- PM Modi held a video conference on COVID-19 today
- "Important to form exit strategy after lockdown ends": PM
- Nine chief ministers, Amit Shah, others participated in meeting
The centre and states must have a common plan to ensure staggered movement of people after the national lockdown ends, Prime Minister Narendra Modi said today at a video-conference with Chief Ministers on coronavirus which, he remarked, was threatening our way of life.
"It is important to formulate a common exit strategy to ensure staggered re-emergence of the population once the lockdown ends," PM Modi emphasised, according to a statement giving details of the interaction. He asked states to send their suggestions for such an exit strategy.
The PM also said it "can't be business as usual" after the lockdown and certain safeguards would have to be taken, according to the statement. States must enforce the lockdown "seriously", he said, urging them to stick to social distancing.
States were asked to "work on war footing, identify virus hotspots and encircle them" to contain the infection. The focus for the next few weeks must be testing, tracing, isolation and quarantine, the Prime Minister told states.
The goal, he said, was to ensure minimum loss of life, and observed that the global situation was "far from satisfactory" with speculation of a second wave in some countries.
Nine chief ministers participated in the meeting, which was conducted by Home Minister Amit Shah. PM Modi, Mr Shah and other ministers sat far apart from one another inside a large hall.
According to some chief ministers, there was no response to their request for more funds to fight the virus.
PM Modi ordered a total national lockdown for 21 days on March 24 and said it was necessary to break the chain of transmission of the highly contagious disease, which has infected close to a million worldwide.
The announcement led to a scramble for essential supplies and over the next few days, thousands of migrant workers abruptly left without jobs or shelter, started walking home. The movement on the roads presented a frightening spectacle at a time social distancing is crucial to avoid infection.
The PM, in his radio show on Sunday, apologised for what he called a tough decision necessary to fight coronavirus.
India has over 2,000 coronavirus cases including 53 deaths.
During the video conference, PM Modi and the leaders also discussed contact tracing of hundreds who attended an Islamic sect meeting in Delhi's Nizamuddin linked to nearly 400 coronavirus cases.