The Health Ministry, in its daily briefing on Wednesday, assured that there is absolutely no shortage of HCQ (Hydroxychloroquine), a key anti-malaria drug believed to be effective in the treatment of Coronavirus.

Health Secretary Lav Agarwal said that the government has ensured that not only today but even in future there will not be any lack of Hydroxychloroquine as and when needed.

As the number of COVID-19 cases are rising in the country, our response and preparedness is intensifying accordingly, he said.

India had on Tuesday announced that it “will supply essential drugs to some nations badly affected” by COVID-19 coronavirus pandemic.

“In view of the humanitarian aspects of the pandemic, it has been decided that India would licence paracetamol and Hydroxychloroquine in appropriate quantities to all our neighbouring countries who are dependent on our capabilities. We will also be supplying these essential drugs to some nations who have been particularly badly affected by the pandemic. We would therefore discourage any speculation in this regard or any attempts to politicise the matter,” Foreign Ministry spokesperson Anurag Srivastava said.

The Government of India had on March 25 banned export of anti-malaria drug Hydroxycloroquine, with immediate effect to ensure sufficient availability of the medicine in the domestic market.

Further, updating on the COVID-19 cases, Agarwal said the total number of Coronavirus cases rose to 5,119, with 773 cases reported in the last 24 hours. Meanwhile, 32 new deaths were reported, taking the toll to 149. As many as 402 patients have recovered, he added.

The health ministry official stated that physicians have been directed to take care of pregnant women who may be suspected to be COVID-19 positive. Training modules will be launched to deal with suspected COVID-19 cases of pregnant women.

Expressing concern over the rise in cases amongst health workers, Lav Agarwal said, “Infections in hospital staff is a big challenge and we are looking at a behavioral change in the hospital setup.” He added that infection control norms have to be followed.

This comes as as few medical institutes in Delhi and Mumbai have been shut owing to infections among the staff members.

Delhi State Cancer Institute has been shut after 18 staff members including two doctors tested positive for Coronavirus.

Two major private hospitals, one in Mumbai and another in Pune have been declared as “containment zones” after at least 130 staffers including doctors, nurses and patients were found COVID-19 positive.

Leading the war against the virus from the front is coming at a huge personal cost for doctors and health workers who often operate with inadequate protective equipment.

ICMR head scientist R Gangakhedkar further informed that 1,21,271 tests have been conducted till date for Coronavirus.

Meanwhile, at the press conference, Home Ministry Join Secretary informed that cash benefits of Rs 1,000 to Rs 6,000 have been announced for registered construction workers under Building and Other Construction Workers’ Welfare Cess Fund In 31 states and union territories.

Rs 3,000 crore has been given to 2 crore registered construction workers till now, she added.