Calling for a stepping up testing of suspected samples to begin with, Sonia Gandhi said it was worrisome that only 15,701 samples are reported to have been tested in a country of 130 crore people, as yet.
“Despite ample time, early warnings and lessons from other nations, we appear to have under utilised our public and private sector capacities. This must change. We must begin by testing all cases under surveillance and expand to all other symptomatic cases and those coming into contact with the ones testing positive,” she said in a statement issued on Saturday.
Gandhi’s concerns were echoed by son and Wayanad MP Rahul Gandhi, who said the coronavirus had dealt a deadly blow to India’s fragile economy and that a large financial bailout package, not clapping — a reference to PM Modi’s call for clapping for health, sanitation and media workers at 5pm on Sunday — would all that would put the economy back on its feet.
“Coronavirus is a big blow to our fragile economy. Small and medium enterprises and daily wage labourers are the worst affected by this. Clapping will not help them. A big financial bailout package comprising cash payouts, tax breaks and moratorium on loan repayments is what they need. take steps immediately,” Rahul Gandhi said on Twitter.
The #Coronavirus is a sledgehammer blow to our brittle economy. Small & medium businesses & daily wage earners ar… https://t.co/aVB5kCnn37
— Rahul Gandhi (@RahulGandhi) 1584804100000
The Congress chief, meanwhile, said government action in tackling coronavirus must include sharing information about hospitals and emergency contact numbers, making special budgetary allocations for tiding through the health emergency, and setting aside a grant of special financial incentives for the health sector, in light of the non-availability of protective gear for front line health representatives.
“After demonetisation and slowing down of Indian economy, Covid-19 has been a huge setback to millions of daily wage earners, MGNREGA workers, adhoc and temporary employees, labourers, farmers and those in the unorganized sectors.
“Even for regular employees, reports suggest massive lay off and retrenchments. Government has to put in place broad based social protection measures including direct cash financial help to these sections … extraordinary times call for extraordinary measures. A comprehensive sector wise relief package needs to be announced forthwith by the Government including necessary tax breaks, interest subvention and deferment of liabilities. For the salaried class, Government and the RBI must consider a deferment of EMIs,” she said.