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New Delhi, March 26, 2020
Highlighting the critical importance of social distancing as an effective strategy for prevention of COVID-19 and limiting the spread of the disease, Union Health & Family Welfare Minister Harsh Vardhan called upon the people not to ostracise doctors and other medical staff who were involved in the treatment of the virus-affected patients.
The Minister was referring to media reports of stray incidents of harassment of medical personnel in some parts of the country, at a high-level meeting of the Group of Ministers (GoM) on COVID-19 held under his chairmanship here yesterday.
Harsh Vardhan reiterated his appeal to all those who are at home and quarantine facilities to strictly observe the protocol laid down by the Health Ministry, which is also available at the Ministry website.
“As announced by the Prime Minister, the country has been put under lockdown. As part of this lockdown, we need to ensure that within our homes too we practice social distancing,” he added.
Around 64,000 people have arrived in India from other countries since March 21. Of them, 8,000 have been put in various quarantine facilities and 56,000 are in home isolation.
“We are fighting an infectious disease. In order to protect ourselves and others, we must follow all the protocols, guidelines and directions issued by the Government, failing which may lead to legal action under 188 of IPC. We should also avoid spreading rumours or unauthenticated information,” he added.
The meeting was attended by Hardeep S 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 Fertilizers and Ashwini Kumar Choubey, Minister of State, Health & Family Welfare along with Chief of Defence Staff Gen Bipin Rawat.
The GOM had detailed deliberation on the prevention and management of COVID-19. It also discussed the action taken so far, the current status of social distancing measures as a preventive strategy and the stringent actions to contain the spread by the States so far.
The meeting discussed about strengthening the 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.
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, sanitizers, masks and medical devices.
The GoM was also informed that Gujarat, Assam, Jharkhand, Rajasthan, Goa, Karnataka, MP and J&K were setting up hospitals dedicated to the management of COVID-19. A total of 118 laboratories have been included in the ICMR network of COVID-19 testing.
The GoM was also apprised that Cabinet Secretary has written letters and conducted a video conference with Chief Secretaries, Health Secretaries and DGs of Police and instructed them to enforce implementation of lockdown measures.