Punjab CM Capt. Amarinder Singh hints at imposing total lockdown if COVID situation does not improve

Capt. Amarinder Singh, however, clarified that he was not in favour of a harsh lockdown as it would hurt the poor the most, and asked people to adhere to the curbs imposed in the state to check COVID

Punjab CM Capt Amarinder Singh
Punjab CM Capt Amarinder Singh

Bipin Bhardwaj

If the current COVID situation continues to prevail, Punjab would be forced to go in for a total lockdown, Chief Minister Capt. Amarinder Singh has hinted, even as he warned people against laxity in adherence to the curbs imposed in the state. The CM, however, clarified that he was not in favour of a harsh lockdown.

The Chief Minister said he had so far refrained from ordering a sweeping lockdown in the state because it will hurt the poor the most and would lead to exodus of migrant labourers, plunging industries into chaos again. If the people do not stringently comply with the restrictions in place, harsher steps might have to be taken, he added.

The state is currently in a soft lockdown situation, with strong curbs in place, and additional restrictions imposed by the government on Sunday, said the CM while chairing a high-level virtual meeting to review the COVID situation.

He also ordered a stop on all take-away deliveries from restaurants, which was being used by youngsters as a pretext to move out of their homes. Only home deliveries of food should be allowed, he directed the officials.

He, however, gave permission for shops selling fertilisers to be open.

Asserting that he will not allow Punjab to go the way of some other states, where COVID patients could be seen lying on the roads, the Punjab Chief Minister said industry should be encouraged to use their CSR funds for vaccination and treatment of labourers suffering from mild or moderate illness so that they can stay at home, thus reducing pressure on hospitals.

Underlining the need to step up preparedness amid projections of a peak in the coming days, the Chief Minister ordered a 20 per cent increase in bed capacity in the next 10 days.

He directed the Health and Medical Education departments to get stadiums, gymnasiums and other such places ready to house patients.

Tented camps should be set up, and gyms/halls should be converted into L2 and L3 facilities, he said, adding that “we have to be prepared for the worst.”

He also directed use of staff from Rural Development and other departments to augment the workforce for tracing of COVID contacts in rural areas.

The directives came even as Health Minister Balbir Sidhu said the situation was grim with only 300 beds now available at L3 level in the state. Hospitals were getting overwhelmed, he added.

Punjab’s positivity rate had on Sunday stood at 12 per cent with the Malwa region showing an increase in cases in the last 7-10 days, informed Health secretary Husan Lal.

With L3 occupancy at 90 per cent and in some cases 100 per cent the situation was grim, he said, adding that CFR was close to 2 per cent and higher (at 2.7 per cent) in rural areas. Home deaths currently were also at 2 per cent. The worrying factor was that 17 per cent of all deaths had no co-morbid conditions, he said.

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