Prime Minister Narendra Modi on Thursday outlined that the common goal for the country is to ensure minimum loss of life from the deadly coronavirus COVID-19 pandemic. Interacting with the chief ministers of all the states via video conferencing to discuss measures to combat COVID-19, PM Modi asserted that in the next few weeks, testing, tracing, isolation and quarantine should remain the areas of focus.
He highlighted the necessity of maintaining the supply of essential medical products, availability of raw material for the manufacture of medicines and medical equipment. The PM said it is necessary to ensure the availability of separate, dedicated hospital facilities for COVID-19 patients. To increase the availability of doctors, he asked the states to tap into the resource pool of AYUSH doctors, organize online training and utilize para-medical staff, NCC and NSS volunteers.
The PM thanked the CMs for their suggestions and also for apprising about the situation on the ground, adding that it is imperative to work on a war footing, identify hotspots of the virus, encircle them and ensure that the virus doesn't spread out. He appealed to the leaders to reach out to community leaders and social welfare organizations at the state, district, town and block levels to build up a united front based on community-approach in the battle against the pandemic.
Underscoring the importance of coordinated action and the need to avoid overlaps in efforts of stakeholders, the Prime Minister spoke about the need of setting up crisis management groups at the district level and appointment of district surveillance officers. He said that data must be taken from the accredited labs for testing - this will ensure congruence in data of district, state and centre. He also said it is necessary to ensure the staggered release of funds to the beneficiaries under PM Garib Kalyan Yojana to avoid crowding at banks.
The Prime Minister thanked the states for supporting the decision of lockdown due to which India has achieved some success in limiting the spread of COVID-19. He praised how all the states have worked together as a team to check the spread of the virus. He, however, forewarned that the global situation remains far from satisfactory and informed about speculations of a possible second wave of the spread of the virus in some countries.
PM Modi said that considering that this is the time to harvest crops, the government has given some relaxation from lockdown but it is necessary to continuously monitor and maintain social distancing as much as possible. He asked the states to think of other platforms for procuring grains apart from APMC and explore the possibility of creating pooling platforms for rural areas, like that in ride-sharing apps, which can be used for this purpose.
The chief ministers thanked the Prime Minister for his continuous guidance and support in this time of crisis and appreciated his timely decision of lockdown which has helped check the spread of the virus in the country. They mentioned their efforts of maintaining social distancing, tracking suspect cases, identifying and quarantining suspect cases arising from Nizamuddin Markaz, containing community transmission, boosting up of medical infrastructure, strengthening the medical workforce, provision of telemedicine, provision of mental health counselling, distribution of food and other essentials to those in need and taking care of migrant workers. The states spoke about the importance of mobilising resources, financial as well as medical, to mitigate the crisis.
PM Modi said that it is important to formulate a common exit strategy to ensure staggered re-emergence of the population once lockdown ends. He asked the states to brainstorm and send suggestions for the exit strategy. He reiterated the importance of social distancing in preventing the spread of COVID-19.