Prime Minister Narendra Modi today called upon religious leaders to take the lead in ensuring that their followers strictly adhere to the guidelines issued by the central and state governments in order to contain the spread of the deadly coronavirus. The Prime Minister’s message came in wake of the Nizamuddin Markaz gathering in violation of several government guidelines, turning it into a major hotspot for COVID-19 with links to over 400 positive cases.
“It is my request that a meeting of eminent personalities and religious leaders across all faiths be called on the state level and urge them to take the lead and convince their followers to follow the government’s guidelines on coronavirus. A meeting of such people on the state, district down to the thana levels whould be done immediately,” PM Modi said during a meeting with chief ministers of all states and heads of Union Territories on Thursday.
The Prime Minister stressed that the areas of focus over the next few weeks remain testing, tracing, isolation and quarantine. “It is imperative to work on a war footing, identify COVID-19 hotspots, encircle them, ensure the virus doesn’t spread,” he said during the meeting held through video-conferencing with all Chief Ministers to review the situation and discuss ways to check the spread of coronavirus.
He also asked the states to have a common plan to ensure staggered movement of people once the lockdown period gets over on April 14. “It is important to formulate a common exit strategy to ensure staggered re-emergence of the population once the lockdown ends,” he said and emphasised on the practise of social distancing to break the coronavirus chain. He also asked states to send their suggestions for such an exit strategy.
This was for the second time the PM held a video conference with the Chief Ministers after the spread of coronavirus, and the first after the 21-day lockdown came into force. The Prime Minister had last interacted with the CMs on March 20. The lockdown was enforced on March 24. Today’s meeting was also attended by Defence Minister Rajnath Singh, Home Minister Amit Shah and top bureaucrats.
The Prime Minister also outlined the common goal for the country, saying we should ensure minimum loss of life. He also highlighted the necessity of maintaining supply of essential medical products, availability of raw material for the manufacture of medicines and medical equipment, according to the Prime Minister’s Office (PMO).
The PMO said Union Health Secretary apprised dignitaries of rise in cases in the country, the spread of cases from Nizamuddin incident, preparations to tackle medical cases arising out of further spread of the virus. The Prime Minister also discussed the implementation of Garib Kalyan scheme involving Direct Benefits Transfer (DBT) and foodgrain supply.
Meanwhile, the CMs urged PM Modi to ensure uninterrupted supply of personal protection equipment (PPE) for doctors and health officials. They also raised the issue of funds. The CMs said the revenue collection has dropped due to the 21-day lockdown and requested him for financial help. They sought early payments of arrears.
Meanwhile, the government has identified 20 existing and 22 potential novel coronavirus hotspots in the country. This comes after several people who attended a religious gathering in Delhi’s Nizamuddin area tested positive and travelled across the country, creating a feat that they could be potential carriers of Covid19. The government had earlier identified 10 such critical areas in the country.
According to the Union Health Ministry, the Covid19 cases have crossed 1900-mark in the country after a sudden spike in the last two-three days. Authorities have attributed this spike to the gathering of over 2500 people for a religious event at Delhi’s Nizamuddin. As many as 50 people have lost their lives due to the virus.