Agartala, Mar 25 (PTI) The Tripura government on Wednesday asked urban local bodies to engage self-help groups (SHGs) in the state for providing cooked food to homeless and poor persons during the lockdown imposed to contain the spread of coronavirus, an official said.

The state government directed authorities of 20 urban local bodies in the state to set up kitchens for preparing cooked food like khichdi, the official said.

"Any good area level federation of SHGs under the Deendayal Antyodaya Yojana-National Urban Livelihoods Mission (DAY-NULM) may be deployed for cooking and making food packets. Distribution of food packets to urban poor twice daily may be done," according to an order issued by Urban Development Director Dr. Shailesh Kumar Yadav.

Sanitizers and gloves will be provided to the persons who will distribute food to the poor people, the order said.

The state food and civil supplies department was asked to arrange for rice and pulses for emergency food supply.

Prime Minister Narendra Modi had on Tuesday announced a complete lockdown across the country for 21 days, asserting that social distancing is the only way out for the country in its decisive battle against the coronavirus.

Though no COVID-19 positive case has been detected in the state so far, the government has made elaborate arrangement to tackle the crisis, the official said.

A total of 948 persons, who had either coronavirus- like symptoms or recently returned to their homes from abroad, were quarantined or asked to remain in home isolation, he said.

West Tripura Additional SP Manik Lal Saha said several people were arrested for violating the lockdown guidelines.

Tripura Government Doctors' Association (TGDA) general secretary Rajesh Choudhury alleged that most of healthcare personnel have been working without personal protective equipment (PPE).

However, health Sscretary Debashish Basu said sufficient quantities of masks, PPE, gloves and hand sanitizers are in store.

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