Prime Minister Narendra Modi began the second of his two-part video consultations with various chief ministers on the coronavirus crisis today by stressing on the need to increase testing rates and simultaneously scale up existing health infrastructure, as well as offer support to those facing discrimination because they tested positive for the novel coronavirus.
The Prime Minister, who will interact with some of the worst-affected states and plan for the way forward after the current phase of lockdown ends on June 30 , also pointed to increasing recovery rates - the number of people who fought off the virus - as a sign that the viral outbreak was being contained.
"We need to strengthen health infrastructure so we can treat every infected patient. The recovery rate is increasing but it is also important to stress on increased testing so we can quickly isolate those infected and treat them," he said.
There are over 900 COVID-19 testing labs across the country, the Prime Minister said, adding that there were "millions of COVID special beds, thousands of quarantine and isolation centres and adequate oxygen supplies".
"There is also an emotional aspect of this fight. We also have to make efforts to help people overcome stigma born from fear of infection. The number of people who have recovered is very high and is increasing rapidly. Therefore, if someone has coronavirus, they do not need to panic," the Prime Minister added.
However, the increase in recovery rates - at 52.79 per cent on Wednesday evening, according to the Health Ministry - comes amid a worrying spike in fresh infections.
India reported 10,794 new cases in the preceding 24 hours, the ministry said this morning, taking the total number of cases past the 3.5 lakh-mark. This is the sixth consecutive day in which over 10,000 cases have been reported.
The surge in cases has been particularly high in national capital Delhi and financial capital Mumbai. Delhi has reported nearly 45,000 cases and Mumbai more than 60,000.
PM admitted that the spread of the virus was unequal.
"In some cities, overcrowding, lack of physical distancing, movement of thousands every day... these have made the fight against coronavirus more challenging," he explained.
The Prime Minister also reminded people to wear face masks when outside and use hand-sanitisers frequently to avoid infection.
Praising states for their role in containing the virus, the Prime Minister said the "discipline shown by the people of the country during the lockdown", which came into force in March, had prevented exponential growth of the virus.
On Tuesday, the PM met with the leaders of 20 states to discuss the COVID-19 situation and the road ahead. He said that while economic activity would resume as lockdown restrictions are lifted, the pace of resumption would depend on the spread of infection.
He hailed the fight against the virus as the best example of cooperative federalism".
India has reported over 3.54 lakh COVID-19 cases so far, with 11,903 deaths linked to the virus. It is the fourth worst-affected country in the world, with only the United States, Brazil and Russia worse off.