India’s Health Minister Harsh Vardhan on Thursday asserted that the spread of coronavirus has been contained in the country, citing how half the total cases are from three states only and another 30 per cent from seven others.
His remarks come as the country is inching towards the grim mark of two million cases. It has already logged over 40,000 deaths and is recording more than 50,000 daily cases since the past few days.
Speaking at a virtual meeting of WHO’s Regional Director, South East Asia, Poonam Khetrapal Singh with Health Ministers from the region on maintaining essential health services and public health programmes in the context of the Covid-19 pandemic, Harsh Vardhan alluded to the efficacy of the government’s containment strategy.
“The strategy has been successful in that 50 per cent of the cases are from three states and 32 per cent of the rest are from seven states. The spread of the virus thus has been contained.”
The Minister said that the lockdown was effective in slowing down the rate of growth of cases and gave the government time to augment the health infrastructure and testing facilities.
“From one lab in January, India has 1,370 labs today. Indians anywhere can access a lab within three hours travel time. 33 of the 36 states and UTs (Union Territories) exceed WHO’s recommendation of testing 140 people per million per day.”
Harsh Vardhan also said that the country was “preparing for the pandemic as soon as China informed the World Health Organisation on January 7”, over three weeks before the first case emerged.
India had reported its first coronavirus case on January 30 when a student from Kerala, who was studying in China’s Wuhan University, came back to India and tested positive for the deadly virus.
Harsh Vardhan also stressed that earlier viral outbreaks like the Avian Influenza, H1N1, Zika and Nipah had provided institutional memory in designing containment and management strategies.
“India’s proactive and graded multi-level institutional response to Covid-19 made it possible to have very low cases per million and deaths per million in spite of having a high population density, and low fractional GDP spending, per capita doctor, and hospital bed availability as compared to other developed countries,” he contended.