Prime Minister Narendra Modi will address the nation on Thursday at 8 pm to talk about steps being taken against the coronavirus pandemic. It was announced at a review meeting that Modi chaired on Wednesday evening. As of Wednesday, the number of positive cases in India stood at 151. Three patients have died so far.

During the review meeting, the participants discussed ways to strengthen the preparedness against the virus, reported NDTV. They reportedly discussed plans to increase testing. Henk Bekedam, the WHO representative to India, had told The Indian Express that India does need to test more and need to look at atypical pneumonia patients.

The Indian Council of Medical Research has announced that 51 private labs with accreditation could soon be allowed to do coronavirus tests. In a statement issued on Tuesday, it appealed to the private labs to offer the tests for free. While the government has published several advisories for the public, it has not released enough granular information for journalists, researchers and the larger health community to assess the effectiveness of its strategy to test, detect and track cases of Covid-19.

At the review meeting on Wednesday evening, the prime minister expressed gratitude to all those at the forefront of combating COVID-19, “including the various state governments, medical fraternity, paramedical staff, armed and paramilitary forces, those associated with aviation sector, municipal staff and others”, his office said in another tweet. He also urged officials and technical experts to decide on the steps to be taken next.

Over the last few weeks, several states have virtually shut down in an effort to tackle the crisis. Educational institutions, and public spaces such as malls, gyms and swimming pools have been closed till the end of the month. The Central government has shut down all the monuments, museums and national parks. The Centre has banned passengers from Afghanistan, Philippines and Malaysia from entering India till March 31. The government has also advised people to avoid non-essential travel and urged employees of private companies to work from home.

Also read

Coronavirus: 10 questions for the government on how India is testing and tracking cases