Prime Minister Narendra Modi Wednesday asked states to fight rumours of lockdown, and said “unlock, unlock, unlock” should be the way forward as they fight to control the pandemic and ramp up healthcare facilities.
“Dekhiye ab hamein unlock ke phase hi dhoondhte rehna hai. Hamein unlock, unlock, unlock ki disha mein hi kadam uthaate jaana hai (We need to find ways to open further… we need to take steps only in the direction of unlock-unlock-unlock),” he said, addressing the second batch of Chief Ministers of 14 states and the Lieutenant Governor of Jammu and Kashmir.
Six of the 14 states — Maharashtra, Tamil Nadu, Delhi, Gujarat, Rajasthan and West Bengal — whose CMs attended the video conference on Wednesday, account for 76 per cent of total Covid cases, and 80 per cent of all Covid-related deaths, in the country. The others who participated in the meeting included CMs of Uttar Pradesh, Madhya Pradesh, Karnataka, Bihar, Andhra Pradesh, Haryana, Telangana and Odisha.
Modi urged states with a heavy load of Covid cases to prioritise expansion of health infrastructure. With the country’s Covid tally crossing 3.5 lakh on Wednesday, he urged them to focus on testing by utilising their full capacity, quick tracing, tracking and isolating those affected, as a strategy to contain the virus spread.
The Prime Minister also emphasised on increasing domestic manufacturing capabilities of diagnostic kits, ventilators through utilisation of the PM CARES fund, and augmentation of Covid special beds. Citing the benefits of telemedicine, he pointed towards the need for creating a big team of senior doctors which can the guide and inform the sick.
Highlighting that India fared better than the rest of the world, Modi said, “Duniya ki tulna mein, aaj hamari sthithi us hadd tak chinta janak nahi hai. Saathiyo in prayaason ke beech, sankraman par rokthaam ki koshishon ke beech, hamein jahan sambhav ho, jaise aap logon ki baat mein nikla ki savdhaniyan bhi baratni hain, lekin samarthyavaan bhi banna hai, economic activities ko hamein tez karna hi hoga (Compared with rest of the world, our condition is not as worrisome. Amid these conditions and with our attempts to curb the infection, wherever possible, we need to be careful but must also simultaneously improve our capabilities. We have to speed up economic activities),” he said.
With economic indicators showing signs of revival, states should now boost infrastructure and construction-related work, the Prime Minister said. He listed steps taken under Atmanirbhar Bharat to provide a fillip to MSMEs, farming and agriculture marketing, and reiterated that states must remain alert to effectively tackle the challenges faced by migrant labourers in the coming months.
Home Minister Amit Shah reminded the CMs that the battle against Covid-19 pandemic was far from over. “As we begin to unlock, we must stay vigilant,” he said. The health ministry officials present in the meeting spoke about the positive outcomes of the lockdown.
The PM’s video conferencing was in line with the last week’s video conferencing by Cabinet Secretary with the states, where it was reiterated that in high case-load states, the focus will be on early testing of high-risk contacts and further increasing the testing capacity. In that meeting, the cabinet secretary had focused on community engagement and the need to reduce the stigma associated with the virus.