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Health Min Harsh Vardhan Lauds India's COVID Response; Aims 1 Lakh Tests Daily By May End

Health Minister Dr. Harsh Vardhan lauded India's response to COVID-19 pandemic saying the country was among the first to act when the outbreak happened in China

Union Health Minister Dr. Harsh Vardhan lauded India's response to the novel Coronavirus pandemic saying the country was among the first to act when the outbreak happened in China and has since ramped up testing and containment efforts. In a virtual interaction with World Health Organisation officials on Wednesday, Harsh Vardhan said that 400 districts in India have no COVID-19 cases while over seven lakh people are under community surveillance for suspected COVID symptoms.

"India is among the first countries in the world to have responded to the news of the first Coronavirus case being diagnosed in China on January 7. We started working on January 8 in our expert group meeting. On January 17, we issued health advisories and ramped up screening of travellers from abroad," the Health Minister said. The next 2-3 weeks are going to be the most crucial in handling the pandemic particularly in India, he added.

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Increasing testing scope 

Talking about India's COVID-19 testing capacity, Harsh Vardhan said that the government has ramped up testing and has expanded the criteria for tests. "We have 166 government-run labs testing for COVID-19. We have already done 2.5 lakh tests while we are testing 15-20,000 tests every day. We are expanding our testing capacities further and have involved the private sector. We have revised our testing guidelines and now every patient with fever and running nose will have to be tested in seven days."

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One lakh test per day by May end

He added, "We have asked AIIMS and other big institutes to become nodal points for collaborating and coordinating all medical colleges to have testing facilities in the next couple of weeks." The Minister further set the target of reaching the test count of one lakh per day by end of May.

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Prepare for the worst

Health Minister Harsh Vardhan further stated that the country has to keep "a close watch" on areas hit by the virus and have to "prepare for the worst". He also said that the Ministry of Science has started working on a vaccine to treat COVID-19 and India has volunteered for the WHO Solidarity Trails.

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