Ahead of Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s meeting with Chief Ministers, the Congress Sunday asked the government to come out with a comprehensive and holistic plan for the next two months, including a calibrated exit strategy for the lockdown. It also asked the government to explain why it is conducting only 39,000 tests a day, against its capacity of one lakh.
“Is there a comprehensive, holistic strategy, which the Union government is going to present to the Chief Ministers. That this is the plan going forth over the next two months. Because on May 3, COVID-19 is not going to disappear. The virus, in the absence of a vaccine, is here to stay and therefore we have to prepare ourselves, we have to prepare our people to live with the virus,” Congress spokesperson Manish Tewari told reporters.
“Under those circumstances, if we have to live with the virus, what is the best strategy, whereby India can cope with this pandemic, which seems to be unremitting and unrelenting in nature at the moment,” he said. Tewari asked the government why a national plan has not been put in place so far and said in the absence of a national plan to deal with disasters or pandemics, states cannot formulate plans to deal with issues post-lockdown.
“We expect that in the meeting tomorrow that the Prime Minister has with the Chief Ministers, we do not hear homilies, but we see a calibrated, clear, pointed and a precision plan that over the next 90 days, what is that Government of India, states and districts are expected to do to deal with COVID-19,” he said.
The Congress also asked whether the rate of random-testing was deliberately kept low at 39,000, despite a capacity of one lakh tests per day. Tewari said India has so far conducted 5.79 lakh tests, which is far below the global average.
“We are given to understand, based on credible, authoritative information that India has the capacity to conduct a hundred thousand tests a day. So, we would like to ask the government why are tests being kept at 39,000? Is there an attempt to either play down the magnitude or is the government unsure that if they go in for testing to the capacity which medical institutions, which are charged with leading this battle, claimed that they have, then they do not have the capacity to be able to deal with its implications,” he said.
Referring to reports that India has only about 3 lakh RNA extraction kits left which is just enough to last about a week, he said, “The government needs to very clearly tell the country that in the last 36 days, how many test kits have been imported or domestically manufactured? How have they been distributed across the states? What has been the demand from different states considering the 60% of India’s cases that are coming in from 10 of its biggest cities?”
📣 The Indian Express is now on Telegram. Click here to join our channel (@indianexpress) and stay updated with the latest headlines