Inside the fight against COVID-19 in India , there is no “war room” for a disease that is best fought by maintaining physical distance. Instead it is being fought by forming discrete groups of officials and Ministers who communicate remotely and whose lynch pin at the Centre, apart from Prime Minister Narendra Modi, is Principal Secretary to the Prime Minister P.K. Mishra and Cabinet Secretary Rajiv Gauba.
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Government sources told The Hindu that contrary to the “war room” narrative, the PMO has working via small teams (10 teams looking at various aspects of the crisis were set up additionally on Sunday). “P.K. Mishra, along with Health Minister Dr. Harshvardhan, Health Secretary Preeti Sudan and the Director General of the Indian Council of Medical Research (ICMR) Dr. Balram Bhargava take care of the medical aspects of the crisis in terms of treatments, protocols, how to enforce them and co-ordinate with international agencies. A second group headed by Mr. Gauba is co-ordinating with the Chief Secretaries of all States and looking into requests for expediting regulatory permissions for treatment equipment, testing kits etc. Basically to co-ordinate with regulatory agencies to validate data a little faster than it would you usually do for kits etc,” said the source.
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Technical issues like the creation of Apps etc for monitoring the virus are handled by the Ministry for Information Technology. A committee headed by Rajnath Singh and which includes Home Minister Amit Shah has also been constituted to make sure supply chains and logistics needed to enforce the 21-day lockdown runs smoothly.
“Prime Minister Modi has a direct line to all of them and they too can access him via Mr. Mishra. While the minutiae is dealt with by his office, Prime Minister Modi also believes that the challenge needs to be fought with unity and a positive morale, which is why he held a series of video conferences with different stakeholders like media (print and TV), industrialists, radio jockeys and other sections. He has also been calling up our frontline warriors like nurses and doctors to keep the morale up,” said the source.