106 new COVID-19 cases in 24 hours: Union Health Ministry

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The Union Health Ministry said on Sunday that 106 new cases of the novel coronavirus pandemic and six deaths were reported from six states in the past 24 hours.

Joint Secretary Lav Agarwal said there were 979 confirmed cases in the country, including 25 deaths, till now. The fresh deaths were reported from Delhi, Gujarat, Karnataka, Kerala, Maharashtra and Telengana each.

Maharashtra has reporters six deaths so far, followed by Gujarat (4), Karnataka (3), Madhya Pradesh and Delhi (2 each), and one each from Kerala, Telengana, Tamil Nadu, Bihar, West Bengal, Punjab, Jammu and Kashmir and Himachal Pradesh.

Acknowledging the repercussions of the lockdown on mental health, Agarwal said that the government was geared to deal with it.

“We are under a lockdown and behavioural issues are very important under such situations. It is a new process,” Agarwal said. “If there are any behavioural issues, lack of understanding for that we at the National institute of Mental Health in Bangalore in collaboration with all other institutes has been trying to provide guidance.”

National Institute of Mental Health and Neuro-Sciences (NIMHANS) has also launched a toll free number — 08046110007, the official said. “I request everyone to fight unitedly against this disease so if we see any mental health issues, then all the institutes are equipped to provide you with necessary support.”

Asked to provide the number of patients who were presently on ventilator support, Agarwal said the data was being monitored at the state level.

“High-risk cases, which include age/contact history as criteria and which are found serious, are monitored. Figures not available with me right now,” he said.

Ten empowered groups have been formed to give focussed guidance to deal the pandemic. The focus areas include medical emergency management, isolation beds and quarantine facilities, according to the official.

Agarwal said over 10 domestic manufacturers in the country had been identified for producing personal protective equipment (PPE), which is designed to safeguard the health workers by minimising exposure to a biological agent. He added that additional manufacturers were also being identified.

“In collaboration with the External Affairs Ministry, PPE, which are available in other countries, we are starting the process to import them too,” he told reporters.

Agarwal said the government was focussing on high-disease hotspots and working in tandem with states to implement rigorous contact tracing, community surveillance and containment strategies.

Raman Gangakhedkar of the Indian Council for Medical Research (ICMR) said 34,931 tests were conducted for the contagion so far.

“Capacity utilisation in the ICMR network is around 30 per cent. We have increased the number of laboratories, 113 have been made functional and 47 private laboratories have been given the approval to conduct COVID-19 tests,” he said.

Punya Salila Srivastava, joint secretary in the Union Home Ministry, said employers must be instructed to give full wages to workers on the due date without any deduction for the closed-down period and landlords cannot charge rent for this period.

She said the workers cannot be forced to vacate the premises.

The superintendents of police and district magistrates will be held responsible for its strict implementation, Srivastava said, referring to the orders issued to stop the mass exodus of migrant workers.

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