New Delhi, Mar 21, 2020: Prime Minister Narendra Modi told state chief ministers on Friday the next three to four weeks are crucial in the fight against SARS-Cov-2, which causes Covid-19, asked them to redouble efforts to crack down on the pandemic and assured them of all possible help from the Centre, according to people aware of what happened during the interaction, Hindustan Times reported.
A day after addressing the nation on the issue, and emphasising the importance of social distancing and a Janta Curfew on Sunday, Modi interacted with all chief ministers for the first time on the pandemic through a video conference.
The Prime Minister asked the states to work with the Centre and underlined that India finds itself at a critical milestone in the spread of the virus. He also said there was no need for any panic.
Some chief ministers, including West Bengal CM Mamata Banerjee, requested the government to allow private hospitals to test for and treat the disease as pressure is mounting on the government’s medical establishments.
India’s health ministry plans to allow 51 private laboratories to start testing, although it has not actioned this yet. Health ministry officials also added that they are already in touch with private hospitals and will engage them if the need arises.
Prime Minister Modi said the “threat of the pandemic is common for all states” and added that in this critical time the centre and all states must work together. According to a participant, Modi added that the participation of people is at the core of the success of any strategy.
According to the people, the Prime Minister also spoke of the importance of social distancing and self-isolation. He requested the chief ministers to ensure effective implementation of all health guidelines and talked about the urgent need of capacity building of health care workers and infrastructure.
Apart from the PM, the meeting was attended by all CMs and senior officials of the Prime Minister’s Office (PMO).
Union health secretary Preeti Sudan briefed the CMs about the steps taken so far and added that Modi is personally monitoring India’s response to the crisis.
According to the people, Dr Balram Bhargava, director general of the Indian Council of Medical Research explained how India is currently in “phase 2 of transmission” or infection that originated elsewhere, which allows states to take action to stop the disease reaching phase 3 or community transmission.