Biggest weapon against virus is Testing. Testing at a scale, to know where the virus is moving, so you can isolate & fight it : Rahul Gandhi

Excerpts from Congress Leader Rahul Gandhi’s Press Conference today

  • I’ll be making some remarks today and they should not be taken in the spirit of criticism but of constructive support and advice.
  • We are in a very serious situation, that is clear and I think all political parties have to work together and the people of India have to work together if we want to solve this problem and defeat this virus.
  • Over the last couple of months, I have been speaking to a large number of experts in India, abroad, in govt & outside govt who have a very good understanding of what is going on, so whatever I will say will be based on these conversations.

First thing to understand is that a lockdown is like a pause button, it’s in no way a solution to Coronavirus. When we come out of lockdown, virus will start its work again. So, it’s important that we have a strategy to come out of lockdown

  • Lockdown allows time & space to put in medical resources: ramp up testing abilities, prepare hospitals, get ventilators. A misconception that I want to clear is, in no way does a lockdown defeat the virus, it stops the virus for sometime.
  • Biggest weapon against virus is testing. Testing at a scale so you know where the virus is moving & you can isolate & fight the it. Our testing rate is 199/million & if you look at all tests that have been done it’s an avg of 350/district.
  • One advice to Govt, it’s something I’ve been saying time & again, push testing aggressively, maximise testing & use it strategically. Use testing to assist states in their fight, not just to track patients but to see where virus is moving.
  • Our strength to fight Covid-19 is at state & district level. Success in Wayanad has been due to district level machinery. So I suggest that fight against Covid should not be top-down but bottom-up. Prime Minister should empower states.
  • MPLAD is not a core issue in this situation, but it is important to fight together. Our focus should be on the exact use of our resources.
  • Let’s forget what has happened so far with testing. But we are in an emergency situation now. So all of India needs to fight this together. We have to work not by adopting weak methods but with a strategy.
  • Lockdown has not solved the problem but has postponed the situation instead. Therefore to continue the fight, give GST to States, discuss with the States. This direction is still needed.
  • The speed with which the money should reach the States is not happening. The fight against Coronavirus is on two fronts – medical and economic.

There will be a shortage of food but there’s plenty of storage in the warehouse. Give food to the poor and include those as well who do not have ration cards. Create a way for food safety

  • Like the NYAY scheme, give money directly to 20% of the poor because they are facing difficulties. Use some other name instead of NYAY.
  • People are becoming unemployed and it is going to get worse. Prepare packages for SMEs who can employ people as well as packages for big companies.
  • It is important to focus on the strategy after lockdown. What will be the strategy for testing? How will you prepare PHC and hospital? Because, the cases will increase after lockdown. Action should not be delayed.
  • I am sad that the food grains in the warehouse did not reach the people. SMEs should know what is being done for them.
  • It should be a strategic opening. So you open certain key areas and use testing to identify hotspots. This is where ramping up testing is important, to dynamically identify the hotspots.
  • When you lock people up, the disease gets locked up and when you open the door, the disease comes rushing out.
  • You will have to set up structures and manage your funding. If you spend all your money now, and then you have a financial crisis, hence you need to think and move strategically.
  • You certainly have to spend a significant amount of money for protection of people. For us, life is most important & we simply cannot let our people be under these circumstances. We have to protect them & also not destroy our economy.

COVID-19 cannot be controlled, it has to be dynamically managed. If you manage it properly, you will be able to fight it but if you try and control it, you won’t be able to

  • On the migrant issue, certain mistakes were made with the sudden lockdown which created a problem. We have a lot of migrants who are stuck and it will become a bigger problem.
  • Migrant workers issue has be acted upon otherwise there is a possibility of social unrest.
  • The Govt has to respond to migrant workers quickly. If they are coming our there is a valid reason for it. They have to be rteated with compassion.
  • I have been an MP in UP & Kerala & I can tell you that the response has been completely different in Kerala than in UP. The results are different, way of working is different. So you need to give more power to the CMs.
  • In my view, Centre needs to control main arteries & national system but States needs to control their areas. If Chhattisgarh needs a more nuanced lockdown or if UP wants a total lockdown, the choice should be given to the CMs.
  • We have stock of food grains. My view is that the Govt has to distibute – 10kgs of Wheat / Rice, 1 kg pulses, 1 kg Sugar per week. There are several people without ration cards, a mechanism should be worked out to reach them.
  • We should be more liberal with the financial support being extended. The money that is being given is no way adequate we have to significantly improve.

I might be disagreeing with PM Modi on several issues but this is not the time for disagreement. We should be united in our fight against the Virus

  • To a question whether there will be a structual change in Indian democracy post corona, @RahulGandhi said That is a real possibility.
  • The Congress party and I will be putting forth constructive suggestions to the Govt. It is for the Govt to take it or leave it. There is now room for fear. India will easily overcome the virus that, just that we have to stay united and fight it.

Source : @INCIndia

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