PM Narendra Modi holds a virtual meeting with Chief Ministers of eight States. Home Minister Amit Shah is also seen. (PTI)
NEW DELHI :
NOTING that alertness has given way to “widespread” negligence about COVID-19 among people, Prime Minister Narendra Modi on Tuesday said a few States have seen a surge in the infection in the same way as many countries witnessed after an earlier decline and asked Chief Ministers to focus on bringing down positivity and fatality rates by curbing the virus transmission. India has come out of the “deep sea” of this crisis after the world had thought that it will find it difficult to deal with the pandemic and the country is now moving towards the shores, he said, while using a famous verse to call for avoiding a situation where “our ship capsizes where the water is shallow” (hamari kashti wahan doobi, jahaan paani kam tha).
In a meeting with Chief Ministers and other representatives from States and Union Territories, Modi made an impassioned appeal for ensuring that no wrong step is taken in fighting the disease and also asked States to put in place adequate infrastructure like cold storage facilities for future vaccine distribution plans, saying it is a national commitment that everyone gets inoculated. Just like the focus in the COVID-19 fight has been on saving each and every life, the priority in the vaccination drive will be to ensure that it reaches everyone, he asserted. These eight States with high caseloads are Haryana, Delhi, Chhattisgarh, Kerala, Maharashtra, Rajasthan, Gujarat and West Bengal.
Modi said the first phase of the disease was marked by fear with reports of a few people even taking their own lives in panic, while the second phase saw a sense of apprehension creeping in as people avoided others and hid their infection in fear of getting socially ostracised. In the third phase, Modi noted, there was a sense of acceptance about the disease with those infected even announcing it publicly and asking others to take care while people generally become more alert. As the recovery rate grew, people began thinking that the virus is not harmful and has weakened, he said of the fourth phase. Many thought even if they are infected, they will be cured, he added. This negligence became widespread, the Prime Minister said, adding that the mistakes turned into danger as laxity emerged.
At the meeting, Delhi Chief Minister Arvind Kejriwal is believed to have said the high severity of the third wave of COVID-19 cases in the national capital is due to many factors with pollution being a significant one. West Bengal Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee assured Prime Minister Modi that her Government is fully prepared to work with the Centre and all other stakeholders for the speedy implementation of the COVID-19 vaccination programme in the State. Maharashtra Chief Minister Uddhav Thackeray, on the other hand, said “some parties” put the lives of people at risk by agitating on roads ahead of the second wave of COVID-19 and said they should be asked to not play politics at this crucial juncture.
He said the Prime Minister or Union Home Minister Amit Shah should convene a meeting of all parties to tell them about the seriousness of the situation. Thackeray did not name any party, but his remarks came in the backdrop of the Maharashtra BJP staging street protests for reopening of temples in the State and on the issue of inflated electricity bills in the recent past.