Prime Minister Narendra Modi said on Wednesday that the spread of the coronavirus is greater in certain big states and cities, with the high density of population, difficulty in maintaining physical distance and daily movement of people in huge numbers making it a challenging issue for the government. However, he asserted that going forward with ‘Unlockdown 2.0’ is the answer while being careful with hygiene and practices like wearing a mask.
The Prime Minister stressed that the collective commitment to fight against the virus will lead India to victory, while also talking about the need to speed up economic activities with due precautions in place. He talked about the need to fight “rumours of lockdown”, mentioning that the country is now in “phase of unlocking”.
“We need to now think about phase 2 of Unlock and how to minimise all possibilities of harm to our people,” he said.
Asking the states to take steps to boost infrastructure and construction related work, he listed steps taken under Aatma Nirbhar Bharat to provide a fillip to MSMEs, farming and agriculture marketing. He also underscored the need to remain alert to effectively tackle the challenges faced by the migrant labourers in the coming months.
However, vigilance being equal to the need to open up the economy was emphasised during the second day of the 6th PM-CM video conference on strategies dealing with the pandemic.
Modi talked about the presence of better health infrastructure and trained manpower to meet the challenge. “He highlighted the increase in domestic manufacturing capabilities of PPEs, masks, availability of diagnostic kits in adequate quantity, supply of ventilators made in India using PM CARES fund, availability of testing labs, lakhs of Covid special beds, thousands of isolation and quarantine centres, and adequate human resource through training,” a government statement said.
On Wednesday, PM Modi laid special emphasis on increased testing to quickly trace, track and isolate those affected. He cited the benefits of telemedicine and the need to create a big team of senior doctors who can guide and inform the sick through this means. He also talked about spreading timely and correct information through the helplines and the need to build a team of young volunteers to run the helplines effectively.
Meanwhile, the Centre underlined the emotional aspect of the battle against the virus, including battling fear of being afflicted and the stigma attached by making people aware of the high number of those who have defeated the virus and recovered. “Our priority must remain to help and support our corona warriors, doctors and health care workers,” said the PM.
Wednesday’s interaction was the second part of the two-day interaction, and witnessed participation of states and UTs including Maharashtra, Tamil Nadu, Delhi, Gujarat, Rajasthan, Uttar Pradesh, Madhya Pradesh, West Bengal, Karnataka, Bihar, Andhra Pradesh, Haryana, Jammu & Kashmir, Telangana and Odisha.
The various Chief Ministers talked about health infrastructure available to meet the challenge and steps taken to strengthen it further, support provided to frontline workers, monitoring in containment zones, campaigns to encourage usage of masks and other safety precautions, increase in testing, and providing gainful employment opportunities to the migrants who have returned.
Home Minister Amit Shah requested all Chief Ministers to encourage download of Aarogya Setu to act as a self-shield for protection. Meanwhile, the OSD of the Health Ministry briefed about the positive outcomes of lockdown including a large number of cases averted and lives saved, spread of awareness, and ramping up of health infrastructure. He also informed that the number of cases and deaths per lakh of population in India are amongst the lowest in the world.