Countrywide lockdown successfully blunted aggressive progression of COVID-19 in India: Choubey

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New Delhi, Sep 15 (PTI) India successfully blunted the aggressive progression of COVID-19 by imposing a countrywide lockdown at the beginning of the pandemic, Minister of State for Health Ashiwni Choubey told Rajya Sabha on Tuesday.

In a written reply to a question, Choubey said it has been estimated the decision of lockdown slowed down the progress of the pandemic in India, prevented 14–29 lakh cases and 37–78 thousand deaths.

He said, 'In the beginning of the pandemic itself, by imposing countrywide lockdown, India successfully blunted the aggressive progression of COVID.' 'India has been able to limit its cases and deaths per million to 3,328 cases per million and 55 deaths per million population respectively, which is one of the lowest in the world as compared to similarly affected countries,' he said.

The minister further said that no funds were allocated to the states specifically for testing and treatment. Initially the testing equipment and kits were procured by the Indian Council of Medical Research (ICMR) and provided to the states, he added.

'Now that the diagnostic kits and equipment are available, states have been advised to procure the same,' Choubey said.

In response to a question over allocation of funds to states for battling coronavirus, he said public health and hospitals being state subject, the primary responsibility of treatment of COVID-19 patients lies with the state governments. States, UTs are using their own resources for COVID-19 management including for treatment of the patients and the details are not maintained centrally. Besides this, states and UTs are being provided required technical and financial assistance under National Health Mission (NHM) for managing the COVID-19, the minister said.

Further, financial assistance to them has been given based on the number of cases and trends of COVID-19 pandemic, he added. Accordingly, all states and UTs are provided with necessary financial support under India COVID-19 Emergency Response and Health System Preparedness Package. States and UTs were given flexibility to use the resources available under NHM to prepare the public healthcare system for COVID-19 management, the minister said.

'During FY 2020-21, funds of Rs 4230.78 crore have been released to the states and UTs as on September 3,' Choubey said.

In reply to a separate question, Choubey said sufficient number of beds and ventilators for coronavirus patients were available after March 24 in AIIMS and Central government-run hospitals of the country.

Asked about the mechanism government follows to check concealing, under-reporting of COVID-19 deaths, the minister replied that ICMR circulated guidelines for appropriate recording of coronavirus-related fatalities in India. States have been advised correct reporting as per the guidance, he added. PTI PLB NSD