COVID-19: Union Health Ministry asks States to form rapid response teams

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India is reporting cases of community transmission of COVID-19, noted the Union Health Ministry on Thursday, stating that it had now decided to involve District Collectors to form rapid response teams at the district, block and village levels to contain the situation.

“Private sector shall also be engaged for COVID-19 management. Union Health Minister Harsh Vardhan will meet with key partners on Thursday evening,” a statement issued by the Ministry said.

In his statement in Parliament on Thursday, Mr. Vardhan, giving the status report of where the country stood in terms of COVID-19 cases and preparedness, said: “States have now been guided in terms of identifying containment zone, buffer zone and preparation of micro-plan to ensure effective active and passive surveillance and contact-tracing through inter-disciplinary teams in the areas where cases are located.”

So far, a total of 3,542 samples had been sent for testing, of which 29 were found to be positive for COVID-19 till Thursday. Testing of 92 samples was in process and 23 samples were being reconfirmed, said a senior health official.

Universal screening

Universal screening had been mandated since March 4, 2020 and had started in most airports from Wednesday evening. “It should stabilise today with additional staff being provided by the States,” noted the Health Ministry.

Meanwhile, National Pharmaceutical Pricing Authority has requested the Chief Secretaries of all the States and UTs to closely monitor the production and availability of active pharmaceutical ingredient (APIs) and their formulations to prevent black marketing and hoarding and also to ensure the price compliance under the provisions of Drug Price Control Orders, 2013.

In addition to visa restrictions already in place, passengers traveling from /having visited Italy or Republic of Korea and desirous of entering India will need certificate of having tested negative for COVID-19 from the designated laboratories authorized by the health authorities of these countries. This will be enforced from 0000 Hrs of 10th March, 2020 and is a temporary measure till cases of COVID-19 subsides, noted a released issued by the Union Health Ministry on Thursday afternoon.

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