Prime Minister Narendra Modi, at his second vide oconference with Chief Ministers on Thursday told them that it was “important to formulate a common exit strategy to ensure staggered re-emergence of the population once the lockdown ends.”
Mr. Modi emphasised that the collective goal of all should be to “save every Indian”. He asked the States to brainstorm and send suggestions for the exit strategy.
Mr. Modi listed out certain ‘must do steps’ that need to be taken as the nation entered the second week of a total lockdown. “Our first priority for the next few weeks should be testing, tracing, isolating and quarantine. For this all State to district level efforts must be coordinated,” he pointed out.
Mr. Modi urged that district-level disease surveillance officers should be appointed as soon as possible to make sure that penetration of this strategy is optimum as well as the data collected from private laboratories allowed to test should be collated district-wise to be utilised for further strategising on tackling the pandemic .
Seamless supply lines
In his opening remarks, Mr. Modi emphasised that the supply lines for medical equipment and drugs and raw materials needed for the manufacture of these products need to be kept seamless, even more than supplies of other products.
“Every State should ensure that there are separate hospitals for COVID-19 patients and the doctors attending them need to be protected. I would also urge you to step up online training of doctors in the treatment of COVID-19,” he said.
This being the harvest season in many parts of the country, farmers and labourers, exempted from the lockdown, were engaged in harvest operations and they should maintain some social distancing even on fields. “As for procurement, we must find ways to do it beyond the route of Agricultural Produce Marketing Corporations (APMC). A truck pooling scheme should also be worked out with farmers for ferrying produce to the market. Harvesting will possibly need to be done in a staggering manner,” he is reported to have said.
The Centre would release ₹11,000 crore from the State Disaster Relief Fund by this month and it should be used for efforts to fight COVID-19. “The monies and grains released under the Pradhan Mantri Gareeb Kalyan Yojana should be disbursed speedily,” he said.
Significantly, he also told the Chief Ministers that volunteers of the National Cadet Corps and the National Service Scheme would also be recruited in the effort to combat COVID-19. “Other than this, crisis management groups should coordinate with as many NGOs as possible and strategies should be shared with all stakeholders as we need everyone’s help at this time,” he said.
Mr. Modi also urged the States that immunity boosting methods used by traditional systems of medicines in India such as Ayurveda should be promoted as fatalities were high among those whose immunity had been compromised. “These are our traditional ways of boosting immunity,” he said pointing to the fact that an advisory by the AYUSH Ministry had been issued in this regard.