NEW DELHI: People have adopted a casual approach towards the COVID-19 pandemic which is very dangerous, Union Health Minister Harsh Vardhan said on Friday and stressed that COVID appropriate behaviour is the biggest social tool to break the chain of transmission.
He made the remarks after visiting the AIIMS Trauma Centre here to assess the healthcare infrastructure in view of the spike in COVID-19 cases.
In order to encourage the public from following COVID appropriate behaviour (CAB) in the quest for a coronavirus-free environment, the minister put out statistics that demonstrate the diligence of the general public along with the hard-work of healthcare and frontline workers.
"India has 52 districts with no fresh cases in seven days, 34 districts with no fresh cases in 14 days, four districts with no fresh cases in 21 days and 44 districts with no fresh cases in 28 days," a health ministry statement quoted Vardhan as saying.
Stating that "we have more experience, knowledge and understanding about the disease as compared to last year", the health minister said the Centre stands resolute to further strengthen the healthcare infrastructure, from augmenting beds, ensuring uninterrupted supply of oxygen and therapeutics to expanding the basket of vaccines.
During his visit to the AIIMS Trauma Centre, he also assessed the number of beds to be increased at the institute.
"There are 266 beds at present, of which, 253 are occupied. Arrangements will be done to increase 70 more beds at AIIMS Trauma Centre," he said.
Vardhan said 100 more beds will be added to the AIIMS' Jhajjar campus He also held a detail review meet on the availability of beds/oxygenated beds at the general/ICU wards with the heads of the various departments engaged in treating COVID and non-COVID medical conditions, taking note of difficulties faced by them and their colleagues in carrying out their present duties.
He said he will visit various healthcare facilities over the next few days to assess and further scale-up facilities.
In response to a question on the alleged shortage of anti-viral drug Remdesivir in the country, Vardhan said the manufacturers have been asked to increase the production of the drug.
Enforcement authorities have been asked to take stern action against those indulging in black-marketing of Remdesivir, he said.
Vardhan will also hold a review meeting with health ministers of states reporting high number of COVID-19 cases on Saturday.
Praising the contributions of corona warriors, he observed that with fundamentals of the viral disease known, the task ahead would be comparatively easy.
"I am happy to know that our warriors are not only aware but also concerned over the present situation. It is not like we have not faced the problems in 2020. But, in 2021, we have more experience; more knowledge and understanding about the disease as compared to last year," he said.
The health minister also highlighted the journey traversed by India in becoming self-sufficient in medical equipment.
"I remember our condition on April 5, 2020 when we did not have PPE Kits, ventilators and N95 masks. We were unfairly criticised all over the world for a perceived lack of health infrastructure. With significant ramping up of infrastructure and production capabilities, we have come a long way.
"We defeated the virus when we did not know much about it and can do it again with our one year of experience," he noted.
On the importance of attending to non-COVID cases at the time of the pandemic, Vardhan said, We should not neglect and let their treatment get affected.
We are now equipped with all measures; we need to just think about how to overcome the present unfortunate situation.
We need to think about developing new models that can be implemented and replicated in other parts of the country."
He also visited the patient ward of the Jai Prakash Narayan Apex Trauma Centre (JPNATC) of AIIMS, and interacted with many patients under treatment.