India has the "best" COVID-19 recovery rate of about 75 per cent, which is improving every day, and the "lowest" mortality rate of 1.87 per cent in the world, Union Health Minister Harsh Vardhan said on Saturday. After inaugurating a 10-bed make-shift hospital of the National Disaster Response Force (NDRF) in Ghaziabad near Delhi, he said India began formulating its strategy against coronavirus from January 8 as soon as the world came to know about the outbreak of the disease.
Vardhan said "many intelligent people, scientists and naysayers" had estimated that India, with a population of about 135 crore, will see 300 million COVID-19 cases and about 5-6 million people will die by July-August, and the country's healthcare system was "incapable" to combat the disease.
"However, I am happy to say that in the eighth month of the battle, India has the best recovery rate of 75 per cent and against an estimate of 300 million affected we have not even reached 3 million cases."
"In fact, 2.2 million patients have recovered and gone home and another seven lakh are going to be cured very soon," he said.
The minister said these successes were achieved due to the "coordinated" efforts with the participation of everyone -- the government and the people.
India has the lowest mortality rate of 1.87 per cent in the world, he said, adding the recovery rate was improved every day.
"We started with only one testing laboratory in Pune but we scaled up our diagnostic capabilities and strengthened our testing capacity.
"Today, India has 1,511 testing labs for COVID-19 and on Friday we tested over one million samples... that was about 10.23 lakh samples," the minister said.
In such a little time, 15,000 dedicated COVID care hospitals with 15 lakh beds were set up across the country and if the quarantine facilities are added to it there are 25 lakh beds, Vardhan said.
The minister congratulated the NDRF for its contribution in the COVID-19 battle as well as in disaster management.
In a statement, the NDRF said the hospital inaugurated by the minister is located at its eighth battalion camp in Ghaziabad and has been developed in collaboration with CSIR's constituent laboratory called the Central Building Research Institute (CSIR-CBRI), Roorkee.
"The makeshift hospital is designed to provide a primary health facility with safety, security and a comfortable living environment."
"This fully air-conditioned pre-fabricated makeshift hospital is equipped with various modern facilities like paramonitors, defibrillators and ECG machines," the NDRF said.
The hospital is planned to serve in disaster stage including for use in a long pandemic or emergency situations, it said.
NDRF Director General S N Pradhan said the force is planning "to procure all its disaster response equipment and tools from the DRDO and CSIR to promote the Make in India campaign."
The force was raised in 2006 and has its 12 battalions, comprising about 13,000 personnel, based at various locations in the country.