Centre announces Rs 15,000 cr emergency fund for States; 663 more cases appear


Agencies, New Delhi

With 663 new Covid cases and 20 more deaths appearing in last 24 hours, taking the total cases to 5,865 while casualties to 169, the Union Government on Thursday announced ?15,000 crore centre-funded emergency fund for state governments.

The fund, called as COVID-19 Emergency Response and Health System Preparedness Package, can be used for strengthening the health infrastructure, procurement of equipment, upgradation of labs, ambulances, community surveillance and other allied works, as per an official statement. Taking stock of the situation, Group of Ministers (GoM) held a high-level meeting, in which Covid containment, management and setting up of dedicated Covid hospitals were discussed. An order for 1.7 crore PPE (Personal Protection Equipment) and 49,000 ventilators have been placed with 20 domestic manufacturers, Union Health Ministry Joint Secretary Lav Agarwal informed in daily press briefing. The Union Government also permitted NGOs and charitable organisations to buy food grains directly from Food Corporation of India at the open market rates for relief operations. As the number of cases continue to rise unabated, Odisha government has decided to extend the statewide lockdown until April 30. Educational institutions will also remain closed till June 17, the state government said.

Maharashtra remained the worst-hit state with 1,135 cases and 72 casualties, followed by Tamil Nadu where the number of cases rose to 738 with eight deaths.
Asia’s largest slum, Dharavi in Mumbai reported third death, a 70 year-old woman from Kalyanwadi. Total cases in the slum has risen to 14.Maharashtra government has made wearing mask compulsory for all while stepping outside. With at least 96 persons testing positive in Tamil Nadu in a single day, Chief Minister Edappadi K Palaniswami said the state is in Stage-II of local transmission of the virus with a possibility of progressing into Stage-III (community transmission). The state government is taking proactive steps to control the outbreak, he said.With a significant spike in last few days and housing more than 669 cases with nine deaths reported, Delhi Chief Minister Arvind Kejriwal made wearing the mask mandatory for everyone stepping out of their house.

The Delhi government has already sealed 20 areas in the National Capital, identified as containment zones. In these areas, people will not be allowed to step out as the authorities will provide all essentials at doorstep. In Uttar Pradesh, the total number of cases rose to 410 as the infection has reached 40 districts of the total 75.
More than 100 containment zones in the state are totally sealed.