Odishatv Bureau

New Delhi: India has ramped up production of COVID-19 protective gears and medical equipment giving a boost to its fight against the novel coronavirus and reducing its dependency on foreign countries for these items which are in high demand globally due to the pandemic.

The Centre on Friday said it has placed an order for 2.22 crore personal protection equipment (PPE), of which around 1.43 crore will be procured from domestic manufacturers and the rest imported.

Addressing a press briefing on the COVID-19 situation in the country, P D Vaghela, the Secretary of the Department of Pharmaceuticals and Chairman of the Empowered Group-3, said that against the projected demand of two crore PPE, orders have been placed for more than 2.2 crore.

"Earlier, there was no domestic manufacturing of PPE in the country and almost all of them were imported. We now have 111 indigenous manufacturers," he said.

Vaghela said about 19,398 ventilators are available in India and orders have been placed for 60,884 more, and of these 59,884 will be made by domestic manufacturers.

The Ministry of Health has indicated a projected demand of 75,000 ventilators till June 2020.

"Against the same, the present availability is about 19,398. Out of the total orders placed, 59,884 ventilators have been ordered to domestic manufacturers and imports are to the tune of 1,000 ventilators," he said.

He said of the total 2.49 crore N-95/N-99 masks to be procured, 1.49 crore have been ordered from domestic manufacturers and about one crore N- 95 masks are being imported.

On production of drugs and other medical equipment, he said, "HCQ (hydroxychloroquine) production has increased from 12.23 crore to 30 crore (tablets) per month."

He further said that over four lakh oxygen cylinders are available which is "sufficient for today's requirements".

"Orders for more than 1 lakh oxygen cylinders have been placed and industrial oxygen is being converted into medical oxygen," he said.

He also informed that against a demand for 35 lakh combined RT-PCR testing kits, the ICMR has ordered more than 21 lakh and close to 14 lakh kits have already been received.

The Centre has decided to handhold states in purchasing VTMs and RNA extraction kits, he said.

He said there were several challenges in front of the government, including very high global demand for medical supplies and no production facility for PPEs and N-95 masks in the country, besides small production facility for ventilators and testing kits.

"The required medical supplies were largely imported," he said.

The strategy devised by them was to see this (as) an opportunity to create supply chains and manufacturing within India by helping existing manufacturers to expand, identifying new manufacturers, hand-holding and facilitating, teams of officers, engineers and scientists deployed and import only if absolutely necessary to meet timelines.

Joint secretary in the Ministry of Health Lav Agarwal said all the districts of the country have been divided into 'red', 'orange' and 'green' zones and stressed that the district administration through focused efforts should ensure that these places where cases have come up can break the chain of transmission through effective and stringent containment measures.

The official said that 'red' and 'orange' zones have been defined in such a way so as to ensure that no critical area of intervention at the field level is missed out.

"Ruthless containment measures to break the chain of transmission will be taken in red and orange zones," he said.

Talking about the criterion used, he said, besides the number of cases, "density of population, testing ratio and the likelihood of an area posing a challenge for us later have also been considered while classifying districts into red and orange zones".

"Biggest challenge is not whether a district is in the red or orange zone but if the containment measures are being properly followed so as to curb the spread of the virus," Agarwal said.

Containment zones should be delineated duly taking into account mapping of cases and contacts, geographical dispersion of cases and contacts, areas with a well-demarcated perimeter and enforceability, he said.

States and UTs are also advised that containment zones can be residential colony/mohallas/municipal wards or police station area/municipal zones/towns etc in urban areas as appropriate. In the case of rural areas, zones can be a village, clusters of village or group of police stations or gram panchayats among others.

States and UTs also need to clearly demarcate the buffer zones and containment zones, he said.

The Union Health Ministry has listed 130 districts in the country in 'red' zone, 284 in 'orange' zone and 319 in 'green' zone on the basis of incidence of cases of COVID-19, doubling rate, the extent of testing and surveillance feedback.

This classification of districts is to be followed by states and UTs till a week post-May 3 for containment operations.

The list will be revised on a weekly basis or earlier and communicated to states for further follow-up action.

Metropolitan cities like Mumbai, Delhi, Kolkata, Hyderabad, Pune, Bengaluru and Ahmedabad have been designated as red zones in the new classification.

The death toll due to the novel coronavirus pandemic rose to 1,147 with 72 more fatalities and the number of cases climbed to 35,043 in the country on Friday, according to the Union Health Ministry.