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Fight against COVID: Vardhan touts success

COVID-19 Treatment, Transmission, Spreading, Symptoms, Testing and Risks Concept. Chart with keywords and icons on white desk with stationery. Coronavirus symptoms illustration. Asymptomatic example. Image credit: tumsasedgars / 123rf
Image credit: tumsasedgars / 123rf

Union Health Minister Dr Harsh Vardhan has touted India’s fight against COVID-19, claiming the country to have performed better than the world’s more economically-developed countries. 

As reported by the Press Information Bureau, Vardhan “interacted with the State Health Ministers and Principal Secretaries / Additional Chief Secretaries of nine states. These states included Andhra Pradesh, Assam, West Bengal, Rajasthan, Himachal Pradesh, Telangana, Punjab, Haryana and Kerala.” In this meeting, he hailed India’s fight against COVID-19. 

“The whole country worked together by following the same strategy together,” Vardhan is reported to have told the officials in question. “We have seen a lot of phases in this journey of ten months…the entire country followed the bold manner in which the lockdown was imposed under the leadership of [Prime Minister Narendra] Modi. Later, the unlock process was also implemented effectively. When we analyse the performance of our country, it seems India has performed better than any of the big developed countries in the world.” 

Vardhan’s statement comes at a time when India remains the second worst-affected country in the world by the outbreak of COVID-19 – the disease caused by severe acute respiratory syndrome coronavirus 2 (SARS-CoV-2) or, simply, coronavirus. At the time of writing, India has recorded more than 8,572,402 cases of COVID-19 with 126,835 consequent deaths according to Worldometer data. 

However, India is the fourth most-affected nation in terms of confirmed active infections with the coronavirus. The United States (first), France (second), and Italy (third) all record more active COVID-19 cases according to Worldometer. India’s death toll is the third-highest in the world, behind Brazil in second place and the United States again in first. 

Vardhan highlighted India’s recovery rate of 92.56 percent as of Monday morning. “There was a surge in cases one or two months back,” he said. “India’s active cases used to hover around one lakh. Now the number of active cases has come down. Out of the five lakh active cases in India currently, many people are on the road to recovery.” 

This is aligned with reports put out in recent weeks. As my colleague Nicholas Parry reported for Health Issues India on October 26th

“India’s daily cases peaked at close to 100,000 in mid-September. These consistent daily figures across the course of the month sparked a worrying trend of gradually increasing daily figures across the previous months with no signs of abating. However, following a peak on September 16th, these figures began to decrease. Encouragingly, this decrease has continued for more than a month, with new daily figures near half that of cases occurring one month prior. Active case counts have also reduced significantly, falling from more than one million ongoing cases in mid-September to fewer than 700,000 currently.” 

However, the PIB has also reported that Vardhan urged continued vigilance. “Restating his concern that the coming winter and the long festive season pose a significant risk that could threaten the gains made collectively till now against COVID-19,” the PIB said, “he [Vardhan] said, “We all need to be more vigilant for the entire festive season that started with Dussehra and would continue onto Diwali, Chhat Puja, Christmas and then onto Makar Sankranti in the next year. Respiratory [viruses] also [spread] rapidly in the winter months.” 

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