'India has 'gone quite ahead' to win COVID-19 war'

India has 'gone quite ahead' to win war against COVID-19: Health Minister

Some among 25 migrant workers who are cycling to their native place from Haryana amid COVID-19 lockdown, pass through Muzaffarnagar, Thursday, April 30, 2020. (PTI Photo)

Union Health Minister Harsh Vardhan on Thursday said India is doing better compared to other countries on all parameters in its fight against COVID-19 and should be able to win this decisive war in the coming few weeks.

While virtually interacting with civil society organisations (CSOs) and non-governmental organisations (NGOs) on COVID-19 issues at an event organised by Niti Aayog, Vardhan said such organisations have been working tirelessly to ensure essential resources reach the last mile.

Talking about India's preparations and their results, the minister said, "We have gone quite ahead towards winning this war against COVID-19."

Elaborating further, he said the country has done better on "all our parameters compared to the rest of the world. And I am sure in the coming few weeks, we should be able win decisive war against COVID-19".

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The Council of Scientific and Industrial Research (CSIR) and the   Department of Biotechnology are doing genetic sequencing of coronavirus at 1,000 places, he said, adding that "we have half a dozen vaccine candidates, four of them are in significantly advanced stage".

The health minister also informed that everyday the country is manufacturing 1.5 lakh personal protective equipment in the country.

He said that in May, "we will have good indigenous production of good quality anti-body test kits and also kits for detection of coronavirus".

About challenges ahead as the Centre relaxes curbs on movement of stranded migrant workers, he said there will be requirements of lots of help from NGOs to reorganise migrant labourers again in their home towns as there could be some resistance in the society when they go back.

Vardhan also pointed out that India took immediate proactive steps within days of knowing about the outbreak of the novel coronavirus in China.        "

The central government immediately issued advisories to the states, undertook rigorous community health surveillance and started thermal screening at airports, borders as well as seaports," he said.      

The health minister also spoke on the issue of stigmatisation of COVID patients and frontline workers who are engaged in battling this war.

The government has recently amended the Epidemic Diseases Act to protect healthcare workers against violence during health crises such as COVID-19.

However, he said, not everything can be solved with the help of law and sought the assistance of NGOs and CSOs to battle the menace of stigmatisation in the society.

Until now, nine lakh people are under community surveillance, the minister said adding that it was a huge operation undertaken in the last three months.

Meanwhile, in its latest update, the Union Health Ministry said 1,075 people have died due to COVID-19 so far across the country. The number of cases has increased to 33,610, including 1,823 new cases detected in the last 24 hours.

All NGOs registered on Niti Aayog's Darpan Portal became part of the interaction -- Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation, represented by Hari Menon; HelpAge India, represented by Mathew Cherian; Tata Trusts, represented by HSD Srinivas, among others.

The NGOs/CSOs mentioned a number of issues including combating stigma and discrimination against COVID-19 patients and frontline workers, flagging shortage of medicines in rural areas, seeking help for e-passes, provision of more PPEs and N95 masks and seeking a data-driven response to the crisis. 

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