The situation in the country is akin to a “social emergency” and it has necessitated tough decisions, Prime Minister Narendra Modi told political leaders on the COVID-19 outbreak as he asserted that his government’s priority is to “save each and every life”.
Interacting with floor leaders of opposition and other parties in Parliament via video conferencing on Wednesday, Modi said, “We must continue to remain vigilant.”
“The situation in the country is akin to a social emergency…it has necessitated tough decisions and we must continue to remain vigilant,” the prime minister told the leaders, according to an official statement.
States, district administrations and experts have suggested extension of the ongoing lockdown beyond April 14 to contain the spread of the virus, Modi said.
He said that the priority of the government is saving each and every life.
Modi told the leaders that the country is facing “serious economic challenges as a result of COVID-19, and the government is committed to overcoming them.”
The leaders who attended the virtual meet talked about boosting the health and morale of the healthcare workers, ramping up testing facilities, the need to assist smaller states and UTs, and tackling the challenges of hunger and malnutrition.
They also spoke about economic and other policy measures to boost the country’s capability in the battle against the pandemic, the statement said.
Suggestions were also given by the leaders on extending the lockdown, and on a “phased exit” after the lockdown ended.
The leaders provided feedback, suggested policy measures, discussed the 21-day lockdown and the way forward, according to the statement.
They thanked the prime minister for the meeting, appreciated the timely measures taken by him and said that the “entire country is standing united behind him during the crisis”, the statement said.
During the interaction, Modi underlined the impact of the emerging situation, as witnessed in resource constraints.
“Yet, India has been among the few nations to control the pace of spread of the virus till now,” the statement said.
The prime minister noted that in these changing circumstances, the country should simultaneously try to bring about a change in its work culture and working style.
He said that the country witnessed “constructive and positive politics” through the coming together of all sections of polity to present a united front in the battle against the pandemic.
Modi also praised the sense of belonging, discipline, dedication and commitment with which people are contributing in the endeavour, “be it in following social distancing, janta curfew or the lockdown”.
He was of the view that “the present situation is an epoch changing event in mankind’s history and we must evolve to counter its impact.”
The death toll due to the novel coronavirus rose to 149 and the number of cases climbed to 5,194 in the country on Wednesday, according to the Union Health Ministry.
The prime minister praised the efforts of state governments working together with the Centre in this fight against the pandemic.
Top officials of the government of India gave detailed presentations on steps being taken to meet the emerging challenges, including status of distribution of benefits under the Prime Minister Garib Kalyan Yojana.
Modi thanked the leaders for their constructive suggestions and feedback, adding that their commitment to assist the government in this battle reaffirms the democratic foundations of the country and the spirit of cooperative federalism.