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CWC Calls For Urgently Scaling Up Coronavirus Testing, Says Centre Has Followed Flawed Strategy

The party said the government has erred in adopting a strategy of limited testing for containment and treatment of coronavirus.

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The Congress Working Committee (CWC) on Thursday asked the Centre to urgently scale up testing for coronavirus, saying it has followed "a flawed strategy" and that lockdown is futile unless there is extensive testing.

A statement issued by the CWC after the meeting held through videoconferencing, also alleged that the government has "miserably failed" to provide adequate livelihood support to the poor and the financial package it announced on March 25 was "miserly, hopelessly inadequate" and left out several vulnerable sections of the people. The party said the financial action plan of the government failed to instil confidence among the poor and the people "witnessed the tragic spectacle of thousands of migrant workers desperately trying to go back to their villages by any means whatsoever including on foot."

"That spectacle will forever remain a blot on the Modi government," the party said.
It demanded a second financial action plan to reassure the poor and provide support to the sections that were left out including farmers, tenant farmers, landless agricultural workers, MGNREGA workers without MGNREGA work, laid-off industrial workers and Jan Dhan account holders.

The party said the government has erred in adopting a strategy of limited testing for containment and treatment of coronavirus.

"A lockdown or any other kind of restrictions is futile unless it is accompanied by extensive testing. It is extensive testing that has yielded results in some countries. Inexplicably, we have not put to full use even our limited testing capacity. The flawed strategy must be revised and testing must be scaled up urgently," reads the statement.

The Central government announced a 21-day countrywide lockdown on March 24 to contain the spread of coronavirus.

The CWC said the government must simultaneously undertake massive production and procurement of Personal Protection Equipment (PPE), Hazmat suits, body overalls, goggles, gloves, N-95 masks, ventilators, etc., and make them widely available to doctors, nurses, health
workers as also hospitals and all other personnel.

It said medical infrastructure should be expanded on a war-footing with more isolation wards, hospital beds, testing labs and quarantine facilities.

"The supply of drugs must be maintained at pre-February levels and all drug stores must be directed and facilitated to function for an adequate number of hours a day," the party said.
The CWC said Congress president Sonia Gandhi had written to Prime Minister Narendra Modi for immediate transfer of Rs 7500 to every Jan Dhan Account, every PM Kisan Account to tide over the 21-day crisis and this suggestion should be immediately accepted by the government.

The party sought a cut in GST rates for three months on goods of mass consumption and mandatorily postponing tax payment deadlines and EMI dates to June 30, 2020, and beyond. It also sought reversal of government decision to reduce interest rates on PPF and small savings.
The party said the supply of 10 kg free ration to every individual through the public distribution system (PDS) for the 21-day lockdown period needs to be implemented.

"It is the foremost duty of the government to ensure shelter, rent relief, wages and food to the poor. The NYAY scheme (minimum income guarantee scheme) put forward by the Congress offers a useful model that can be adapted and implemented," the party said.

Noting that wheat and other rabi crops were ready for harvest in the north and central India, the CWC said if harvesting and procurement at minimum support price does not take place soon, it would put food security of India under a question mark.

"The onus lies on the central government to gear up procurement through FCI and other agencies and ensure remunerative prices for the farmers," the CWC said.

The party said that supply chains to crores of people, especially those living in towns, cities and remote villages, "have been severely disrupted by poor preparation and thoughtless orders and notifications".

"If people have to survive in a lockdown, these supply chains must be immediately restored and maintained throughout the period of restrictions," the party said.

"Each step, though small, will bring significant comfort to the people in these difficult and stressful times," the CWC said. (ANI)


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