Prime Minister Narendra Modi on Thursday said the country does not need a lockdown to tackle the COVID-19 menace anymore as it has the infrastructure required to deal with the pandemic. Addressing a meeting of the chief ministers on the current situation of the coronavirus, he said, “Earlier we did not have the infrastructure to deal with the pandemic and we had to use lockdown as a tool…but today we do not need a lockdown.”
“There is a need to improve the governance system. I understand that because of the one-year battle, the system can experience tiredness and there can be laxity, but we must tighten it for 2-3 weeks and strengthen the governance,” he said.
However, the prime minister made it clear that the situation is grim, especially in certain states including Maharashtra, Gujarat, Chhattisgarh, Punjab, and warned the people against laxity in following the COVID-19 norms. The daily count of positive cases has reached a new record high of over 1.26 lakh, despite having dipped to about 20,000 a few weeks back.
“This is a matter of concern, especially the fact that people are taking this lightly…even the administration in certain states have been lacking in their commitment,” he said.
Highlighting the issues of concern that need special attention, Modi said, “First, the country has crossed the peak of the first wave, and this time the growth rate is faster than before.”
“Second, many states including Maharashtra, Chhattisgarh, Punjab, Madhya Pradesh and Gujarat have also crossed the first wave peak. Some other states are also moving towards this. This is a matter of concern for all of us,” he said.
He also pointed out people’s disregard for the restrictions and emphasised on the need to again raise awareness about the importance of wearing a mask and following COVID-19 safety protocols.
However, the prime minister projected a positive outlook and said that the country can bring down the active number of coronavirus cases, as it has done before.
Modi asked the chief ministers to increase testing and track asymptomatic patients. “We have to make an effort to bring down the positivity rate to below 5 per cent.”
“I appeal to you all to stress on COVID-19 testing. Our target is to do 70% RT-PCR tests. Let the number of positive cases come high, but do maximum testing. Proper sample collection is very important, it can be checked through proper governance,” he told the chief ministers.
“We have to focus on ‘Test, Track, Treat’, COVID appropriate behaviour and COVID management,” the prime minister went on to say. Along with public participation, our hard-working doctors and health-care staff have helped a lot in handling the situation and are still doing it, he said.
“During our discussion, we raised the issue of mortality rate, we have to make sure it remains as low as possible. We should have comprehensive data about patients illnesses etc. This will help save their lives,” Modi said.
In a bid to keep reminding people of the still prevalent coronavirus pandemic, the prime minister asked the states to use the term ‘corona curfew’ in place of night curfew. “We must concentrate on micro-containment zones. In places where night curfew has been imposed, I would urge to use the word ‘Corona Curfew’, to continue alertness about coronavirus. It will be better to start curfew timing from 9pm or 10pm till 5am or 6am,” he said.
At a high-level meeting with senior officials, Prime Minister Modi had on Sunday reviewed the COVID-19 situation and vaccination exercise in the country amid the “alarming rate of growth” in infections and deaths. Modi had said the five-fold strategy of testing, tracing, treatment, COVID-appropriate behaviour and vaccination, if implemented with utmost seriousness and commitment, would be effective in curbing the spread of the pandemic, according to an official statement that was released after the meeting.
Stressing on the importance od contract tracing, the prime minister said that at least 30 contacts of a positive case must be traced, tested and quarantined, preferably within first 72 hours. Similarly, boundaries of containment zone should be clear.
The Prime Minister requested the States for 100 per cent vaccination of 45 plus population in the high focus districts. The Prime Minister called for ‘Teeka Utsav’ – Vaccination Festival between April 11, Jayanti of Jyotiba Phule and April 14 Jayanti of Baba Saheb Ambedkar.