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Limit of using SDRF for COVID-specific infrastructure raised to 50%: Modi
New Delhi, September 24, 2020
Keeping in view the need to keep fighting the COVID-19 pandemic, Prime Minister Narendra Modi has stated that the limit of using the State Disaster Response Fund (SDRF) for COVID-specific infrastructure has been raised to 50% from the earlier 35%.
This decision will help the States to have more finances at their disposal to fight the virus, Modi said.
The Prime Minister was interacting with Chief Ministers of Andhra Pradesh, Maharashtra, Karnataka, Delhi, Punjab, Tamil Nadu and Uttar Pradesh yesterday via video conferencing to review the status and response to the pandemic.
Secretary, Ministry of Health and Family Welfare Rajesh Bhushan gave a detailed presentation, which mentioned that these seven States account for 62% of active cases in the country and approximately 77% of the deaths due to COVID. The presentation highlighted the districts of concern in terms of case trajectory, tests conducted, fatality and sample positivity rate in these states.
While the number of cases was increasing, he said India was also conducting more than 10 lakh tests daily and the number of patients recovering was fast increasing. He stressed the need to further strengthen the health infrastructure to tackle COVID, improve the network of tracking and tracing and ensure better training.
He exhorted the States to assess the efficacy of local lockdowns of 1-2 days in controlling the spread of the virus, asking if the decision was preventing kickstart of economic activities in the States. “The country needs to not only keep fighting the virus but also move ahead boldly on the economic front,” he added.
Noting that September 23 marked the second anniversary of Ayushman Bharat Pradhan Mantri Jan Aarogya Yojana, he said in these two years, more than 1.25 crore poor patients had received free treatment under the scheme. He lauded the doctors and medical staff who were continuously engaged in serving the poor.
He stressed the need to increase focus on effective testing, tracing, treatment, surveillance and clear messaging. Noting that effective messaging was necessary due to the asymptomatic nature of the infection which may lead to doubts about the efficacy of tests, he also emphasised developing the habit of using masks.
The Prime Minister underlined the importance of ensuring the smooth movement of goods and services between States. He noted the difficulties faced by some States recently in procuring oxygen supply, adding that ensuring the availability of medical oxygen was of utmost importance. He also talked about facilitating movement to ensure availability of medicines across States.
In state-wise review, the Prime Minister said that coordination between the people and the Andhra Pradesh Government has resulted in the condition becoming better in the State. He expressed the hope that the State will continue to keep up effective testing and tracking. He called for the development of a robust system of regular monitoring of patients in home isolation.
Stressing the importance of saving every life, Modi said a special focus was needed in 20 districts of Maharashtra with a greater number of cases. He suggested increasing RT-PCR testing in the State to five times the current level.
Karnataka had developed a scientific mechanism of tracing and tracking, which has proved to be of immense benefit to the State. He noted that nine districts of the State had a high fatality rate, which needs urgent attention. He suggested increasing RT-PCR testing to three times of the current level, effective surveillance and contract tracing, along with focussing on behaviour change with regards to mask and sanitation.
Talking about the situation in Delhi, he said that with the combined effort of the people, the State government and the Central government, the situation was brought under control. He stressed on increasing RT-PCR tests and also conducting these tests for all symptomatic people who have tested negative through Antigen test.
He noted that while Punjab had initially managed to control the infection, now most deaths due to COVID are happening in the State, a big reason for which is the delay in patients reaching hospitals. He said that the State needs to come up with an awareness campaign to tackle the challenge. He expressed faith that the State will be able to bring down test positivity rate and case fatality rate.
Tamil Nadu has come up as an example worth emulating, with its strategy of large scale testing and tracing, which has resulted in stabilization and reductions of daily cases. He noted that a greater focus on reducing case fatality rate is needed in seven districts of the State. For telemedicine, the State has made good use of the e-Sanjeevani application and added that the experience of Tamil Nadu will prove beneficial for other States as well.
Noting that Uttar Pradesh was the most populous State and witnessed the return of a huge number of labourers, the Prime Minister said the State still managed to effectively control the situation through widening the testing net. He expressed faith that the State will further strengthen contact tracing on a war footing. He noted that there were 16 districts in the State where more than 100 cases are being reported daily, adding that mapping of infected regions and greater focus is necessary, along with continuously making people aware of using masks and maintaining ‘Do Gaz Doori’.
In the meeting, Home Minister Amit Shah noted that the country strengthened its health infrastructure during the lockdowns to fight the virus. Both the States as well as Districts need to be prepared and ready to fight the virus. Guidelines will soon be framed, for which inputs received during the meeting will prove handy.
An official press release said the Chief Ministers appreciated the leadership of the Prime Minister during this crisis period. They gave feedback about the situation on the ground and talked about the challenges being faced by their States in controlling the spread of the virus and the preparation done till now to meet the expanding challenges by ramping up health infrastructure.
They also recounted the efforts by their governments to destigmatize and create public awareness, efforts undertaken to contain fatality rate, starting post-COVID clinics, increase in testing and other such measures undertaken by them.