Modi is a ‘super spreader’ of coronavirus, says IMA vice president

Dr Navjot Dahiya, the national vice president of the Indian Medical Association, on Monday called Prime Minister Narendra Modi a “super spreader” of the coronavirus for holding political rallies in poll-bound states and allowing Kumbh Mela to take place amid the second wave of the pandemic, reported The Tribune.

“While the medical fraternity is trying hard to make people understand mandatory Covid-19 norms, PM Modi did not hesitate to address big political rallies, tossing all Covid-19 norms in the air,” Dahiya said in a statement.

Dahiya noted that when the first patient of the coronavirus was found in India in January 2020, the prime minister, instead of making arrangements to tackle the infection, organised gatherings of over one lakh people in Gujarat to welcome the then United States President Donald Trump.

“Now, when the second wave of Covid-19 is yet to reach its peak, the entire health system is failing as PM did not take any step to strengthen it during the entire year,” he said.

The international media coverage on the pandemic in India has also criticised Modi and his ‘stark failure’ in handling the coronavirus crisis.

The vice president of the IMA also said that the scarcity of medical oxygen has become the reason for the deaths of many Covid-19 patients. “Several projects for installing oxygen plants are still pending with the Union government for clearance, but no heed was given to such an important need by the Modi government,” he said.

He added that the impact of the pandemic was visible with bodies piling up in crematoriums and long queues of ambulances outside hospitals in almost every city of the country. “Even on the issue of farmers’ agitation against farm laws, Prime Minister Narendra Modi did not act in a responsible manner and [allowed] the presence of huge gathering of farmers without solving their issues, causing a serious threat of Covid-19 spread,” Dahiya added.

He also criticised the government for backing Yoga guru Ramdev’s Coronil, which the Patanjali Ayurved claims to be the “first evidence-based medicine” to fight Covid. But the product was disclaimed by World Health Organization, he said.

In February, Ramdev had claimed that a WHO team had visited his company and given Coronil the licence for sale in more than 150 countries. However, the WHO had clarified that it did not review or certify the effectiveness of any traditional medicine.

India on Tuesday registered 3,23,144 new coronavirus cases in a day, taking the total number of infections to 1,76,36,307 since the pandemic broke out in January 2020. While the single-day infection count is slightly less than Monday’s count, India has registered more than 3 lakh cases for the sixth day in a row. With 2,771 deaths, the toll went up to 1,97,894.

Election rallies and Kumbh Mela

While the country battled with a record surge in Covid-19 cases for days during the second wave and hospitals ran out of beds and oxygen, hundreds of thousands of Hindu devotees flocked to participate in the Kumbh Mela in Uttarakhand’s Haridwar city and politicians were holding election rallies attended by thousands with little evidence of masks or physical distancing.

The violation of Covid-19 protocols at Kumbh Mela attracted attention from across the world. However, state authorities, including Chief Minister Tirath Singh Rawat, tried to downplay the risks. On April 17, Prime Minister Narendra Modi had said that the celebration should be held as a “symbolic event” due to the coronavirus situation.

In West Bengal, Prime Minister Narendra Modi and Union Home Minister Amit Shah held gigantic rallies until last week, when the Election Commission finally banned all roadshows and limited gatherings to 500 people amid the worsening situation.

After the fourth round of elections in West Bengal, the Communist Party of India (Marxist) had announced that it will not organise big election rallies for the remaining phases. Congress MP Rahul Gandhi cancelled his rallies in West Bengal and Banerjee also decided to hold smaller election meetings. Shah, however, said that it was not right to link the surge in coronavirus cases in India to elections.

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