NEW DELHI: Amid the COVID-19 crisis, Prime Minister Narendra Modi urged Union ministers on Friday to stay in touch with the people of their respective regions, help them and keep getting their feedback on the situation.
Chairing a meeting of the Union Council of Ministers, Modi also stressed upon the "need to ensure that issues at the local level are promptly identified and addressed", according to an official statement.
The meeting was held virtually to discuss the situation arising out of the second wave of COVID-19 in the country.
It noted that the pandemic has led to a "once-in-a-century" crisis and thrown a big challenge to the world, the statement said.
The council was briefed about the steps being taken to ramp up the number of hospital beds, oxygen facilities and resolve issues related to the availability of oxygen and essential medicines, it added.
The support measures for the vulnerable population in the form of free foodgrains and financial support to Jan Dhan account holders were also discussed at the meeting, the statement said.
The meeting was informed that 15 crore anti-COVID vaccine doses have so far been administered to people, while it was also pointed out that the country could successfully produce two vaccines and there are many vaccine candidates at various stages of approval and induction.
The council of ministers also highlighted the importance of COVID-appropriate behaviour -- wearing masks, maintaining a physical distance of six feet with others and washing hands frequently.
Emphasising that the participation of the society is a key aspect to accomplish the gigantic task ahead, the ministers expressed confidence that the country will rise to the occasion and defeat the virus.
This was the first meeting of the council of ministers in the aftermath of the second wave of the pandemic in the country.
NITI Aayog member VK Paul gave a presentation on COVID-19 management.
After him, Union ministers Piyush Goyal and Mansukh Mandaviya briefed their cabinet colleagues on the availability of oxygen and medicines respectively.
The prime minister has held several rounds of meetings with chief ministers and top government officials to deliberate on the COVID-19 situation.
He has also been holding meetings with pharmaceutical industry leaders, oxygen suppliers, the heads of the three-armed forces and other dignitaries to discuss how to tackle the pandemic.