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Centre plans to face COVID-19 third wave with Rs 20,000-cr cheque

The government is planning to contain or minimise the impact of a possible third wave with an Emergency Covid Response Preparedness (ERCP-2) package of more than Rs 20,000 crore. This comes amid multiple reports suggesting an impending third wave. The government is aiming to prepare in advance for another possible wave.

The package will focus on strengthening healthcare infrastructure including augmenting dedicated treatment facilities, ramping up hospital beds, bolstering procurement of essential medical equipment and drugs, and setting up additional laboratories and testing centres, stated a report in The Economic Times.

The Health and Finance ministries are still working out the details and will be announced once the Cabinet gives its nod. A large sum from the amount is likely to be disbursed to the ICMR and other institutions, the daily stated.

Last April, when the first wave hit, the government had allocated Rs 15,000 crore towards ECRP-1. Almost half of the amount was used in immediate COVID-19 response, and the balance was to be used in medium-term support. The network of diagnostic labs was increased exponentially and adequate supply of PPE kits were ensured.

The emergence of the Delta Plus variant has led experts to believe that a possible third wave is just around the corner. The strain has already been called a ‘variant of concern’. Madhya Pradesh, Maharashtra and Kerala have all reported cases of the Delta Plus variants. Moreover, the second wave found India’s health infrastructure underprepared to take on so many cases of hospitalisation and deaths. The package is expected to avert a similar crisis. Business Today