Claiming that lockdown is only a “pause button” and not a “solution”, Mr. Gandhi warned that the virus would spread again once the lockdown is removed
Congress leader Rahul Gandhi, on Thursday, urged the government to ramp up the testing for coronavirus. In a virtual press conference, the former Congress president offered various suggestions to the government to tackle the economic impact of the COVID-19 pandemic.
“India’s testing rate is very low at 199 per million so far,” Mr. Gandhi noted urging the government to scale up the testing. “Our average testing has been roughly 350 tests per district. We should be able to ramp up testing. Also, random testing to get a good idea where the virus is moving. I am proposing to scale up testing and do a mapping of how the virus is moving,” he said adding that testing is our main weapon against the virus.
Mr. Gandhi also urged the Prime Minister to empower the chief ministers and district-level authorities. “The approach should be bottom-up,” he said. He also wanted the Centre to disburse more cash to the States at the earliest.
Mr. Gandhi also pitched for the NYAY scheme that was part of Congress manifesto in the 2019 general elections. “Put money in the accounts of the 20% poorest families,” he suggested and sought expansion of dry ration scheme even to those who do not possess ration cards.
Mr. Gandhi also asked the government to form a plan for the MSMEs, which have been shut down due to lockdown. He also urged the government to focus on the public healthcare infrastructure.
“The government should prepare an action plan to ramp up healthcare system including Public Health Centres,” he further suggested.
Claiming that lockdown is only a “pause button” and not a “solution”, Mr. Gandhi warned that the virus would spread again once the lockdown is removed. He also said the Chief Ministers should decide when to relax or remove the lockdown. “We are a decentralised country. The response in Kerala is different from, say, in Uttar Pradesh,” he said.
When asked where the Prime Minister went wrong, Mr. Gandhi replied: “I will give the answer the day we have beaten the coronavirus.”