Prime Minister Narendra Modi (Image: Twitter/@@BJP4India)
Prime Minister Narendra Modi on April 20 addressed the nation on the COVID-19 situation as India breached the 15.3 million-mark of COVID-19 cases with 259,170 fresh cases and 1,761 fatalities recorded in the last 24 hours.
Here are the key highlights from PM's address:
The prime minister began his address by expressing grief for those who lost close ones due to the pandemic. He then lauded all the frontline workers from doctors, nursing staff, paramedics and sanitation workers to policemen for working selflessly during the first wave, and now the second wave.
Pharma industry's role: PM Modi said the country's pharma sector has taken serious steps to increase the production of vaccines as well as medicines and claimed that more medicines are being produced now than in January and February. Eariler in the day, he had met vaccine manufacturers from across the country, and urged them to continuously scale up the production capacity of COVID-19 vaccines to vaccinate more people in the shortest possible time.
Medical oxygen shortage: Speaking about the ongoing medical oxygen crisis in the country, Modi said, "We are promptly and sensitively working on the oxygen crisis. We are trying to ensure that every patient gets oxygen."
Free vaccination: PM Modi said India has vaccinated people at the fastest pace in the world and reassured the citizens that vaccination will continue to be available for free in all government facilities.
Appeal to youngsters: While reminding the nation to maintain the discipline and patience to fight against the coronavirus pandemic, the PM reiterated his 'Dawai bhi Kadhai bhi' mantra. He also urged young people to participate in the fight by suggesting them to form small committees to ensure adherance to COVID protocols. "Then we will not need restrictions to curb COVID-19, let alone lockdown," he said.
Migrant workers: The prime minister also appealed to the state governments to ensure the well-being of the migrants. He added that the Centre will take all steps to ensure that migrants are vaccinated in the states they reside in.
Lockdown to be last resort: He said the lockdown should be the last resort for states and the focus should be on micro-containment instead to ensure that health and economy are both taken care of.
On April 19, the PM Modi government expanded its vaccination strategy, opening up inoculation for all above the age of 18 years starting May 1.