Union Health Minister Harsh Vardhan on Sunday urged people to stay away from large congregations and diligently follow COVID-19 guidelines during the upcoming festive season, saying no religion or God asks people to celebrate ostentatiously.
Requesting people to celebrate the approaching festivals at home with their loved ones instead of going out to fairs and pandals, he said fighting against COVID-19 is everyone's foremost "dharma" and as the country's health minister it is his "dharma" to mitigate the virus and prevent deaths at any cost.
The Bhagwad Gita condones war for the warrior class. So, there is no need to congregate in large numbers to prove your faith or your religion," he said.
Extraordinary circumstances must draw extraordinary responses. No religion or God says that you have to celebrate in an ostentatious way, that you have to visit pandals and temples and mosques to pray," Vardhan underlined.
During the fifth episode of 'Sunday Samvaad', the health minister's virtual interaction with people on social media, Vardhan also discussed the possibility of increased novel coronavirus transmission during the coming winter season as transmission of respiratory viruses is known to increase during the colder weather.
These viruses are known to thrive better in the cold weather and low humidity conditions. In view of these, it would not be wrong to assume that the winter season may see increased rates of transmission of the novel coronavirus in the Indian context too, he noted.
He stressed that if people congregate in large numbers to to celebrate festivals, "we may be heading for big trouble".
"Lord Krishna says concentrate on your goal...our goal is to finish this virus and save humanity. This is our religion. The religion of the whole world," he said.
Answering questions on the efficacy of AYUSH formulations in the treatment of COVID-19, Vardhan explained the concept of Salutogenesis and how these formulations target holistic recovery of patients.
Pointing to in-depth study of literature and scientific evidence generated from in silico studies, experimental studies, and clinical studies, he said, Guduchi, Ashwagandha, Guduchi and Pippali combination and AYUSH 64 have a substantial number of studies which prove their immuno-modulatory, anti-viral, antipyretic and anti-inflammatory properties. These interventions have also shown a good binding affinity with COVID-19 virus in in-silico studies.
He further informed that scientific studies have been initiated with the aforesaid remedies to assess their impact in the prophylaxis, secondary prevention and management of COVID-19 afflicted cases on the recommendations of the Interdisciplinary Task Force set up by the government.
On the benefits of Chyawanprash, the health minister said information available through clinical studies have shown that individuals who consume it regularly for a definite period of time show improvement in overall health status and immunity and while sugar is an essential component, customers can opt for sugar-free versions available in the market.
The minister requested people to not share any content related to health and safety without double-checking its veracity. He added that as more is learnt about the novel coronavirus and more vaccine candidates start their phase 2 and 3 trials, there is bound to be a lot of fake and incorrect news on social media that is perpetrated by people with vested interests.
He said the COVID-19 Fact Check Unit in the Press Information Bureau (PIB) under the Union Ministry of Information and Broadcasting has been regularly scanning social media platforms for fake news and requested his followers to report such fake news to the PIB's fact check unit.
Vardhan also detailed the steps taken to prevent occurrences of COVID-19 infection among healthcare workers.
States are thoroughly supported in terms of PPE Kits, N-95 masks and HCQ for the protection and prophylaxis of healthcare workers managing COVID cases, he said.
He also said in the first phase, the Government of India has released Rs 3,000 crores to states and UTs to battle the COVID-19 pandemic.
Almost all, except three states and UTs, have utilized the complete grant given to them. Maharashtra has used only 42.5 pc of the grant followed by Chandigarh at 47.8 pc and Delhi at 75.4 pc, he stated.
Responding to calls for medical attention to people in isolation, Vardhan said there was sharp increase in acceptance of telemedicine services in India which have not only enabled the government to provide the right care to patients during the pandemic, but also helped to contain the transmission of the dangerous virus.
He exhorted citizens to join Prime Minister Narendra Modi's call to take a pledge and join the massive country-wide awareness campaign and "Jan Andolan for two months including the winter season so that the pandemic does not spread further.
Adhering to COVID-appropriate behaviour of wearing masks or face covers especially when in public places, regularly washing hands and maintaining respiratory etiquette will help contain the spread of the disease, he firmly reiterated.
Upon learning of the various difficulties faced by his constituents in Chandni Chowk, Delhi, he shared his contact details on the public platform as a response and assured that all issues faced by people in his constituency would be resolved on priority.
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