Congress president Sonia Gandhi Saturday urged the government to test more samples and ensure an adequate supply of masks and essentials amid an increase in the number of positive novel coronavirus cases in the country.
Hitting out at the Centre over the significantly low number of samples tested, Gandhi said: “We appear to have underutilised our public and private sector capacities”. “In a nation of 130 crore, only 15,701 samples are reported to have been tested so far,” she said, adding “this must change.”
In a statement, the party chief urged the Centre to announce a “comprehensive sector-wise relief package” and sought tax breaks in the wake of the coronavirus pandemic.
She also appealed to people not to panic in view of the coronavirus outbreak and said the country will not bow down to this painful crisis. “In this hour of uncertainty, my unflinching belief is we will overcome this challenge with resilience, determination,” the Congress leader said, adding that “testing is the key to prevention.”
The total number of novel coronavirus (COVID-19) cases in India has climbed to 283, including 22 who have recovered and four deaths, the Health Ministry said in its latest briefing on Saturday.
Suggesting a host of measures in tackling the virus, Gandhi said, “we must begin by testing all cases under surveillance and expand to all other symptomatic cases.”
She also pitched for a special budgetary allocation for enhancing the facilities to combat the virus. “Extraordinary times call for extraordinary measures. A comprehensive, sector-wise relief package needs to be announced forthwith by the government, including necessary tax breaks, interest subvention and deferment of liabilities. For the salaried class, the government and the RBI must consider a deferment of EMIs,” the Congress chief said.
Gandhi’s remarks came hours after her son, Congress leader Rahul Gandhi, called on the central government to announce a huge economic package to help people tide over the crisis.
“Coronavirus is wreaking havoc on our fragile economy. Small, medium businessmen and daily wage workers are the worst affected. Clapping won’t help them. Today, a huge economic package is needed such as cash help, tax breaks and debt repayment. Take quick steps,” the former Congress chief said.
His remarks came days after Prime Minister Narendra Modi called on people to observe ‘Janata Curfew’ on Sunday by not stepping out of homes between 7 am and 9 pm. The Prime Minister had also urged people to thank doctors, media and providers of other essential services for five minutes at 5 pm by ringing bells, clapping or other means.
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