Punjab imposes more restrictions to prevent further spread of COVID-19, gears up for vaccine roll-out

Though the declining positivity trend in Punjab over the past 3 weeks was welcome, the fatality rate remained a matter of concern, said CM Capt Amarinder Singh while chairing a COVID-19 review meeting

Punjab CM Amarinder Singh (Photo Courtesy: IANS)
Punjab CM Amarinder Singh (Photo Courtesy: IANS)

NH Web Desk

The Punjab government on Friday imposed more restrictions in an attempt to prevent the further spread of COVID-19.

Amid complaints of mass violations of COVID-19 curbs at weddings and parties, Punjab Chief Minister Capt. Amarinder Singh ordered a restriction of 100 people at indoor and 250 people at outdoor gatherings in the state, even as night curfew was extended in all cities and towns till January 1, 2021. He also directed the Director General of Police to strictly enforce the restrictions at marriage palaces and other places, with penalties to be imposed on the hosts in case of deviance.

Taking cognisance of the high fatality rate in the state, the Chief Minister also extended curfew restrictions (10 p.m. to 5 a.m.) till January 1. The night curfew was earlier imposed from December 1 to December 15.

Chairing a COVID-19 review meeting, the Chief Minister also ordered an end to home quarantine for those above the age of 70 with co-morbidities, unless adequate medical facilities can be made available at home. Health Secretary Hussan Lal pointed out during the virtual meeting that a large number of COVID-19 deaths were also being reported from home isolation cases.

To further check fatalities, the Chief Minister also ordered a thorough check of all private hospitals to ensure that only those with adequate Level 3 infrastructure and manpower be allowed to admit COVID-19 patients. Hospitals lacking such facilities should refer patients to other hospitals, he said.

Though the declining positivity trend in Punjab over the past three weeks was welcome, the fatality rate remained a matter of concern, said Capt Amarinder Singh, directing the DGP to ensure strict compliance to Covid-19 safety protocols, including wearing of masks and social distancing.

He also asked the Health Department to maintain the 30000 per day RTPCR sampling/testing limit, with more smart and targeted sampling to include potential super spreaders.

Districts must be encouraged to make full use of the ITIHAAS portal to identify possible hotspots and concentrate their sampling there, he said, stressing the need to step up testing in containment and micro-containment zones and ensure 100 per cent sampling.

The Chief Minister also asked the Health Department to monitor the health of the farmers who are returning from Delhi in view of the risk to them due to the high case load there.

He also directed the Health Department to incorporate the results of the 2nd sero survey in the state’s strategy for COVID-19 vaccine roll-out so that the high-risk population is covered first. The state has been gearing up for the mega exercise with 729 cold chain points for the storage of the vaccine.

While reviewing the COVID-19 situation in the state, the Chief Minister noted the state’s readiness for the vaccine rollout in terms of database of priority lists, infrastructure for cold chain management, identification and training of vaccinators etc.

Apart from vaccine safety and vaccination site safety, correct and timely information communication was critical to the successful rollout of the vaccination, which is expected to be available soon in India, said Capt Amarinder Singh.

Besides one state-level vaccine store, 22 district vaccine stores and 127 block level vaccine stories are being prepared for the roll-out of the vaccine in Punjab, which will also have 570 cold chain points. Besides one walk-in freezer at Ferozepur, the Government of India has decided to provide one more at Chandigarh. In addition, the state will have one walk-in freezer each at Amritsar, Hoshiarpur and Ferozepur, with more to be received from the Centre. In addition, the state has 1165 ice lined refrigerators and 1079 deep freezers.

In line with the Central government’s guidelines, data of about 1.25 lakh Health Care workers (government and private) has been compiled by the state government for the first phase vaccination.

Other steps being taken as part of the vaccine roll-out preparedness in the state include mapping of vaccinators, digital platform training in districts, trained manpower for vaccine inventory management and coordination at various levels.

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