183 people have recovered from COVID-19 and have been discharged from hospitals around the country. The total number of people in the country infected with COVID-19 stands at 2,902, with 601 new cases having been reported since yesterday. A total of 68 people have died of the infection, 12 of whom 12 died yesterday. This has been stated by Shri Luv Aggarwal, Joint Secretary, Ministry of Health & Family Welfare at the daily media briefing on the actions taken, preparedness and updates on COVID-19, at the National Media Centre, PIB New Delhi today.

Shri Aggarwal informed that the age-wise distribution of COVID-19 cases in India is as follows: 9% cases: 0-20 Years; 42% cases: 21-40 Years; 33% cases: 41-60 Years; and 17% cases: Above 60 Years.

Sharing this information, he requested media and the public to lay focus on the process being adopted by Centre to battle the pandemic, while analyzing the data. A total of around 58 critical cases has been reported, mainly in the states of Kerala, Madhya Pradesh, and Delhi. Noting that old age and co-morbidity due to conditions such as hypertension and cardiac problems are major risk factors, he highlighted that high-risk people need to strictly follow the Government’s guidelines for their own safety.

The Health Ministry informed that an action plan has been prepared to deal with the scenario of a large outbreak, and on the strategy to contain it. An advisory on the use of homemade protective cover for face and mouth have been issued.

“A chain is only as strong as its weakest link. It is very important that we follow Government guidelines regarding lockdown, social distancing, and hygiene in every way, in every place. We need to be informed, alert and should not panic unnecessarily”, stated the Joint Secretary.

Shri Aggarwal said that medical equipment and supplies are being purchased, and are being supplied to states as and when they are procured. “We are also requesting states to use them in an optimal manner, considering gradual augmentation of their availability”, he further said.

Shri Agrawal informed, 30 training modules on topics such as ventilator support, clinical management, quarantine management, infection prevention, and control have been prepared and provided to states. 1.6 lakh people have utilized this and 1.4 lakh people have been trained using this.

The Joint Secretary also informed that more than 31,000 retired doctors have volunteered to provide their services in the nation’s fight against COVID-19. The Government is also planning to involve resident doctors and Post-Graduate medical students in hospital management, he added.

Speaking about Lifeline UDAN initiative, the Joint Secretary informed that 97 flights have been operated by Air India, Alliance Air, Indian Air Force, and private carriers till yesterday, transporting 119 tons of medical cargo to states, including hilly regions and North Eastern Region. As on date, a total of 107 flights have been operated, transporting COVID-19 related reagents, enzymes, medical equipment, testing kits & PPE, masks, gloves & other accessories of HLL & cargo requisitioned by State/UT Governments and also postal packets.

Making a comparison with the global scenario, the Joint Secretary informed that as per WHO’s reports, a total of 9.72 lakh cases have been reported till date, with more than 75,800 cases having been reported in a single day. Considering this, the doubling rate of cases in India has been relatively low; the Central Government’s approach has been proactive, preemptive and graded, he said, adding the need to be continually alert and active.

Medical staff members wearing protective clothing arrive with a patient at the Wuhan Red Cross Hospital in China on Jan. 25. HECTOR RETAMAL/AFP via Getty Images

The Joint Secretary informed that Tablighi Jamaat-related cases have been reported from 17 states, out of which 1,023 positive cases have been found. In this way, 30% of cases reported in India so far have been linked with one place, he further informed, highlighting the need for universal compliance with the Government’s guidelines.

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The Home Ministry informed that the Centre has released to states the first installment of Rs.11,092 crore under State Disaster Risk Management Fund. States can utilize this for welfare of migrant workers and other disaster-related needs, she added. The Ministry has issued an addendum to the guidelines issued earlier, regarding the Nationwide lockdown, in order to exempt shops of agricultural machinery, spare parts & repair; truck repair shops and tea industry from lockdown restrictions.

She further informed that the Control Room of Home Ministry is operating 24/7, with around 200 personnel of Ministry of Home Affairs, Central Armed Police Forces and NDRF working to resolve ground-level problems in coordination with states and UTs. Also, MHA has issued an Addendum to the guidelines issued regarding the lockdown, to further streamline supply of essential goods and services.

Around 22,000 workers and their contacts related with Tablighi Jamaat meeting have been quarantined as on date, as the result of a massive effort, she further informed. In response to a media query, the Principal Director General, PIB informed that apprehensions that voluntary switching off of lights by the public at 9 PM tomorrow, in response to PM’s appeal, may cause instability in the grid and fluctuation in voltage are misplaced. He emphasised that Indian electricity grid is robust and stable and adequate arrangements and protocols are in place to handle the variation in demand.

The Principal DG has also requested the citizenry to kindly refrain from using alcohol-based hand sanitizer, while lighting candles and diyas tomorrow as per the Prime Minister’s appeal to the nation.