Coronavirus COVID-19: Sonia Gandhi writes to PM Narendra Modi, supports lockdown, calls for easing supply chain

Interim Congress chief Sonia Gandhi has written to Prime Minister Narendra Modi, saying her party supports the 21-day lockdown to tackle the deadly coronavirus, which has claimed more than 21,000 lives globally.

Coronavirus COVID-19: Sonia Gandhi writes to PM Narendra Modi, supports lockdown, calls for easing supply chain

NEW DELHI: Interim Congress chief Sonia Gandhi has written to Prime Minister Narendra Modi, saying her party supports the 21-day lockdown to tackle the deadly coronavirus, which has claimed more than 21,000 lives globally.

In her letter to the PM, the Congress chief said “Congress stands with people of India at this time of national crisis. We extend full support to the 21-day lockdown and extend cooperation to the government.’’ She also sought measures to protect doctors, paramedics and ease supply chain during the period of lockdown.

“Centre must consider announcing sector-wise relief package, including tax breaks, interest subvention, deferment of liability,’’ Sonia Gandhi wrote to PM Modi in her letter.

She added that all loan instalment deductions from salaries of government employees may also be deferred for six months.

The Congress president had earlier written to the PM seeking extra measures to help the unorganised sector workers and the poor during the times of coronavirus crisis. 

Her son and MP Rahul Gandhi had been attacking the Centre over lack of preparations to tackle the coronavirus crisis.  

Meanwhile, the total number of positive cases in India has risen to 649, the Health and Family Welfare Ministry said on Thursday, 26 March. While there are total 593 active cases, the number of discharged cases stands at 42, according to the ministry.

Kashmir reported its first coronavirus-related death on Thursday, a day after Madhya Pradesh and Tamil Nadu reported their first deaths.

It may be noted that the Prime Minister, for a second time in a week, on Tuesday evening announced a 21-day countrywide lockdown from midnight due to the outbreak of the coronavirus.

PM Modi stressed that "social distancing" is the only option to deal with the disease, which spreads rapidly. In his televised address to the nation, Prime Minister Modi said that it is vital to break the chain of the disease and experts have said that at least 21 days are needed for it.

The Prime Minister, who had also addressed the nation last week, said the lockdown has drawn a "Lakshman Rekha" in every home and people should stay indoors for their own protection and for that of their families. 

The 21-day lockdown has seen anxious people scrambling to nearby shops for essential supplies and services, prompting the government to urge citizens not to panic. E-commerce companies delivering essentials like groceries, medicines and food, however, alleged harassment from law enforcement officials and security guards, leading to severe inconvenience in times of an unprecedented crisis, calling for an urgent intervention from the government.

Despite the lockdown that has taken buses off the road and trains off the track, many migrant labourers have started on their way home, willing to risk sealed borders and vigilant policemen, who are tasked with ensuring that people not leave their homes except for most pressing need.