COVID-19: Govt faces uphill task to keep people indoors

COVID-19: Govt faces uphill task to keep people indoors

A migrant worker carries his son as they walk along a road with others to return to their village, during a 21-day nationwide lockdown to limit the spreading of coronavirus disease, in New Delhi. Credit: Reuters Photo

Two days into the lockdown to arrest the spread of COVID-19, the government was up against the challenge to ensure that most of the 1.3 billion Indians remained within the safe confines of their homes, even as the death toll rose to 18.

The number of confirmed COVID-19 patients rose by 88, highest in a single day, taking the total to 694, but government officials claimed they had witnessed a slight decrease in the rate of growth.

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They cautioned against lowering the guard, and insisted that citizens continue to strictly follow the practice of social distancing as any let up could worsen the situation and put several at risk. Cabinet Secretary Rajiv Gauba chaired a meeting with chief secretaries of state governments and asked them to strictly enforce the lockdown amid reports of people crowding markets to stock up essentials and large scale migration to villages, potentially spreading the virus in the rural parts of the country.

“It is a complex thing to keep people at home,” Punya Salila Srivastava, Joint Secretary, Ministry of Home Affairs, told reporters here. Dedicated hospitals to treat COVID-19 patients were being set up in 17 states, and the government had stepped up training of doctors and para-medical staff to ensure uniformity in handling such patients.

“There is no strong evidence of community transmission of the infection yet,” Raman Gangakhedkar of the Indian Council of Medical Research said here amid reports that cases from Hyderabad and Bhilwara in Rajasthan with no travel history.

Also Read: Coronavirus India update: State-wise total number of confirmed cases

Gangakhedkar cautioned the media against creating panic by reporting on community transmission of COVID-19 based on inaccurate information. “We have nothing to hide. If community transmission happens, it will be incumbent upon us inform you so that we can move to the next level of action,” Gangakhedkar said.

Union Health Minister Harsh Vardhan, who chaired a meeting of health ministers of states, advised the state governments on effective community surveillance, with a specific focus on international travellers to India in the past one month.

The minister also asked state governments to carry out random verification of home quarantine of such travellers and action against defaulters.

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