- PM chaired high-level meeting on coronavirus on Wednesday evening
- India has seen 173 cases so far and four patients have died
- WHO has praised India's commitment to combat the novel coronavirus
Prime Minister Narendra Modi will address the nation at 8 pm today regarding the ongoing coronavirus outbreak across the world and the efforts to combat it. The address comes after a high-level meeting the Prime Minister chaired in the evening to review the efforts to contain COVID-19. The country has seen 151 cases of coronavirus so far and three patients have died.
To control the spread of the virus, the government has drawn up a plan to sensitise people and spread awareness about the issue.
PM @narendramodi chaired a high-level meeting to review the ongoing efforts to contain COVID-19.— PMO India (@PMOIndia) March 18, 2020
Ways to further strengthen India's preparedness were discussed.
Sources said the participants at the meeting discussed ways to further strengthen the preparedness against the virus. The plans discussed included further enhancing testing facilities.
Though initially reluctant to involve private laboratories, the government has been considering roping them in. The Health ministry yesterday said it was an "evolving situation" and while taking all precautions, it is also trying to be prepared for every eventuality.
Indian Council of Medical Research, the nodal agency for battling the virus, is in talks with private laboratories.
The government is also trying to get across the message of social distancing - seen as the only way of breaking the viral chain of transmission.
Over the last weeks, various state governments have shut down educational institutions. Malls and multiplexes, cancelled sports gatherings and functions and urged people not to travel. The Central government has shut down all the monuments, museums and national parks. Private companies have urged employees to work from home and some state governments are considering a similar move.
The World Health Organisation has praised India's commitment to combat the novel coronavirus, with a special shoutout for PM Modi.
"I think the commitment of the Indian government from the top level -- the Prime Minister's office himself -- has been enormous, very impressive. This is one of the reasons why India is doing very well," said Henk Bekedam, the WHO Representative to India.
At the meeting, the Prime Minister expressed gratitude to all those at the forefront of combating COVID-19, "including the various State Governments, medical fraternity, paramedical staff, armed and paramilitary forces, those associated with aviation sector, municipal staff and others", his office said in another tweet.