As the curve of the deadly coronavirus COVID-19 pandemic continues to rise rapidly, India on Friday (April 3, 2020) witnessed the highest spike so far with 478 cases reported in the last 24 hours. The total number of positive cases till 10.30 pm (IST) on April 3 reached 2,547 and the death toll stood at 62. 157 patients have recovered from the coronavirus so far, as per the latest data of the Ministry of Health and Family Welfare.
The highest number of cases so far has been recorded in Maharashtra (335 cases, 16 deaths), followed by Tamil Nadu (309 cases, 1 death), Kerala (286 cases, 2 deaths), Delhi (219 cases, 4 deaths) and Uttar Pradesh (172 cases, 2 deaths).
Addressing a daily press briefing on COVID-19 at New Delhi, Luv Agrawal, Joint Secretary, Union Ministry of Health & Family Welfare said that 647 positive cases of coronavirus infection spanning across 14 states, linked to Tablighi Jamaat, have been found till April 3. The states and UTs are--Andaman and Nicobar, Assam, Delhi, Himachal Pradesh, Haryana, Jammu and Kashmir, Jharkhand, Karnataka, Maharashtra, Rajasthan, Tamil Nadu, Telangana, Uttarakhand and Uttar Pradesh. He said that the spurt in cases is due to increase from a particular level. Hence, all need to follow social distancing more comprehensively.
The Joint Secretary further informed around 30 lakh people have downloaded the Arogya Setu app so far. The Centre has requested everyone to download the app since we are dealing with an infectious disease and in this case, one person's safety is everyone's safety and vice versa.
Agrawal also informed that the government has launched a portal on eNAM to promote social distancing and sanitary measures at APMCs through which 585 mandis to be connected and farmers will be able to sell their produce without physically visiting the mandis. He stated, DRDO has developed a bio-suit with seam sealing glue for the safety of health professionals fighting COVID-19, which is being tested now. Other R&D organizations, in the country, are also working to augment the fight against Novel Corona Virus.
Union Health Minister has appealed to all to extend all kind of encouragement to the health professionals who are working in challenging circumstances, due to whose efforts 157 people have been cured of the infection, stated the Joint Secretary, Ministry of Health and Family Welfare.
Agrawal further said, “We have issued an advisory to states regarding online training for health professionals on surveillance, clinical management, isolation facilities, quarantine, psychosocial care, logistics and supply chain management.” AIIMS is imparting training on ICU Care and ventilator management, he further said.
Union Home Ministry has asked states to take strict action in cases of security incidents on healthcare professionals and frontline workers and to ensure the safety of medical fraternity. Home Secretary has asked states to ensure staggered disbursement of benefits under Pradhan Mantri Garib Kalyan Yojana, to provide adequate security in bank branches and to maintain social distancing, stated the representative of Union Home Ministry in the press conference.
She further briefed, Ministry of Home Affairs control room had 7 helplines till date. Two new helplines have now been started -1) 1930 which is All India toll-free helpline, and 2) 1944 is a helpline for people of North Eastern Region. All helpline numbers for States and UTs are available on Union Home Ministry’s website.
It was further stated that MHA has blacklisted 960 foreigners, present in India on tourist visas, for their involvement in Tablighi Jamaat activities. Necessary legal action to be taken. Around 360 foreigners who have returned to their countries after attending Tablighi Jamaat meeting are also being blacklisted. MHA has also issued an Addendum to lay down SOPs for the transit of foreigners stranded in India and release of quarantined persons after being tested COVID-19 negative. There is no question of deportation at this stage; deportation, as and when done, will be as per Standard Health Protocol, said the Home Ministry spokesperson, in reply to a journalist’s question during the press conference.
There are 182 COVID-19 diagnostic labs in the country now, of which 130 are in Government Sector. Around 8,000 samples tested yesterday, which is the highest till date. Cumulatively, 66,000 samples tested till date, stated ICMR representative in the press conference. He further said the guidelines for using Rapid Diagnostic Test for COVID-19 is expected to be released by tomorrow. Discussions are being held on how to deploy these tests in high-risk and low-risk areas, in hotspot and non-hotspot areas. He also said testing is for the sole purpose of confidence-building. It is not advisable, especially when testing kits are limited. The focus of sampling is on hot spot areas and areas where higher of cases have been reported. No decision on revising sampling criteria taken as of now, he added.