NEW DELHI: The Centre on Wednesday said that India has “sufficient” stocks of anti-malaria drug hydroxychloroquine, being used for COVID-19 patients in the country, but refused to share further details.
The drug along with antibiotic azithromycin has been recommended for severely ill COVID-19 patients in India and healthcare workers and close contacts of those who are infected have also been advised to use the drug in order to prevent infection.
The Union government has drawn flak in the last few days after it removed the export ban on the drug—reportedly under US pressure—within two days of imposing it.
“It has been ensured that not only today but even in future there will not be any lack of HCQ as and when needed,’’ Lav Agarwal, Joint Secretary in the Union Ministry of health and Family Welfare said on Wednesday, announcing that the country has reported 773 cases and 32 deaths in 24 hours.
The cumulative count of novel coronavirus cases in India now stands at 5,194 and 402 patients have also been declared “cured” after treatment.
The government on Wednesday complemented measures taken by some districts that have emerged as best practices.
This includes Pune district which sealed the central region of Pune and Kondhwa area effectively and carried out a door-to-door survey of homes located across a 35 sq km area. The teams there have also been checking on persons with co-morbidities like diabetes and hypertension apart from travel history and contact tracing.
Another district that was mentioned in the daily briefing was Pathanamthitta in Kerala for ensuring surveillance, gathering travel history, contact tracing, quarantine facilities and providing essential and psychological support to the needy.
Agarwal maintained that as the number of COVID-19 cases is rising in the country, the country’s response and preparedness is also being intensified, adding that in hospitals, the main focus is on infection prevention and control measures so that health workers aren’t infected.
The Centre also launched a training module for management of COVID-19 named “integrated govt online training” portal on the DIKSHA platform for capacity building of frontline workers to handle the pandemic efficiently.
He also said that the Centre has directed the states to continue its focus on building hospitals and on surveillance and contact tracing.
Dr R R Gangakhedkar, the head epidemiologist with the Indian Council of Medical Research official, said that a total of 1,21,271 tests for COVID-19 have been done so far.
The COVID-19 death toll in India is too small to say that the number of deaths in Maharashtra is significantly high, he said while responding to a question.