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Sonia offers full support to fight against COVID-19, suggests measures to improve situation

Sonia offers full support to fight against COVID-19, suggests measures to improve situation

New Delhi, Mar 26 (UNI) Congress president Sonia Gandhi, in an open letter to Prime Minister Narendra Modi, on Thursday, said that 21-day nationwide lockdown announced by the latter is a ‘welcome step’ and stated that her party will support and collaborate fully with every step taken by the government to contain the Coronavirus spread.

Stating that “it is imperative for each one of us to rise above partisan interests and honour our duty towards our country and indeed, towards humanity”, Ms Gandhi said she would like to suggest some measures that she believe will help the country to address the massive health crisis we are about to face.

Referring to the Prime Minister’s announcement to allocate Rs 15,000 crore to fight the Coronavirus, including meeting the requirements of doctors, nurses and health professionals, the Congress president said she would like to re-emphasize the urgent need to arm doctors, nurses and health workers with ‘Personal Protection Equipment’ including N-95 masks and hazmat suits.

“Let us ensure the opening and scaling up of manufacture and supply of these items so that not a single health professional faces the predicament of contracting or passing on COVID-19 owing to unavailability of ‘Personal Protection Equipment’.

Announcing a special “Risk Allowance” for doctors, nurses and health workers for a period of six months retrospectively from the March 1, 2020, is imperative. Health Professionals and their support teams risk their lives to work at the frontlines of the battle against COVID-19. I believe we owe it to them to provide every protection and incentive we can”, she said.

Pointing out to the importance to concentrate on hospitals, beds and other related issues, Ms Gandhi said, over the last few weeks, there has been much uncertainty about designated hospitals and their locations, number of beds, isolation chambers, ventilators, dedicated medical teams, medical supplies etc.

'This has been caused by a paucity of information. Disseminating all essential information, including the locations of designated hospitals and their emergency phone line numbers is essential to facilitate management of the pandemic. A dedicated portal for sharing these and all other necessary information is one way forward”, she said.

Stating that even the most advanced and developed healthcare systems in the world are facing an overload of patients and crumbling under the weight of the sheer numbers of affected persons, Ms Gandhi said the Union government could immediately commission and begin construction of temporary facilities with large numbers of ICUs and ventilators in geographical areas where the outbreak is expected to be concentrated in the near future.

“Daily wagers, MGNREGA workers, factory labour, construction and unorganised workers, fishermen, farm labourers and many more form the most vulnerable sections of our society. It has been recently reported that many businesses and companies are laying off and retrenching large numbers of regular and temporary employees. It would be in order for the Union Government to immediately put in place broad based social protection measures including Direct Cash Transfer to these sections to tide over the period of difficulty. I have suggested some such measures in the succeeding points”, she added.

Inviting government’s attention to the farming area, the Congress president said, the 21-day lockdown comes at the peak of the harvesting season.

“The agricultural crop is ready for harvesting in most states by the end of March. With nearly 60 per cent of India’s population being economically dependent on agriculture, it is imperative that the Union government should take necessary steps to enable harvesting and procurement of crops at MSP. This is also the right time to suspend all recoveries from farmers for a period of six months and to consider indebtedness relief liberally”, she added.

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