Union Minister for Health and Family Welfare Dr Harsh Vardhan on Sunday claimed that the count of coronavirus cases will be under control by Diwali this year, the Hindustan Times reported. The festival will be celebrated in November.

“Covid-19 will significantly come under control by Deepavali this year,” a press release quoted the health minister as saying. “The leaders and common people effectively worked together to fight the pandemic.”

His assurances came as India on Monday registered 78,512 new coronavirus cases in 24 hours, taking the tally to 36,21,245. The toll rose by 971 to 64,469. On Sunday, India had the highest 24-hour rise in cases globally reported. India has 7,81,975 active cases now and the number of recovered cases crossed 27 lakh. The government has also gradually opened up the economy, and has allowed urban metro rail systems to start functioning from this week.

Vardhan made the statement at the inauguration of a webinar series. He also said the country was ahead in the tackling the pandemic, adding that health officials had held a meeting even before the first Covid-19 infection was reported in India.

Prime Minister Narendra Modi had then formed a committee, which has met 22 times till now, said Harsh Vardhan, who heads the panel.

The health minister also expressed confidence that the coronavirus vaccine would be ready soon and said that three clinical trials and four pre-clinical trials were on.

“We are expecting vaccines to be ready by the end of the year,” he said. “It is because of the farsightedness of Prime Minister Narendra Modi that we could reach until here.”

Vardhan said the number of laboratories has gone up to 1,583 from one in February. Out of this, more than 1,000 are government labs, he said.

The country has been conducting around 1 million tests per day, which is above the set target, he said.

On the scarcity of Personal Protective Equipment kits, the health minister said five lakh of them were being produced while 10 manufacturers were making N95 masks. He claimed that there was no shortage of the equipment.

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