New Delhi, Sept 16 (PTI) Senior Congress leader Anand Sharma on Wednesday questioned the government's claims that the lockdown prevented up to 29 lakh COVID-19 cases.
Initiating a discussion on the COVID-19 pandemic in Rajya Sabha, he said people of the country should know if the lockdown really helped in containing the spread of the disease.
'The minister said in a statement yesterday that it has been estimated that this decision prevented approximately 14-29 lakh cases and 37-78 thousand deaths...how have you derived this figure? What is the scientific basis, the House must be informed,' Sharma said.
The day the lockdown was imposed the country had 600 cases which have now increase to 50 lakh cases, he added.
Union Health Minister Harsh Vardhan had said in Lok Sabha that the lockdown had prevented 14-29 lakh cases of coronavirus.
While saluting the doctors and paramedic staff for their efforts during the pandemic, Sharma also asked the government to strengthen public healthcare system in the country.
He said 70 per cent of the intensive care beds in the country were in private hospitals with the rest in government hospitals.
'In view of this pandemic, I want to request the government that after talking to state governments there is a need to make public health infrastructure stronger because government hospitals treated poor people. Where they have 30 per cent beds, they treated 70 per cent of the cases,' Sharma said.
So the time has come to learn lessons from this situation and strengthen the system, he added.
'Make an action plan starting now and tell us that it would be implemented in so many years,' he noted.
Referring to an article in a leading medical journal which questioned the credentials of hydroxychloroquine, Sharma said, 'They had to take it back ..because it was fabricated..a case should be filed here as well because the pharma lobbies, as it is an affordable drug, want to discredit it..' Sharma also sought answers from the health minister regarding the ongoing development work on various drugs for the treatment of COVID-19.
BJP member Vinay P Sahastrabuddhe said the government took decision on the lockdown based on discussion with state governments.
He said the prime minister, home minister, home secretary, cabinet secretary held discussion with state chief ministers and chief secretaries around 15 times and no one opposed lockdown.
'Central government took decision based on the basis of state governments. No decision was forced,' Sahastrabuddhe said.
He said often prime minister and home minister are targeted on social media by the opposition and other people.
'I believe politics of responsibility is more important than politics of ridicule,' he said.
He said those who light candles near India Gate for any reason close to their heart do not like lighting a lamp to express gratitude towards health workers and security personnel.
Sahastrabuddhe said that Madhya Pradesh government made arrangements for food and travel of migrant labourers and also developed an app to help get jobs for labourers.
He, however, criticised the Maharashtra government for the management of the pandemic due to lack of coordination among officers of different department and political leaders in the government.
Sahastrabuddhe said a 2000-bed COVID centre was set up in Thane and the beds were taken on rent as rentals involve various kind of 'wrong dealings'.
He also said that no arrangement has been made by the state government to fill up vacancies in the health department.
Samajwadi Party MP Jaya Bachchan said even her family members suffered due to the pandemic.
'The way people were being treated in hospitals, the way Mumbai roads are getting sanitised every hour, it is incomparable. There should be no politics on this subject,' Bachchan said. PTI MSS PRS DV DV