No widespread community transmission of coronavirus, says Health Ministry
Clearing the air on hydroxychloroquine supplies, a drug being used as a preventive medicine for healthcare workers and high-risk contacts of Covid-19, the Centre has clarified that it has enough stocks to meet domestic needs even as it sanctions exports.
“ hydroxychloroquine is in high demand and several countries have made a request already. So keeping in view domestic stock availability and sufficient buffer, a decision was taken by the Group of Ministers to release some medicine surplus for export purposes,” said Dammu Ravi, Additional Secretary, Ministry of External Affairs.
The Ministry of Health and Family Welfare has estimated that one crore tablets will be required for health workers dealing with Covid-19 cases and the high-risk contacts of confirmed cases. An additional 1.6 crore tablets are required, according to a projection for the month-end.
Lav Agarwal, Joint Secretary, Health Ministry, said: “We have 3.28-crore tablets available for domestic use vis-a-vis our requirement.”
Up to two-crore tablets have been disbursed in the private sector to meet physicians’ prescriptions. “Another two or three-crore tablets worth additional supply is being arranged through tie-ups,” Agarwal said.
Concern over rise in cases
Agarwal maintained that there was no widespread community transmission (Stage 3). Earlier, he had said that India is tackling localised community transmission and is between Stage 2 and 3 of the pandemic.
He said: “1.8 per cent of Severe Acute Respiratory Infection cases are reported positive from Virus Research and Diagnostic Labs which are located in those areas from where primary Covid-19 cases had been picked up earlier. The study says that some positive cases had no travel or contact history and this needs further investigation, so we can locate their contact history. In some areas, when case load increases, contact tracing in those areas is not conducted properly.”
“We should remain concerned that our cases are increasing and we should also follow social distancing norms carefully to break the chain of transmission,” he further added.
PM to meet CMs today
Prime Minister Narendra Modi will interact with all State chief ministers on April 11 to decide whether the 21-day lockdown should be extended beyond April 14. The Health Ministry has also clarified that according to current international evidence, individuals are not at risk of contracting Covid-19 through blood transfusion/donation as it is a respiratory virus.
However, as an additional precautionary measure, the National Blood Transfusion Council (NBTC) has said people who have tested positive, who have travel history or contact should refrain from donating for 28 days, until it is confirmed that the virus has been cleared from their blood. NBTC has also requested that persons should continue voluntary blood donation; however, mass camps should be avoided.
Regarding Covid-19 testing, Manoj Murhekar, Director, National Institute of Epidemiology, said up to 1,44,910 samples from 1,30,792 suspected patients had been picked up by 213 labs across the country.
“Over 16,000 samples were tested in a day according to latest figures and we are expanding strategy to test all symptomatic cases in hot spot areas,” he said. Dammu Ravi said as on April 9, 20,473 foreign nationals have been evacuated. Regarding Indians stranded abroad, he said the MEA was unable to provide a definite answer on how their return could be managed during till the lockdown persists.