NEW DELHI: The Home Ministry has directed the states and Union territories to ensure adequate police protection to doctors and medical staff going to hospitals or quarantine centres during the COVID-19 pandemic, an official said Saturday.
Addressing a press conference, Joint Secretary (Home Affairs) Punya Salila Srivastava said the lockdown guidelines were being followed strictly in the states and UTs.
She said that the ministry had issued an addendum on Friday to exemptions given under the Disaster Management Act through which fisheries and aquaculture activities have been allowed during the lockdown period.
"Now operations connected with the industry and processes such as feeding, maintenance, harvesting, processing, packaging, cold chain, sales, marketing, etc. have been allowed, but it will be the responsibility of heads of organisations to ensure that social distancing and proper hygiene procedures are strictly adhered to," she said.
Srivastava said it would be the responsibility of district authorities to enforce these guidelines strictly. "The Home Ministry has again written to states and union territories to provide police protection to doctors and medical staff when they are going to hospitals for screening or quarantine centres where COVID-19 patients are admitted," she said.
There have been some reports of doctors and healthcare professionals working on the frontline of the pandemic facing verbal and physical abuse by people accusing them of spreading the virus in residential localities.
The official said the situation of essential commodities and supplies is under control and is being monitored at every level. Cadets of the National Cadet Corps (NCC) and National Service Scheme (NSS) and volunteers of Civil Defence have come forth to help in containment of the spread of COVID-19, she said.
The Central Armed Police Forces have also taken many steps like running awareness campaign among the public about COVID-19. "Their medical teams are giving information about the disease in rural areas. They are also providing dry ration and packed food to stranded people at many locations and are providing facilities in their hospitals for general public," she said.
A health ministry official said that the number of COVID-19 cases increased to 7,447 on Saturday with 1,035 cases reported within last 24 hours, with 239 total deaths reported so far across the country.
He said that 642 people in the country have recovered so far. The government imposed a nationwide 21-day lockdown from March 25 to contain the spread of coronavirus as social distancing is possibly the only way to prevent the contagious virus from spreading.