PM Modi talks covid preparedness with CMs, says role of states is crucial

Prime Minister on Tuesday held a review meeting on the spread of coronavirus and the preparedness to tackle it in some of the severely affected states and said that the measures taken by the Union and state governments were in the right direction in controlling the pandemic.

The fatality rate was decreasing but there was improvement in the recovery rate every day, Modi told the chief ministers of 10 states through video conferencing. A new mantra that all those who have come in contact with an infected person should be traced and tested within 72 hours is required to tackle the pandemic, he added.

“Almost 80% of active cases are from the participating 10 states and if the virus is defeated in these 10 states, the entire country will emerge victorious in the battle against covid-19,” said the Prime Minister. The number of tests being done everyday was almost 700,000 and is increasing continuously, helping in early identification and containment, he said.

There is an urgent need to ramp up covid-19 testing in Bihar, Gujarat, Uttar Pradesh, West Bengal and Telangana, Modi said. Other state representatives present at the meeting were from Andhra Pradesh, Tamil Nadu, Maharashtra, Punjab and Karnataka.

“Every state is fighting the battle against the challenging situation arising because of the covid-19 pandemic. The role of each and every state is very significant in the overall control of the spread of the disease. The average fatality rate in the country is among the lowest in the world and is continuously going down. The percentage of active cases is reducing, while the recovery rate is increasing,” the PM added. “Containment, contact tracing, and surveillance are the most effective weapons in this battle. People have become aware and are ably assisting these efforts, as a result of which we have been successful in using home quarantine so effectively,” the prime minister asserted.

“We have seen that in some districts of Uttar Pradesh, Haryana, and Delhi, there was a phase when covid-19 became a huge problem. Then we held a review meeting and a committee was formed under the chairmanship of (Union home minister) Amit Shah and to a great extent we achieved the results that we wanted,” Modi said.

Most of the state governments have demanded more funds from the Centre, with Punjab Chief Minister Captain Amarinder Singh and Tamil Nadu Chief Minister Edappadi K. Palaniswami being more vocal in this regard.

“The current cap of 35% in State Disaster Relief Fund (SDRF) for covid-related expenditure, according to the ministry of home affairs’ guidelines, is not sufficient to meet the current requirements. There should be a liberal financial package for states to fill the collection gap caused by the pandemic, and also flexibility on covid-related terms of expenditure in SDRF,” said the Punjab chief minister’s office.

Tamil Nadu said there should be a special grant to the state of 9,000 crore to combat covid-19. “Tamil Nadu may be allocated 9,000 crore special grant to combat covid-19 and its after effects on the state’s economy. The goods and services tax compensation for April-June 2020 may be released early,” Palaniswami said. The CM said that Tamil Nadu had exhausted the State Disaster Response and Mitigation Fund and requested an ad hoc grant of 1,000 crore from the NDRF immediately. Punjab also pointed out that it has faced revenue losses and a liberal financial package was needed.

(Neetu Chandra Sharma contributed to the story)

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