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COVID-19: Chief Ministers flag money woes as PM Modi moots stricter testing

Modi says contacts of suspected cases should be traced and tested within 72 hours; Chief Ministers want relaxation in borrowing limits

Published: 12th August 2020 10:00 AM  |   Last Updated: 12th August 2020 10:00 AM   |  A+A-

PM - CM meet

PM Narendra Modi speaks during a discussion with the Chief Ministers of 10 states via video conferencing on COVID-19 situation in New Delhi Tuesday. (Photo | PTI)

By Express News Service

NEW DELHI:  Prime Minister Narendra Modi on Tuesday asked states to do contact tracing and testing within 72 hours of identifying Covid-19 cases, even as financial woes topped the concerns raised by chief ministers during the Covid-19 review meeting.

Chief ministers of the 10 most affected states — Uttar Pradesh, Karnataka, Telangana, West Bengal, Bihar, Punjab, Gujarat, Maharashtra, Andhra Pradesh, and Tamil Nadu — participated in the video-conference meeting. The CMs’ demands included higher allocation from State Disaster Relief Funds for Covid-19 expenses and higher borrowing limits under the Fiscal Responsibility Budgetary Management provisions without conditions.

“There has been a 50% dip in the revenue in the first quarter. The Centre should give a liberal financial package to fill the gap, besides also helping in building the infrastructure for online education,” said Punjab CM Captain Amarinder Singh. He said the 35% cap on Covid-19 expenses in the State Disaster Response Fund is not enough. 

West Bengal CM Mamata Banerjee said though the FRMB limit has been raised from 3% to 5%, the portion of the unconditional facility is only 0.5%. This, according to her, must be enhanced to 2%. 
She reminded the Centre it is yet to pay `53,000 crore, while also raising the issue of unpaid GST compensation.

Banerjee also sought guidelines on the vaccination, while her Bihar counterpart Nitish Kumar called upon the Centre to help with critical health equipment, including 5,000 oxygen concentrators. Kumar also sought two Cobas-8800 machines to increase testing facilities in his state. According to Modi’s 72-hour formula, if anyone is tested positive, then all his or her contacts must be traced and tested within three days. 

“Eighty per cent of the Covid-19 cases are reported from the 10 states, and if the virus is defeated here, the country can emerge victorious,” the PM told the CMs, while sharing the roadmap employed in Delhi to tame the pandemic. He stressed that testing needs to be increased in Gujarat, Bihar, Telangana, West Bengal and UP. Punjab CM Amarinder Singh asked the Centre to postpone the UGC exit examinations on September 30 saying his state is expected to witness the peak of the pandemic by then. Maharashtra CM Uddhav Thackeray also supported the suggestion to put off examiniations. 

Covid fatality rate less than 2% for first time
India’s Covid-19 fatality rate has slipped below 2% for the first time, the health ministry said. Union health secretary Rajesh Bhushan said that less than 1% of Covid-19 patients are on ventilator, less than 3% on oxygen support and less than 4% are in ICU

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