New Delhi:

In the wake of spurt in cases of coronavirus pandemic in the country, the Ministry of Home Affairs on Saturday decided to treat Covid-19 as a "notified disaster".


The move would enable the states to spend a larger chunk of funds from the State Disaster Response Fund (SDRF) to fight the pandemic.


The Centre said that cost of hospitalization for managing COVID-19 patients would be at the rates fixed by the state governments.The state government can use SDRF found for providing temporary accommodation, food, clothing and medical care for people affected and sheltered in quarantine camps, other than home quarantine, or for cluster containment operations.


All such expenditure, the government added, will be drawn only from the state's funds and not the National Disaster Response Fund (NDRF). Also, total expenditure on equipment cannot exceed 10 per cent of the fund's annual allocation.


As per an earlier letter from the Home Ministry, Rs 4 lakh was to be given to families of those whose deaths have been linked to the novel coronavirus, or COVID-19. Cost of hospitalisation for those being treated was also to have been fixed by state governments.


However, these two points were apparently removed in a later notification.


The state executive committee will decide the number of quarantine camps, their duration and the number of persons in such camps. "Period can be extended by the committee beyond the prescribed limit subject to condition that expenditure on this account should not exceed 25 percent of SDRF allocation for the year," the Ministry of Home Affairs notification stated.


The cost of consumables for sample collection would be taken from the funds which can be sued to support for checking, screening and contact tracing.


Further, funds can also be withdrawn for setting up additional testing laboratories within the government set up. The state has also to bear the cost of personal protection equipment for healthcare, municipal, police and fire authorities. Further SDRF money can also be used for procuring thermal scanners and ventilation and other necessary equipment.


The total number of confirmed coronavirus cases in India rose to 84, the Union Ministry of Health and Family Welfare said on Saturday. So far, two deaths due to the lethal infection have been reported in the country.


The coronavirus, which originated in China's Wuhan city in December last year, has so far spread to more than 100 countries, infecting over 1,20,000 people.


The World Health Organisation (WHO) has declared coronavirus a pandemic and Europe as its epicentre with more reported cases and deaths than the rest of the world combined, apart from China.