Prime Minister Narendra Modi and chief ministers, with their faces covered in masks, spoke to each other for some 90 minutes about the coronavirus and if the national lockdown to prevent the disease should be extended after April 14. Here are 10 points to know about the meeting held through video.
“I am available 24×7. Any chief minister can speak to me and give suggestions (on COVID-19) anytime. We should stand together shoulder-to-shoulder,” Modi told the leaders of states and union territories.
At least 10 states told Modi the lockdown to extend the lockdown, reports NDTV.com. “The decision to continue the lockdown should be taken on a national level.” “If the states decide the length of the lockdown on their own, then the fight against the coronavirus won’t be effective,” said Delhi Chief Minister Arvind Kejriwal.
Punjab chief minister Amarinder Singh recommended extending the national lockdown by at least a fortnight. Odisha was the first to extend the lockdown till April 30 and Punjab followed next. Singh sought Rs 500 crore for quick upgradation of infrastructure of government hospitals in Punjab, which is currently at Stage II of the pandemic and has a large NRI population.
Ahead of the meeting, the West Bengal government imposed a total lockdown in 10 Covid-19 hotspots.
The Health Ministry gave a presentation during the video conference. Pictures released to the media showed giant TV screens showing chief ministers speaking with Modi in turns as they sat in their offices.
Chhattisgarh’s Bhupesh Baghel called for continuing the inter-state ban on inter-state road, rail, air facilities. Karnataka Chief Minister B S Yediyurappa, who attended video conference, said the discussion was regarding “vital strategies” and “actions” to be implemented in the state.
The World Health Organisation (WHO) has warned countries against hastily lifting restrictions which have been put in place to curb the spread of the virus.
According to the Health Ministry, India has 7,447 coronavirus cases till Saturday and the death toll climbed to 239.
Addressing floor leaders of various parties who have representation in Parliament, Modi had on Wednesday made it clear that the lockdown cannot be lifted in one go, asserting that the priority of his government is to “save each and every life”.
Before the lockdown was announced on March 24, the prime minister had interacted with the chief ministers on March 20 to discuss ways and means to check the spread of the novel coronavirus.