Congress hails ‘janata curfew’, seeks to know way forward

Congress Chief Rahul Gandhi and UPA chairperson Sonia Gandhi. (File Photo: IANS)Congress Chief Rahul Gandhi and UPA chairperson Sonia Gandhi. (File Photo: IANS)

New Delhi, March 22 (IANS) After the government decided lockdown of 80 districts amid rising Covid-19 cases, the Congress, here on Sunday, hailed the Covid-19 warriors’ efforts by clapping at the scheduled 5 p.m, but also demanded to know the next move.

In a tweet, the Congress raised questions over increase in testing facilities, improvement in healthcare infrastructure and the stimulus package for the economy. “Hearty thanks to the countrymen for thanking the health workers at 5 p.m. today, who are fighting the coronavirus,” it tweeted.

The Congress demanded that personal protection equipments (PPEs), like N95 masks, gloves, face shields, goggles, head covers, rubber boots and disposable gowns, be made available to the health workers tp protect them from coronavirus infection.

“We are proud of doctors, nurses and supporting staff. Special financial incentives be given to those who are risking their lives in the fight against coronavirus epidemics. The government should announce it immediately,” said Congress spokesman Randeep Singh Surjewala.

Stating that only 30,000 ventilators are available for 130 crore population, he said it should be arranged in adequate number for coronavirus patients. About 95 per cent of ventilators were already under use for patients suffering from other diseases, he added.

Adequate number of isolation beds should be arranged for Covid-19 suspects to prevent spread of infection. “Only one isolation bed is available per 84,000 people,” he said.

“Coronavirus sampling should be increased manifold. Only 16,109 samples have been tested till date. Samples of all people under surveillance and those coming into contact with the coronavirus suspects be tested. Black marketing of hand sanitisers, face masks and liquid soaps is happening. Strict action should be taken against the black marketeers of hand sanitisers, face masks, liquid soaps, vegetables, pulses, potatoes, onions, etc,” Surjewala said.

“Lakhs of daily wage labourers, MGNREGA workers, ad hoc/temporary workers, farmers and those employed in the unorganised sector have lost jobs due to Covid-19. The government should provide direct cash aid to them,” he said.

It also demanded a special relief package, comprising necessary tax breaks, interest subvention and deferment of liabilities, to help shopkeepers, small businessmen and the micro, small & medium enterprises hit hard due to Covid-19.

Pointing to sufferings of the middle and the salaried class due to the coronavirus epidemic people, Surjewala said the government must consider deferment of EMIs for them.

Stating that the biggest employment generator – agriculture – has also suffered due to unseasonal rains and hailstorms, the Congress demanded special relief package for it.

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