New Delhi: The Union health ministry on Thursday said that there is no need to panic over the availability of COVID-19 personal protective equipment (PPE), but stressed these should be used rationally. Joint Secretary at the health ministry, Lav Agarwal said at the daily briefing that 20 companies are manufacturing PPE in India and orders for 1.7 crore PPE have already been placed with them.
Since Wednesday, 540 cases of the coronavirus infection and 17 deaths due to it have been reported, he said. The total number of COVID-19 cases in India is 5,734 and 166 people have died due to the disease, he said.
According to an ICMR (Indian Council of Medical Research) official, 1,30,000 samples have been tested for COVID-19 so far in the country. “No need to believe any rumour or have any fear regarding PPE. Our guidelines state that not only PPE should be made available, but they should be used rationally,” Mr. Agarwal said. He further added,
It (PPE) should be used as per requirement, and as I have told you, I can use four N95 masks within a day, or I can use just one within a day. While the central government is augmenting supplies to the states, we are also requesting them to use them rationally.
Orders for 49,000 ventilators have been placed and their supply is underway, Mr. Agarwal said and informed that 10 teams of COVID-19 specialists have been sent to nine states. The official also said that the Indian Railways has produced about 6 lakh reusable face masks and over 4,000 litres of hand sanitiser. It has also converted 3,250 coaches into COVID-19 isolation units with beds. Total 5,000 coaches are to be converted, Mr. Agarwal said.