Focus on testing, tracing, quarantine: PM tells CMs

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Prime Minister Narendra Modi on Thursday told chief ministers to focus on COVID19 containment measures – testing, tracing, isolation and quarantine – in the next few weeks with a common goal to ensure minimum loss of life, and pitched for formulating a “staggered” exit strategy from the ongoing lockdown.

As the country witnessed a spike in coronavirus infections and deaths in the past few days, the prime minister held a meeting with chief ministers via video-conferencing, and said it was imperative to work on war footing, identify hotspots, encircle them and ensure that coronavirus does not spread out. According to an official statement, Modi also pitched for formulating a common exit strategy to ensure “staggered re-emergence of the population” once the 21-day nationwide lockdown ends on April 14.

Reiterating the importance of social distancing in preventing the spread of the virus, which has infected over 1,950 people and caused at least 50 deaths, Modi asked the states to brainstorm and send suggestions on the lockdown exit strategy. “The prime minister outlined that the common goal for the country is to ensure minimum loss of life. In the next few weeks, testing, tracing, isolation and quarantine should remain the areas of focus,” the statement said.

The states spoke about the importance of mobilising resources, financial as well as medical, to mitigate the crisis, the statement said.

Union Health Secretary Preeti Sudan spoke about the rise in number of cases in India, spread of cases from the Nizamuddin headquarters of Tablighi Jamaat, preparations to tackle medical cases arising out of further spread of the virus, and need to break the transmission chain in the districts with high number of confirmed cases.

During the interaction, the prime minister forewarned that the global situation remains far from satisfactory.

He informed the participants about speculations of a “possible second wave” of spread of the virus in some countries.

He highlighted the necessity of maintaining supply of essential medical products, availability of raw material for manufacture of medicines and medical equipment.

Defence Minister Rajnath Singh and Home Minister Amit Shah were also present at the interaction.