Lockdown prevented 14-29 Lakh cases and 37k-78k deaths, Health Minister Harsh Vardhan says

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The countrywide lockdown imposed by the Centre in March helped prevent an estimated 14-29 Lakh COVID-19 cases and 37,000-78,000 deaths in the country, Union Health Minister Dr Harsh Vardhan told the Lok Sabha on Monday.

India recorded 3,328 cases per million and 55 deaths per million population, which the minister said was the lowest in the world among similarly-affected countries.

The government took the COVID-19 challenge with the highest level of political commitment and successfully managed to prevent aggressive progression, he added.

Prime Minister Narendra Modi had imposed a nationwide lockdown since March 24 to combat the spread of the coronavirus pandemic.

“It has been estimated that this decision prevented approximately 14-29 lakh cases and 37,000 to 78,000 deaths,” Dr Harsh Vardhan said in his statement in the Lok Sabha on the first day of the Monsoon Session.

The restrictions were gradually relaxed from June onwards.

Dr Harsh Vardhan said that the maximum cases and deaths have been primarily reported from Maharashtra, Andhra Pradesh, Tamil Nadu, Karnataka, Uttar Pradesh, Delhi, West Bengal, Bihar, Telangana, Odisha, Assam, Kerala and Gujarat. All these states have reported at least 100,000 cases, he said.

The Monsoon Session is being held amid unprecedented precautionary measures against COVID-19 due to a continuing spike in cases. The last session – the Budget Session – was held in March and had to be cut short because of the pandemic.

India reported  92,0761 fresh COVID-19 cases and 1,136 deaths in the last 24 hours, according to the Union Health Ministry.

The rate of infection was low in the country and approximately 77.65 % patients have recovered, so far, the minister said.

“In India, about 92% of the cases are reported to have mild disease. In only about 5.8% of cases where oxygen therapy is required and the disease may be severe enough to require intensive care in only 1.7% cases,” he told the Parliament.

Dr Vardhan said that a major focus in India has been on facilitating the development of a COVID-19 vaccine. “More than 30 vaccine candidates have been supported which are in different stages of development. Three candidates are in advanced stage of Phase I/2/3 trials and more than four in advanced pre-clinical development stage,” he said on the floor of the House.

Written by Rakesh Sashmal