Union Health Minister Dr Harsh Vardhan said at a press conference today that there was no need to panic due to the coronavirus pandemic in China and the arrival of a few patients in India. He said that there was no shortage of medicines in the country. “India is not dependent on China for medicines,” the minister said.
The health minister said that under the mandatory screening process of passengers at 21 airports in the country, 2,51,447 passengers from 2,315 flights had been screened so far.
Apart from airports, the authority is screening passengers at 77 small and big ports of contact with China.
Harsh Vardhan said that 1,756 sample tests had been conducted so far in 15 laboratories working across the country for sample testing of the 2019 novel coronavirus (2019-nCoV). Of these, coronavirus has been confirmed in only three samples and the reports of 26 samples are yet to arrive.
To the question of a possible shortage of medicines in the country due to the supply of raw materials for medicines in India from China, a country too disturbed by the coronavirus pandemic, Dr Harsh Vardhan said that this subject had been discussed in the meeting of the group of ministers.
The health minister said that Minister of State for Chemicals and Fertilisers Mansukh Lal Mandaviya had assured him that the country had sufficient stock of medicines for three months to fight the China-centric global pandemic.
In India, pharmaceuticals fall under the jurisdiction of the chemicals ministry and not the health ministry.
The minister, himself a medical practitioner (ENT specialist), said that even if the situation did not turn normal in China in the next few months, there was nothing to worry about the supply of medicines in India. The government had made adequate alternative arrangements, keeping in mind all the aspects related to the situation.
The 2019 nCoV pandemic has taken such dreadful proportions that even international events are getting cancelled in the aftermath.