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India Declares Coronavirus a 'Notified Disaster'

© REUTERS / DANISH ISMAILA municipal worker sprays disinfectant on a street, amid coronavirus disease (COVID-19) fears, in Srinagar March 13, 2020. REUTERS/Danish Ismail
A municipal worker sprays disinfectant on a street, amid coronavirus disease (COVID-19) fears, in Srinagar March 13, 2020. REUTERS/Danish Ismail - Sputnik International
New Delhi (Sputnik): As per the latest statistics from India's Ministry of Health, the total number of confirmed COVID-19 cases across the country has reached 84 (including foreign nationals) with two deaths as of Saturday evening. Besides this, the number of passengers screened at airports has reached 1,229,363.

Keeping in mind the consistent spread of the coronavirus in the country, the Indian government on Saturday decided to treat COVID-19 as a "notified disaster" in order to provide assistance under the State Disaster Response Fund (SDRF).

India has temporarily suspended visas for alomost everyone. The majority of states including national capital Delhi have shut down schools and cinemas to contain its spread. Preventive measures at airports have also been stepped up with a decision to have a mandatory quarantine for foreign travellers from seven virus-hit countries.

The government of India on Saturday also released a list of items and norms of assistance as per the SDRF in the wake of the coronavirus outbreak. This included a monetary relief of $5,408 (INR 400,000) to the families of those who succumb to the virus.

“A sum of INR 400,000 ($5,408) will be paid as ex-gratia to the family of the person who will lose his or her life due to #Coronavirus, including those involved in relief operations or associated in response activities", the statement issued by the Indian Home Ministry said on Saturday.

It will also allow state governments to fix the cost of hospitalisation for managing COVID-19 patients.

Meanwhile, the country has also invoked the Epidemic Act 1897 – which allows the government to use special measures in the country to tackle the menace.

The Indian government’s measure comes days after the World Health Organisation declared the breakout of the virus a pandemic.

An Indian parliamentarian representing the ruling Bharatiya Janata Party has advised the heads of both houses of Parliament to adjourn proceeding in view of the coronavirus.  

The virus has so far killed over 5,000 persons, with the number of cases across the globe surpassing 140,000. WHO chief Teddros Adhanom Ghebreyesus has described the death toll of 5,000 as "a tragic milestone". He has also said that Europe is now the "epicentre" of the global coronavirus pandemic.

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