PM: Centre, states need to work together to combat critical phase of tackling COVID-19

New Delhi, March 20: Prime Minister Narendra Modi on Friday asserted that India is in a critical phase of tackling the spread of coronavirus, adding that the states and Centre must work together to combat the pandemic. Interacting with chief ministers of all states via video conferencing to discuss measures to combat COVID-19, the PM added that there is no need to panic.

The PM said that the threat of the pandemic is common for all states and underscored the need of Centre and all states working together. He said that while participation of citizens is necessary to combat the challenge, but panic needs to be avoided. He added that given the global context of the spread of the virus in various countries, constant vigilance is of paramount importance.

He said that the next 3-4 weeks are crucial in efforts to contain the spread of the virus, and the most important measure for containment is ‘social distancing’. He requested the Chief Ministers to ensure effective implementation of the same.

Health Secretary, Government of India, Preeti Sudan informed about the steps taken till now to contain the spread of the virus and mentioned how the Prime Minister has personally monitored and supervised the efforts thus far. She gave an overview of ongoing cooperation with states, monitoring of international passengers, use of community surveillance to track spread, logistics of testing facilities, travel restrictions and evacuation of Indian citizens from abroad.

Dr Balram Bhargava, DG of ICMR, said that India is currently in phase 2 of transmission, emphasizing that at present India is in the window for taking action to minimize the risk of transmission of phase 3. He talked about the importance of judicious use of health facilities and need to focus on ramping up quarantine facilities and isolation wards.

The Chief Ministers thanked the Prime Minister for the support given by the Centre to the states in combating COVID-19 and also appreciated the impact of Prime Minister’s message in his address to the nation.

The Chief Ministers briefed the Prime Minister and others about the preparations done till now. During the course of their presentations, they requested for augmentation of testing facilities, greater support to vulnerable sections, the advancement of financial disbursement for 2020-21 to the states and requested for roping in private labs and hospitals in larger numbers.

All the Chief Ministers assured their support and reaffirmed that all states will work together with the Centre to combat the pandemic.

Prime Minister appreciated the steps taken by the states and thanked them for sharing their experiences and giving suggestions. He talked about the urgent need for capacity building of healthcare workers and augmentation of healthcare infrastructure. He suggested that the Chief Ministers should do a video conference with trade bodies in their states to prevent black marketing and undue price rise. He urged them to use soft power of persuasion as well as legal provisions, wherever necessary.

Prime Minister said that the COVID-19 Economic Task Force set up by Government of India will formulate the strategy to devise a suitable approach to effectively tackle the economic challenge. He urged the Chief Ministers to ensure that all necessary steps are taken and all advisories are adhered to in order to ensure the safety of citizens in the country at large. No stone should be left unturned in our common endeavours to fight COVID-19.