The Centre today set up 11 empowered groups for ensuring a comprehensive and integrated response to COVID-19, which has infected more than 1000 people in the country and killed more than 25 people. The groups – set up under the Disaster Management Act – are expected to set things back on track during the lockdown period, government sources said.
The groups have been empowered to formulate plans and take all necessary steps for their time bound implementation.
A senior health ministry official today told the media that secretary level officers have been involved in the matter and that each group has its particular focus area.
“These groups are empowered to identify problem areas and provide effective solutions, delineate policy, formulate plans, strategise operations, and take all necessary steps for effective and time-bound implementation of these plans,” a communique from the health ministry read.
Sources said each group has senior representative from the Prime Minister’s Office and the Cabinet Secretariat to ensure seamless coordination. The Department of Expenditure has issued special instructions to enable expeditious decision making in procurement matters.
Last Tuesday, Prime Minister Narendra Modi had announced a 21-day “curfew-like” lockdown across the country, asserting that social distancing is the only way to counter the coronavirus.
In the televised address, he had appealed to people not to cross the ”lakshman rekha” of their homes in the next three weeks.
But over the last five days since the announcement, the country has witnessed an exodus of migrant labourers from cities to villages – most of the daily wagers whose livelihood has been jeopardized by the lockdown. Today the government asked the states to seal borders and keep those who broke lockdown in 14-day compulsory quarantine.