India's fight against the novel coronavirus pandemic is driven by its people, Prime Minister Narendra Modi has said, attributing the "success" against the pandemic to the implementation of the nationwide lockdown in its initial phase.
In an address during the virtual meeting of the American Association of Physicians of Indian Origin (AAPI) on Saturday, PM Modi said COVID-19 had been used as an opportunity to work towards making the country self-reliant.
This is for the first time that an Indian prime minister addressed the annual meeting of the AAPI, a representative body of more than 80,000 Indian-American doctors in the US.
Sharing statistics of various countries, PM Modi said India had performed much better in the fight against the coronavirus disease (COVID-19).
"As against the death rate of 350 individuals per million in the US and over 600 per million in European nations like the UK, Italy and Spain, the rate of fatalities in India is less than 12," he said.
"Uttar Pradesh has been remarkably successful in fighting against the coronavirus," PM Modi said. "And the same is the case with several other states as well."
The prime minister attributed this to the support from the people of the country. "Rural parts of the country have largely remained untouched from this pandemic," he said.
Without people's cooperation, PM Modi said, the success would not have been possible in the world's second-highest populated country -- with high density, where the social gathering is a norm of life, large religious and political gatherings are regular, and large-scale interstate migration, India defied the fears of the world''s topmost experts in this regard, according to PM Modi.
India has been able to save the lives of thousands and lakhs of its citizens because of the timely lockdown, he told the Indian-American physicians.
PM Modi said the COVID-19 pandemic had been used as an opportunity to improve the healthcare facilities. "For instance, at the start of the coronavirus, there was only one COVID-19 testing lab. Now there are 1,000, he said.
The prime minister underlined that India, which imported most of its personnel protection equipment (PPE) kits at the start of the pandemic, was now almost self-reliant and in a position to export them.
The country is making more than 30 lakh N95 masks per week. More than 50,000 new ventilators are being made available to the healthcare sector, all made inside the country, he added.
PM Modi said he was proud of the achievements and contribution of the Indian-origin physicians across the world in the battle against COVID-19.
The Indian Ambassador to the US, Taranjit Singh Sandhu, echoed the prime minister and said the early lockdown had helped delay the spread of the deadly virus and save lives.
Appreciating the role of the Indian-American doctors during COVID-19, Sandhu said: "You are the real heroes who have risked your lives and have been out to assist others."
There is widespread recognition of their contributions in the US, he added.