64,000 reached India since March 21; 8,000 in quarantine


New Delhi | March 25, 2020 (IANS):

Union Health Minister Harsh Vardhan said on Wednesday that around 64,000 people have arrived from other countries in India since March 21, out of which about 8,000 have been placed in various quarantine facilities and the remaining 56,000 are in home isolation.

"We are fighting an infectious disease. In order to protect ourselves and others, it is highly important that we follow all the protocols, guidelines and directions issued by the government, failing which may lead to legal actions under section 188 of IPC," Vardhan asserted.

He also reiterated his appeal to everyone not to ostracise doctors and other medical staff who are on the forefront of this health emergency and serving to save people from COVID-19.

He was speaking after a high level meeting of the Group of Ministers (GoM) on COVID-19 was held at Nirman Bhawan. It was held under his chairmanship. It was also attended by Hardeep Puri, Minister of Civil Aviation, S. Jaishankar, Minister of External Affairs, Nityananda Rai, Minister of State for Home, Mansukh Mandaviya, Minister of State for Shipping, & Chemical and Fertilisers and Ashwini Kumar Choubey, Minister of State, Health & Family Welfare. Chief of Defence Staff General Bipin Rawat was also present.

"The Group of Ministers (GoM) had detailed deliberation on prevention and management of COVID-19 in the meeting. The GOM also discussed the actions taken so far, current status of social distancing measures as a preventive strategy and the stringent actions to contain the spread of COVID-19 by the states so far," said a government release.

The GOM discussed about strengthening capacity of states, which need to devote adequate resources for creating dedicated COVID-19 hospitals, equipping the medical institutes with PPEs, ventilators and other essential equipment etc.

Meanwhile, states have been asked to ensure that essential services and supplies remain open. These include hospitals, medical shops and establishments engaged in manufacturing of medicines, vaccines, sanitisers, masks and medical devices.

The GoM was informed that Gujarat, Assam, Jharkhand, Rajasthan, Goa, Karnataka, MP and J&K are setting up hospitals dedicated for the management of COVID-19. A total of 118 laboratories have been included in the ICMR network of COVID-19 testing. Group of Ministers (GoM) was also apprised that Cabinet Secretary has also written letters and conducted Video Conference with Chief Secretaries, Health Secretaries and DGs of Police and instructed them to enforce implementation of lockdown measures.

Harsh Vardhan reiterated his appeal to all those who are in home and facility quarantine about observing it according to the protocol laid down by the Health Ministry.

Prime Minister Narendra Modi announced a 21-day lockdown across India starting Wednesday.