States have onus to engage pvt hospitals for Covid treatment: Centre

New Delhi, September 15 (IANS): The Central government has taken a series of actions to prevent, control and mitigate the impact of Covid-19, the Parliament was told on Tuesday.

In a written reply in the Rajya Sabha, Minister of State for Health and Family Welfare), Ashwini Kumar Choubey, said that India followed a "whole of Government" and "whole of society" approach. The Prime Minister, a high-level Group of Ministers (GoM), Cabinet Secretary, Committee of Secretaries and senior officers in the Health Ministry continue to monitor the public health response to Covid-19 in the country.

"The public health actions were taken in a pre-emptive, pro-active, graded manner based on the evolving scenario. A number of travel advisories were issued restricting inflow of international travellers, till such time, commercial flights were suspended on March 23, 2020," Choubey said.

Till then, a total of 15,24,266 passengers on 14,154 flights had been screened at these airports. Screening was also done at 12 major and 65 minor ports and land border crossings. In the initial part of the pandemic, India evacuated a large number of stranded passengers from then Covid-affected countries like China, Italy, Iran, Japan, Malaysia and again in the un-lockdown phase, a total of 12,43,176 passengers have been brought back.

Noting that health is a state subject, Choubey said that the responsibility of engaging private hospitals for treating Covid cases is that of the state government.

The Union Health Secretary has written to all states and UTs to engage private hospitals through mutually agreeable arrangements. Rates under PM-JAY and CGHS packages have been advised.

The minister also said that the Integrated Disease Surveillance Programme (IDSP) is conducting contact tracing through community surveillance. "In the earlier part of the pandemic, this was done for travel related cases and subsequently for cases being reported from community as a part of containment strategy," he said, adding that as on September 10, a total of about 40 lakh persons have been kept under surveillance.

There are 1,697 laboratories conducting Covid-19 testing and India is testing about one million samples a day. A total of 5.4 crore samples have been tested so far, as on September 10.

As on September 10, a total of 15,290 Covid treatment facilities with 13,14,171 dedicated isolation beds without O2 support have been created. Also, a total of 2,31,269 oxygen supported isolation beds and 62,694 ICU beds (including 32,241 ventilator beds). Guidelines on clinical management of Covid-19 have been issued and are being updated regularly.

States are being supported in terms of supply of logistics. So far 1.39 crore PPE Kits, 3.42 crore N-95 masks, 10.84 crore tablets of Hydroxychloroquine and 29,779 ventilators and 1,02,400 oxygen cylinders have been supplied to states, UTs, and Central government hospitals so far.

More than 30 vaccine candidates have been supported which are in different stages of development, 3 candidates are in advanced stage of Phase I,II,III trials and more than four are in advanced pre-clinical development stage.

A National Expert Group on Vaccine Administration for Covid-19 has been constituted on August 7, under the NITI Aayog and 13 clinical trials of repurposed drugs have been undertaken to build a portfolio of therapeutic options for Covid-19 patients.