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Industry bats for a lockdown and roping in the armed forces for COVID-19 battle


The requirement for hospital beds, oxygen and medicines will continue to escalate at the current pace of the pandemic. says industry body.

Indian industry has urged the government to deploy the armed forces and central security forces to manage the logistics, infrastructure and personnel necessary to address the rising wave of COVID-19 cases in the country, warning that the requirement for hospital beds, oxygen and medicines will continue to escalate at the current pace of the pandemic.

“At this critical juncture when toll of lives is rising, the Confederation of Indian Industry (CII) urges the strongest national steps including curtailing economic activity to reduce suffering,” CII president Uday Kotak said, in what are the first remarks by an industry lobby group in favour of a stringent lockdown.

Calling for the highest-level response measures to the current crisis, Mr Kotak said, “Given the current pandemic situation, safeguarding lives is of utmost priority and nationwide maximal response measure at the highest level is called for to cut the transmission links. The healthcare infrastructure and supply build-up are being undertaken on emergency basis by the governments at the centre and states, but will take time.”

Stressing that India’s medical personnel are already overstretched and will be under further pressure without remedial measures, the CII chief said it may not be possible to manage escalating caseloads with the present medical talent availability. “We must heed expert advice on this subject — from India and abroad. Highest response measures are needed to break the chain of contagion and also use the time to rapidly build up capacity,” he pointed out.

“Our maxim should be ‘no one is safe, unless everyone is safe’, Mr Kotak underlined, adding that temporary medical facilities can be created with the help of the Armed Forces & paramilitary forces using existing infrastructure like school/college premises, sheds, parks with tents, etc. as COVID-19 care facilities.

“Medical equipment for these facilities can be sourced from across the country through Indian Air Force flights or army trucks… Create a central asset mapping control team for monitoring supply of various essential critical care Items as well as predicting possible occurrences of shortages and pre-emptively enhancing States’ capacities. Shortages may be made known to industry for helping reach resources,” he added.

Calling for a rethink on India’s vaccination policy, CII said vaccination supplies must be distributed to States according to well-defined criteria. As per experts, population size, exposure and vulnerability can be mapped to supply specific required quantities to the States, it said, even as it called for the urgent need to scale up testing in urban as well as rural India.

“The requirements for testing kits can be met through imports or ramping up domestic manufacturing, including Rapid Antigen Self Testing Kits for use at home. Vacant educational institution premises or other unused premises can be used for community testing facilities at scale,” Mr Kotak said.

Apart from strengthening security at hospitals for medical personnel, CII also urged the government to tap manpower sources such as retired medical personnel, doctors and nurses, as well as nursing and medical students who are awaiting exams. “Medical specialists, numbering about 25,000, PG seat aspiring doctors of 1.3 lakh and specialists not recognized by the Medical Council can be included with incentives for doing Covid ICU work for a year,” Mr Kotak pleaded. “NRIs working abroad as doctors and nurses can be encouraged to come back for a national cause for a brief period,” he concluded.



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