Indian prime minister Narendra Modi Wednesday said 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 compounding the challenge.
However, he asserted that going forward with ‘Unlockdown 2.0’ is the answer while being careful with hygiene and practices like wearing a mask.
Modi stressed that the collective commitment to fight against the virus would 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 “rumors 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 minimize 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 (micro, medium and small enterprises), farming and agriculture marketing. He also underscored the need to remain alert to effectively tackle the challenges faced by the migrant (interstate) laborers in the coming months.
However, vigilance being equal to the need to open up the economy was emphasized 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 PPE [personal protective equipment], 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 centers, and adequate human resource through training,” a government statement said.
Wednesday, Modi specially emphasized 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. 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.
“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 Union Territories 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.
India’s home minister Amit Shah requested all chief ministers to encourage download of the Aarogya Setu mobile phone app to act as a shield for protection.