30 municipal areas account for 79 pc of India's coronavirus infection caseload, GoM told

New Delhi, May 15 (PTI) Thirty municipal areas account for 79 per cent of India's coronavirus infection caseload, the Group of Ministers (GoM) on COVID-19 was informed on Friday, as the death toll in the country due to the disease rose to 2,649 and the total tally of cases climbed to 81,970.

At the 15th meeting of the high-level Group of Ministers (GoM) held under the chairmanship of Union Health Minister Harsh Vardhan, a detailed presentation on the current situation due to the coronavirus outbreak, both globally and in India, was made, according to a health ministry statement.

Worldwide, the total COVID-19 cases stand at 42,48,389 with 2,94,046 deaths and fatality rate of 6.92 per cent. Whereas in India, the total COVID-19 cases stand at 81,970 with 2,649 deaths and the fatality rate is pegged at 3.23 per cent, the GoM was informed at the meeting.

So far, a total of 27,920 people have been cured of the disease with 1,685 in the last 24 hours, taking the recovery rate to 34.06 per cent. In the 24 hour period till 8 am, fresh 100 deaths and 3,967 cases have been registered in the country.

'It was also highlighted that the impact of lockdown was seen on the doubling rate which improved from 3.4 days in the pre-lockdown week to 12.9 days in the last week,' the health ministry said.   The GoM deliberated on the containment strategy and management of COVID-19, as well as the measures being taken by the Centre and various states. It was informed that 'there are 30 municipal areas which constitute 79 per cent of India's caseload', the health ministry said in the statement.

At the meeting it was stressed that the focus of COVID-19 management strategy needs to be on the states with the highest number of confirmed cases and fatalities as well as on treatment and case fatality management, for which timely detection and contact tracing were the best way forward, it said.

The GOM was also apprised about various recommendations of Centre for containment zone management pertaining to indicators, root causes and action required which have been shared with the states and Union Territories.

Civil Aviation Minister Hardeep S Puri, External Affairs Minister S Jaishankar, Minister of State for Home Nityananda Rai, Minister of State for Shipping, and Chemical and Fertilizers Mansukh Lal Mandaviya, and Minister of State for Health Ashwini Kumar Choube were present at the meeting.

About the health infrastructure preparedness, the GoM was informed that as on Friday, a total of 8,694 facilities comprising 919 dedicated COVID-19 hospitals, 2,036 health centres and 5,739 care centres with a total of 2,77,429 beds for severe and critical cases, 29,701 ICU beds and 5,15,250 isolation beds, are available.

Also, 18,855 ventilators are now available to combat the virus, the health ministry said.

The Group of Ministers was also informed that domestic manufacturers have reached the daily production capacity of nearly three lakh personal protective equipment (PPE) and an equal number of N-95 masks which is sufficient to meet the nation's requirement in the near future. Moreover, ventilator manufacturing by domestic manufacturers has also started and orders have been placed.

The Centre has provided 84.22 lakh N-95 masks and 47.98 lakh PPE to the states, Union Territories and central institutions.

ICMR DG Balram Bhargava informed the GoM that the testing capacity has increased in the country to 1,00,000 tests per day through 509 government and private laboratories.

Nearly 20 lakh cumulative tests have been conducted in the country. Advanced machines for ramping up testing capacity has also been procured and ordered.

  The National Centre for Disease Control (NCDC) had been equipped with the COBAS 6800, a fully automated, high-end machine for real-time PCR testing of COVID-19. The COBAS 6800 machine will provide quality, high-volume testing with a high throughput of test around 1,200 samples in 24 hours. The current availability of testing kits is sufficient enough and is being distributed through 15 depots of ICMR to the states and UTs, the ministry said.

The GoM was also informed about the efforts of the MEA and Civil Aviation ministry in cooperation with the state governments to prepare a staggered timeline of flights to bring back Indian citizens stranded abroad.

'In Phase-1 of the exercise, around 12,000 Indians have been brought back and quarantined in the respective states,' the health ministry said. PTI PLB  NSD