New Delhi: A nationwide lockdown will only pause the deadly coronavirus, but not defeat it, Congress leader Rahul Gandhi said Thursday, recommending that the government go for testing "aggressively and strategically". He also suggested that there should be two zones in India - hotspot and non-hotspot.
"In no way does a lockdown defeat the virus. It helps only to stop the virus for a short while. The only way to do this is to increase testing," the Congress MP said, addressing the media through a video app.
"If we don't take measures, we will be forced to go into lockdown again."
Right now, he said, the government was chasing the virus, which would never give the correct picture of the pandemic in India.
"Currently testing levels are too low. I am proposing scaling up testing. Maximise testing and use testing strategically, to assist states in their fight," Gandhi, an MP from Kerala's Wayanad, said, adding, "Don't take it as criticism."
All other nations had started procuring testing kits but in India, they were miniscule, according to the former Congress chief. "It's a reality that there is a shortage of rapid COVID Testing Kits. We have to find out a way forward," he said.
"But this is not the time to discuss where the government has failed. We are only offering constructive suggestions that the government can act on." Gandhi said the government should prepare a minimum financial net, predicting a massive financial backlash. The first wave of unemployment was already on its way, he warned.
"We must ensure that in protecting lives, we don't destroy our economy completely." He suggested a package for smaller industries, for migrants and for farmers.
Wrapping up the meet with a message to the nation, Gandhi said if India overcame the virus, it would be in a much better place. "I want to tell the people of India, you have nothing to fear. This country is bigger than any disease. It knows how to deal with much bigger challenges. As a member of the opposition, I want to give support to the government. The virus is giving a message - if we are divided, it will win," he said.
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