Lav Aggarwal, Joint Secretary, Ministry of Health and Family Welfare, briefing media about COVID-19 status in the country in New Delhi on Sunday. Photo/ANI
Lav Aggarwal, Joint Secretary, Ministry of Health and Family Welfare, briefing media about COVID-19 status in the country in New Delhi on Sunday. Photo/ANI

Combating COVID-19: High-level task force to work on vaccines, drug testing constituted

ANI | Updated: Apr 19, 2020 18:10 IST


New Delhi [India], April 19 (ANI): In order to defeat the coronavirus, a high-level task force has been formed to work on "frontiers of science related to vaccines and drug testing," said Lav Aggarwal, Joint Secretary, Health and Family Welfare, here on Sunday.
"Today a high-level task force has been constituted to work on frontiers of science related to vaccines and drug testing. This task force will comprise members from NITI Aayog, Ayush, ICMR, CSIR, DRDO, and Ministry of Science and Technology. The main aim of this task force will be to identify pathways for vaccine development," said Aggarwal.
"The Department of Biotechnology has been designated as the central co-ordination agency for the development of the vaccine to fight COVID-19," he added.
Aggarwal said that some relaxation will be provided after April 20 in some selected areas.
"There will be some relaxations from midnight. States and UTs will ensure social distancing and other measures. However, there will be no relaxation in hotspots and containment zones," he said.
"Necessary services will be provided in hotspots and content zones. Passenger movement will be banned till May 3. Rail, airlines, malls and cinema houses will continue to be banned. All types of gathering are prohibited in all areas," he said.
With 1,334 fresh cases of coronavirus reported in the last 24 hours, the total number of confirmed cases of COVID-19 in India has reached 15,712 including 507 deaths, said Aggarwal.
As many as 2,231 people have recovered from the disease so far, said Aggarwal during the daily media briefing on the coronavirus. "This equals 14.1 per cent of the total cases," he added.
"A total of 15,712 confirmed cases have been reported in India including 507 deaths and 2,231 people, who were COVID-19 positive, have recovered. Out of the total deaths, 27 deaths have been reported in the last 24 hours," said Aggarwal.
"Historical data across the world show that there is not a big percentage of asymptomatic persons testing COVID-19 positive. It is important for us to be aware of this challenge. High-risk asymptomatic persons are part of the sampling criteria. We test and monitor them," he added.
The Joint Secretary said that no new case was reported in Mahe in Puducherry and Karnataka's Kodagu in the last 28 days.
"A total of 54 other districts beside these two in 23 States/Union Territories did not report any cases in the last 14 days," he said.
He informed that there are 755 dedicated COVID-19 hospitals and 1,389 dedicated health care centres in the country, which takes the total dedicated facilities where severe or critical patients can be treated to 2,144. (ANI)

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