Govt assures medical equipment supplies as Covid cases cross 35,000

Health workers conduct a door-to-door survey for Covid-19 at the containment zone of Kalibabur Bazar area in Howrah district on Friday photo: pti
India has assured supply of all necessary medical equipment to battle Covid-19, pharma secretary P D Vaghela said on Friday, as the country registered 77 deaths in a single day taking the toll to 1,152. The number of confirmed cases climbed to 35,365, with reports of 1,755 new patients.

Vaghela, who heads the empowered group for essential medical supply, said there is a big surge in global demand for ventilators, PPEs, masks, oxygen cylinders, and test kits.

“India was largely an importer of these items... Our strategy has been to use this as an opportunity to develop our own technology and manufacturing capability,” the official said.

For instance, to meet the requirement for 75,000 ventilators by June, the government has identified seven companies to ramp up manufacturing.  More than 60,000 ventilators have been ordered, of which 99 per cent will be supplied by local manufacturers.

“We have received the first lot and they are being tested. We should receive 15,000 ventilators this month,” Vaghela said.

The government also has placed orders for oxygen cylinders — all from domestic manufacturers — for patients who get admitted to ICU. The pharma department is also considering the conversion of industrial oxygen for medical use if the need arises.

India has also ramped up PPE manufacturing abilities. From 31,270 PPE kits capacity per day in mid-April, the domestic production has increased to 186,000 per day by April 30. “We hardly had any manufacturers of PPEs in the country... Now, we are making more than 100,000 per day,” the official added.

As of Friday, India had conducted 902,654 Covid-19 tests. The demand for RT-PCR test is estimated around 3.5 million for the next two months, against which the Indian Council of Medical Research has placed orders for 2.13 million kits.  India has also increased the production of HCQ (hydroxychloroquine) which is being used as a prophylactic drug from from 122.3 million in March to 300 million tablets per month in May, Vaghela said.

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