NEW DELHI: Philanthropist and Microsoft co-founder Bill Gates has lauded Prime Minister Narendra Modi's leadership in dealing with COVID-19 pandemic by adopting several measures including lockdown and increasing health expenditure to strengthen the health system response.
"We commend your leadership and the proactive measures you and your government have taken to flatten the curve of the COVID-19 infection rate in India, such as adopting a national lockdown, expanding focused testing to identify hot spots for isolation, quarantining, and care, and significantly increasing health expenditures to strengthen the health system response and promote R&D and digital innovation," Gates wrote.
He added: "I'm glad your government is fully utilising its exceptional digital capabilities in its COVID-19 response and has launched the Aarogya Setu digital app for coronavirus tracking, contact tracing, and to connect people to health services."
Prime Minister Modi had on March 24 announced a 21-day nationwide lockdown as a precautionary measure to contain the spread of COVID-19. The lockdown was later extended to May 3.
Gates further stated, "Grateful to see that you are seeking to balance public health imperatives with the need to ensure adequate social protection for all Indians."
With 1,486 new cases and 49 deaths in the last 24 hours, India's total number of coronavirus positive cases have risen to 20,471 while the death toll stands at 652, Union Ministry of Health and Family Welfare said on Wednesday.
Out of the total number of cases, 15,859 are active cases, 3,959 cured or discharged or migrated and 652 deaths. Bill Gates met Prime Minister Modi in New Delhi on November 18 last year.
During his visit, Gates had addressed a function organised by NITI Aayog for the release of its report on 'Health Systems for a New India: Building Blocks - Potential Pathways to Reforms' wherein he lauded the country for its healthcare system and talked about how digital tools can help improve it further.
At that time, the philanthropist had commended the Central government for stepping up and eradicating polio.