New Delhi, March 27 : The Central government on Thursday directed all states and Union Territories (UTs) to spread awareness among people to follow social distancing norms to break the chain of transmission of the COVID-19 pandemic.
The government also urged the states to sensitise people and ensure the security, safety and facilities of the medical staff and the health workers who are facing maximum danger while curing COVID-19 confirmed cases and other patients at the risk of their own lives.
The direction came in a meeting chaired by Cabinet Secretary Rajiv Gauba.
The meeting was attended by all Chief Secretaries of states and UTs.
Joint Secretary (Home Ministry) Punya Salila Srivastava said that the meeting focused over need to increase social distancing awareness among people in the backdrop of the disease which has so far claimed 15 lives and infected over 600 people across the country.
"It was stressed in the meeting to monitor and curb the panic among people that they will not receive essential services and goods," Stivastava said in press briefing.
It was also discussed that people should be aware to avoid gathering in shops,the official said, adding some UTs and states have come up with major innovative methods of providing home delivery of items to contain the problem.
She said that states have been also taking strict measures against violation under different laws.
"People are being arrested, if needed, for violating lockdown enforcement and FIRs (First Information Reports) are being registered," Srivastava said.
"Social distancing as well as enforcement of strict measures, both are being adopted to fulfil the purpose of lockdown."
She said that the Home Ministry has been monitoring the situation across the country round the clock and it is being ensured that officers are available anytime to solve problems.
Srivastava noted that almost all states and Union Territories have notified their helplines.
Mentioning that there was an interstate cargo problem at the borders in the beginning, she said the interstate cargo which was held up at the border has been almost cleared.
Ministry of Civil Aviation has been focusing on special arrangements of cargo movements in northeastern states and other remote areas where medical supplies are pressed by air, she said.
"The Ministry is also in the process to provide a dedicated charter facility (in such areas)."
She informed that the Centre has specially requested the states as well as the UTs to arrange "shelter and food for migrant labourers".
"States are making their best efforts in this direction."
We are sensitising people at all level requesting them to stay at the same place where they are residing in present time, she said.
"We are ensuring that the students are kept at the hostels with upmost safety.
We have also sensitised to ensure the security, safety and facilities of the medical staff and the health workers."
It is hoped that the supply of essential goods would not get affected during the 21-day lockdown declared by Prime Minister Naendra Modi from Tuesday midnight to break the chain of transmission of COVID-19 outbreak.