Health Minister Harsh Vardhan on Sunday told Lok Sabha that the announcement of lockdown was not sudden and Prime Minister Narendra Modi had prepared the nation for it through the Janata Curfew on March 22.
“Between March 16 and 23, several states had imposed lockdown. PM prepared the country for lockdown through the Janata Curfew. Five different studies have spoken about how many lives were saved due to the lockdown,” he said in reply to a debate on the pandemic.
He also informed Lok Sabha that while the world was working on 145 vaccines for Covid, three vaccines in India were at an advanced stage and that the government was already working on a detailed strategy of distributing and administering the vaccine once it is out.
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“There are 145 vaccine candidates in the world of which 35 are under clinical trial. In India, three vaccines are in the advanced stage. Detailed strategy of how it is going to be administered and who will get it first is also being worked. We are also studying viruses. We have already done genome sequencing of 2,000 viruses. We are coordinating with the WHO in all our efforts and future planning.”
On criticism of the government over a sudden lockdown and mismanagement of the situation, the minister said, “If the lockdown was not used properly and things were not monitored, the dedicated 17,000 covid facilities would not have come up. Today there are 1,773 labs. There is a lab every three km in the country today. We have conducted 6.37 crore tests and only yesterday we have done 12 lakh tests. We have achieved our targets before time.”
He said the government started working from January 8 and advisories had been sent to all states by January 17. He said doctors and paramedics had to be trained while the pandemic was on and when reports of them being attacked came, the government brought in an ordinance to protect them.
He said the Centre had provided 1.5 crore PPEs, 3.5 crore N95 masks, 30,000 ventilators and 1 lakh oxygen cylinders to states. He said PM Cares Fund had given Rs 893 crore for ventilators and 64 lakh migrant workers had been helped through train and bus services to reach their homes during the lockdown.
During the debate, the Opposition came down heavily on the government for its “failure to adequately recognise the scale and complexity of the problem” and “the abrupt announcement of the lockdown”.
“Instead of mature and proactive governance, we have collectively witnessed a fundamental breakdown in government machinery these past few months, instead of clearly communicated protocols and comprehensive strategies, we have collective witnessed an alarming lack of clarity, readiness and preparedness to tackle the virus,” Congress MP Shashi Tharoor said.
Congress leader in the House Adhir Ranjan Chowdhury said, “No country has lost as many doctors or health workers as India. The government is not ready to accept that there is community transmission. If there was a well laid-out strategy, we would not see this day.”
Quoting from Thirukkural, DMK’s Dayanidhi Maran said the King should always have good advisers.
“You should have stopped him.. But no one had the courage to tell him what he was doing was notright,” he said.
BJP’s Kirit Solanki, however, questioned Tharoor why Rahul Gandhi did not stay in India for taking up issues in Parliament.
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