Congress president Sonia Gandhi on Thursday wrote to Prime Minister Narendra Modi supporting the 21-day national lockdown as a “welcome step” while suggesting economic and health measures in India’s fight against the novel Coronavirus.

“As president of the Congress, I would like to state that we will support and collaborate fully with every step taking by the union government to ensure the containment of the pandemic,” Sonia Gandhi wrote in the four-page letter.

“At this challenging and uncertain time, it is imperative for each one of us to rise above partisan interests and honour one’s duty towards our country and indeed, towards humanity.”

The coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic sweeping across the world had caused serious public health concerns, anguish and apprehensions in India, she wrote in her letter to the prime minister.

“It has imperiled lives and put at risk the lives and livelihoods of millions, particularly, the most vulnerable sections of our society. The entire nation stands as one in solidarity in the fight to halt and defeat the Corona pandemic,” Gandhi added.

She also re-emphasized the urgent need to arm doctors, nurses and healthcare workers with ‘Personal Protection Equipment’ including N-95 masks and hazmat suits.

“Let us ensure the opening and scaling up of manufacture and supply of these items so that not a single health professional faces the predicament of contracting or passing on COVID-19 owing to unavailability of ‘Personal Protection Equipment’,” Gandhi said.

Announcing a special “Risk Allowance” for doctors, nurses and health workers for a period of six months retrospectively from March 1 was imperative, she added.

The Congress president also suggested a sector-wise relief package for business badly hit by the pandemic. “Centre must consider announcing sector-wise relief package, including tax breaks, interest subvention, deferment of liability,” wrote Sonia Gandhi.

Noting that many businesses and companies were laying off and retrenching large numbers of regular and temporary employees, Gandhi said, “It would be in order for the Union Government to immediately put in place broad-based social protection measures, including direct cash transfer, to these sections to tide over the period of difficulty.”

She also sought a deferment of all loan recoveries up to six months, including those for farmers and the salaried class.

The letter came hours before Union Finance Minister Nirmala Sitharaman announced a relief package worth Rs 1.7 lakh crore for poor via cash transfer and food subsidy amid lockdown to fight the Coronavirus pandemic.

The 21-day nationwide lockdown announced by Prime Minister Narendra Modi to contain the Coronavirus pandemic has forced shops, factories and industries to be shut. India has so far reported 15 deaths due to novel Coronavirus and the number of confirmed cases have risen to 649 in the country.