Prime Minister Narendra Modi on Thursday held a video conference with chief ministers of all the states and the Union Territories to contain the coronavirus pandemic. Modi said the Centre and states must have a “common exit strategy” for staggered re-entry of population after the three-week nationwide lockdown to stem the spread of coronavirus.

He also urged the chief ministers that the collective goal of the country should be to ensure minimum loss of life, according to a press statement on the meeting. “In the next few weeks, testing, tracing, isolation and quarantine should remain the areas of focus,” Modi added.

The prime minister also emphasised that supply lines for medical equipment, drugs and raw materials needed for the manufacture of these products need to be kept seamless. “Every state should ensure availability of separate, dedicated hospital facilities for COVID-19 patients,” he said. He urged states to step up online training of doctors in the treatment of the coronavirus.

He further said that district-level disease surveillance officers should be appointed as soon as possible and that crisis management groups should be set up. “This is necessary to ensure staggered release of funds to the beneficiaries under Pradhan Mantri Garib Kalyan Yojana to avoid crowding at banks,” he added.

Modi said the data collected from private laboratories that are allowed to test should be collated district-wise to be utilised for further strategies on how to tackle the pandemic.

The prime minister also stated that while farmers and labourers engaged in harvest operations were exempt from the lockdown restrictions, states should still continuously monitor and maintain social distancing norms even in the field. “As for procurement, we must find ways to do it beyond the route of Agricultural Produce Marketing Corporations,” he said, adding that the chief ministers should explore the possibility of creating pooling platforms for rural areas.

Meanwhile, the Union health secretary said the 21-day lockdown should be implemented strictly and apprised them about the spread of coronavirus cases from the religious gathering organised by the Tablighi Jamaat in Nizamuddin area of Delhi last month. The gathering, held amid the Covid-19 pandemic, has been a source of dozens of infections across the country.

Modi reiterated the need to follow social distancing and urged all the chief ministers to send suggestions for the exit strategy post the lockdown. “He appealed to the leaders to reach out to community leaders and social welfare organizations at state, district, town and block levels to build up a united front based on community-approach in the battle against the pandemic,” said the statement.

India has so far registered 50 deaths from 1,965 confirmed coronavirus infections, according to the Union Ministry of Health and Family Welfare.

Follow today’s live updates here