Prime Minister Narendra Modi has been vocal in recent days on India’s COVID-19 response and on efforts to scale up the pace of testing and provision of personal protective equipment (PPE).
On Monday, the Prime Minister inaugurated three large-scale testing facilities in the cities of Kolkata, Mumbai, and Noida and expressed an ambition to double the number of tests taking place. “We have 1,300 labs operational and we are conducting five lakh daily tests,” he said. “Efforts are on to increase this to ten lakh tests daily.” Modi also touted India’s role in the production of PPE, asserting “we can produce three lakh N95 masks and five lakh PPE kits daily and manufacture three lakh ventilators in a year.”
In addition to testing for COVID-19 – the disease caused by severe acute respiratory syndrome coronavirus 2 (SARS-CoV-2), or simply coronavirus – the testing facilities in Kolkata, Mumbai, and Noida will eventually be utilised to test for other diseases such as dengue fever, HIV, and viral hepatitis B and C.
Modi’s remarks came on the heels of his Mann Ki Baat radio address, delivered to the nation on Sunday, where he claimed “the way Indians came together to fight against coronavirus in the last few months, we have proved the world wrong.” However, he urged continued caution.
“We should take all precautions against coronavirus,” Modi said. “Social distancing, wearing masks are necessary in our fight against the virus. Just think about doctors who are fighting the battle against the virus wearing these masks for hours.”
Indeed, India is the third worst-affected country in the world in terms of the COVID-19 pandemic. Having crossed the one-million mark in terms of confirmed coronavirus infections thus far (one of only three countries to do so at the time of writing), India is regularly recording record daily highs in the number of new COVID-19 cases.
“Today, COVID-19 recovery rate in our country is better than others. Our fatality rate is much less than most of the other countries,” Modi said. “We managed to save the lives of lakhs of people, but the threat of coronavirus is not over yet. It is spreading fast [in] many areas, we need to remain vigilant.”