Ensure pharma units work smoothly amid Covid-19 lockdown: Govt to districts



The government on Sunday directed all district officials to ensure pharma units making devices and medicines run seamlessly, a day after India imposed curbs on exports of most diagnostic kits, as the health ministry assured there was no evidence that (Covid-19) was an airborne infection.


Also on Sunday, eight Malaysian citizens, who attended a Tablighi Jamaat congregation at Nizamuddin here, were caught by immigration authorities at the Indira Gandhi International Airport while trying to flee the country on a special flight arranged for stranded travellers.



They had emerged from hiding in the Delhi-Capital Region and made their way to the airport to try and get on a special flight arranged by the Malaysian High Commission for their citizens stranded in India. The Union health ministry reported 11 more Covid-19 deaths, taking the toll to 79, and nationwide tally of confirmed cases to 3,374, with 472 new patients being recorded in the last 24 hours.


Asserting there was no evidence that Covid-19 was airborne, the health ministry also said the rate of doubling of Covid-19 cases in India is 4.1 days currently, but if the cases linked to the Tablighi Jamaat congregation would not have happened, it would have been 7.4 days.


Unsure of what turn the Covid-19 pandemic will take in India, various key ministries and departments have cautiously started to chalk out re-emergence plans and strategies to come out of the 21-day nationwide lockdown.


Globally, the pandemic has claimed more than 65,600 lives and inflicted over 1.2 million people The focus of the central and state governments currently appeared to be on two key aspects — continuing with efforts on a war footing to contain the fast-spreading virus, and working on exit and ‘staggered re-emergence’ from the lockdown.


During his interaction with chief ministers (CMs) last week, Prime Minister Narendra Modi had pitched for formulating a common exit strategy to ensure staggered re-emergence of the population once the lockdown ended.


While making it clear that a decision on how and when to restore passenger services will be taken in the coming weeks, sources in the Indian Railways said several proposals were being looked at as it was gearing up for the end of the lockdown on April 14.


From making passengers wear masks to using the Arogya Setu app to check their health status before allowing them to travel, and encouraging social distancing on board are a few proposals that are being looked at, sources said.


With all schools and other educational institutes closed in the country due to the Covid-19 lockdown, Union Human Resource Development Minister Ramesh Pokhriyal ‘Nishank’ said the government will take a decision on reopening of schools and colleges on April 14 after reviewing the situation.


In continued efforts to fight the virus, Cabinet Secretary Rajiv Gauba instructed district level officials to ensure pharma units making devices and medicines run seamlessly. The direction came a day after India put curbs on exports of diagnostic kits with a view to discourage shipments and meet domestic requirement.


Gauba met on Sunday district magistrates, superintendents of police, chief medical officers, state and district surveillance officers, state health secretaries and district health secretaries and chief secretaries, Joint Secretary in the Health Ministry Lav Agarwal said.


There were 472 new Covid-19 cases and 11 deaths since Saturday, Agarwal said, adding the total Covid-19 cases stand at 3,374 and the death toll now stands at 79. He said 267 people have recovered.


There has been a lag in the Union health ministry figures, compared to the numbers announced by different states, which officials attribute to procedural delays in assigning the cases to individual states.


According to the Union health ministry, there were 3,030 active cases on Sunday, compared to Saturday’s tally of 2,784.


Meanwhile, the Prime Minister spoke to several leaders, including his predecessor Manmohan Singh, Congress chief Sonia Gandhi and former President Pranab Mukherjee, on the situation arising out of the novel pandemic.


Sources said Modi also called up various leaders, including Mulayam Singh Yadav and Akhilesh Yadav of the Samajwadi Party, West Bengal CM Mamata Banerjee, Odisha CM Naveen Patnaik, Dravida Munnetra Kazhagam’s M K Stalin and Shiromani Akali Dal leader Parkash Singh Badal.


Modi spoke to former President Pratibha Patil and former prime minister H D Deve Gowda to discuss issues related to the deadly Covid-19.


The prime minister will also interact with floor leaders of various political parties via videoconference on Wednesday.


With a rise in number of Covid cases in the Capital, Delhi Lieutenant Governor Anil Baijal has directed the health department to identify private hospitals which can be taken over by the government, official sources said on Sunday.


They said the government has limited resources and hence, ICU wards, beds and other facilities of private hospitals can be used to deal with the increasing numbers of cases.


Officials have been asked to prepare a list of private hospitals that can be taken over if needed. “In a recent meeting, Baijal directed officials to prepare a list of private hospitals which can be taken over by government in case a need arises and their infrastructure can be used to treat Covid-19 patients. The government will provide treatment to Covid patients admitted at these hospitals,” a source said.


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