NEW DELHI: As the number of total confirmed coronavirus cases in India crossed 600 on Wednesday, the Centre asked healthcare volunteers including retired doctors to help the government in tackling the public health emergency.
The government said that 42 patients have been discharged after being treated for the infection. It also revised the total deaths in India due to infection to 9 — as opposed to 10 on Tuesday — saying that a patient in Delhi, who had earlier reported of having died of infection, had tested negative later.
Curiously though, the government has been maintaining its stand that there is no community transmission of COVID-19 even though the number of new cases is now increasing by up to 100 every day.
The Union Ministry for Health and Family Welfare and the Indian Council of Medical Research have not made public the profile of patients so far but indicated that all the cases are either imported or locally transmitted.
On Wednesday, the Centre also hurriedly published guidelines on the practice of telemedicine — which will help doctors offer consultation to patients through video, phone, Internet-based platforms (web/chat/apps etc) in a standardised manner.
These guidelines, prepared in consulation with government’s top think tank Niti Aayog, have been in the making for long but have been notified now as the government is urging people to limit out-patient consultation unless absolutely essential.
Meanwhile, in a high-level meeting of the Group of Ministers on COVID-19 several ministers and central authorities discussed the actions taken so far, the current status of social distancing measures as a preventive strategy and the stringent actions to contain the spread of the outbreak by the states.
The GOM also discussed strengthening the capacity of states, which need to devote adequate resources for creating dedicated COVID-19 hospitals, equipping the medical institutes with personal protective equipment, ventilators and other essential equipments.
“States have been asked to ensure that essential services and supplies remain open. These include hospitals, medical shops and establishments engaged in the manufacturing of medicines, vaccines, sanitizers, masks, and medical devices,” the government said in a statement.
So far, Gujarat, Assam, Jharkhand, Rajasthan, Goa, Karnataka, Madhya Pradesh, and Jammu and Kashmir have initiated setting up hospitals dedicated to the management of COVID-19.
As per the government statement, around 64,000 persons have arrived from other countries to India since March 21 out of which 8,000 have been put in various quarantine facilities and 56,000 are in home isolation.