New Delhi | Jagran News Desk: Amid the alarming spike in the number of coronavirus cases in India, the central government on Thursday approved the Rs 15,000 crore COVID-19 Emergency Response and Health System Preparedness package.

The package is aimed at boosting national and state health systems to support procurement of essential medical equipment and drugs, and strengthening of surveillance activities, said the Ministry of Health and Family Welfare while adding that it will be implemented in three phases from January 2020 to March 2024.

It said that the package is 100 per cent funded by the central government. The government further said that it is releasing funds for states and Union territories under the National Health Mission for implementation of phase 1 up to June 2020.

"With the objectives of emergency COVID-19 response, strengthening national and state health systems to support prevention and preparedness, procurement of essential medical equipment, consumables and drugs, strengthening of surveillance activities, including setting up of laboratories and bio-security preparedness," the Health Ministry said in a letter to the additional chief secretaries, principal secretaries and commissioners (Health) of all states and UTs.

"The key activities to be implemented under Phase 1 include support to states and UTs for development of dedicated COVID-19 hospitals, isolation blocks, ICUs with ventilators oxygen supply in hospitals, strengthening of laboratories, hiring of additional human resources and incentives to human resource and community health volunteers," the letter added.

The government has also asked states and UTs to use the funds for the procurement of personal protective equipment, N-95 masks and ventilators over and above what is being procured and supplied by the central government.

The activities to be undertaken also include disinfection of hospitals, government offices, public utilities and ambulances, the letter said.

The project will be implemented in three phases during the period January 2020 to March 2024 -- Phase 1 from January to June 2020, phase 2 from July to March 2021 and phase 3 from April 2021 to March 2024.

So far, the novel coronavirus has affected over 5,000 people in India and claimed the lives of more than 166 people. Amid this, the government has imposed a 21-day lockdown in the country and has urged the people to practice 'social distancing' to break the chain of the virus.

(With PTI Inputs)

Posted By: Aalok Sensharma