Prime Minister says COVID virus rapidly spreading in rural areas



New Delhi: Prime Minister Narendra Modi on Friday said the coronavirus pandemic is rapidly spreading in rural areas, as he urged citizens to take precautions, wear masks and maintain social distance to check spread disease that has claimed at least 2.6 lakh lives.

The government, he said, is working on “war footing” to control the second wave of infections and is setting up new hospitals and oxygen generating plants while augmenting supplies of medicines and vaccines.

He asked states to crack down on black marketing of medicines and other essential items.

“I want to warn you about corona. This pandemic is spreading fast in rural villages. Every government is taking efforts to stop this. Awareness about this among rural people and cooperation of the panchayat institutes are equally important

“You have never disappointed the nation. We hope this time too, to protect yourself and family from COVID, all necessary precautions are taken. Wearing mask properly and regularly is important,” Modi said.

The PM was speaking at the release of the 8th installment of financial benefit under the PM-KISAN scheme via video conference here.

Modi urged farmers to be aware of this invisible enemy and take precautions and timely medication. He asked people to wear masks, maintain social distancing and undergo testing if there are any symptoms.

The PM asked farmers not to take COVID symptoms like cold and fever lightly. “Get the test done, isolate yourself and start the medication on time.”

After vaccination too, people should not forget to follow the COVID appropriate behaviour, he added.

Facing the world’s worst health crisis, India reported more than 3 lakh daily infections for 22 consecutive days.

With 3,43,144 new infections over the last 24 hours, the tally of total cases crossed 2.4 crore. With 4,000 fresh deaths, the toll now stands at 2,62,317, since the pandemic first struck India more than a year ago.

A bulk of new infections is said to be coming from rural areas.

On its part, the Prime Minister said, the government is working on a “war footing” to control the second wave of the COVID-19 pandemic.

Modi expressed confidence that the country will win the battle against coronovirus, which he described as an “invisible enemy” and “multi-coloured” in nature.

“After 100 years, such a terrible pandemic is testing the world at every step. In front of us, we have an invisible enemy, which is in multiform. We have lost close ones to this enemy, the coronavirus,” Modi said.

He emphathised with the pain of the countrymen who have lost dear ones recently in the COVID battle. “The pain that many people have gone through, I have felt the same pain. I am feeling the same.”

“We are fighting with all our might… We are overcoming obstacles in resources in the fight against the second wave of corona,” he said.

Every government department, armed forces and scientists are working day and night to fight against COVID-19, he said.

“India is not a country to lose courage. Neither India, nor Indians will lose courage. We will fight and we will win,” Modi emphasised.

Modi stressed that vaccines are a great defence against coronavirus and said so far 18 crore doses have been given in the country.

Both the centre and states are making continuous efforts to get all vaccinated at a rapid pace, he said, and urged people to get vaccinated when their turn comes.

Highlighting steps taken to boost essential medicines and oxygen supplies across the country, the Prime Minister said that COVID hospitals and oxygen plants using the latest technology are being set up in different parts of the country.

“Special rails are engaged in supplying oxygen to different parts of the country. Oxygen tankers and drivers are working without pause. Be it doctors, nursing staff, sanitation workers, lab technicians, ambulance drivers, sample collectors — all are working 24 hours to save each individual,” he added.

Modi further said the government and pharma sector have boosted production of essential medicines and even importing from abroad.

On hoarding and black marketing of essential medicines, the Prime Minister said in the current tough time, some people are engaged in hoarding and black marketing of medicines and essential items.

“I urge states to take strict action against such people. This is against humanity,” he said.

On the vaccination programme, Modi said this vaccine will give us a protective cover against coronavirus, reducing the risk of serious illness.

“The centre and all the state governments together, are making continuous efforts to enable more and more countrymen to get vaccinated at a rapid pace,” he said.

Further, Modi said free vaccination is being done in government hospitals across the country. “So, whenever your turn comes, do get vaccinated.”

Modi also said that the government has started free foodgrain distribution to 80 crore poor beneficiaries under the Pradhan Mantri Garib Kalyan Anna Yojana (PMGKAY) for two months — May and June.

“I urge states to ensure there is no problem in distribution of free grains to the poor,” he added.