The Union Health Ministry on Thursday informed that 540 new cases of COVID-19 have been reported in the last 24 hours taking the total number to 5,865. The death toll has also mounted to 169 after 17 patients succumbed to the disease since Wednesday. So far, 477 patients have recovered and been discharged from the hospital.
In a press briefing, the Ministry's Joint Secretary Lav Aggrawal said that 2,500 doctors and 3,500 paramedical personnel have been deployed by the Indian Railways. In order to prepare 80,000 isolation beds, Indian railways are converting 5,000 coaches into isolation units, of which 3,250 have been converted, Agrawal informed.
"Their (railways') chain of 586 health units, 45 sub-divisional hospitals, 56 divisional hospitals, eight production unit hospitals and 16 zonal hospitals are dedicating their significant facilities to fight COVID-19," the official further said.
Aggarwal also said that a meeting was held of the Group of Ministers including Health, Civil Aviation, Home Affairs, and Shipping to discuss setting up dedicated COVID hospitals and the supply of PPEs (Personal Protection Equipment), N95 masks and ventilators. The government's focus on providing essential medical supplies to coronavirus hotspots was also discussed.
The Health Ministry also said that two labs Council of Scientific and Industrial Research (CSIR) — Centre For Cellular And Molecular Biology (CCMB) and Institute of Genomics and Integrative Biology (IGIB) have started working on whole-genome sequencing of the novel Coronavirus, to understand the evolution of the virus in order to treat the COVID-19 disease. Whole-genome sequencing is the process of determining the complete DNA sequence of an organism's genome at a single time.
The approach for sequencing the SARS-COV2 (the virus that causes the COVID-19 disease) involves getting samples from infected patients and sending these samples to a sequencing centre. The study can help scientists understand the virus better and look for ways to fight it.