Expand coronavirus testing massively, provide cash to poor: Rahul Gandhi to Centre

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Rahul Gandhi said direct cash should be transfered to the accounts of daily wage workers. (File Photo)

A day after the Centre imposed a 21-day nationwide lockdown in its bid to stem the coronavirus outbreak, former Congress president Rahul Gandhi Wednesday suggested the government to follow a two-way strategy to fight the pandemic.

Taking to Twitter, Gandhi said the government has a big role to play in controlling the situation and their strategy to fight the COVID-19 pandemic should be based on health and economic grounds. "A) Isolate the virus and block its escape routes. Massively expand testing to identity and treat those who are infected. B) Create massive emergency field hospitals in particularly in urban areas with full ICU capability to provide care to patients," the Wayanad MP tweeted.

On the economic front, Gandhi said, "A) Those who survive on daily wages need immediate help and support through direct cash transfers into their accounts and free rations. Delaying this will cause widespread devastation and chaos. B) Many industries are struggling. Act quickly by announcing tax breaks & financial support to prevent massive job losses & reassure business owners that the Govt will support them through this crisis."

The former Congress president had earlier questioned the government on the delay in banning the export of masks despite a WHO advisory and had asked to take strict measures to ensure social security for marginalised sections ahead of lockdown.

On Tuesday, the Congress said the entire nation was ready to pay heed to the Prime Minister Narendra Modi's lockdown orders and every citizen should support it. However, the party also flagged the challenges the poor, daily wagers, farmers and other marginalised section of the society would face during the three-week period.

Congress president Sonia Gandhi had also written to PM Modi and the chief ministers of Congress-ruled states, asking them to roll out emergency welfare measures, particularly wage support, to construction workers in distress. She had also urged the government to increase the number of beds, isolation chambers, ventilators, medical teams and medical supplies and expand testing for the coronavirus.

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