PM laid emphasis on aggressive testing, awareness in rural areas for COVID control: K'taka CM

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Bengaluru, May 18 (PTI) Prime Minister Narendra Modi emphasised on local containment zones, aggressive testing and creating awareness among people, especially in rural areas during his interaction with Deputy Commissioners (DCs) of various districts, Karnataka Chief Minister B S Yediyurappa said on Tuesday.

Amid speculations about extending lockdown in Karnataka, Ministers and officials said it was not discussed at the meeting with the PM, and the Chief Minister would take a call in this regard.

The Prime Minister on Tuesday interacted with state and district officials at a meeting, which was attended by district magistrates or DCs from 46 districts across nine states, through video-conferencing.

'In the VC chaired by PM Shri @narendramodi, DCs were suggested to emphasise on local containment zones, aggressive testing, and creating awareness among people, especially in rural areas,' Yediyurappa tweeted after the meeting.

The Chief Minister along with several of his cabinet colleagues were part of the video conference.

Deputy Commissioners (as district magistrates are called in Karnataka) of 17 districts- Uttara Kannada, Hassan, Ballari, Mysuru, Tumakuru, Kolar, Kodagu, Bengaluru Urban, Udupi, Bengaluru Rural, Shivamogga, Dharwad, Dakshina Kannada, Raichur, Kalaburagi, Mandya and Chikkaballapura districts attended the video conferencing.

Speaking to reporters, Home Minister Basavaraj Bommai said, the video conferencing was useful, its intention was to know about the successful, innovative measures or best practices adapted in different districts and states to control the COVID second wave, so that it is known to other districts and they too adapt it.

He said it also focused on how to contain the spread of the virus in rural areas.

Stating that the meeting stressed on the measures that need to be taken in rural and semi urban areas, Bommai said, the PM suggested that especially as the spread is happening in rural areas its wideness will be large, so it is important to involve people.

'Task forces involving voluntary organisations and women self-help groups should be constituted at every Gram Panchayat level, also micro containment should be made successful, and tracking and tracing of primary and secondary contacts should be enhanced to control the spread,' he said adding, the PM also advised for utilising the services of public representatives in a big way.

Measures for better and efficient utilisation of our health infrastructure, while enhancing it, were among the instructions given by the PM, he added.

Modi also asked the states to spread awareness among children from now itself about coronavirus, through cartoons, writings and stories in local languages, with experts predicting the impact of possible third wave of COVID among children, the Minister said.

The Prime Minister further asked the Ministers and officials working at the district level to function as field commanders by implementing measures by localising it or by making relevant changes in accordance with the ground situation, he said.

To a question regarding any discussion on extending lockdown, Bommai said, the PM only spoke to DCs, the decision on lockdown is left to the state and the Chief Minister will decide on it.

'The chief minister is gathering information, the task force has also shared inputs, considering all of them including numbers of cases, intensity, also media reports, a decision will be taken. What should be the decision and how it will be, has not been decided yet,' he added.

Speculations are rife that the Chief Minister may announce a decision regarding extending the lockdown at the press conference scheduled for Wednesday morning.

Hinting about extending the lockdown, Yediyurappa on Monday had said, discussions are on regarding this, but no decision has been taken yet.

Though the state is currently under complete lockdown till May 24, several leaders, including ministers, have expressed themselves to be in favour of extending it.

At the video conference, officials shared information about the measures taken by them with Bruhat Bengaluru Mahanagara Palike (BBMP) Commissioner Gaurav Gupta speaking about the measures taken in the city like setting up of triaging centres, increment of beds, taking cooperation from private sector among others.

Speaking to reporters, Gupta said, the PM said that this is a big fight and called on the officials to face it by taking everyone together.

He said, '(the PM) spoke about vaccination and that its availability will increase in the days to come. He also spoke about how to go about vaccination and changes that need to be brought in...also regarding measures that need to be taken in rural areas, enlightening people about self restrictions among others.' Meanwhile, Karnataka Congress President D K Shivakumar taking a dig at the Yediyurappa government said the Prime Minister does not have confidence in the political leadership of the state and government, and that is why he has decided to meet 17 DCs and not ministers.

'...if he had trust in the CM, why did he (PM) have to speak to district officers directly? He would have spoken to the Chief Secretary or Health Secretary. Why is he meeting and discussing with 17 DCs? It shows he doesn't have confidence in the government,' Shivakumar told reporters.

'If Ministers had self-respect they should have left the meeting for officers, instead they were sitting there (at the meeting) showing their faces as though they have done something great, and achieved something by doing some great service,' he chided.PTI KSU SS PTI PTI

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