New Delhi: As many as 909 COVID-19 cases and 34 deaths have been reported in the last 24 hours, taking the total number of such cases to 8,356 in the country, the Union Health Ministry said on Sunday, while asserting that the government is "extra prepared" if there is an exponential rise in the number of coronavirus patients. Addressing a press briefing, Health Ministry's Joint Secretary Lav Agarwal said the government is expanding the COVID-19 testing capacity in state-run as well as private medical colleges. "The total number of COVID-19 cases has risen to 8,356. A total of 909 new cases and 34 deaths have been reported since Saturday. The good news is that 716 people have recovered and have been discharged so far. Seventy-four people have been cured since Saturday. The government is extra prepared if the number of cases rises exponentially," he said. "We are working on an urgent basis to expand the capacity for COVID-19 testing in government and private medical colleges across the country. Fourteen mentor institutes, including the AIIMS and NIMHANS, have been identified to mentor the medical colleges and expand the coronavirus testing capacity," Agarwal added. According to ICMR officials, a total of 1,86,906 samples have so far been tested across the country, of which 7,953 have been found positive for COVID-19. "In the last five days, on an average, 15,747 samples were tested per day and 584 of those were found to be positive per day," an Indian Council of Medical Research (ICMR) official said at the press briefing. Responding to a question about development of vaccines, he said, "There are 40 plus candidate vaccines that are under development but none of them has reached the next stage." The Health Ministry also informed that 20,000 train coaches will be converted into isolation wards. "In the first phase, 5,000 coaches are being converted," Agarwal said. According to government spokesperson KS Dhatwalia, the Group of Ministers (GoM) has approved the release of hydroxychloroquine to 13 countries after an assessment of stocks.
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