Along with the rest of the country, Madhya Pradesh too is grappling with the crisis brought about by the coronavirus, and it is a major challenge before Chief Minister Shivraj Singh Chouhan. In an interview with Manohar Limbodiya of Free Press Journal, the chief minister outlines the steps he is taking to combat the crisis.
Q. Mr Chief Minister, how far have we succeeded in our fight against corona and what is our future strategy?
We are fully geared up and committed to tackle the menace of coronavirus. So far, in the state has recorded 229 positive cases, 14 people have died and over 20 have recovered. We are keeping a close eye on the number of positive patients, and the respective health department and district administration are pro-actively working to cure these patients. We have ensured that there will be no shortage in medical equipment and facility in fighting corona. I am here to serve the people and will stand by their side in this hour of crisis.
Q. The number of patients in Indore is increasing, how are we tackling the situation? What is the availability of medical kits and medicine?
The situation in Indore is serious due to the increasing number of patients. That’s why we are strictly enforcing a lockdown, which is essential to contain the virus. Many people from Indore had travelled to foreign countries and due to lack of awareness and the unfortunate tendency of hiding their illness, prevented us from identifying the problem in its initial stage, and it spread. We have health workers monitoring all those who have tested positive, sealing areas where positive patients have been found, doing blood tests of people in these areas and also increasing awareness among people and counselling them. At present, we have six testing labs and we are testing 500 samples every day. I have instructed to increase the number of labs to 14 and testing at least 1,000 samples. There are nearly 30,000 PPE kits in the state. There is sufficient number of other medical equipment with us.
Q. What is your message for those who are not cooperating in this fight against coronavirus?
These people are not only playing with their own health, but also of other people and it is a crime against society. We will not tolerate such irresponsible behaviour. I have issued strict instructions to take stern steps against such people. Already, strict action has been taken against those who attacked doctors in Indore. But, I believe that most of the problems are due to lack of awareness.
Q. Where do we stand with respect to other states?
Are we receiving cooperation from them? Compared to Maharashtra, Delhi and Kerala, our condition is better. There are 21,000 people of the state who are stuck in 27 other states. The local administration is coordinating with the state government there in helping these people in every way.
Q. What steps have been taken to ensure the supply of essentials to the people? How are the poor families being helped?
We are taking all steps – like door to door delivery - to ensure that people get their essentials. We are taking strict action against hoarding. We have provided three months ration in advance to over 5 cr ration card holders. We are daily providing food to 2 lakh poor in rural and 2.5 lakh poor in urban areas. By April 3, over 5.7 lakh migrant workers have come back to the state, and we are keeping them in separate locations. Over 8.85 lakh poor have been given Rs 1000 each, which has been transferred to their accounts.
Q. What assistance are we getting from the central government?
We are getting full cooperation from the Central government. They have provided us with a list of all those people who have history of foreign travel and we are monitoring them. We are getting protocols on how to deal with the crisis. The Centre is also providing package for all states to combat the crisis.