States to earmark hospitals to exclusively treat COVID-19 patients: Health Ministry

New Delhi, Mar 22 (PTI) The Union Health Ministry announced on Sunday that states would be earmarking a certain number of hospitals to exclusively treat COVID-19 patients.

At a press conference here, Indian Council of Medical Research (ICMR) Director Balram Bhargava said a lockdown was the most essential aspect to the break the chain of transmission as of now.

The reaction came soon after the Centre and state governments have decided to completely lock down 75 districts across the country where coronavirus cases have been reported.

'Each state has pledged that they will earmark hospitals exclusively to treat COVID-19 patients,' Bhargava said. 'For example, in Delhi, AIIMS' division of National Cancer Institute (NCI) in Jhajjar (Haryana) -- which has around 800 beds -- would be used only to treat COVID-19 patients.' Bhargava stated that 60 private labs had registered so far to conduct coronavirus tests.

Five people have died in India as yet due to the deadly COVID-19 (coronavirus disease 2019). The government has given an order to procure 1,200 new ventilators, Health Ministry Joint Secretary Lav Agarwal said.

The total number of novel coronavirus cases in India rose to 341, including 41 foreign nationals, according to the Health Ministry.

Millions of people across the country stayed indoors, streets wore a deserted look and bare number of vehicles were on the road in an unprecedented shutdown on Prime Minister Narendra Modi's appeal for a 'Janta curfew' on Sunday to contain the spread of the novel coronavirus pandemic, which has claimed over 13,000 lives worldwide. PTI PLB DSP HMB