Union health minister Dr Harsh Vardhan has attributed the record daily spike in new Covid-19 cases in India to “aggressive testing” and “casual attitude” of the people.

He also said that the record increase in cases in the week ended August 30 can not be linked to the unlocking process.

“The main reason for increase in cases is the aggressive testing and tracing mechanism we are employing,” Harsh Vardhan told ET. “We are not worried about the increase as long as the diagnosis is done in time and our mortality rate remains low.”

The health minister, however, took a grim view of what he termed as “casual attitude” of the people. “The carelessness of the people is evident right now. They are crowding market places and not taking the basic precaution of wearing a mask. This cannot be emphasised enough that even if our recoveries are rapidly increasing and mortality rate is one of the lowest in the world, people cannot have this lackadaisical attitude,” the health minister said.

India reported a record 80,000 plus fresh cases on Sunday — a dubious world record for becoming the first country to cross 80,000-mark in a single day. The health minister, however, said that the government could not keep the country locked down. “Economic revival and fight against Covid need to go hand-in-hand. Just as we took a bold decision in implementing a timely lockdown, we need to show the similar boldness in opening up,” he said.

As per the health minister, Covid-19 cases should plateau out in India by Diwali. “Every virus follows a pattern, a trajectory. I feel that cases would plateau out in a month or two by Diwali. Gradually, it (Covid-19) will become endemic,” Harsh Vardhan said. The ministry is seeing the festival time as a challenge in the fight against Covid-19. “It will be a challenging time as people would need to exercise restraint. We are in the process of framing standard operating procedures (SoPs) for this,” he said.

India’s race for developing a Covid-19 vaccine may yield results by the end of this year, Harsh Vardhan said. “There are three vaccines, which are in different stages of clinical trial. Oxford vaccine is being produced by Serum Institute while it is being tested. We hope to have this vaccine in the market by early 2021. We will prioritise who gets the vaccine. Initially, it will be administered to healthcare workers, senior citizens, children and people with co-morbidities,” the health minister said.

News Source: Economic Times


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