With an aim to rescue street children from child labour and provide them with better living facilities, the Indian Government launched Operation Muskaan in 2015 across the country. As a part of the mission, police personnel of different states had carried out operations to trace and rescue the missing children, apart from rehabilitating several kids living on the streets. On Tuesday, Andhra Pradesh Director General of Police, Gautam Sawang, flagged off the sixth phase of Operation Muskaan from Vijayawada. With the looming threat of the COVID-19 pandemic, the AP State Police has decided to test and treat the homeless kids for COVID-19 under the initiative. In line with the directives from the AP DGP, Visakhapatnam City Police tested several street children for COVID-19 on Tuesday.
Led by Visakhapatnam City Police Commissioner, RK Meena, the current phase, named Operation Muskan COVID-19, will go on for a week until 20 July 2020. Teams comprising of Police, Revenue, Juvenile Welfare, Women Development and Child Welfare, Labour, Medical and Health and other departments will raid hotels, garages, factories, houses, shops and other establishments as a part of the rescue operation. On Tuesday, 23 street and homeless children, including 7 girls, belonging to different places in Visakhapatnam, were identified. Later in the day, the children were tested for COVID-19 in the presence of Visakhapatnam Child Welfare Committee Chairperson. After performing tests, the children were handed over to their parents. Those without families were sent to the government foster care centre.
Visakhapatnam district registered the highest single-day spike with 179 new coronavirus cases on 14 July. The total count of confirmed COVID-19 cases in Vizag increased to 2,375. According to the COVID-19 Special Officer for Visakhapatnam, Dr PV Sudhakar, 1,124 patients were undergoing treatment in the district and 1,216 individuals were discharged after recovering from the virus, as on yesterday. The district death toll increased to 35, as six patients succumbed to COVID-19 between Monday and Tuesday.