Uday Kotak is the CEO of Kotak Mahindra Bank
Confederation of Indian Industry (CII) president Uday Kotak called for the curtailment of economic activity “to reduce suffering” due to the deadly second wave of COVID-19 cases in India.
Kotak, in a statement issued by CII, lauded healthcare and frontline workers for “giving their best efforts to tackle the influx of patients”. However, he said that it might not be enough to “manage the escalating caseloads with the medical talent available”.
“We must heed expert advice on this subject – from India and abroad. Highest response measures are needed to break the chain of contagion and to rapidly build up capacity,” Kotak added.
“Given the current pandemic situation, safeguarding lives is of utmost priority and a 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 an emergency basis by the governments at the Centre and states, but will take time. At this critical juncture when the toll is rising, CII urges the strongest national steps, including curtailing economic activity, to reduce suffering,” he said.
“Our maxim should be ‘no one is safe, unless everyone is safe’”, said Kotak.
India reported 3.68 lakh new COVID-19 cases and 3,417 deaths on May 2, according to the Union health ministry’s latest update. There is a shortage of medical oxygen and hospital beds in most parts of the country.
Many states have imposed lockdowns, weekend lockdowns, night curfews and other restrictions to curb the spread of infections.
Some of the other suggestions by the CII include initiating temporary medical facilities with armed forces and other paramilitary forces, using existing infrastructure facilities like school and college premises, sheds, parks with tents, etc. as COVID-19 care facilities.
Nationwide lockdown again? Centre’s COVID-19 Task Force ‘pushing hard’ for it
The security at hospitals should be strengthened for medical personnel to protect people and property, it said. It suggested that medical equipment for such facilities could be sourced from across the country through Indian Air Force flights or Army trucks.
It asked the Centre to tap manpower sources such as retired medical personnel, doctors and nurses. Nursing and medical students who have finished GNM/BSC training and who are awaiting exams can be roped in and this can be counted for future requirements/credits after one year of COVID-19 ICU work.
“Offer training through short courses through the Healthcare Sector Skill Council. NRIs working abroad as doctors and nurses can be encouraged to come back for a national cause for a brief period,” the CII suggested.
Regarding the distribution of vaccination supplies to states, the CII asked the Centre to create a central asset-mapping control team for monitoring the supply of various critical care items as well as predicting possible occurrences of shortages and pre-emptively enhancing states’ capacities. Shortages may be made known to the industry ,” it said.
Other suggestions include strengthening logistics to distribute supplies to the affected districts. There should be road corridors with minimal state border delays for supplying drugs and oxygen on a continuous basis to districts where requirements are high. The Railways should also be utilised, it said.
Transport arrangements for oxygen supplies to nearby factories is critical, it said.
The CII also asked the Centre to scale up RT-PCR testing, both in urban and rural India.