Coronavirus: Health Ministry says testing of COVID-19 kits have been fast-tracked
Amid the coronavirus pandemic in India, the Health Ministry on Monday briefed on the overall measures taken by the Centre, as well as state governments.
At a press conference, ICMR Director-General Balram Bhargava said that the testing of COVID-19 testing kits has been fast-tracked at ICMR-NIV, Pune. Speaking at a press briefing in New Delhi, Bhargava added that two testing kit manufacturers have already been approved.
Last week, the Centre also allowed private labs to conduct COVID-19 testing, which would cost about Rs 4,500 per test. To that effect, 12 laboratory chains have been registered and they have started functioning, Bhargava said, adding that these laboratory chains have about 15,000 collection centers across India.
Lav Agarwal, Joint Secretary, Health Ministry reiterated that a complete lockdown has been announced in 19 states and union territories. Earlier, the government had announced that a total of 80 districts, including major cities such as New Delhi, Mumbai, Bengaluru, Chennai, Hyderabad, and Kolkata have been placed under strict lockdown restricting movement, travel, and work till March 31.
As of March 23, India has reported nine deaths and 468 positive coronavirus cases, according to the real-time population data tracker Worldometer. Around the world, more than 3,58,000 positive COVID-19 cases and more than 15,000 deaths have been reported.
The Centre has also asked states to keep dedicated hospitals ready and increase their bed capacity for coronavirus patients to provide them with proper treatment.
Hydroxychloroquine, a drug that is used on malaria patients and also been found to help with coronavirus, has been recommended only for the healthcare workers who are treating the positive coronavirus patients, officials said.
Moreover, they also recommended the drug only for people staying and caring for a household positive patient, for prevention.
In an effort to curb the infection in a country of 1.3 billion citizens, Prime Minister Narendra Modi had urged citizens to stay inside and observe ‘Janata Curfew’ on Sunday from 7 am to 9 pm.
(Edited by Kanishk Singh)