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Prime Minister Narendra Modi on Tuesday appealed to states not to enforce lockdowns except as the last resort and instead use micro containment measures to curb the spread of the pandemic. The PM exhorted the states to try and convince migrant workers to stay back in their workplaces. The workers should be reassured that they would be taken care of, he said.
Addressing the nation late in the evening, the PM observed that if protocol was followed there would be no need for lockdowns and the combination of medicine and discipline could help the nation combat the spread of the virus. The government, he said, was taking steps to ensure that economic activity is not disrupted and that livelihoods were impacted as little as possible.
The decision to inoculate those above 18 from May 1 an allow states and private hospitals to procure vaccines would help, he said. Meanwhile, the government hospitals will continue provide free vaccines for the under-privileged.
The PM said the country today was much better equipped to deal with the pandemic in terms of health infrastructure and added all efforts were being made to provide oxygen to those who needed it. Industrial oxygen is being diverted for medical use, he said, adding the the decisions and steps taken in recent days will help the situation.
“We are fortunate to have a strong pharma sector. Drug companies have increased the production of medicines and we are speeding this up and have had discussions with them. We are taking the help from all companies,” the PM said. “Also we are increasing the number of beds in hospitals,in some cities we are making large Covid hospitals,” the PM said.
Clearly, since last year’s month-long lockdown among other things caused an estimated 8% contraction in gross domestic product (GDP), the government is doubly cautious about avoiding a repeat of such measure this tome round. Stating that the objective of saving lives would have to be met with the least possible adverse effect on the economy and livelihood of people, Modi asked the state governments to keep this motto in mind while determining their response to the second Covid wave.
Earlier in the day, the Supreme Court stayed the Allahabad High Court order that asked the Uttar Pradesh government to impose partial lockdown till April 26 in five major cities in the state amid surge in Covid-19 cases. However, it asked the state government to report to the HC within a week on the steps being taken so far to curb the spread of coronavirus in the state.
Thousands have started leaving cities like Delhi and Mumbai, in the wake of the localised lockdowns imposed by the respective state governments.