New Delhi, March 19 (IANS) Amid the coronavirus scare, Joint Health Secretary Lav Agarwal here on Thursday advised against panic and hoarding of essential commodities, saying it was evolving situation and steps being taken were preventive.
Addressing the the media, Agarwal said, “It’s evolving situation and we will have to react accordingly. But there is no need to panic. The steps that we are taking are only preventive. We are still in a better position as far as COVID-19 is concerned.”
Reiterating ICMR remark that there is no evidence of community transmission in the country, Agarwal said, “There is a difference between local and community transmissions.
“When the authorities are able to trace the contact trail of the infected person, it’s local transmission. But when we are unable to do so, like who infected whom, it’s called community spread. There is no evidence of community transmission in India,” he said.
Agarwal said there were sufficient experts, like pulmonologists, as well as medical equipment, such as ventilators, in the country to deal with the evolving situation. “AIIMS is running 24X7 call centre and experts are guiding health workers,” he said.
“We are about to issue guidelines for hospitals to reduce the rush because the hospital environment is prone to infection,” the official said.
On tests at the private labs, he said, “We don’t want substandard labs to test samples. The ICMR has identified private labs, which can conduct COVID-19 tests.”
Thermal screening could be done in Delhi Metro and DTC buses, if required. “The GoM has issued direction for proper sanitisation of the mass transportation system. Appropriate action will be taken for people’s safety in public transport,” he said.
“We want youth to help in identifying old age asymptomatic people, to spread awareness, curb rumours and engage in dialogues through various mediums,” he said.
Refuting the news of paucity of N95 masks and other personal protective equipment (PPE) for health workers, he said, “the Textile Ministry has collaborated with many organisations for sufficient production and procurement of N95 mask.”
He also said the person died in Punjab had co-morbid conditions — diabetes, hypertension besides COVID-19.