PM: The world has said we have been successful against Covid-19

In fifth video conference with chief ministers, Narendra Modi expresses concern epidemic spread to rural areas

New Delhi: Prime minister Narendra Modi spoke for six hours with chief ministers in his fifth such video conference and made it clear that the emphasis at this juncture was two-fold: it was no longer only about containing the coronavirus pandemic but also about rebooting the economy which has gone to sleep.

The coronavirus case count was not looking good at 67,000 when the videoconference began, and by the time it ended, it had gone past 70,000. Deaths reached 2,294 by nightfall Monday, and it was clear that while the 54-day countrywide lockdown may be reaching the end, the peak of the pandemic was yet a few weeks away in India.

“We have a twofold challenge,” said the PM, “to reduce the transmission rate of the disease and to increase public activity gradually while adhering to all the guidelines — and we will have to work towards achieving both these objectives.”

The task for the state governments, however, is additionally difficult now given the massive movement of migrant workers taking place across India amid reports from several places that many workers in transit are now testing positive for the virus.

Modi told the chief ministers, “We must realise that the fight against Covid-19 has to be more focused now. The main focus of the fight against Covid-19 pandemic should be on ensuring that rural India remains free from the crisis.

The PM implicitly acknowledged that not everything went according to plan during the three phases of the lockdown, which began on March 25. “We stressed that people should stay where they are. But it’s human nature to want to go home and so we had to modify or change our decisions. Despite that, we have to make sure that the disease doesn’t spread and go to villages, that’s our big challenge.”

Modi took satisfaction that “in this entire fight, the world has said that we have been successful in fighting the threat of Covid-19.”

The PM said everyone must understand that the world has fundamentally changed post COVID-19 and the world would be know referred to as “pre-corona” and “post-corona”, as was the case with the world wars.

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