Noting that the spread of COVID-19 is more in a few big states and cities, Prime Minister Narendra Modi on Wednesday asked chief ministers to make full use of their state's existing testing capacity and also work to augment health infrastructure.
Speaking to chief ministers and representatives of 14 states and the union territory of Jammu and Kashmir, Modi said big crowds, lack of physical-distancing, daily movement of large number of people and small houses in some cities have made the battle against the coronavirus "more challenging".
This was the second day of Modi's sixth round of consultations with chief ministers on fighting COVID-19 pandemic. Saving lives should be the top priority, he said, and called for expanding health infrastructure, according to a statement.
People's discipline during the nationwide lockdown has stopped the virus' exponential growth, the prime minister said, adding that India is now better placed than earlier vis-a-vis treating patients, health infrastructure and trained manpower.
Citing the details of the boost in capacity to deal with the virus, he asked states to continue to put emphasis on "health Infrastructure, information systems, emotional support and public participation".
Referring to the rise in number of infections, Modi underscored the need for testing, tracking, tracing and isolating COVID-19 patients to deal with the pandemic.
There has been criticism that some states and cities, including Delhi, are not doing enough testing.
The prime minister, however, stated that the number of recovered patients has also been rising, and added that it is a matter of relief that very few patients needed ICU and ventilator care.
Praising efforts of states and local administration, he said the country now has more than 900 COVID-19 testing labs, lakhs of special beds, thousands of isolation and quarantine centres, adequate stocks of testing kits, with over one crore PPEs and almost same numbers of N-95 masks supplied to states.
Despite a rise in coronavirus cases in a few places, people's patience, administration's work and dedication of corona warriors have ensured that things did not go out of control, he said.
Stressing on the importance of providing timely information, the prime minister said it should be ensured that helplines are not "helpless" but helpful for people. He called for building teams of senior doctors and young volunteers to guide patients through telemedicine and run helplines, respectively.
Modi also called for fighting the stigma associated with the disease, saying people should be assured that there is no need to panic if somebody has been infected as the number of those cured is huge.
He highlighted the need to keep reminding people of the benefits of sanitisation, wearing masks and social distancing to fight the virus. He asked states to share their best practices with each other.
Continuing with his consultations with state governments on ways to check the spread of coronavirus during 'unlock 1.0', Modi held consultation with the CMs for the second consecutive day.
Chief ministers of Maharashtra, Delhi, Karnataka, Gujarat, Uttar Pradesh and Bihar were among those who attended the meeting on Wednesday. It assumed importance as some of these states account for a majority of the cases in the country.