States must ensure the smooth movement, including inter-state travel, of all medical professionals, paramedic staff, sanitation personnel and ambulances during the lockdown to control the nationwide spread of coronavirus, the government said today.
Objecting to the restrictions imposed by some states on the movement on health workers, the Union Home Ministry said they are vital to healthcare services and that curbs can lead to severe constraints in rendering COVID-19 and other medical services. There have been reports of health care services being affected in some places including in Delhi and nearby areas after neighbouring states closed down inter-state borders and barred the movement of medical workers.
"As such, ensuring unhindered movement of all such medical professionals is essential for meeting public health requirements and saving precious human lives," Home Secretary Ajay Bhalla said in the letter.
The ministry also told the states that opening of private clinics and nursing homes must be ensured by all.
The Home Secretary wrote to the states a day after Cabinet Secretary Rajiv Gauba held a video conference with Chief Secretaries and Health Secretaries of all the states and Union Territories.
The centre's note also comes hours ahead of Prime Minister Narendra Modi's video conference with Chief Ministers this afternoon on the coronavirus crisis - the fifth such virtual meet in the last two months.
At yesterday's meeting with Cabinet Secretary Rajiv Gauba, sources said a lot of states raised objections to the red, green and orange zone markings, saying with the way the number of coronavirus cases are rising in districts with the return of migrants, most of the districts will come under red zone.
Several states argued that this will make a return to normalcy difficult and wanted a calibrated way to lift the lockdown.
In a separate letter to states, the Home Ministry today said it has noted with great concern that migrant workers continue to walk on roads and railway tracks to return home and asked states to ensure that they travel home on the special trains being run for them from various parts of the country.