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Focus on testing, tracing, quarantine

Focus on testing, tracing, quarantine

New Delhi: Prime Minister Narendra Modi on Thursday told Chief Ministers to focus on COVID-19 containment measures — testing, tracing, isolation and quarantine — in the next few weeks with a common goal to ensure minimum loss of life, and pitched for formulating a staggered exit strategy from the ongoing lockdown.

As the country witnessed a spike in Coronavirus infections and deaths in the past few days, the Prime Minister held a meeting with Chief Ministers via video-conferencing and said it was imperative to work on a war footing, identify hotspots, encircle them and ensure that Coronavirus does not spread out.

Reiterating the importance of social distancing in preventing the spread of the virus, Modi asked the states to brainstorm and send suggestions on the lockdown exit strategy. "The Prime Minister outlined that the common goal for the country is to ensure minimum loss of life. In the next few weeks, testing, tracing, isolation and quarantine should remain the areas of focus," the statement said.

The states spoke about the importance of mobilising resources, financial as well as medical, to mitigate the crisis, the statement said.

Union Health Secretary Preeti Sudan spoke about the rise in a number of cases in India, the spread of cases from the Nizamuddin headquarters of Tablighi Jamaat, preparations to tackle medical cases arising out of the further spread of the virus, and need to break the transmission chain in the districts with a high number of confirmed cases.

During the interaction, the Prime Minister forewarned that the global situation remains far from satisfactory.

He informed the participants about speculations of a "possible second wave" of the spread of the virus in some countries.

He also highlighted the necessity of maintaining a supply of essential medical products, availability of raw material for the manufacture of medicines and medical equipment.

Modi said it is necessary to ensure the availability of separate, dedicated hospital facilities for COVID-19 patients.

He said it is pertinent to maintain peace and law and order across the country.

He appealed to the leaders to reach out to community heads and social welfare organisations at the state, district, town and block levels to build up a united front based on community-approach in the battle against the pandemic.

To increase the availability of doctors, he asked the states to tap into the resource pool of AYUSH doctors, organise online training and utilise para-medical staff, National Cadet Corps and National Social Service volunteers.

Modi also thanked the states for supporting the decision of lockdown due to which India has achieved some success in limiting the spread of COVID-19.

He praised how all the states have worked together as a team to check the spread of the virus.

Underscoring the importance of coordinated action and the need to avoid overlaps in efforts of stakeholders, the Prime Minister talked about the need of setting up "Crisis Management Groups" at the district level and appointment of District Surveillance Officers.

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