New Delhi: After the government on Thursday announced its relief packages to help the people bearing the brunt of a 21-day lockdown amid the Coronavirus outbreak, Congress leader Rahul Gandhi called it the “first step in the right direction”. Notably, the Congress has been demanding an economic package in view of the coronavirus spread and the subsequent lockdown. Also Read - ‘All Should Have Taken COVID-19 Threat Seriously And Better Prepared,’ Says Rahul Gandhi

“The government announcement today of a financial assistance package, is the first step in the right direction. India owes a debt to its farmers, daily wage earners, labourers, women and the elderly who are bearing the brunt of the ongoing lockdown,” the Congress MP said in a tweet. Also Read - Rahul Gandhi Targets Modi Govt Over 'Delay' in Banning Export of Ventilators, Masks

This comes hours after Congress interim President Sonia Gandhi wrote a four-page letter to Prime Minister Narendra Modi and extended her party’s full cooperation in the nationwide lockdown, but demanded protection aid/equipment to medics and health workers and implement its proposed Nyuntam Aay Yojana (Nyay scheme) to contain the economic distress. Also Read - 'Clapping Won't Help,' Says Rahul Gandhi on PM's Call to Applaud Doctors, Health Workers During Janata Curfew

“I would like to re-emphasise the urgent need to arm our doctors, nurses, and other health workers with personal protection equipment, including N-95 masks and hazardous materials suit (hazmat suits),” wrote Sonia Gandhi, while welcoming the 21-day lockdown.

Earlier in the day, the Centre announced a Rs 170,000 crore worth of relief package to protect the weaker sections of the society from the economic fallout of COVID-19.

Announcing the relief package, Finance Minister Nirmala Sitharaman said that the PM Garib Kalyan Yojana will benefit migrant workers and rural poor and the women. The minister said the scheme will work via direct cash transfer, as one set of measures, while another set will include food security-related measures.

“We do not want anyone to remain hungry, so we will be giving enough to take care of their foodgrain requirement, protein requirement in terms of pulses,” the minister said.

“On the other hand, they should also not remain without money in hand. So several measures through DBT are being taken so that money reaches them so that they can have money in their hands.”