Virtually calling for an end to the ongoing COVID-19 lockdown as it has vastly affected the livelihoods of people, Andhra Pradesh Chief Minister Y S Jagan Mohan Reddy on Monday appealed to the Centre to take a relook into the current containment strategy and shift towards preparing people to "live with the virus".
Addressing the videoconference Prime Minister Narendra Modi had with Chief Ministers, Jagan pointed out that Coronavirus had become such a "stigmatic subject" that it led to "social ostracisation" of families of infected persons.
"This has resulted in people not coming forward to report symptoms, which defeats the entire purpose of testing and identifying infected people," the Chief Minister said.
The current containment strategy of delineating an area as a containment cluster and that of institutional quarantining must be re-looked and "we may move towards a strategy of public awareness, self-reporting of symptoms, testing, treatment and self-isolation", he said.
"First and foremost, the stigma over Corona positive persons has to end," the Chief Minister stressed.
Creating awareness that in 97 per cent cases the virus was curable and only mild symptoms would occur in 85 per cent of cases could erase the stigma.
He emphasized the need to make people "prepare themselves to live with coronavirus" till a vaccine was produced.
The Chief Minister also said awareness has to be built on social distancing, use of masks and hand sanitizers and maintaining general hygiene needing priority in these times.
"Standard Operating Procedures need to be evolved for workplaces, manufacturing units and public places, including markets. "We need to prepare ourselves for the reopening of educational institutions also," the Chief Minister added.
He told Modi that continuous lockdown on inter-state movement of people and goods has had a very negative effect on the economy, as these were essential for the manufacturing sector to achieve economies of scale.
Though goods transport was allowed, there were "large obstructions" as many states have been enforcing stricter measures on such movements.
"Already my state has suffered heavily as manufacturing has come to a standstill and the agriculture sector is not able to achieve value addition as markets across the country are closed down and, we being net surplus in most agricultural commodities, are facing the brunt, the Chief Minister said.
He called for complete removal of restrictions on inter-state transport of goods by all states.
The Chief Minister also wanted all restrictions on public transport across states lifted and free movement of people, particularly those attending work, be allowed.
Stressing the need to ramp up health care infrastructure up to the village level and highlighting his governments endeavours in this regard, Jagan sought the Centres support to take the Rs 16,000 crore programme forward.
This objective can be easily achieved if the centre could, apart from part funding, support the state by way of interest-free or low interest loans with long-term repayment period, he said.
Jagan suggested that such loans be excluded from the FRBM Act limits so as to give the state the flexibility in ensuring other sectors also do not face fund crunch (in this time of economic crisis).
"After six weeks of lockdown, we need to look back at what we have learnt and how we need to move further. I urge you, sir, to consider the above suggestions while relaxing the lockdown measures to ensure all citizens go back to their normal life and symptomatic persons are handled by the health system for the country to get back on track," Jagan said.