Congress steps up pressure on Modi govt as coronavirus cases spike in India

By: |
March 23, 2020 7:54 PM

The Congress leaders have also raised doubts over the handling of the highly contagious coronavirus and asked the government why it has not been able to provide sufficient personal protective equipment to doctors and other healthcare staff.

Rahul Gandhi shared a report that claimed the Centre continued to export personal protective equipment till March 19 despite the WHO’s advice to nations to maintain proper stock.

The Congress on Monday mounted pressure on the Centre with the number of confirmed coronavirus cases rising substantially in the last couple of days in the country. In its bid to highlight the government’s shortcomings, the party has launched a massive video campaign with state leaders asking Prime Minister Narendra Modi to announce what his government is doing for various sectors that have been badly hit due to the global shutdown.

The Congress leaders have also raised doubts over the handling of the highly contagious coronavirus and asked the government why it has not been able to provide sufficient personal protective equipment — gloves, masks, safety glasses, shoes, respirators, coveralls or full body suits — to doctors and other healthcare staff.

Earlier in the day, former Congress president Rahul Gandhi shared a report that claimed the Centre continued to export personal protective equipment till March 19 despite the WHO’s advice to nations to maintain proper stock. Attacking the government, Gandhi alleged that it was a criminal conspiracy.

Congress media in-charge Randeep Singh Surjewala asked the Prime Minister why the commerce minister and commerce secretary not be sacked for permitting exports of ventilators, surgical masks, face masks, raw material for masks till March 19. “This is criminal as our own doctors, nurses, patients are facing acute scarcity,” he said.

Another senior Congress leader Shashi Tharoor said that there was a need for personal protective equipment for more testing. “We need better protective equipment for our healthcare professionals, more N95 masks, financial & other incentives for doctors and caregivers who are working under the most difficult circumstances.”

So far, the country has reported 415 cases and 7 deaths. Till March 20, this number was just 195 — less than half. With the sudden rise of positive cases, the demand for more testing has also increased. And more testing means more demand for personal protective equipment for frontline healthcare staff including doctors.

However, reports have emerged that at some places, doctors and medical staff are operating without sufficient equipment. Not only this, people have now started demanding a special financial package to fight the corona hit. Tharoor, while commenting on a tweet on financial package, said he today attempted to get Finance Minister “Nirmala Sitharaman to announce a financial package before the Lok Sabha adjourned but none was forthcoming.”

The Congress also questioned the government over the alleged delay in testing. It said for a country of India’s size and demography, the testing of corona should have increased weeks ago. “The government must establish protocols to allow for mass testing to best assess what stage of infection India has reached,” it said in a tweet.

However, the Centre maintains that testing is required only for those who show symptoms. It says testing will be done on a priority basis because there was no point to test everyone and if it was done, then the people who required it the most would have to wait, which would have its own repercussions.

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