· SAYS STRINGENT RESTRICTIONS COULD HELP DELAY PEAK, PROJECTED BY EXPERTS FOR AUGUST
· CONCERNED OVER DELHI’S ALARMING SITUATION, ASKS EXPERTS TO MULL STRICTER CURBS FOR ENTRANTS FROM NATIONAL CAPITAL
Chandigarh (Pitamber Sharma) : Amid apprehensions of community spread of Covid and projections indicating that the pandemic peak in the state was still two months away, Punjab Chief Minister Captain Amarinder Singh on Thursday ordered stricter lockdown on the weekends and public holidays, with movement to be restricted to e-passes holders.
All citizens, except medical staff and essential service providers, would be required to download e-passes from the COVA app, the Chief Minister directed at a Video Conference meeting to review the pandemic situation and the state’s preparedness to handle further spread.
Industry, however, will be allowed to function normally on all days, said the Chief Minister, while asking DGP Dinkar Gupta to ensure strict implementation of these directives to prevent gathering of large crowds.
The Chief Minister said such tough measures were necessitated on account of the spiralling Covid cases across the world. Stringent curbs could help delay the peak for as long as possible, he added, pointing out that with no early vaccine or treatment in sight, strict protocols was the only way to fight the pandemic.
Even as he warned of the pandemic worsening in the coming days and weeks, the Chief Minister also asked medical and health experts to consider imposition of strict conditions, including mandatory testing certification, for entrants from Delhi, where the situation had assumed alarming proportions. On an average, 500-800 vehicles are coming to Punjab from the national capital every day, the DGP informed the meeting.
A decision on stricter curbs on those coming from Delhi will be taken after a review by the experts, an official spokesperson said after the meeting. Pointing out that many of those who had come from outside had behaved irresponsibly and had not reported to the health authorities, the Chief Minister said tough measures would have to be taken where needed, as the spike was still continuing and was expected to escalate in the days ahead.
The Chief Minister suggested that since it normally takes 3-4 days for the virus to show up, those coming from outside should be tested after a week and in the meantime they should be strictly asked to home quarantine themselves. He also directed the DGP to ensure strict implementation of the home quarantine. The DGP disclosed that 550 flying squads of the Punjab Police were enforcing the same.
Referring to complaints received on social media, and through other channels, of private hospitals charging exorbitant sums for Covid hospitalisation and care, the Chief Minister directed the Health Department to ensure strict application of CGHS rates. All data on availability of beds etc should be put in public domain, he added.
The Chief Minister’s directions came even as the doubling rate in the state worsened from 22 on May 31 to 15 on June 10, showing a progressive decline day by day. Though significantly longer than the national average, the doubling period decline was a matter of anxiety, said the Chief Minister.
Expressing concern over the large number of people coming from outside the state, even though the positive cases among them were not many, the Chief Minister said there was no scope for complacency in the state’s battle against Covid. The state government’s efforts would need to be scaled up further, particularly in view of the Health Department’s projections suggesting that the peak of the pandemic had yet to hit Punjab, and it could happen towards the end of August if the doubling period continues to come down as per the current trend.
Early diagnosis and increased testing was the key to tackling the crisis under Mission Fateh, the Health Department officials said at the meeting, underlining the need for doubling of testing in the next one month and close monitoring of the densely populated areas. Four more testing labs were in the pipeline for being operationalised, the Chief Minister was informed.