New Delhi [India], October 18 (ANI): During the festive occasion of Navratri, when celebrations are on across the country amid the COVID-19 pandemic, Union Health Minister Dr Harsh Vardhan on Sunday cautioned people to strictly follow coronavirus guidelines and avoid being negligent, citing the example of Kerala which during Onam saw a spike in cases due to negligence.
While answering queries of social media interactors on the sixth episode of his 'Sunday Samvaad' Vardhan said: "Kerala paid the price of gross negligence during Onam festivities as the recent spike in COVID-19 cases were seen in the state. Noting that between January 30 and May 3, Kerala had reported just 499 cases and two deaths due to COVID-19. Epicurve of Kerala changed completely due to Onam festivities across the State, the daily new cases nearly doubled."
The Minister said this ought to serve as a lesson for all the state governments which were being negligent in planning for the festival season.
He also requested everyone to celebrate festivals at home with their loved ones in the traditional way.
"This festive season, charity must take precedence over the celebration. My own celebrations too shall remain subdued due to the heart-wrenching impact of COVID19 on lakhs of corona warriors across the world battling for us", Vardhan said.
The Union Health Ministry has released atleast Rs 1,352 crore to 33 states including Union Territories (UTs) under phase II of COVID Package, the government informed on Sunday adding that the total amount released in the second package amounts to a total of Rs 1352 Crores. This Phase II grant has been released in tranches during the months of August, September and October
The health minister said that at present, in India, there is no Intranasal COVID-19 vaccine under clinical trial.
"Serum Institute of India and Bharat Biotech are expected to pursue clinical trials of such vaccines in India in the coming months after regulatory approval. The phase III clinical trial is generally with thousands of participants, sometimes even close to 30,000 to 40,000 participants. It is possible that from a specific city or hospital, couple of hundred participants are selected at a given time, but in general, the overall phase III participant pool is much larger."
Sharing details on the Special Drive for ADVERSE Drug Reaction (ADR) reporting and monitoring of drugs used in COVID-19, Dr Harsh Vardhan clarified that this special drive is not because of an adverse reaction reported with an existing drug, but is part of a proactive COVID-19 preparedness programme.
The Central government assured that there is no shortage in medical oxygen as current oxygen production capacity of India is around 6400 metric ton (MT/Day).
"The Government is ready to scale up the production capacity in order to meet any further increase in demand arising due to the pandemic. The health ministry is monitoring the availability and supply of medical oxygen at the field level. At least 1,02,400 medical oxygen cylinders have been delivered to States and UTs; The National Pharmaceutical Pricing Authority (NPPA) has fixed the price of Liquid Medical Oxygen (LMO) and has issued guidelines on 'rational use of oxygen for management of COVID-19," said the Union Health Minister.
On China's claim that the novel coronavirus broke out simultaneously in several countries last year, Dr Vardhan shared that "There is no evidence that can validate the claims on global multiple focal point for the novel coronavirus outbreak".
He stated that Wuhan, China remains recognized as the first report worldwide.
Responding to another question on the market being flooded with oximeters made in China, the health minister observed that "Consumers should look for FDA/CE approved products with ISO/ IEC specifications while purchasing a pulse oximeter from the market or from the online retailers."
However, he made it clear that a dip in oxygen saturation level is not a COVID-19 symptom, as it may happen due to other underlying medical conditions as well.
Dr Harsh Vardhan assured that as of yet, no mutation of coronavirus has been detected in India, which is either more transmission efficient or more pathogenic.
Answering a question on the discrepancy in the number of COVID-19 deaths across India, Vardhan shared that the Ministry of Health and Family Welfare has taken up the issue of correct certification of COVID-19 deaths with all States and UTs on multiple instances and has also shared a proper modality of reporting of deaths with them to ensure consistency in reporting of COVID-19 related deaths across India.
The government also informed that online education for medical students is undergoing midst of the pandemic. Medical colleges and institutions in India are conducting online classes for MBBS students which have been approved by the National Medical Commission. (ANI)