Fighting Covid-19: Centre sanctions Rs 15,000-crore medical aid

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Published: April 10, 2020 3:30:17 AM

“Also, HCQ is meant only for specific sets of people, it is to be used only based on prescription of registered doctors,” the health ministry said.

Around 1,30,000 Covid-19 tests have been conducted until Wednesday, of which 5,734 were positive.Around 1,30,000 Covid-19 tests have been conducted until Wednesday, of which 5,734 were positive.

The Centre on Thursday approved a Rs 15,000-crore package to bolster medical responses to fight the Covid-19 spread, as the country prepares to meet risks of a potential escalation of the pandemic. The move followed Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s promise of support when he had announced a nationwide lockdown on March 24.

As much as Rs 7,774 crore of the ‘India COVID-19 Emergency Response and Health System Preparedness Package’ will be used for immediate emergency response, while the rest will be spent over a period of one-four years, according to a health ministry statement.

Separately, the government said there would be no shortage of anti-malarial drug hydroxychloroquine – called a ‘game changer’ by US President Donald Trump in the fight against the Covid-19 outbreak – “either today or in the future”, even if the country honours its pledge to supply it to select nations, including the US. Trump had requested Modi for urgent supplies of HCQ, which India has acceded to.

“Also, HCQ is meant only for specific sets of people, it is to be used only based on prescription of registered doctors,” the health ministry said.

It also said 223 labs – 57 government and 66 private – are currently conducting rigorous screening process across the country. The ministry has already disbursed Rs 4,113 crore to all the states and Union Territories for dealing with the emergency Covid-19 response.

Around 1,30,000 Covid-19 tests have been conducted until Wednesday, of which 5,734 were positive.

To soften blows to the poor and the vulnerable, the government recently announced a Rs 1.7-lakh-crore relief package. As part of this, the government had declared a transfer of Rs 500 a month to 20.4 crore women Jan Dhan account holders for three months, and free grains through the PDS. Prior to this, the Centre had relaxed insolvency norms and eased compliance burden of companies.

The key objectives of Thursday’s medical response package include mounting emergency response to slow and limit pandemic spread through the development of diagnostics and treatment facilities and centralised procurement of essential medical equipment and drugs required for treatment of infected patients, according to the statement.

It is also aimed at bolstering the national and state health systems to support prevention and preparedness for future disease outbreaks, setting up laboratories and strengthening surveillance activities, bio-security preparedness and pandemic research, among others. These initiatives would be implemented under the overall umbrella of the Union health ministry.

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