STATE TIMES NEWSNew Delhi: The Centre has allowed states to spend up to 50 per cent money from the State Disaster Response Fund (SDRF) to boost infrastructure such as quarantine facilities, testing laboratories, oxygen generation plants and purchase of ventilators and PPE kits to tackle the COVID-19 pandemic. The move came after Prime Minister Narendra Modi told chief ministers of the seven worst affected states on Wednesday that his government has increased the states’ limit to spend the SDRF to boost infrastructure to fight the pandemic.In a communication to chief secretaries of all states and Union Territories, the Union Home Ministry said that it has partially modified list of items and norms of assistance for containment measures of COVID-19, eligible from SDRF by way of special one-time dispensation with the overall capping of 50 per cent for the financial year 2020-21.The areas where the states can spend up to 50 per cent of the SDRF include quarantine, sample collection and screening facilities.Provision for temporary accommodation, food, clothing, medical care, etc., for people affected and sheltered in quarantine camps (other than home quarantine) or for cluster containment operations will be covered under the modified norms.Cost of consumables for sample collection, support for checking screening and contact tracing, procurement of essential equipments and laboratories for response to COVID-19, cost of setting up additional testing laboratories within the government and the cost of consumables and testing kit will be allowed under the new norms.Cost of personal protection equipment for healthcare, municipal, police and fire authorities, cost of thermal scanners, ventilators, air purifiers, oxygen generation and storage plant in hospitals, strengthening ambulance services for transport of patients, setting up containment zones, COVID-19 hospital, COVID-19 care centres and consumables in the government hospitals will also cover under it. State Executive Committee, headed by Chief Secretary concerned, shall ensure overall oversight mechanism so that no duplication takes place with reference to other government schemes, the home ministry said in its communication.Any amount spent by the state for COVID-19, over and above the ceiling, would be borne out of the resource of the state government and not from SDRF.Majority fund of the SDRF is contributed from the National Disaster Response Fund.The total coronavirus cases mounted to 57,32,518 on Thursday while the death toll climbed to 91,149.The total recoveries surged to 46,74,987 in the country so far. The COVID-19 case fatality rate due to the coronavirus infection was recorded at 1.59 per cent.
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