The war against Covid-19 may not get over soon, but Minister of State for Health Ashwani Choubey believes that India has been able to contain the virus as the number of hotspot districts in the country has come down. He also reminded that the number of corona-positive patients which initially used to double in two days, barring exceptions, is now taking around 10 days. “There are 733 districts in India and out of which 307 districts, as of now, are non-affected, which means that they are in Green Zone. Till 20-21st April, there were 170 districts which were the hotspot zone but as of today the number has gone down to 129 districts. We are trying our best to convert even these 129 districts into Orange Zone.
Already around 297 districts are in Orange Zone. I think this is a positive sign,” he said. Praising people for the way they have followed Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s advice during the nationwide lockdown, he said that the concept of social distancing and “do gaz doori” is being followed in the rural areas as well. “If we really want to take on corona, then we have to follow two most important principle of social distancing and remaining in our home without panicking,” he said. Talking about Modi’s meeting with state Chief Ministers, Choubey reminded that the last time the PM had said that some relief would be given after 20 April. “Apart from fighting corona, we have to keep our economy strong and PM Modi is very concerned about what all problems people are facing. Till now if there are five shops in one zone, two are allowed to open; and if they have five labourers then only two are allowed in order to maintain social distancing. Such concerns have been kept in mind. In future, more reliefs can be provided in districts which are in Green Zone. But final call on this will be taken by the PM after taking feedback, and whatever decision he takes is acceptable to all of us,” the minister said, adding how India is faring better than other countries in its fight against corona. Speaking on the preparedness of the Health Ministry, Choubey said that till the morning of 27 April the country had done 665,819 tests.
“The percentage of people who used to come positive in 100 tests, that percentage has remained constant even in thousands of tests and lakhs of tests so far. We have testing capacity of around 15-16 lakh people. We had one lab in January, but now if we combine both government and private labs the number is 370 which is a big thing. Apart from this, we have sent PPE kits, N95 masks and other facilities to states,” he stated. On the controversy plaguing the ICMR’s decision to buy faulty Chinese kits and that too at a higher price, the minister tried to downplay the matter. He said, “There are people who will attack for the sake of attack. They should first apprise themselves with the fact and then speak. Initially there was criticism that we are conducting less tests. When we increased our capacity, it was done through a strategy. ICMR was of the view that rapid test was not a perfect test as we would get to know the status of antibodies in the body only after a week’s time,” he said, adding how the high-powered team comprising the ICMR and the government decided that there was no need for rapid testing, as of now. “We have communicated to the states that if they have procured those kits directly from China, then they should return it. It’s unfortunate that even during this hour of crisis people can’t stop playing politics,” the minister signed off.