Patna: Medics take samples from a patient in the isolation ward of novel coronavirus (COVID-19) at Patna Medical College and Hospital (PMCH) in Patna
Patna: Medics take samples from a patient in the isolation ward of novel coronavirus (COVID-19) at Patna Medical College and Hospital (PMCH) in Patna
Photo: PTI

The novel coronavirus outbreak has affected over 134,000 people globally and killed more than 5,000. Many others have been quarantined in different parts of the country. The World Health Organisation has termed the viral outbreak a pandemic and several states in India have termed it an epidemic.

On Saturday, India decided to treat the spread of COVID-19 as a 'notified disaster'. This, according to a letter sent by the Ministry of Home Affairs to states and union territories is "for the purpose of providing assistance under SDRF (State Disaster Response Fund)".

The virus which has so far infected 84 people in India, has so far claimed two victims.

The letter that was posted to PIB's Twitter handle puts forth several categories listing the "norms of assistance".

According to the notice, the families of those who died from the virus would be given ex-gratia relief of Rs 4 lakh from the SDRF. This includes people who were involved in relief operations or were associated with response activities.

The Centre added that the cost of hospitalisation for managing the patients would be at rates fixed by the state governments.

The States, it added, could use the SDRF to provide victims with temporary shelter, food, clothing and medical aid. The funds could also be used to offset the cost of consumables for sample collection and to provide support for checking, screening and contact tracing.

The state executive committee will decide the number of quarantine camps, their duration and the number of persons admitted to such camps.

"This period can be extended by the SEC beyond the prescribed limit subject to condition that expenditure on this account should not exceed 25% of SDRF allocation for the year. Medical care may also be provided from National Health Mission (NHM)," the letter adds.

The expenditure incurred in the procurement of necessary equipment to adequately respond to the coronavirus outbreak however is to be borne only out of the SDRF.

"Total expenditure on equipment should not exceed 10 % of the annual allocation of the SDRF," the MHA notification adds.

It also mentions that any expenditure that exceeds the limit would be borne by the State and will not be drawn from the the SDRF.

84 people in India have so far tested positive for the virus, while two people have lost their lives. Many others have been placed under quarantine. Of the total number of people who have been infected, 10 people have so far 'cured'.

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