India is currently reporting the sharpest growth rate of 7.6% in new COVID cases, which is 1.3 times higher than the growth rate of 5.5% reported in June 2020, Health Minister Harsh Vardhan said on Saturday. The Minister added that this is leading to an alarming rise in daily number of active cases and also a sharp growth of 10.2% in the number of COVID deaths.
Dr. Vardhan chaired a high-level review meeting with Health Ministers of 11 States/UTs — Maharashtra, Chhattisgarh, Rajasthan, Gujarat, Madhya Pradesh, Kerala, West Bengal, Delhi, Karnataka, Tamil Nadu and Uttar Pradesh — that are reporting an unprecedented surge in new COVID cases.
The Ministry added that India now has 2,463 testing labs that have a combined daily testing capacity of 15 lakh. The three-tier health infrastructure to treat COVID according to severity now includes 2,084 Dedicated COVID Hospitals (of which 89 are under the Centre and the rest 1,995 with States), 4,043 Dedicated COVID Health Centres and 12,673 COVID Care Centres. They have 18,52,265 beds in total including the 4,68,974 beds in the dedicated COVID Hospitals.
“The Centre gave 34,228 ventilators to States last year. Fresh supply of the lifesaving machines — 1,121 ventilators are to be given to Maharashtra, 1,700 to Uttar Pradesh, 1,500 to Jharkhand, 1,600 to Gujarat, 152 to Madhya Pradesh and 230 to Chhattisgarh,” the Minister said.
At the meeting, the issues of augmenting supply of oxygen cylinders, stepping up supply of Remdesivir in hospitals, adding to the ventilator stock and enhanced supply of vaccine doses were raised by several States and UTs.
Several States also demanded dovetailing of medical oxygen supply lines and the capping of prices of essential drugs like Remdesivir which they claim is being sold in the black market at exorbitant prices.
“Double mutant strain was a key point of concern and the Delhi government requested for additional beds in central government hospitals as was done in 2020 to help tide over the emergent health crisis,” said a release issued by the Health Ministry.
Also taking note of the surge in cases witnessed since last February in which most States have now crossed their highest numbers recorded last year, Dr. Vardhan directed States to plan in advance and increase COVID hospitals, oxygenated beds and other relevant infrastructure to deal with any further surge in cases.
The States were asked to seek out positive cases with the onset of early symptoms so that prompt and effective treatment checks the deterioration of health. Large containment zones for achieving community quarantine were also suggested as a strategy.