India to join hands with WHO for developing coronavirus drugs: Govt

A view of Ghazipur vegetable market bustling with activity during a nationwide lockdown in the wake of coronavirus pandemic, in New Delhi

India is soon likely to participate in the WHO's "solidarity trial" for developing potential drugs for COVID-19, officials said on Friday.

At a press briefing on coronavirus at 4 pm, Health Ministry Joint Secretary Lav Agarwal said 75 new cases of coronavirus and four deaths have been reported in the last 24 hours.

"We are soon likely to participate in the WHO solidarity trial for developing potential drugs for COVID-19. Earlier we did not do it because our numbers were small and our contribution would have looked minuscule," Raman R Gangakhedkar, Head of Epidemiology and Communicable diseases at ICMR, said.

Agarwal said that a PSU has been ordered to provide 10,000 ventilators while Bharat Electronics Limited (BEL) has been requested to purchase 30,000 additional ventilators in one-two months amidst a shortage of the machines in the country.

Punya Salila Srivastava, Joint Secretary in the Ministry of Home Affairs (MHA), said that states and union territories (UTs) have been requested to make arrangements for food, water and sanitation for migrant labourers. Hotels and rented accommodation should stay open and functional.

She, however, ruled out any plan to ferry stranded migrants from across cities or states, saying that the whole idea of a lockdown was to ensure no movement of people from their present places.

Agarwal also said that keeping in mind that hospital OPDs are being shut, the government has issued national telemedicine guidelines.

"This facilitates the process wherein doctors sitting at their homes can provide services to the patients. We urge and request citizens to take advantage of it and doctors to utilise this," he said.

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