India was in a much better position than other countries in the fight against COVID-19 as a result of ‘right decisions taken at the right time’, Prime Minister Narendra Modi said on Monday, asserting that the country had expanded its health infrastructure at a rapid pace to deal with the pandemic.

Interactive map of confirmed coronavirus cases in India

Speaking after virtually launching COVID-19 testing facilities in Noida, Mumbai and Kolkata, Mr. Modi said that in the fight against the coronavirus, India had come to a point where it did not lack in awareness, its scientific data were expanding and resources were increasing.

Deaths due to the coronavirus were much lower in India than in many big countries, he said.

Recovery rate

Noting that India’s recovery rate was also higher than that of other countries and improving on a daily basis, Mr. Modi said the total number of people recovered was about to reach the 10 lakh mark.

Also read: India will have to deliver vaccine on a scale never seen before: Oxford scientist Andrew Pollard

The virtual launch event was attended by Union Health Minister Harsh Vardhan and Chief Ministers of Maharashtra, West Bengal and Uttar Pradesh — Uddhav Thackeray, Mamata Banerjee and Yogi Adityanath.

The Prime Minister said it was imperative for the country to develop corona-specific health infrastructure at a fast pace and pointed out that this was the reason that the Centre had announced a package of ₹15,000 crore at the beginning of the COVID-19 battle.

The country now had more than 11,000 COVID-19 facilities and more than 11 lakh isolation beds, Mr. Modi said.

“While the country had only one COVID-19 testing centre in January this year, there are almost 1,300 such labs now,” he said.

At present, he said, more than five lakh tests were being conducted daily in the country, and efforts were on to increase this capacity to 10 lakh in the coming weeks.

Also read: Imported vaccines may be fast-tracked

Mr. Modi also noted that the country had become the second-largest PPE kit manufacturer, having progressed significantly from not having even a single PPE kit manufacturer as recently as six months ago to having more than 1,200 manufacturers now, who were producing more than five lakh such kits daily.

N-95 masks

The Prime Minister also highlighted that the country, having been dependent on imports, was now producing more than three lakh N-95 masks daily; the annual production capacity of ventilators had become three lakh and there had also been a significant increase in the production of medical oxygen cylinders.

This had not only helped save lives but also converted India from an importer to an exporter, he observed.

Talking about efforts to contain the spread of the virus in rural areas, Mr. Modi said there was a need to develop new health infrastructure and boost the existing health infrastructure facilities in villages.

Also read: India records highest single-day recoveries

Apart from developing physical infrastructure, the country had managed to swiftly ramp up human resources, including paramedics, ASHA workers and anganwadis, who had played a significant part in controlling the spread of the pandemic, he said.

Mr. Modi also emphasised the need to work on continuously attaching new and retired health professionals with the health system to prevent fatigue from setting in among “our corona warriors”.

In his address, Mr. Modi urged the people to be cautious during the celebrations of upcoming festivals to check the spread of the virus.

He emphasised that the benefits of the Pradhan Mantri Garib Kalyan Anna Yojna should reach the poor in a timely manner.

Also read: India will have to deliver vaccine on a scale never seen before: Oxford scientist Andrew Pollard

“Our scientists are working fast to develop a vaccine against coronavirus. But, till the time an effective medicine or vaccine is not ready, ‘do-gaz doori’ [six feet of distance], wearing masks and hand sanitisation are the only alternatives,” the Prime Minister asserted.

According to Dr. Vardhan, that labs to test for COVID-19 were now available across the country. He also spoke about Union Home Minister Amit Shah working along with Delhi Chief Minister Arvind Kejriwal to control the spread of the virus in the national capital, a PMO statement said.

The new testing facilities would give West Bengal, Maharashtra and Uttar Pradesh more strength to fight COVID-19, Mr. Modi said.

The Prime Minister said these hi-tech, state-of-the-art testing facilities would boost the testing capacity by almost 10,000 daily tests in each of the three cities.

These labs, Mr. Modi noted, would not be limited to testing for COVID-19 but would, in future, also be able to test for Hepatitis B and C, HIV, Dengue and several other diseases.

The three testing facilities have been set up strategically at ICMR institutions — the National Institute of Cancer Prevention and Research in Noida, the National Institute for Research in Reproductive Health in Mumbai and the National Institute of Cholera and Enteric Diseases in Kolkata.



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