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Koronavirus | Kerala paying the price for gross negligence during Onam, says Harsh Vardhan

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Harsh Vardhan said this should serve as a good lesson to all State governments that were negligent in planning for the festival season.

With Kerala witnessing a recent rise in coronavirus infections, Union Health Minister Harsh Vardhan said on Sunday that the state was paying the price for gross negligence during the Onam holidays when unlocking services along with an increase in trade trips and tourism led to the spread of COVID -19.

The Minister said that this should serve as a good lesson for all the Governments of the States that were negligent in planning for the festival season.

Read also: Coronavirus | Coming soon COVID-19 paper test: Tough Vardan

The Kerala COVID-19 figure has crossed 3.3 lakh while the number of Saturdays rose to 1,139. Prior to Onam (August 22), the State had reported about 54,000 cases, while the death toll was nearly 200.

During an interaction with his social media followers in the sixth episode And Sunday samvaad, Dr. Vardhan reiterated his request for everyone to celebrate festivals at home with their loved ones in the traditional way to avoid the risk of COVID-19 infection.

Read also: Coronavirus | Women, children and teens are more vulnerable, says Harsh Vardhan

This festive season, charity should take precedence over celebrations.

“Even my celebrations will remain subdued because of the attractive impact of COVID-19 on the trap of crown warriors around the world fighting for us,” the minister said.

He also assured that there is no shortage of medical oxygen in the country and that the government is ready to increase production capacity to meet any further increase in demand arising due to the pandemic.

Read also: Coronavirus | Essential time ahead: Minister of Health Harsh Vardhan

Answering a question in Kerala that recently reported an increase in COVID-19 cases, Dr. Vardhan said that between January 30 and May 3, the state had reported only 499 cases and two deaths due to the disease.

He regretted that Kerala was paying the price of gross negligence during the last Onam holidays when the unlocking of state-wise services, along with an increase in cross-border and inter-institutional travel for trade and tourism led to the spread of COVID-19 across districts different.

Kerala epi curve changed completely due to Onam holidays across the state. New daily cases almost double, said Dr. Vardhan.

Read also: Coronavirus | The COVID vaccine is likely in early 2021, says Harsh Vardhan

He urged people to honor prime ministers seeking an Andolan jan (mass movement) to religiously follow the appropriate behavior for COVID.

Dr. Vardhan also said that so far, no coronavirus mutation has been detected in India to be more efficient in transmission or more pathogenic.

He rekindled the joy of drinking tea in the morning with the daily newspaper in one respondent assuring that there is no scientific evidence proving that the new coronavirus transmission can occur through newspapers.

Newspaper reading is completely safe even during the COVID-19 pandemic, he said.

Answering a question on the discrepancy in COVID-19 death figures, Dr. Vardhan said the Ministry of Health has considered the issue of accurate certification of COVID-19 deaths with all states and UT in many cases.

He has also shared a proper death reporting modality with them to ensure consistency in reporting COVID-19-related deaths across India, the minister said.

Regarding the availability of medical oxygen in the country, he said that the current oxygen production capacity in India is around 6400 MT / Day.

The government is ready to increase production capacity to meet any further increase in demand that arises due to the pandemic, he said.

The Empowered Group composed of the Ministry of Interior is monitoring medical oxygen requirements throughout India.

The Ministry of Health is also monitoring the availability and supply of medical oxygen at the field level through regular video conferencing with state junior officers as well as with key secretaries or mission directors.

He said 1,02,400 medical oxygen cylinders had been delivered to states and UTs.

The National Pharmaceutical Pricing Authority has fixed the price of liquid medical oxygen. Guidelines for the rational use of oxygen for the management of COVID-19 have also been issued, he informed.

Dr. Vardhan noted that although there are no COVID-19 intranasal vaccines on trial in India at the moment, Serum India and Bharat Biotech are expected to follow clinical trials of such vaccines in the country in the coming months with regulatory approval.

He clarified that the Phase 3 clinical trial is generally with thousands of participants, sometimes even close to 30,000 to 40,000.

It is possible that from a specific city or hospital, several hundred participants will be selected at a given time, but, in general, the overall group of participants in Phase 3 is much larger, the minister said.

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