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Lives are important, so is livelihood: Health Ministry

India’s Health Ministry on Thursday said that it has adopted a graded approach to unlock the country and open up various economic activities, adding that while lives are important, so is livelihood.

In the fresh guidelines, which came into force on September 1, the government had paved the way for opening up more activities such as the resumption of Metro rail and allowing larger gatherings of 100 people.

Addressing a press conference, Health Ministry Secretary Rajesh Bhushan said, “The government has adopted a graded approach to unlock and to open up various economic activities. The government firmly believes that while lives are important, livelihood is also important.”

He, however, emphasised that prior to the graded opening, the government ensured that all prerequisites are in place. “We have ensured that the testing capacity is adequate, clear-cut guidelines on standard clinical treatment protocol and hospital infrastructure is enhanced.”

With 83,883 fresh coronavirus infections in the last 24 hours, India’s tally mounted to 3,853,406 on Thursday, while the death toll climbed to 67,376 with 1,043 more fatalities, said the Health Ministry.

The Health Secretary further informed that Telangana has recorded the highest rate of coronavirus positivity in the health workers at 18 percent, followed by 16 percent in Maharashtra, 14 percent in Delhi, 13 percent in Karnataka, 12 percent in Puducherry and 11 percent in Punjab.

“These are the states where the positivity rate, among the people who are testing positive, is on the higher side. We have drawn the attention of these states and UTs through the Ministry of Home Affairs,” he added.

Rajesh Bhushan also alluded to the sudden death in asymptomatic patients and said that it could occur as the virus affects the coagulation system and blood clotting system. “If the clot is formed in the heart or brain, it could lead to heart attack or brain stroke and cause death.”

When asked about why the rapid antigen tests are being conducted more than the gold standard RT-PCR, he pointed to the issue of non-uniformity across the country.

“In Tamil Nadu, more than 90 percent tests are RT-PCR. There are other states where the RT-PCR, TRUENAT and CBNAAT testing capacity is limited. I do admit that there are states where the optimal capacity of RT-PCR, of late, is not being utilised. We have drawn the attention of those states that they need to scale up their RT-PCR testing.” – South Asia Monitor