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Ministry of Health and Family Welfare

Decision of lockdown was timely, the curve has begun to flatten, no need to fear of hidden spike in cases, the disease is in control: Chairman, Empowered Group 1

Recovery rate gone up to 20.57%, 3 more districts with no new case in last 28 days: Health Ministry

IMCT, Mumbai has suggested institutional quarantine for 2000-3000 more people and increase of testing and surveillance: MHA

4 more IMCTs today for Ahmedabad, Surat, Hyderabad and Chennai, IMCT Mumbai has been given responsibility of Thane too

Posted On: 24 APR 2020 5:54PM by PIB Mumbai

: New Delhi/ Mumbai, April 24, 2020

The number of COVID-19 positive cases stands at 23,077 as on date. 4,748 people have recovered till date, which takes up the recovery rate to 20.57%. The total number of cases under active supervision is 17,610. In the last 24 hours, 1,684 new cases and 491 recoveries have been reported. This was informed by the Joint Secretary, Ministry of Health & Family Welfare, Shri Luv Aggarwal, at the daily media briefing on the actions taken, preparedness and updates on COVID-19, held at National Media Centre, PIB New Delhi today. As on today, we have 15 Districts that did not have a fresh case in the last 28 days or more. Durg & Rajnandgaon from Chattisgarh & Shivpuri from Madhya Pradesh have been added to this list. Further, now there are 80 districts where no case has been reported in last 14 days. Stating these, the Joint Secretary called for sticking to the collective efforts being undertaken by the community and government for breaking the chain of transmission of COVID-19.

The Joint Secretary informed that:

  • Prime Minister Narendra Modi interacted with Panchayat sarpanches across the country through a video conference today. The sarpanches shared their experiences and efforts to maintain lockdown measures. PM appealed to the Panchayats to strengthen their infrastructure and exhort every citizen to download the Corona tracker app "Arogya Setu" for better vigilance.
  • Today, Health Minister Dr. Harsh Vardhan has interacted with all the State Health Ministers, Ministers for Medical Education and Health Secretaries through Video Conference to discuss the management efforts for COVID-19. While thanking States for their efforts so far, he highlighted the need for being constantly alert. He requested States to focus on districts reporting a high number of cases or having a low case doubling time or districts where case mortality is high. He also requested the states to ensure that unnecessary stigma is not attached to the disease, asking them to promote health seeking behaviour.
  • Health Minister interacted with Health Ministers of all member countries of the World Health Organization through a VC and shared India’s journey so far in management of COVID-19. He specifically highlighted that India's management efforts based on twin principles of community engagement and containment efforts.
  • Health Minister interacted with development partners, NGOs, social welfare organisations such as Rotary International and Red Cross Society. He requested the Red Cross to ensure sufficient blood stocks by promoting voluntary blood donation and facilities for picking up and dropping to donors. He suggested Red Cross Society coordinate with recovered COVID-19 patients who can be mobilised for blood donation, from which convalescent plasma could be used for transfusion to Corona affected patients for early recovery.
  • Health Minister also announced the launch of the @CovidIndiaSeva Twitter handle to swiftly answer the questions of citizens.

Dr. V. K. Paul, Member of NITI Aayog and Chairman of Empowered Group 1, which is coordinating Medical emergency management plan, gave a presentation wherein he informed that the decision of lockdown was timely and the curve has begun to flatten. He further said, the nation has shown that lockdown has been effective in saving lives, containing COVID-19 infection and slowing down doubling rate. He called for building on these gains. Stating that the big decision of nation-wide lockdown taken by PM proves to have been very timely and beneficial, as shown by the change in India's case growth trajectory, he further stated, as on March 21, our doubling time of cases was around 3 days, then results started showing on March 23, due to travel restrictions imposed earlier and on April 6, further slowing of doubling rate became visible. As per estimates, if we had not taken the decision of nation-wide lockdown, we would have had around 1 lakh COVID-19 cases by now. Stating that our testing strategy has stood the test of time, he informed, volume of testing has been adequate; despite increase in testing, proportion of positive cases has not increased. He also mentioned that there is no need to fear of any hidden spike in cases and that the disease is in control.

Director, National Centre for Disease Control, S. K. Singh gave a presentation on how surveillance is being used to gather epidemiological intelligence in 734 districts and 37 states and required measures taken accordingly. He briefed that:

  • Community surveillance is the weapon being used in most countries to fight COVID-19, so that infected persons can be quickly identified and put in quarantine or isolation so as to stop the spread.
  • Surveillance system is leading to collection of data from states and effective analysis of data is being done, guiding further action.
  • In the beginning, airport data was being matched with community data. In a later stage, a live dashboard was formed which shows data captured from districts, along with data of logistics and hospitals, quarantine and isolation beds.
  • An important work of the surveillance system is to use epidemiological intelligence to predict how COVID-19 will progress and accordingly the number of hospital beds, quarantine facilities, logistical facilities that needs to be planned.
  • Surveillance Network has been set up at district level as well, so that household survey, quarantine and isolation are done as part of cluster containment plan. District level surveillance systems are an important unit of the surveillance system where District Collector works as a coordinator between health system and administrative system.
  • Around 9.45 lakh people are under the surveillance network at present, prompt samplings of these people are taken upon detection of symptoms.
  • The surveillance mechanism started functioning even before the first COVID-19 case was reported in India, which played an important role in helping us contain the spread of the infection. 
  • During initial period of lockdown, doubling time of cases decreased since people infected already were being detected, later it improved as lockdown put a brake on the spread of the infection.
  • Starting from stopping of international flights to stop transmission of infection from abroad, graded steps including lockdown were taken to halt internal chain of transmission of the infection.

Joint Secretary, Ministry of Home Affairs, Ms. Punya Salila Srivastava representative informed:

  • The areas which are not within hotspots or containment zones have been given certain relaxations on the condition that all directives related to social distancing will be followed in those places. But some apprehensions, based on wrong interpretation of the guidelines, have been raised, especially by industry. MHA in a communication to all States/UTs has requested them that the industrial field establishments and field offices may be apprised of the guidelines of lockdown measures, which should be followed to prevent the spread of epidemic. It has also been directed that these should not be misused to harass the management of any manufacturing/ commercial establishments.
  • MHA had formed 6 Inter Ministerial Central Teams (IMCT), all of whom have reached their fixed destinations and have started working.
  • This apart, upon consideration of the COVID-19 infection status, MHA has formed 4 more IMCTs today, which are being sent to Ahmedabad, Surat, Hyderabad and Chennai. These teams are also being led by an Additional Secretary level officer and have a public health specialist and disaster management specialist among its members.  
  • Two of the teams which are already in field have given a feedback
    • Indore team has reported that there are 171 containment zones in Indore, out of which 20 are in serious condition. The team has visited Mhaw hotspot and containment zone and held detailed discussions with the contact tracing and active case screening survey teams. The team has found that kits, masks, PPEs and safety equipment are available in sufficient quantity, health infrastructure and protection of health professionals is being ensured and lockdown measures are being satisfactorily observed. This apart, the team visited centres for Divyang Jan, quarantine centres, health centres, dedicated COVID hospitals, PDS shops, migrant camps etc. The IMCT held discussions with all stakeholders like public representatives, NGOs, medical college officers, farmers, traders among others. The team has also found that Government has provided a 'trade document' by which farmers can sell wheat to traders at MSP, without visiting mandis. IMCT has found out about usefulness of this trade document from farmers and traders who have used it. IMCT is tirelessly discussing with administration as to how contact tracing and active case monitoring can be made more effective, testing and sampling facilities can be increased, farmers be made aware about 'Sauda Patra' and increase the supply of nutritious rations in slums. The team has also met CM and senior officers of the state.
    • The Mumbai IMCT has visited Dharavi, Govandi and Wadala slum areas. At Dharavi, people using community toilets have to come out of their houses. The team has suggested that portable toilets be set up at necessary locations, so that the number of community toilets can be increased. At Dharavi, administration is dependent on home quarantine. IMCT has suggested that institutional quarantine facility be arranged for 2000-3000 people and testing and surveillance teams be augmented using local volunteers. The team has visited institutional quarantines, COVID hospitals and community kitchens also. They held detailed discussions with all stakeholders, especially NGOs. The team also discussed as to how problems can be resolved for non-COVID patients. They also participated in video conference with CM and senior officers.
  • All IMCTs are sharing their observations and suggestions with the state governments. Our intention is to improve the situation and stop spread of COVID-19.

Whenever a positive case is detected, rapid response team visits that particular area, starts proper containment exercise and then, special teams formed by district administration, comprising health workers and Nagar Nigam staff, conduct house-to-house survey for active case finding in that containment zone, said the Joint Secretary in reply to a query.

LIVE tweets by @PIB_India from the media briefing can be found on this thread.

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DJM/SC

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