Dr. Harsh Vardhan chairs 18th meeting of Group of Ministers (GOM) on COVID-19

The 18th meeting of the high-level Group of Ministers (GoM) on COVID-19 was held under the chairpersonship of Dr. Harsh Vardhan, Union Minister of Health & Family Welfare by a video-conference, here on Thursday. He was joined by S  Jaishankar, Union Foreign Minister,  Hardeep S. Puri, Union Minister of Civil Aviation,  Ashwini Kumar Choubey, Dr. Vinod Paul, Member (Health), Niti Aayog joined the meeting through video conference link. At the outset, the GoM was briefed on the current status of COVID-19 in India. 

The global comparison between the five most affected countries clearly depicted that India has one of the lowest cases per million (538) and deaths per million (15) compared the global average of 1453 and 68.7, respectively. Within the country, eight states (Maharashtra, Tamil Nadu, Delhi, Karnataka, Telangana, Andhra Pradesh, Uttar Pradesh and Gujarat) contribute to around 90% of the active caseload and 49 districts account for 80% of active caseload, as of today. Moreover, six states (Maharashtra, Delhi, Gujarat, Tamil Nadu, Uttar Pradesh and West Bengal) account for 86% of total deaths, and 32 districts account for 80% deaths.

The GoM was briefed that special efforts were made in the regions showing higher Case Fatality Rate. Speaking on the COVID-19 healthcare infrastructure in the country, the GoM was briefed that as on today, there are total 3914 facilities in the country with 3,77,737 Isolation beds (without ICU support), 39,820 ICU beds and 1,42,415 oxygen supported beds along with 20,047 ventilators. In terms of healthcare logistics, cumulatively 213.55 lakh N95 masks, 120.94 lakh PPEs and 612.57 lakh HCQ tablets have been distributed.

Dr. Harsh Vardhan stated that “as we move forward, our focus shall be on the management of COVID-19 through strict containment measures and surveillance; utilizing full testing capacity; focus on monitoring of co-morbid and elderly population; predicting emerging hotspots leveraging digital tools such as Aarogya Setu; ensuring seamless patient admission processes; focus on infrastructure preparedness (critical care beds, oxygen, ventilators and logistics).” He pointed out that “along with States/UTs, our aim is to reduce and keep the Case Fatality Rate low by early identification and effective clinical management”. Preeti Sudan, Secretary (Health),  Rajesh Bhushan, OSD (MoHFW), Amitabh Kant, CEO (Niti Aayog), Dr. Balram Bharagava, DG (ICMR),  P D Vaghela, Secretary (Pharma), Sanjeev Ranjan, Secretary (Shipping), Ravi Capoor, Secretary (Textiles), Parameswaran Iyer, Secretary (DWS), Ajay Prakash Sawhney, Secretary (MEITY), representatives of ITBP, participated through virtual media.