New DelhI:

States can now use 50 per cent of their disaster relief funds to manage Covid-19 as the cap of 35 per cent has been removed, said Prime Minister Narendra Modi in a meeting with seven chief ministers administering states most affected by the pandemic.

“Today, I announce that the states can spend 50 per cent of the SDRF amount on efforts to check the spread of Covid-19. This limit was earlier 35 per cent,” Modi said, referring to the state disaster relief fund.

Modi asked states to reassess if lockdowns of one or two days are effective in containing Covid-19 and told them to press on with full strength in opening economic activities while fighting the virus.

Modi said “micro containment zones” should be the way forward as it will curb the infection spread and also allow activities to go on.

He asked states to further enhance their focus on effective testing, tracing, treatment, surveillance and clear messaging to curb the pandemic.

Noting that most of the Covid-19 patients are asymptomatic, Modi said an effective messaging is all the more important as rumours often get spread and the common man wonders if the testing is wrong.

Some people even make the mistake of undermining the seriousness of the disease, he said, while pitching for the need for an effective messaging.

The prime minister said it has to be ensured that medicines move unhindered from one state to another and noted that India has also been able to supply medicines across the world during such hard times.

The nationwide lockdown in the initial phases yielded very positive results and our focus now should be on micro-containment zones, he said.

To tackle the pandemic in Tamil Nadu, Chief Minister K Palaniswami on Wednesday urged Modi to increase the assistance to Rs 3,000 crore under a package and sought a Rs 1,000-crore adhoc grant.

Punjab Chief Minister Amarinder Singh urged the PM to direct for urgent steps to ensure adequate supplies of medical oxygen from other states amid apprehension of its shortage with rising coronavirus cases.