corona cases

People busy purchasing vegetables at a market on Day 2 of the 21-day nationwide lockdown imposed by the Indian government over the coronavirus pandemic; in Patna on March 26, 2020. (IANS photo)

NEW DELHI – The Ministry of Health and Family Welfare March 26 said that there was a reduction in the rate of increment of novel coronavirus cases in India. The reduction has been noticed during the lockdown which was implemented in the country March 25.

"Although we are seeing a larger number of cases being reported and deaths recorded, the rate at which the cases are increasing appears to be relatively stabilizing," Joint Health Secretary Lav Agarwal told media at a press conference.

"However, this is only the initial trend," Agarwal cautioned.

He said if the measures taken by the government are strictly followed, then there will be a time when no case will be reported.

Agarwal also stressed continuing with measures to contain the dreaded disease from transmitting in the country.

"I want the same level of alertness to continue. If we collectively ensure that lockdown measures are implemented, we will be able to tackle the challenge posed by this disease," he said, while requesting the foreign-returnees to follow the quarantine directions.

"It will not only benefit you but your family too. Therefore, I request all the people to cooperate with us. The challenge is big and it is our collective responsibility to overcome it," he said.

According to the Health Ministry, 43 new confirmed cases and 4 new deaths due to coronavirus were reported March 26, which is the highest number of casualties reported so far in India.

Busting a myth if a housefly could be a host for novel coronavirus transmission, Agarwal said there was no such possibility.

Dr. Raman Gangakhedkar of Indian Council of Medical Research, who was also present at the conference, said that there was still no proof of community transmission.

"We are still at the stage of local transmission. If we follow the measures such as social distancing and isolation, we may safely be stable. One or two cases cannot be considered as beginning of community transmission," he said about an infected person in Hyderabad who neither had a history of foreign travel nor did he meet any infected person.

"Why would we hide anything about community transmission?" he said.

At least 17 states have started building dedicated COVID hospitals, the joint secretary told the media.

Agarwal said the government is working to ensure that essential things reach the people easily during the lockdown.

"The cabinet secretary had discussed with all chief secretaries the lockdown measures and preparedness of states in terms of hospitals and logistic arrangements. He had also called for making an arrangement for essential commodities to reach the people. Seventeen states have started working towards building a dedicated COVID hospital," Agarwal said.

He said arrangements are also being made to facilitate uniformity of treatment and introducing the orientation of protocol by training doctors online in association with AIIMS Delhi.

There are at least 633 active COVID-19 cases in India at present, the Ministry of Health and Family Welfare said March 26, taking the total number of confirmed coronavirus cases in the country to 694.

The disease has impacted at least 647 Indian nationals and 47 foreign nationals and has so far spread to 27 states and UTs. A total of 103 districts have been affected by the highly contagious virus.

The Health Ministry said that a total of 1,524,266 passengers have been screened at different airports.

The Indian Railways, meanwhile, said that it will hand over its newly built 332-bed hostel in Gujarat Vadodara as a backup quarantine center.

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