As India grapples with the rising number of coronavirus cases, the Centre's Department of Administrative Reforms and Public Grievances (DARPG) has conducted a preparedness survey to attain a bird's eye view of the governance challenges in wake of coronavirus outbreak in India. Individual officers, including district collectors and district magistrates and IAS officers have submitted replies to the questionnaire.
The survey aims to analyse India's COVID-19 preparedness across states -- as perceived by civil servants working on the ground -- and analyse logistics or hospital preparedness. It flags some issues with preparedness including the availability of proper infrastructure, adequate equipment and sensitisation of some districts of the country. Only 40 per cent officials -- district collectors and officers -- said hospitals were "adequately prepared".
Officers also raised concerns over inadequate availability of personal protection equipment such as masks, gloves, etc, in-district or sub-district hospitals. Twenty-eight per cent said hospitals in districts lacked adequate quantity of isolation beds. The respondents also highlighted the non-availability of ventilators in the country.
Also, sixty-nine per cent said people were handling the COVID-19 lockdown peacefully, while 31 per cent said people were 'panicking'. Ninety-two per cent district collectors and officers agreed that there were no disruptions in essential services and goods availability. Ninty-one per cent respondents agreed Prime Minister Narendra Modi's Janata Curfew appeal was effective on the ground.
In conclusion, the survey has identified some gaps in combating the COVID-19 pandemic. These include hospital preparedness and infrastructure; quarantining and isolation facility; testing facilities; personal protection equipment; lack of public awareness; contact tracing; temporary and wage-worker exodus; and sanitising public places and essential goods and services.
The respondents also called for developing guidelines for inter-state movement of people across state borders; addressing issues relating to procurement, logistics and supply chain for medical equipment; creating more testing centres and capabilities for all district/ sub-district hospitals; and providing economic support to the poor.
The total number of active COVID-19 cases has reached 2,088 in India, according to the latest update on the Ministry of Health and Family Welfare's website. The death tally in the country currently stands at 56.