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No shortage of PPE & HCQ in India: Health Ministry

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The Union Health Ministry on Thursday dispelled concerns over the availability of personal protective gear (PPE) and hydroxychloroquine (HCQ) tablets in India.

Addressing the daily presser, Health Ministry’s joint secretary Lav Aggarwal said that the fear around the dearth of PPEs was unfounded and misguided.

He said that contrary to popular belief, PPE does not only mean overall covers, “It’s a mix of components. Only in high-risk areas, the whole components are used. In other places, N95 masks and gloves are sufficient”.

He claimed that even as the government has arranged for a sufficient supply of PPEs to all health workers, it has also issued guidelines to use them rationally. “For example, an N95 mask can be used by a doctor for eight hours. But, if a doctor will use one mask per patient and then dispose it off, or uses four-five masks a day then that’s misuse,” Aggarwal said.

Answering a question on the death of a doctor in Indore, the health ministry official said that lack of PPE was not a concern in the matter. “We focus on infection prevention in our training. We would really urge that all guidelines be followed. Enough PPEs are being provided wherever necessary,” he said.

He also said that the government has enough stock of HCQ or Hydroxychloroquine—a medicine that has been touted as a miracle cure for the novel coronavirus.

“Without a doubt, it can be said that India has enough stock of HCQ. We have enough even after factoring in future projections. But I would like to say that HCQ cannot be administered to anyone. It is being given only to doctors treating COVID-19 patients and contacts,” the bureaucrat said.

“Just like any medicine, HCQ also has side effects. It cannot be administered to anyone who has heart ailments,” he said.

As per the ministry data, India has reported 549 fresh cases in one day, taking the total number of confirmed cases to 5,734. At least 473 people have recovered and have been discharged and 166 people have died.

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