New Delhi: The Union Home Ministry has sent four new inter-ministerial teams to monitor the COVID-19 situation in Gujarat, Telangana and Tamil Nadu, officials said on Friday.
These teams, headed by Additional Secretary-level officers, will visit Ahmedabad and Surat (in Gujarat), Hyderabad in Telangana, Tamil Nadu state capital Chennai, Home Ministry Joint Secretary Punya Salila Srivastava said. These central teams will be in addition to six already constituted, she said.
The teams comprise public health specialists and officers of the National Disaster Management Authority (NDMA) whose expertise can be leveraged by the state government for management of the COVID-19 pandemic.
The Centre said the COVID-19 situation is especially serious in major or emerging hotspot areas, including Ahmedabad, Surat, Hyderabad and Chennai, and that violations of lockdown measures reported in some parts of the country pose a serious health hazard to public.
"The situation is especially serious in major hotspot districts or emerging hotspots like Ahmedabad and Surat (Gujarat), Thane (Maharashtra), Hyderabad (Telangana), and Chennai (Tamil Nadu)," a statement from the ministry said.
The ministry said in some districts a number of violations of lockdown measures have been reported, posing a serious health hazard and risk for spread of COVID-19, which is against general interest of public.
"These violations include incidents ranging from violence on frontline healthcare professionals, attacks on police personnel, violations of social distancing norms in market places and opposition to setting up of quarantine centres and so on," it said.
The ministry said if such incidents are allowed to occur without any restraining measures in hotspot districts and emerging hotspots or even places where large outbreaks or clusters may be expected, it would pose a serious health hazard for the people of the country.
The ministry had sent the six previous teams to Maharashtra, Madhya Pradesh, Rajasthan and West Bengal to review the implementation of the lockdown measures after the assessment of ground situation in identified select districts.
Two of these teams have been sent to Bengal -- one to Kolkata, Howrah, North 24 Parganas, East Medinipur; and the other to Jalpaiguri, Darjeeling and Kalimpong. The teams sent to Bengal had kicked up a controversy, with Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee saying it was against the spirit of federalism since the state government had not been consulted before such a move.
The teams were deputed under the authority conferred on the Central government under Section 35 of the Disaster Management Act, 2005 which states that "the central government shall take all such measures as it deems necessary or expedient for the purpose of Disaster Management".
The six teams which were earlier sent have shared their observations and findings with the state governments, she said.
The team sent to Indore has reported that there are 171 containment zones in the city, of which 20 are critical. It has reported that the city has adequate kits, Personal Protective Equipment, masks and other safety tools available and lockdown measures are being followed properly, she said.
Health infrastructure and safety of healthcare workers are being ensured, she said.
The state government has introduced 'saudapatras' to decongest 'mandis' which are proving effective, she said, citing inputs from the team.
Srivastava said the inter-ministerial central team (IMCT) in Mumbai has suggested installing portable toilets in Dharavi, a densely-populated slum area of the city which has reported over 200 coronavirus cases, to augment the number of community toilets.
The team has suggested to arrange for institutional quarantine for 2,000-3,000 people, besides ramping up the testing capacity for COVID-19, and to increase strength of surveillance teams, she said.