New Delhi: At a time when the coronavirus cases in the country have neared 70,000-mark, Prime Minister Narendra Modi on Monday held a video conference with the chief ministers of all states and UTs, and called for a ‘balanced strategy’ to fight the COVID-19 crisis. During the meeting, PM Modi sought inputs from states on the way forward in tackling the pandemic, while many more tested positive for the deadly virus. Also Read - ‘Don't Permit Train or Air Services to Tamil Nadu Till May 31,’ Palaniswami Urges PM Modi

At this critical time, the death toll due to the coronavirus also crossed 2,200 with more people succumbing to COVID-19 at various places including in Maharashtra, Tamil Nadu and Gujarat. Also Read - Coronavirus: PM Modi Interacts With Chief Ministers, Asks Them to Move Forward With Balanced Strategy



While interacting with chief ministers, PM Modi said that the problems have increased wherever social distancing norms were not followed or there has been laxity in implementation of the lockdown guidelines. He further added that the biggest challenge will be to ensure that the infection does not spread to villages. Also Read - National Technology Day: PM Modi Remembers the Historic Pokhran Test, Hails Indian Scientists & Engineers

PM Modi emphasised that India will have to devise and implement a balanced strategy to deal with the pandemic and step up the economic activities in a gradual manner.



Noting that slowly but surely, economic activities have started in several parts of the country, PM Modi said in the coming days, the process will gather steam.

Earlier in the day, the Union Ministry of Health and Family Welfare said that the total number of confirmed COVID-19 cases has increased to 67,152, after a record number of 4,213 new cases were reported in the last 24 hours till Monday 8 AM, while the death toll rose by 97 to 2,206. More than 20,000 people have recovered also so far.

The health ministry asserted that the virus outbreak has nothing to do with race, religion and area, and said that Central government’s focus is on identifying pockets which have been reporting a larger number of cases for implementing strong containment measures.

While interacting with PM Modi, some chief ministers also sought measures to expand the testing infrastructure, while many of them also demanded fiscal support for the states due to the pandemic. And still, some others urged the PM not to resume the train services from Tuesday.

Delhi Chief Minister Arvind Kejriwal is said to have favoured allowing all economic activities, barring in the identified containment zones.

On the other hand, West Bengal Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee said the Centre wanted strict lockdown enforcement on one hand but was resuming train services on the other.

Chief ministers of Tamil Nadu and Telangana opposed the Centre’s move to resume passenger train services, which are scheduled to begin on Tuesday with select special trains for taking the stranded migrant workers to their native places.

Meanwhile, the Home Ministry, earlier in the day, said only asymptomatic people with confirmed tickets will be allowed to travel in 15 trains to be operational from Tuesday. And the online bookings for these trains began on Monday evening, after some delay due to a technical glitch.

Significantly, Maharashtra Chief Minister Uddhav Thackeray asked PM Modi to show specific and concrete direction on the ongoing lockdown and said the states would implement the same. He also urged the PM to start local trains in Mumbai for essential services staff working in the city.

Some chief ministers also suggested that the states should be allowed to decide declaring red, orange or green zones after taking into account the ground realities.