVID-19 on Saturday and its testing capacity now stands at 95,000 samples per day.
India had started from one laboratory and now there are 472 laboratories testing for COVID-19, he said after inspecting a COVID-19 care centre in the Mandoli area in the national capital.
There are 4,362 coronavirus care centres across the country where 3,46,856 patients with mild or very mild symptoms can be kept, he added.
“We are moving fast on path of success in the fight against COVID-19. The doubling rate for the last three days is 12 (days). The recovery rate has crossed 30 per cent. Out of around 60,000 COVID-19 patients, about 20,000 have recovered and gone home.
“Our mortality rate is still at 3.3 per cent…. In the last 24 hours, there has been no case in 10 states and Union territories. There are four states or Union territories where there has not been a single case till now,” Vardhan noted. India has 36 states and Union territories.
At a meeting on Sunday, state chief secretaries told Cabinet Secretary Rajiv Gauba that while protection is required from COVID-19, economic activities also need to be stepped up in a calibrated manner.
Former chief economist of World Bank Kaushik Basu said it is not easy exiting from the lockdown but if India is determined the country can do it.
“We must not make the mistake of locking ourselves down in a fear psychosis. This can cause an economic setback for many years to come,” he told PTI.
The coronavirus death toll in the country rose to 2,109 on Sunday and the number of cases climbed to 62,939, registering an increase of 128 deaths and 3,277 cases in the last 24 hours, according to the Union Health Ministry.
The number of active COVID-19 cases stood at 41,472, while 19,357 people have recovered and one patient has migrated, the ministry said.
According to a PTI tally based on data from inputs from states, the cases jumped to 64,244 while 19,342 patients had recovered and the death toll rose to 2043.
The health ministry data updated in the morning showed that the highest number of confirmed COVID-19 cases are from Maharashtra at 20,228, followed by Gujarat at 7,796, Delhi at 6,542, Tamil Nadu at 6,535, Rajasthan at 3,708, Madhya Pradesh at 3,614 and Uttar Pradesh at 3,373.
As many as 334 coronavirus ‘super-spreaders’ have been found in Ahmedabad so far, and it is the main reason for the order to keep shops of groceries and vegetables closed till May 15, an official said.
‘Super-spreaders’ are the infectious disease carriers who could transmit the pathogen to a large number of people.
They could be vegetable vendors, grocery and milk shop owners, petrol pump attendants or garbage collectors, who by the nature of their job carry the risk of getting infected and infecting others.
The official said they believe there are around 14,000 high-risk potential super-spreaders in the city, and they have decided to screen all of them in next three days.
A similar exercise has also been undertaken in the suburbs and rural areas of Ahmedabad district, he said.
Karnataka witnessed the biggest spike in COVID-19 cases in a single day with 53 people testing positive on Sunday, taking the tally to 847 and reported one more death, increasing the number of fatalities to 31.
This was the biggest spike in a single day in the state, a senior government officer told PTI in Bengaluru.
A total of 7,740 dedicated COVID-19 facilities in 483 districts have been identified, the health ministry said in a statement, noting that adequate health infrastructure is in place to fight the pandemic.
The public health facilities dedicated to COVID-19 management are categorised into three categories — Dedicated COVID Hospital (DCH), Dedicated COVID Health Centre (DCHC) and Dedicated COVID Care Centre (DCCC).
There are 6,56,769 isolation beds, 3,05,567 beds for confirmed cases, 3,51,204 for suspected cases, 99,492 oxygen-supported beds, 1,696 facilities with oxygen manifold and 34,076 ICU beds, it said.
In view of the need for further increasing the testing capacity for COVID-19 at National Centre for Disease Control (NCDC), the procurement of a high-throughput machine as per the recommendations of an Empowered Group was approved.
The Cobas 6800 testing machine has been successfully installed at NCDC in Delhi, the statement said.
Presently the testing capacity at NCDC is about 300-350 tests per day and with Cobas 6800, which has a capacity to test around 1,200 samples in 24 hours, the capacity at NCDC will be significantly enhanced. (PTI)