No State has so far said specifically that there were deaths because of oxygen shortage, said Joint Secretary of the Health Ministry Lav Agarwal on Tuesday , adding that only one State mentioned suspected death due to shortage.
“States were asked if there have been oxygen-related deaths. When the question was raised in Parliament, States were specifically asked this question,” Mr Agarwal said at a press conference. He added that according to reports the Health Ministry has received till now, only one State has referred to a suspected case. Other States have not said if there have been any oxygen-related deaths, he noted.
He, however, did not give details about the State that had reported the “suspected oxygen-related death”.
The Health Ministry had told Parliament during this current session that “no deaths due to lack of oxygen have been specifically reported by States and Union Territories”.
The Ministry at the press conference also said that it was in talks to bring in the foreign COVID vaccination that have been already approved for emergency use by the Central government.
Replying to a question, NITI Aayog member (Health) V.K. Paul said, “Talks are on but these things take time. There are various modalities and conditions for bringing in these vaccines. We are working at widening the vaccine basket for the general public.”
He also said that National Expert Group on Vaccine Administration for COVID-19 (NEGVAC) has discussed the issue of booster doses for COVID vaccine and the situation and research on this is being closely watched. The World Health Organisation has also called for a moratorium, said Dr. Paul.
Call for caution
Dr. Paul again cautioned that India should not lower its guard against coronavirus just yet with the Reproduction number (Rt) — how many people an infected person infects, on average — continuing to show a worrying and increasing trend in Himachal Pradesh, Punjab, Uttar Pradesh and Andhra Pradesh.
The Health Ministry added that 44 districts in India are reporting more than 10% weekly positivity with an overall declining trend observed across India since the week ending May 10. “Weekly positivity has been less than 2% for the second consecutive week,” said Mr. Agarwal adding that 51.51% of the total cases last week were reported from Kerala.
Dr. Sujeet Kumar Singh, Director, National Centre for Disease Control gave details of the report presented by Central government team which visited Kerala to monitor and assist in controlling the rising number of COVID cases. Dr Singh said, “The current value of Rt of Kerala is 1.12 and strict public health measures for interrupting transmission by local area lockdowns and stress on Covid appropriate behaviour is needed.”