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The government on Thursday urged states to prepare a “robust strategy" against the spread of covid-19 from migrants heading home. Hundreds of thousands of migrant workers are leaving cities, worrying government officials about a potential transfer of coronavirus from urban to rural India.

Health minister Harsh Vardhan on Thursday told states that a robust strategy and mechanism needs to be drawn. “Some states shall also see immigrants from abroad too. An effective strategy also needs to be put in place for their testing, institutional quarantine and treatment, if needed," he said.

The country on Thursday recorded 1,782 new cases and 64 deaths taking the tally and toll to 54,471 and 1,841 respectively.

“There will be a risk of transfer of coronavirus infection from urban to rural areas due to the reverse migration as many of these migrant labourers are coming from hotspot areas. We will need to monitor them very closely, quarantine them and test them. Fourteen days of quarantining should be mandatory for all who are moving towards villages from urban areas," said Dr Randeep Guleria, director of the All India Institute of Medical Sciences, New Delhi.

Vardhan held a meeting on Thursday with Jai Pratap Singh and Naba Kishore Das, the health ministers of Uttar Pradesh and Odisha, respectively, to review the situation, actions being taken and preparedness for management of covid-19. The two states are among leading suppliers of migrant labour, along with Bihar and West Bengal.

The health minister also spoke to the district magistrates of Agra, Kanpur, Meerut, Saharanpur, Gautam Buddh Nagar and Lucknow in Uttar Pradesh, and Baleswar, Ganjam and Jajpur in Odisha to discuss in detail the status and management of covid-19 in their districts. “Surveillance for severe acute respiratory infections) and influenza-like illness should be intensified in unaffected districts and those districts which have not reported cases from last 14 days. Through the Integrated Disease Surveillance Programme network in collaboration with medical college hospitals, such measures will help to indicate the presence of any possible hidden infection at an early stage thus helping in its timely containment," said Vardhan.

India currently has 130 hotspot districts, 284 non-hotspot districts and 319 non-affected districts. However, according to the Union health ministry, so far, there are 180 districts that have reported no new cases in less than seven days, 180 districts with no new cases in 7-13 days, 164 districts without a new case in 14-20 days and 136 districts with no new cases in the last 21-28 days. The 13 states and Union territories that have not reported a coronavirus case in the last 24 hours are Andaman and Nicobar Islands, Arunachal Pradesh, Chhattisgarh, Goa, Jharkhand, Himachal Pradesh, Jammu and Kashmir, Kerala, Ladakh, Manipur, Meghalaya, Mizoram and Odisha. Daman and Diu, Sikkim, Nagaland and Lakshadweep have not reported any covid-19 case till date, Vardhan said.

“At least 15,266 persons have been cured. In comparison to other countries, India is in a better condition as the fatality rate is 3.3% and recovery rate is 28.83%. There are 4.8% patients in ICU, 1.1% on ventilators and 3.3% on oxygen support of the active cases," the minister said.

“The testing capacity has increased in the country and it is 95,000 tests per day with 327 government laboratories and 118 private laboratories. Cumulatively, 13,57,442 tests have been done so far for covid-19," he said.

India has 821 dedicated covid hospitals with 150,059 beds (132,219 isolation beds and 17,840 ICU beds) and 1,898 dedicated covid health centres with 119,109 beds (109,286 isolation beds and 9,823 ICU beds) along with 7,569 quarantine centres.

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