Ensure drivers, labourers go for work: Govt
NEW DELHI, Apr 5: The Government today directed all district heads to ensure seamless functioning of pharma units making devices and medicines, while the Education Minister said a decision on reopening of schools and colleges will be taken on April 14 after a review of the Coronavirus threat in an indication that the 21-day lockdown could be lifted as scheduled.
Also Sunday, eight Malaysian citizens who attended a Tablighi Jamaat congregation at Nizamuddin here were caught by immigration authorities at the IGI Airport while trying to flee the country on a special flight arranged for the stranded travellers.
They had emerged from hiding in the Delhi-NCR 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 Health Ministry said the death toll due to COVID-19 rose to 83 and the cases climbed to 3,577 in the country today after 505 new infections were reported in the past 24 hours.
The active COVID-19 cases stand at 3,219, while 274 people were either cured or discharged and one had migrated, the Ministry stated. However, a PTI tally based on figures reported by states directly showed at least 126 deaths across the country, while the confirmed cases reached 4,111. Of them, 315 have been cured and discharged.
According to the Health Ministry data, Delhi has reported the highest number of confirmed cases at 503.
Asserting that there was no evidence that Coronavirus was an airborne infection, 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.
“If it was an airborne infection then in a family — whoever has a contact — they all should come positive because they are living in same surrounding as the patient and the family is breathing the same air. When someone is admitted in hospital, other patient would have got exposure (if it was air borne) but that is not the case,” an official of the Indian Council of Medical Research said.
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 coronavirus lockdown. Globally, the pandemic has claimed more than 65,600 lives and inflicted over 12 lakh 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 last week through video conferencing, 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 coming weeks, sources in the Indian Railway 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 coronavirus lockdown, Union HRD 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 an interview to PTI, he said the safety of students and teachers is of utmost importance to the government and his ministry is prepared to ensure there is no academic loss to students if schools and colleges needed to remain shut beyond April 14.
With a rise in number of coronavirus cases in the national capital, Delhi Lt 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 coronavirus cases.
Officials have been asked to prepare a list of private hospitals that can be taken over if needed.
“In a recent meeting, the LG 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 coronavirus patients admitted at these hospitals,” a source said.
Millions of Indians across the country switched off lights at their homes and lit candles, diyas or turned on mobile phone torches for nine minutes at 9pm on Sunday night, responding to Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s appeal to show the nation’s “collective resolve and solidarity” in its fight against coronavirus.
Meanwhile, to ensure smooth intra and inter-state movement of essential food and groceries during the lockdown period, the Centre has directed State Governments to facilitate truck drivers and labourers associated in this sector to reach their workplace.
Consumer Affairs Secretary Pawan Kumar Agarwal, in a letter to all State Chief secretaries, has asked State Governments to designate a nodal officer who will coordinate with state police to ensure hassle free movement of supplies.
The designated officer will also issue authorisation letters to companies and organisations having nationwide supply of essential goods, he said.
To ensure that truck drivers do not face problems from police during the lockdown, the secretary said, “Movement of one driver and one additional person from their place of residence to the truck may kindly be facilitated by the local authorities”.
If the truck/vehicle is travelling empty, invoice, way-bill etc for the delivery or pick up of goods may additionally be carried by the drivers, he said.
Stating that several companies have reported difficulties in getting labour for their operations, Agarwal said, “Local administration may be advised to facilitate in ensuring availability of labour in factories, warehouses and transportation and distribution operations of essential food and groceries by appealing to house owners, societies and villages to allow workers to go for work”.
He also mentioned that the Consumer Affairs Ministry has developed an e-pass system solution with the help of E-Gov Foundation. This system enables the government to monitor the number of passes issued by the authorised companies.
“The State Government may use this e-pass solution for the issue of passes,” the secretary added.
The movement of essential goods are exempted from the lockdown order imposed till April 14 to prevent spread of the coronavirus. (PTI)
Ensure drivers, labourers go for work: Govt