India has stepped up its efforts to tackle the coronavirus spreading throughout the country, labeling the virus a “Notified Disaster.” The designation allows local governments to tap into a special disaster-relief fund.

Covid-19 virus, which has already infected over 80 people across India, was formally branded a “notified disaster” by the Ministry of Home Affairs on Saturday. Such a designation has effectively put the outbreak on a par with earthquakes, tsunamis, avalanches and other major natural disasters.

The classification enables state governments to spend more money from the State Disaster Response Fund (SDRF) on tackling the outbreak. Apart from funding hospitalization of Covid-19 patients and paying compensation to the relatives of coronavius victims, the funds can now be funneled into procurement of essential protection and lab equipment.

While India has been affected by coronavirus rather mildly, with over 80 confirmed cases (including two deaths), the country is apparently bracing for a large-scale outbreak. Earlier in the day, India’s sports authorities suspended all domestic cricket matches until further notice and football games were put on hold until the end of the month.

In a surprise move, PM Narendra Modi called upon the countries of the South Asian Association for Regional Cooperation (SAARC) to come together and tackle the virus spread in the region. India has been distanced from the eight-nation bloc for the past several years because of its tensions with Pakistan.

More than 145,000 have been infected by the coronavirus globally and over 5,400 have died from the disease. Earlier this week, the ongoing phenomenon was declared a pandemic by the World Health Organization (WHO).

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