Congress President Sonia Gandhi
Congress President Sonia Gandhi

Sonia urges state Congress chiefs to work for ramping up coronavirus testing mechanism

ANI | Updated: Apr 10, 2020 23:26 IST

New Delhi [India], April 10 (ANI): Noting that coronavirus testing rates in India continue to be among the lowest in the world, Congress president Sonia Gandhi on Friday urged the state party chiefs to ensure that reliable testing mechanisms were ramped up and made available to every single citizen in a rapid fashion.
Gandhi held a detailed video conference with all Pradesh Congress Committee (PCC) presidents across the nation to chart out a comprehensive strategy to combat and contain the threat of the
COVID-19 in India.
The discussions resulted in the preparation of a 'Corona Action Strategy' across States which aims at utilising the extensive network of Indian National Congress to fight the disease on a war footing.
The discussions lasted over three hours and were held using online virtual meeting tools. The meeting was conducted by General Secretary, Organisation, KC Venugopal.
A Congress press release said that Gandhi noted that the testing rates in India "continue to be amongst the lowest in the world (with roughly 120 tests per million) and the government has been unable to respond expeditiously to meet this requirement."
In keeping with the road map drawn out during the Congress Working Committee meeting held on April 2 and communicated to the Prime Minister, she exhorted the PCC presidents to ensure that reliable testing mechanisms are ramped up and made available to every single citizen in a rapid fashion," the release said.
She said that in light of the Supreme Court's order earlier this week, Congress workers must ensure that it is complied with and "every individual seeking a test is administered one free of cost".
"The Congress would also work to make sure that testing is made available rapidly in any case where the infection is suspected or in cases where an individual is likely to have been in contact with an infected person," the release said.
She also expressed concern that there was still a massive shortfall and deficit in the number of testing centres.
Gandhi urged Congress chiefs to work with stakeholders to devise innovative solutions to address the shortfall.
On the subject of prevention, she urged the PCC presidents to ensure that state governments provide a steady and sufficient supply of personal protective equipment (PPE) -- mask, gloves, coveralls -- especially to frontline workers who are at the gravest risk of infection.
She also requested those present to ensure that state governments work towards identifying and designating separate COVID-hospitals and facilities so that the infection is not transmitted to others.
The Congress President emphasised the necessity of instituting meaningful financial incentives for "corona warriors" and said it was non-negotiable.
She said that doctors, nurses, medical personnel, police, safai karamcharis must be given adequate financial protection both in the form of better insurance and wage support where necessary, in addition to the amount currently allocated.
Noting that economic aspects of the crisis cannot be ignored, she urged state presidents to ensure that their respective state governments were made aware of the economic implications which are likely to match the pandemic in scale and impact.
She urged the state presidents to devise solutions which will leverage the talents and strengths of their respective states and help alleviate the economic devastation that is being predicted.
She also exhorted them to continuously engage with the State Governments, to develop suitable and adequate financial packages for the people. These include allocation and deposit of at least Rs 7500 to each Jan Dhan account, to every small and marginal farmer, to every pensioner and especially to other unorganised sector workers through a mechanism utilising the Direct Benefit Transfer Scheme.
The party said that in addition to the existing entitlements under the Food Security Act, 10 additional kg of free ration per family member for the extended 21 days of lockdown must be provided.
"This increased allocation must be continued thereafter for at least three months. There are also multiple reports coming in that the relief already allocated has not reached several beneficiaries. The Congress workers must ensure that these families are given all support necessary and their plight is brought to the urgent attention of the state governments," the release said.
The release said special attention must be given to small and medium scale enterprises. It called for a special financial package for MSMEs and the labour employed.
"States should ensure that no retrenchment of existing employees takes place by providing such subsidies as may be necessary," the release said.
The party said the central and state governments must ensure fair and remunerative prices for produce to farmers.
The Congress president also discussed the necessity of protecting fellow citizens who are stranded overseas.
The release said that some PCC presidents pointed out that certain states were "deliberately obstructing or preventing Congress workers from carrying out urgent and necessary relief measures." Gandhi said all party workers must remain steadfast in the service of our fellow citizens. (ANI)