Coronavirus outbreak | Congress urges govt to get more COVID-19 testing kits

Former Union Minister Manish Tewari   | Photo Credit: PTI

As the 21-day lockdown completed its first week, the Congress on Tuesday asked the Union government to procure more coronavirus (COVID-19) testing kits, offer interest subvention on the three-month moratorium on loans and EMIs, and arrange for harvesting and storage of Rabi crops.

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In an online interaction with the media, former Union Minister Manish Tewari asserted that as India moved from secondary to the next stage of the pandemic, the government should procure and supply testing kits to the State governments on priority.

“We are testing 32 people for a population of 10 lakh, while in England, it is 1921 and in the United States, it is 2600....The only antidote to testing is test, test and more tests,” he said.

The State governments were keeping the testing kits for a time when the number of cases may shoot up, he claimed. So far, only four companies have been allowed to make the kits while 17 had applied for permission. The others have been asked to get approvals from the European Unions and the United States’ Food and Drug Administration before allowing their commercial production, he said.

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“We would urge the government to find a way out without comprising on quality. Claims about India not seeing community transmission can be made only if there is large-scale testing,” he stated.

“India and Bharat exposed”

Mr. Tewari, who wrote to Prime Minister Narendra Modi on Monday to provide transportation to migrant workers, said the current lockdown once again exposed “India and Bharat” as migrant workers were forced to have a chemical-based showered for sanitisation in Uttar Pradesh’s Bareilly district.

“There is one India who is watching Netflix while a father in Bharat has to walk for miles with his wife and children”. The exodus of migrant workers would add to the problems of farmers in States such as Punjab, where harvesting of Rabi crops was to take place in the next 15 days. The government should arrange for harvesting and storage of Rabi crops whose advance estimates suggest a production of 152.7 million tonnes of food grains. “We urge the Prime Minister, the Agriculture Minister and the Finance Minister to offer relief as small farmers will be hit the hardest”, he noted.

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Talking about relief for the middle class, he said, “It's not as if the EMIs have been waived off. Next quarter, there will be a lot of additional burden when you have to pay up. So the government should offer some sort of subvention”.

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Printable version | Jun 15, 2021 3:02:07 AM |

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