Onl one in three schools in India have basic water, sanitation and hygiene (WASH) services, which may put children at an increased risk of covid-19 and other transmittable diseases, said a report by the World Health Organization (WHO) and Unicef Joint Monitoring Programme (JMP) on Friday.

The report warns that though India has rapidly increased coverage of water for washing hands, many institutes still does not have soap, which is a key condition for schools to operate safely amid the covid-19 pandemic.

Coronavirus in numbers

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Coronavirus in numbers

In 2019, more than 462 million children globally did not have access to hygiene services at schools, with sub-Saharan Africa accounting for more than half (244 million), while a quarter (125 million) was from central and southern Asia, of which 92 million were in India, it said. In 2018, two-thirds of schools in India had basic water service and more than half had basic sanitation and hygiene service, but only one in three schools had basic WASH, it said.

The report comes even as the total number of covid-19 cases in India crossed 2.5 million on Friday with more than 50,000 deaths. However, the country has a good recovery rate of 71.17% among covid-19 patients. Total recovery was 1,795,014 as on Friday, with 665,937 active cases, the Union health ministry said. India has also seen a progressive and sustained decline in mortality with the case fatality rate for covid-19 at 1.95%.

“India’s continuously rising recovery rate and progressively falling case fatality rate have proven to be the success of the covid-19 containment strategy followed by all states and Union territories,” said Union health minister Harsh Vardhan. “We have ramped up our testing capacity, which crossed the 840,000 milestone (on Friday) with the help of more than 1,450 testing labs spread across the country,” he said. So far 27,694,416 samples have been tested.

The government is also focusing on the manufacture of medical supplies and turning the pandemic into an opportunity to develop its domestic market for production of medical equipment, with the combined efforts of the ministries of health and family welfare, textiles, and pharmaceuticals, besides the department for promotion of industry and internal trade, and the Defence Research and Development Organisation.

By ramping up domestic manufacturing capacity, India has not only met the requirement for personal protective equipment, but has also allowed businesses to exports the kits in a revised notification issued by Director General of Foreign Trade in July. “In July alone, India exported 23 lakh PPEs to the US, the UK, the UAE, Senegal, and Slovania. This has helped India to position itself in the global export market for PPEs,” it said.

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