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Modi says need to accord importance to economy while continuing fight against COVID-19
Lockdown has yielded positive results, country has managed to save thousands of lives: PM
New Delhi, April 27, 2020
Prime Minister Narendra Modi today said social distancing would remain a part of people's lives in the days ahead but there was also a need to accord importance to the economy while continuing the fight against the coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic that has claimed more than 800 lives so far in India.
Interacting with Chief Ministers of all States through a video conference, Modi said the nationwide lockdown, first imposed for 21 days from March 25 and then extended for another 19 days from April 15 till May 3, had yielded positive results as the country had managed to save thousands of lives in the past one and a half months.
The interaction -- his fourth with Chief Ministers after the ones held on March 20, April 2 and April 22 -- was organised to discuss the emerging situation and plan ahead for tackling the pandemic, days ahead of the end of the extended lockdown on May 3.
There is speculation that the Government will draw up a graded exit plan from the lockdown, continuing with many of the restrictions but also announcing some more relaxations in the "green zones" after May 3.
Modi told the Chief Ministers that India's population is comparable to the combined population of several countries. He said the situation in many countries, including India, was almost similar at the start of March.
He said that India had, however, been able to protect many people due to timely measures. At the same time, he warned that the danger from the virus is far from over and constant vigilance was of paramount importance.
The Prime Minister said that the country had seen two lockdowns till now, both different in certain aspects, and now the time had come to think of the way ahead.
He said that, as per experts, the impact of coronavirus would remain visible in the coming months. Reiterating the mantra of "do gaz doori" (two metres distance), he said that masks and face covers would become part of people's lives in the days ahead. He added that under the circumstances, everyone’s aim must be rapid response. He pointed out that many people are self-declaring whether they have cough and cold or symptoms, and that this is a welcome sign.
Stressing the need to give importance to the economy as the fight against the pandemic continued, he spoke about the importance of using technology as much as possible and also utilizing the time to embrace reform measures.
He emphasized the significance of ensuring that more people download the AarogyaSetu app to bolster the efforts of the country in the battle against COVID-19.
"We have to be brave and bring in reforms that touch the lives of common citizens," he said. He also suggested that people associated with universities can be integrated on devising ways to fight the pandemic and strengthen research as well as innovation.
Modi stressed that it was important that states enforce the lockdown guidelines strictly in the identified "hotspots" or red zones. He said the efforts of the states should be directed towards converting the red zones into orange and then green zones.
On the issue of getting back Indians who are overseas, he said that this has to be done keeping in mind the fact that they don’t get inconvenienced and their families are not under any risk. He also urged Chief Ministers to factor in the changes in weather -- the advent of summer and monsoon -- and the illnesses that can potentially come in this season, while strategizing ahead.
Union Home Minister Amit Shah reaffirmed the need to enforce the lockdown strictly so that maximum lives are saved.
According to an official press release, the Chief Ministers praised the leadership of the Prime Minister during this period of crisis, and also highlighted the efforts undertaken by them in containing the virus.
They spoke about the need to keep a close vigil on international borders, and also on addressing the economic challenge and ways to further boost health infrastructure.
The leaders expressed gratitude towards the police force and medical staff for the exemplary work done by them in the fight against COVID-19.