10 April 2020
New Delhi: Union Health Minister Harsh Vardhan on Friday held a meeting via video conferencing with health ministers of different states for taking stock of the preparedness regarding the Covid-19 pandemic.
Most of the state representatives demanded more quantity of personal protective equipment (PPE), ventilators and testing kits from the Health Ministry.
Speaking to the Harsh Vardhan, Delhi Health Minister Satyendra Jain said, "We need more ventilators."
Echoing the demand, Rajasthan Health Minister Raghu Sharma urged the ICMR to relax the testing strategy so that more and more tests could be conducted.
"Ramganj near Jaipur is badly affected. May be we have to vacate the entire area and send every single family to quarantine. We want to increase the testing capacity, therefore I request the Indian Council of Medical Research (ICMR) to relax the testing strategy so that more and more tests could be conducted."
He also suggested allocating more money to the states having Covid-19 hotspots and demanded rapid antibody testing kits.
The representative from Himachal Pradesh said that the state needed more ventilators and PPEs. He said that the state bodies are working efficiently as per the guidance of the Centre, but are facing shortage of PPE and Ventilators.
Bihar Health Minister Mangal Pnadey said that there are at least 11 districts in the state which have been badly affected by the disease. He said, "Bihar has received only Rs 80 crore from the Centre," and urged the Union Health Minister to allocate more funds to the state.
Gujarat Health Minister Nitinbhai Patel requested the Centre to set up more testing labs in the state.
The representative of Haryana said that the state did not receive a single ventilator, while his West Bengal counterpart said there is scarcity of Hydroxychloroquine in West Bengal.
The representative of Haryana also complained about shortage of PPE kits. Similar issue was raised by his counterparts from Andhra Pradesh, Tamil Nadu and Kerala.
Harsh Vardhan, on his part, informed all state representatives that antibody rapid testing kits are not available in the country as of now and that the government has ordered more ventilators.
"There are no antibody rapid test kits available in the country as of now. We have placed order for them and we will give them as soon as the order is delivered," he said.
The chief scientist of ICMR, Raman Gangakhedkar, requested the state representatives not to hoard testing kits. "Many states have placed orders in advance with the manufacturers. This is unnecessary and will cause a rise in the price of the kits. Moreover, rapid testing kits are not the replacement of RT-PCR," said Khedkar.
Harsh Vardhan also informed the state representatives that the government has ordered more ventilators but they will be needed in very few cases; therefore, the states should focus on other requirements like oxygen cylinders, beds etc.
"There are 17,000 ventilators for Covid-19 hospitals, and the government has placed orders for 50,000 more. States should focus more on oxygen cylinders, beds etc.," he said.
The meeting was also joined by the MoS Health Ashwini Kumar Choubey and Health Secretary Preeti Sudan.