NEW DELHI: Having the COVID-19 vaccine does not mean one should be complacent, Union Health Minister Harsh Vardhan said on Monday stressing that preventive measures must be followed now and in the near future as well.
These remarks were made by Vardhan, also the Chairman of the Indian Red Cross Society, as he presided over the distribution of masks and soaps among various Transport Unions, a health ministry statement said.
"I am very happy to be a part of the initiative of distributing masks as part of the COVID-19 response activities. This is part of a series of such distributions across the country.
"In Delhi itself, we have distributed masks on railway stations, sabji mandis and other places considering the high chances of infection at these places," he was quoted as saying in the statement.
Acknowledging the efforts of the Indian Red Cross Society and emphasising the need of following COVID-appropriate behaviour even after vaccine development, Vardhan said, the government has already started the largest vaccination drive in the world.
"But having the vaccine does not mean that we should be complacent. In fact, all the preventive measures must be followed by all of us now and in the near future, as well.
"Considering this, it is praiseworthy that IRCS is continuing the distribution of masks from the prevention perspective," he said.
Transport drivers and helpers travel throughout the country and are vulnerable to the infection, he said, adding the masks being distributed by the IRCS will be of great help to them.
Speaking on the COVID-19 situation, Vardhan said India has one of the highest recovery rates in the world.
"Positive cases are also declining and stand at 1.48 lakh as of today. From one lab in January 2020, we now have 2,373 labs (for testing coronavirus). We have a capacity to conduct more than a million tests a day. We have completed 20 crore cumulative tests.
"This is a result of 'whole of Government' and 'whole of Society' approach," he was quoted as saying in the statement.
He further added that India has not only become self-reliant in production of masks, PPE kits, ventilators etc but is also in a position to export them now.
On the ongoing vaccination drive in the country, he said more than 58 lakh beneficiaries have been vaccinated till now.
On misinformation and rumours surrounding the vaccine, Vardhan said, "Many people are trying to spread misinformation and rumours related to vaccine. I appeal to the people to not believe in any such rumors."