On 21 March, the Health Ministry Joint Secretary addressed the media to allay queries about the novel coronavirus, and the steadily rising cases in India.
“ There is a lot of misinformation about masks; not everybody needed to wear them, social distancing more important,” said the health ministry.
“There is no shortage of essential commodities, masks and sanitisers, don’t indulge in panic-buying.”
With 283 confirmed cases in the country, many are questioning the Indian Council of Medical Research’s testing protocol.
To explain further, the government added, “Testing should not be about confidence-building, we will resort to increased testing only when ICMR changes its protocols and on expert physicians advise. Currently, we are only focussing on contact testing.”
He added that this was not a simple task, and that since India has not reached stage 3 yet officially it was adequate.
“Our goal currently is to reduce the chain of transmission. Yesterday, we traced 6000 close contacts as we are focussing on local transmission. Today, the number is 7000 and it is increasing daily.”
On the burden of public healthcare systems and the need for private players to step in - but an affordable prices, the government said, “We are in discussions to put a price cap on testing with private labs. They will only be introduced after they follow the ICMR guidelines and get approved.””
“There were always gaps in PPE,” says the government, adding that we are working on required action on procurement from domestic manufactures for PPEs.
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