Amid the Coronavirus outbreak in the country, CPI(M) leader Sitaram Yechury wrote a letter to PM Modi asking him to increase the testing of people for the novel disease stating that more testing kits needed to be made available urgently. Currently, at least 412 confirmed cases of COVID-19 have been reported from India. Taking preemptive measures, the government has declared a lockdown in 75 districts.
"During such lockdowns, it is imperative to scale up the testing of people particularly those with declared symptoms. On this basis, specific areas that are vulnerable can be identified and a lockdown can be enforced in such areas," read Sitaram Yechury's letter.
"All testing kits approved by the National Institute of Virology must be utilized. It is strange that the Union Health Ministry has issued a circular that only those testing kits approved by the US FDA and European EC alone will be used. Reports indicate that there is only one manufacturer in Gujarat who produces such kits. In view of the gravity of the situation, this circular must be withdrawn and all kits approved by the NIV must be deployed for use, urgently," he added.
Sitaram Yechury also asked for the government to transfer Rs. 5,000 to the Jan Dhan accounts and BPL beneficiaries who were suffering during the lockdown. "Ration kits must be supplied to the families of the children who used to benefit from the mid-day meal scheme. Free ration through PDS to all BPL/APL families should be given for a month," he said.
The CPI (M) leader also stated that since the Finance Bill has been approved by the Parliament, the Central government must set aside separate funds for "a substantial package" to help save the lives of the people.
"Many countries in the world have announced that the government will guarantee the payment of at least 80 percent of the salaries being drawn by workers who are now unable to attend work. The government of India should do likewise. Alongside there should be a moratorium on bank loans for a year for SMEs and retail traders as well as on EMIs," read his letter.