NEW DELHI: As the country battles a sudden surge in coronavirus cases, the government on Friday carried out a detailed review of the overall healthcare system as well as the situation arising out of the 21-day nationwide lockdown, officials said.

The review was conducted by a Group of Ministers headed by Defence Minister Rajnath Singh and comprising several key members of the Union Cabinet including Home Home Minister Amit Shah, Food Minister Ram Vilas Paswan, Railways Minister Piyush Goyal, Petroleum Minister Dharmendra Pradhan and Information and Broadcasting Minister Prakash Javadekar.

The officials said the ministers deliberated on various arrangements being made to deal with increasing number of coronavirus cases as well as to ensure adequate supplies of medicine and essential commodities during the lockdown.

India has recorded over 2,300 positive cases of coronavirus and at least 56 deaths so far. Globally, the virus has infected more than one million people and claimed around 50,000 lives.

The ministers took stock of supply of essential goods across the country which has been smooth, government sources said, adding difficulties arising out of shortage of labourers in loading and unloading of food materials from trucks and freight trains are being addressed.

On movement of migrant workers, the GoM felt the issue has been resolved as they are being looked after in temporary shelters set up by the state governments, the sources said.

The GoM also appealed to people to respond to Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s call to turn off all lights in their homes and light candles or diyas for 9 minutes at 9 PM on April 5 and make the initiative a “grand success”, they said.

In a video message, Modi urged people to light up lamps on Sunday to display collective strength to defeat coronavirus.

Chemicals and Fertilisers Minister D V Sadananda Gowda, Agriculture and Rural Development Minister Narendra Singh Tomar, HRD Minister Ramesh Pokhriyal Nishank, Women and Child Development Minister Smriti Zubin Irani, Jal Shakti Minister Gajendra Singh Shekhawat, Civil Aviation Minsister Hardeep Singh Puri were also among those who attended the meeting.

The GoM appreciated contribution, dedication and the hard work of thousands of health professionals, police, paramilitary and armed forces and those engaged in maintaining supply chain of essential commodities across the country, the sources added.

Separately, the defence ministry said five viral testing labs at armed forces hospitals have been made part of national grid for carrying out tests for coronavirus infection.

These include Army Hospital (Research and Referral) in Delhi, Air Force Command Hospital in Bangalore, Armed Forces Medical College in Pune, Command Hospital in Lucknow and Command Hospital in Udhampur.

Six more hospitals are being readied with infrastructure to carry out COVID-19 testing.

In addition, 15 other facilities are being kept ready as standby for use, if required, the defence ministry said in a statement, adding dedicated infrastructure including high dependency units, intensive care beds are being readied at 51 hospitals of the armed forces across the country.

Some of these hospitals are in Kolkata, Visakhapatnam, Kochi, Dundigal, Bengaluru, Kanpur, Jaisalmer, Jorhat and Gorakhpur.

At present, armed forces are running six quarantine facilities at Mumbai, Jaisalmer, Jodhpur, Hindon, Manesar and Chennai.

A total of 1,737 people have been handled by these centres and 403 of them have been released so far.

The transport fleet of IAF is being used to assist in transportation of essential supplies, medicines and medical equipment.

So far, approximately 60 tonnes of supplies have been airlifted to various parts of the country, officials said.

Twenty-eight fixed wing and 21 helicopters are also kept on standby at various locations across the country for any possible eventualities.

Six naval ships are kept ready to provide assistance to neighbouring countries. Five medical teams are also on standby for deployment in Maldives, Sri Lanka, Bangladesh, Nepal, Bhutan and Afghanistan.

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