Following COVID-appropriate behaviour key to fighting pandemic till vaccine arrives: Vardhan

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New Delhi, Nov 4 (PTI) The number of active COVID-19 cases in India has reduced substantially with the recovery rate surpassing 92 per cent, Union Health Minister Harsh Vardhan said on Wednesday while asserting that following COVID-appropriate behaviour was the key to combating the pandemic till a vaccine becomes available.

Reviewing Karnataka's preparedness and the measures taken for ensuring COVID- appropriate behaviour, he expressed satisfaction over India's progress in combating the coronavirus, the health ministry said.

'We will soon be completing a journey of 10 months in fighting the coronavirus. The country is now witnessing substantial improvements in COVID-19 parameters. 'The number of cases and deaths are in a declining phase. Active cases have substantially reduced. The recovery rate of India has surpassed 92 per cent today while the fatality rate is also declining and stands at 1.49 per cent. With over 2000 labs, the testing capacity has also increased,' Vardhan said.

'During this festive and winter season, the virus poses a potential threat. It becomes very important to follow COVID-appropriate behaviour to cut the transmission of virus,' he said.

'Whenever there has been a laxity in following basic precautionary measures, the country has suffered.' Comparing the COVID-19 trajectory of Karnataka with that of the country, Vardhan said, 'Karnataka has the second highest cumulative cases after Maharashtra. Karnataka also has a recovery rate of 93 per cent which is more than the national average. The case fatality rate (1.35 per cent) is also lower than the national average.' While appreciating the efforts of the state in reducing active cases, the Union health minister expressed concerns over the disease trajectory in Urban Bengaluru, Mysuru, Bellari, Dakshin Kannada, Hassan and Belagavi which have high caseload.

He held a meeting with state Health and Medical Education Minister Dr K Sudhakar and other senior officials of the state government. He also spoke with officials of the districts where cases and fatality rates are showing a rising trend. The Union minister also applauded Karnataka for its high impetus on IEC activities. He asked the state to adopt wide-scale and high-visibility IEC (information, education and communication) campaigns for adoption of COVID-appropriate behaviour.

'Testing has been increased from 10,000 tests per day in June to over 80,000 per day as of now. Testing facilities have been made available in all the medical colleges in the state.

'This has increased testing capacities manifold. More than 8 million tests have been done in the state so far. The state authorities stated that 80 pc of the tests done are by RT-PCR. The state has also reduced the active cases by 37 per cent between October 25 to November 1,' the health ministry statement said.

Union Health Secretary Rajesh Bhushan underscored that the new cases and deaths in Karnataka have declined significantly but still a lot needs to be done to bring the parameters to pre-July levels. The state should aim at bringing the positivity level to less than 5 per cent and needs to engage aggressively with all the stakeholders in those districts which have a fatality rate higher than the national average, he stressed. PTI PLB NSD NSD