Coronavirus: PMO asks ministers to act seriously on information, concerns

New Delhi: Responsibility has been firmly and clearly fixed on Union ministers — each of whom has been given charge of at least 20 districts to monitor activities to counter Covid-19 — to ensure the ‘ground-zero’ feedback reaches the Centre.

At a high-level meeting held on Tuesday, the PMO impressed upon all ministers that there is a need to act very seriously upon the learning from the ground, ET has learnt.

Immediate interventions must be made depending on the information or concerns raised by district authorities and the common man on the ground, it was conveyed.

It was underlined at the meeting that the learnings from the districts must be used in policy-level decisions and immediate interventions must be made to address any ground-level constraints and concerns raised.

Every minister is expected to hold daily meetings and take regular updates in districts he is dealing with. Most district collectors and health authorities have begun to send in a daily update and report by noon or early evening to the ministers.

Some of the issues raised across various districts with the ministers pertain to transportation of essential goods and the difficulty faced by transporters when they have to return after dropping the commodities. This is set to be acted upon soon. There are suggestions that a seal/sticker be fixed to the truck/goods vehicle to clearly indicate that it was on permitted duty.

Issues around quarantines and food availability for migrant labourers have also been reported across districts. After it was brought to the attention of ministers in Delhi, work has started to generate material on Covid-19 awareness in local dialects and tribal languages.

The maximum issues red flagged pertain to the Ministry of Health and Family Welfare and the Ministry of External Affairs. Also abound are issues in the domains of the Ayush department and health research, and ministries of finance, home, information & broadcasting and civil aviation. There are concerns raised on inadequate facilities in hospitals, such as lack of masks and sanitisers, overcrowded isolation wards and hospitals ill-equipped to test patients.

There are complaints especially from Goa on groceries not being provided. Others have complained about supply of basic necessities getting affected and garbage not being collected. Harassment from the police and about forceful eviction from colleges have been reported besides requests for postponement of examinations.

On issues related to quarantine, there are complaints that the quarantine helpline is not working and that there are people who travelled abroad and are not adhering to quarantine guidelines. There are others reporting poor facilities where a family member is quarantined in government facilities.

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