New Delhi: The Union government has approved the 'COVID-19 Emergency Response and Health System Preparedness Package' worth Rs 15,000 crore.

This package had been promised by the PM during his lockdown speech made on March 24. Health Ministry joint secretary Lav Agarwal spoke more on the issue.

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He said, "This is a 100% centrally funded scheme. The Central government will provide support to the state governments in terms of strengthening their health systems, supporting their prevention preparedness exercise, procurement of essential medical equipment, surveillance activities including upgradation of laboratories. Under this scheme, the states can obtain PPEs, N95 masks, ventilators. This fund can also be used for hospital upgradation and hospitals."

This project will be implemented in three phases- Phase 1 from January 2020 to June 2020, Phase-2 from July 2020 to March 2021 and Phase-3 from April 2021 to March 2024.

Meanwhile, Union health minister Harsh Vardhan has reiterated that social distancing and lockdown are the most potent vaccine available to keep the coronavirus at bay. 

He also added that India is placed much better than other countries in tackling the virus. 

He said, "I can state with utmost confidence that in terms of data or statistics on Covid-19, India is placed much better than any other country.” 

He also had to say this about the doubling of cases in the country. 

He said, “At present, cases are doubling every 4.5 days in India, whereas majority of the districts are unaffected. The government has identified 133 districts with hotspots.” 

Vardhan said the Centre along with states are working with an aggressive containment strategy which is divided into large outbreaks containment strategy and cluster containment strategy.

The present lockdown is expected to end on April 14. However, as things stand, PM Modi, in all likelihood, may extend it till the end of this month.