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Coronavirus | Strict social isolation for next 3 weeks key to containing COVID-19: Rahul Gandhi

Congress leader Rahul Gandhi. File

Congress leader Rahul Gandhi. File   | Photo Credit: PTI

Country should have taken coronavirus threat more seriously: Congress

The Congress on Tuesday welcomed Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s announcement of a complete lockdown for the next three weeks but qualified their response by asking about what steps the government had taken to protect the poor.

Also read | Interactive map of confirmed coronavirus cases in India

Former Finance Minister P Chidambaram, in a series of tweets, said he had a “mix of emotions – relief, vindication, frustration, disappointment, worry and fear”.

“The lockdown is late, but better late than never. Those who mocked the idea of a lockdown will do the country a great favour by remaining silent for 21 days. PM’s announcement left a gaping hole. Who is going to provide cash to the poor that they need for the next 21 days?” asked Mr. Chidambaram.

Hours before the lockdown announcement, former Congress president Rahul Gandhi on Tuesday had appealed to citizens to adopt strict social isolation to fight the spread of novel coronavirus in India.

Watch | British glass artist sculpts the coronavirus that causes COVID-19

“I strongly appeal to each of you to follow strict social isolation and distancing measures. Containing the virus requires us to minimise our contact with people as much as possible,” Mr. Gandhi said in his open letter to citizens.

“Global public health experts have warned that a large number of cases remain undetected in India and could spread in the absence of containment measures,” he said while asserting that the next three to four weeks would be crucial.

“The public health personnel have displayed exemplary courage, even at great personal risk to themselves...The COVID-19 pandemic is a test of our ability to work together and collectively fight against unpredictable crises. This is the time for national solidarity and unity. I strongly appeal to all of you again to heed all the public safety advisories being issued and remain vigilant,” Mr. Gandhi said.

Watch | What is contact tracing?

His open letter came just hours after he had tweeted that the Narendra Modi government didn’t realise the magnitude of the crisis .

“I am feeling sad, because this was completely avoidable. We had time to prepare. We should have taken this threat much more seriously,” Mr. Gandhi tweeted in response to a tweet from a Haryana-based doctor Kamna Kakkar who said hospitals faced an acute shortage of essential personal protective equipment (PPE).

Dr. Kakkar, who had tagged the Prime Minister and Haryana Chief Minister, had tweeted, “When they arrive, please send N95 masks and gloves to my grave. Taali aur thaali bhi baja dena waha! [clap and beat an utensil for me there] Regards, frustrated sarkari (government) doctor”.

Watch | Your COVID-19 queries answered

The Congress said Mr. Gandhi had raised the alarm on the virus outbreak as early as February 12 but his suggestions were not taken seriously. The party’s chief spokesperson Randeep Surjewala questioned the delay in banning exports of essential medical supplies like surgical masks and ventilators.

“Between Februray 1 and March 2, 2020, Health and Textile Ministries didn’t determine specifications for PPEs despite repeated requests from Protection Wear Manufacturers Association,” Mr. Surjewala alleged.

“Commerce Minister permitted export of Masks, Coveralls, Ventilators uptil 19th March as India faced scarcity. When will this equipment be available now? Pl tell a time frame. Also, what should the doctors, nurses and health professionals do in the interregnum period?” he asked.

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Printable version | Apr 8, 2020 8:42:55 AM | https://www.thehindu.com/news/national/country-should-have-taken-coronavirus-threat-more-seriously-congress/article31153145.ece

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