India registers 179 new cases, PM Modi creates special relief fund to fight pandemic

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MARCH 28, 2020

A daily labourer wearing a facemask waits for trucks to come for food commodities at a wholesale market during a 21 day government-imposed nationwide lockdown as a preventive measure against coronavirus (COVID-19) in Kolkata, India on March 26.

India on Saturday reported 179 fresh Covid-19 cases, the highest in a single day, taking the total count to 918. The death toll due to the highly contagious disease climbed to 19, as the government made efforts to increase healthcare infrastructure, including procurement of more ventilators.

Prime Minister Narendra Modi announced a special contributory fund, amid looming fears of the entire country entering the third stage of community transmission. Bollywood superstar Akshay Kumar was one of the first to contribute Rs 25 crore to the Prime Minister’s new relief fund.

The Centre asked the state governments and Union Territory administrations to utilise Rs 29,000 crore worth of State Disaster Response Fund (SDRF) for providing food and shelter to migrant workers hit by the nationwide 21-day lockdown.

The Indian Railways has manufactured a prototype of an isolation ward for treating coronavirus patients by converting non-air-conditioned train coaches into a sort of medical facility for patients.

The armed forces are keeping ready 28 service hospitals to provide treatment to Covid-19 patients apart from five hospitals which are carrying out laboratory tests for the infection.

The Union health ministry said out of a total 918 cases, 819 were active Covid-19 cases, while 79 people were either cured/discharged and one had migrated. According to the ministry, the total number of cases on Friday, a day earlier stood at 724.

“Till the time we see a significant number of cases to indicate community transmission, let us not over interpret things,” Raman R Gangakhedkar, head of the Epidemiology and Communicable Diseases at ICMR said.

According to the health ministry, deaths have been reported from Maharashtra (5), Gujarat (3), Karnataka (2), Madhya Pradesh (2) and one each from Tamil Nadu, Bihar, Punjab, Delhi, West Bengal, Jammu and Kashmir and Himachal Pradesh.

As per officials in Kerala, the state reported its first Covid-19 death on Saturday after a 69-year-old man being treated for the virus died at Ernakulam Medical College Hospital, but it was not included in the central data. Kerala has reported 187 positive cases.

The man was admitted to the isolation ward on March 22 after his return from Dubai, the government hospital said in a statement. Maharashtra has reported 210 cases including 25 who were cured and five deaths.

At a press briefing on the current Covid-19 situation in India, Joint Secretary in the Ministry of Health, Lav Agarwal said the government is working with states on health infrastructure preparedness and the focus is having dedicated Covid-19 hospitals and blocks in every states and arrangements are being made to ramp up isolation wards and ICU beds and other required logistics. 

Migrant workers and their family members walk with their belongings in Faridabad. – MONEY SHARMA/AFP via Getty Images

Seventeen states have so far started work on this, Agarwal said, adding doctors and nurses are being provided online training from AIIMS, New Delhi on the management of COVID-19 patients. A 24×7 national tele-consultation Centre at AIIMS has also been launched through which doctors in other hospitals and medical colleges will be provided clinical guidance.

According to officials, 111 government laboratories are currently functional across the country and with the private sector being roped in, it has been increased.

Defence public sector undertaking Bharat Electronics Limited has been given the task of manufacturing ventilators while premier defence research laboratory DRDO is producing protective gears for medical personnel and supplying hand sanitizers and face masks to various agencies involved in patient care.

The health ministry has already asked hospitals and medical education institutions to procure sufficient number of ventilators and high-flow oxygen masks to be prepared for any possible influx of patients. It has also asked hospitals to postpone all non-essential surgeries. PM Modi announced the creation of the “Prime Minister’s Citizen Assistance and Relief in Emergency Situations Fund” where people can contribute and help in the government’s fight against coronavirus.

Emphasising that the fund will go a long way in creating a healthier India, PM Modi on Twitter said, “People from all walks of life expressed their desire to donate to India’s war against Covid-19” and it has been constituted respecting that spirit.

“It is my appeal to my fellow Indians, kindly contribute to the PM-CARES Fund. This Fund will also cater to similar distressing situations, if they occur in the times ahead,” he said.

A statement posted on his official website said the prime minister is the chairman of the new public charitable trust and its members include Defence Minister Rajnath Singh, Home Minister Amit Shah and Finance Minister Nirmala Sitaraman.

Several states across the country are also ramping up medical facilities and ordering more equipment especially ventilators.

Private hospitals like Apollo and Max are forming teams and dedicated wards to deal with any possible surge in Covid-19 cases.

Follow the government’s latest travel advice if you are planning a trip outside India or travelling back to India from affected areas. You can also read World Health Organization’s advice on basic protective measures against the virus. WHO has also busted some myths surrounding coronavirus. The Ministry of Health’s special helpline is available at +91-11- 23978046 and ncov2019@gmail.com.


Courtesy/Source: Hindustan Times

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