Amid fears of a second wave of the COVID-19 pandemic, the Centre has said that the government’s health infrastructure is well-equipped to handle a surge of cases up to 5 lakh a day. The government, however, clarified that it doesn’t indicate that such a high number of cases will be reported in the future.
Addressing the press on Thursday, NITI Ayog member VK Paul said that around 8.36 lakh hospital beds are available for COVID-19 patients while 9,69,885 additional isolation beds have been kept on the standby at dedicated COVID care centres. Around 4.86 lakh beds with oxygen and 1.35 ICU beds are also available.
“It is robust, sustained and being accounted for and catalysed and supported for on a daily basis,” Dr Paul said, speaking about the preparedness.
“…this tremendous work that has been done by the state governments and to an extent also supported by the private sector in participation with the Union government, ” he added.
While an acute crisis of medical oxygen had led to huge fatalities during the second wave of the pandemic in April-May this year, Paul said the government is well-prepared this time with enough stock of liquid medical oxygen. Around 1,200 pressure swing adsorption oxygen plants are functional across the country, he said.
Urging people to come forward to take the second dose of the COVID-19 vaccine, Dr Paul said the government has also ensured that there is no issue in vaccine availability this time around.
“The dynamics of the virus after vaccination and infection which can lead to herd immunity…we do not have a straight formula for that. As one can see, despite the administration of vaccines, cases are being reported and we are still learning. The preparation will be of the level to make us safe. We move with preparation of 4.5 to 5 lakh cases per day surge but it does not mean that it will happen, should happen or may happen,” he said.
Stating that the government is doing everything possible to thwart a spike in cases, Lav Agarwal, the Joint Secretary of the Union Health Ministry said the next three months are extremely crucial.
“Whenever a sense of complacency comes, there comes a risk in cases. We cannot fit it in an equation as it has multiple parameters. We can work in the coming three months so that we don’t let the infection spread. Next three months are very crucial in the country’s fight against COVID-19,” he said.
With 21,257 people testing positive for the coronavirus infection in a day, India’s total tally of cases rose to 3,39,15,569, while the number of active cases declined to 2,40,221, the lowest in 205 days, according to data updated by the Union Health Ministry on Friday. The death toll has climbed to 4,50,127 with 271 new fatalities.