Punjab extends COVID curbs till July 10 as cases of Delta Plus variant surface in state

Reviewing preparations for what experts have predicted as an imminent third wave, Chief Minister Captain Amarinder Singh directed the Health and Medical Education departments to scale up COVID testing

Punjab extends COVID curbs till July 10 as cases of Delta Plus variant surface in state
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Bipin Bhardwaj

Punjab has extended COVID restrictions till July 10 with cases of Delta Plus variant coming to light in the state. However, bars, pubs and taverns can operate with 50 percent capacity from July 1.

Skill Development Centres and universities have also been allowed to open conditional to the staff and students having taken at least one dose of the COVID vaccine.

Announcing the relaxations at a high-level COVID review meeting, Chief Minister Captain Amarinder Singh made it clear that the bars, pubs and taverns (ahatas) would have to strictly maintain social distancing protocols and waiters/servers/other employees should have taken at least one dose of the COVID vaccine. He made it clear that it would be the responsibility of the owners to ensure that these conditions are met.

While he expressed satisfaction over the decline in positivity rate to less than 1%, with an overall fall in active cases, the Chief Minister noted that the positivity rate in some districts still remained over 1%. Further, the detection of Delta Plus variant was a matter of concern which made it necessary to continue with the curbs, he stressed.

The month wise whole genome sequencing has shown that more than 90% cases were of a variant of concern, with the original virus having been practically replaced by the variants, disclosed the Chief Minister.

Two cases in Ludhiana and Patiala have shown Delta Plus variant, while in May and June, the Delta variant was most prevalent, he pointed out.

Of the 198 contacts of the Ludhiana patient traced and tested, one was found positive and the sample has been sent for genome sequencing, while in the Patiala case, for which the genome sequencing report was received on June 26, the process of tracing/testing is going on.

Capt. Amarinder Singh ordered fast tracking of the establishment of a Whole Genome Sequencing Lab at GMCH Patiala, in association with the international non-profit organisation PATH, and make it operational by July. He also ordered intensification of genome sequences of cases reported from clusters in limited geographical, institutional or superspreader event areas to check the spread of a potential third wave of COVID.

Health Minister Balbir Sidhu suggested a close watch on visitors from countries reporting Delta Plus variant cases.

Reviewing the preparations for what experts have predicted as an imminent third wave, the Chief Minister directed the Health and Medical Education departments to scale up testing.

Underlining the need to continue with ‘Corona Mukt Pendu Abhiyan’ in full force, he also directed organisation of outreach camps, especially in villages, for testing.

On the steps taken to reduce the turnaround time for testing, he stressed the need to proceed expeditiously with the proposal from PATH to support automation of the government lab at GMCH Patiala on a pilot basis, and equip it with barcode scanning so that data is automatically fed into the system.

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