Coronavirus in India: Over 100 labs made functional; retail prices for sanitisers fixed at Rs 100 per 200 ml

Edited By: Sonal Gera WION Web Team
New Delhi, Delhi, India Updated: Mar 21, 2020, 11:42 PM(IST)

Women wearing protective masks as a precautionary measure against the Novel Coronavirus (COVID-19). Photograph:( ANI )

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The ministry also shed light on the panic buying and hoarding being practised by citizens. It said measures were being taken to curb this.

The Indian government has been keeping a close watch on the preparedness of the health facilities in the wake of the rising number of confirmed cases of COVID-19 in the country. The Ministry of Health and Family Welfare (MoHFW) presided over a video conferencing with the state governments and discussed the critical care units being established across the country. To this end, Lav Agarwal, Joint Secretary, MoHFW, while addressing the reporters in a press briefing in New Delhi, said 111 labs across the country had been made functional.

Agarwal said, “The health facilities and services are being amped up. As many as 111 labs have been made functional. We have also facilitated training for critical care services in India.”

The ministry also shed light on the panic buying and hoarding being practised by citizens. It said measures were being taken to curb this.

Agarwal also urged the businessmen and shopkeepers to keep a watch over people who were hoarding items of daily use. He also said the ministry was implementing measures to not let the shopkeepers raise the prices of products under the high demand.

“Retail prices of hand sanitisers shall not be more than Rs 100 per bottle of 200 ml. Retail prices of masks shall not be more than the prices prevailing on the day 1 month prior to 13.03 or not more than Rs.10 per piece whichever is lower and that of mask shall not be more than Rs. 8 per piece. Retail prices of masks (3ply surgical mask), shall not be more than the prices prevailing on the day a month prior to 13.03 or not over Rs 10/piece whichever is lower and that of mask (2ply) shall not be over Rs 8/piece,” he said, adding, “this notification shall remain in force for a period upto June 30, 2020.”

Earlier in the day, the Indian Council of Medical Research (ICMR) revised its strategy to fight the spread of the novel coronavirus. It said all hospitalised patients with severe acute respiratory illness, shortness of breath and having fever and cough will now be tested for COVID-19 infection. The new ICMR guidelines also said asymptomatic direct and high-risk contacts of a confirmed case should be tested once between day 5 and day 14 of coming in his/her contact.

Also read: India reworks testing strategy to combat coronavirus spread

To this end, Agarwal said, “India’s response to crisis has always evolved with the situation. So we have tweaked the process. The tests, however, will only be done after the prescription by a physician. We should not just do testing for fashion or confidence-building measure. It is very important to understand that testing should be done as per the protocol defined for testing.”

When asked about the airlifting of Indian national stuck in other countries, Agarwal said, “As many 1,600 persons — including foreign nationals too — were kept in quarantine centres in India. Today (Saturday), 262 people from Rome, Italy mostly students will arrive and will be kept in quarantine centres.”

India has so far witnessed cases of COVID-19 mostly related to travel and local transmission from imported cases. Community transmission of the disease has not been documented till now.

Also read: No evidence of community transmission of coronavirus in India; have enough expertise to deal with crisis: Health ministry

Once community transmission is documented, the above testing strategy will undergo changes to evolve into stage-appropriate testing strategy. Advisory for testing are being reviewed and updated periodically.

A total of 271 individuals have been confirmed positive among suspected cases and contacts of known positive cases. Four persons have died of the disease in India so far. Maharashtra remains the worst-hit with 52 positive cases, followed by Kerala which has 40 cases of COVID-19 including 3 students from Wuhan who recovered last month.

26 confirmed cases -- including 3 patients who have now recovered -- in Delhi-NCR region.

Also read: Coronavirus cases in India jump to 271

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