The central government has asked every state to ready at least one hospital earmarked only for treating COVID-19 cases. It has also approved three private labs for testing COVID-19 cases to ramp up the testing facilities.
Addressing the daily briefing of COVID-19 preparedness of the government, Health Ministry officials said that the country has the ability to test around 60,000 cases a week, however, efforts are being made not to do indiscriminate testing. More applications from private labs are under consideration for approvals, they said. The names of the approved private laboratories were not disclosed.
"We have tested 5000 samples last week. We have the capacity to do more, but we want to ramp up testing as per the requirement", Balram Bhargava, director general ICMR and Secretary Department of Health Research
"Our response is graded. Depending on the number cases, the number of isolation beds and ventilators will be ramped up. We have ordered for 1,200 new ventilators. We will be ready to face any emerging situation", Lav Agarwal, joint secretary, Health Ministry said.
The COVID hospital facilities will be separate, earmarked only for COVID cases in every state. In Delhi, an 800-bed section in AIIMS is being earmarked to handle COVID cases, the officials said.
On the number of testing centres, the officials said that 111 government labs are equipped to handle COVID samples. "Three private labs have been approved, more labs have approached, with thousands of collection centres they have, testing can be ramped if need be", they said.
Bhargava said the delay in permitting private labs was only because the government labs had the capacity and they wanted to ensure that the private labs can ensure the safety of their lab personnel, and have the full capacity to carry out the testing. "We have roped them now to boost the tests in the wake of so many passengers returning from other countries", he added.
The officials said the focus has been on preemptive approach, to respond to an evolving situation. "We started from screening in 3 airports to all airports. Now the issue is how to break the chain of transmission.
Janta curfew has been successful. Cabinet secretary had a meeting with all health secretaries of the state. "As a logical and natural extension to Janta curfew, the central government has asked 75 districts to be blocked, to allow only essential services", the officials said. They also said the states can expand this list of districts on the basis of their own assessment.