Punjab Restrictions Till May 31, Says Reporting "High Positivity Rate"

Punjab Chief Minister Captain Amarinder Singh reviewed the state's Covid situation at a high-level meeting and announced the extension of restrictions.

A high Covid positivity rate of 13.1 per cent has been recorded in Punjab. (File)

Chandigarh:

The Punjab government has ordered extension of all existing restrictions due to coronavirus outbreak till May 31 amid a continuous rise in COVID-19 positivity rate in the state.

Punjab Chief Minister Captain Amarinder Singh today gave directions for strict enforcement of all the existing curbs to tackle the second wave of Covid and said the lockdown restrictions will stay in place till the end of this month.

Punjab on Saturday reported 217 more coronavirus deaths as 6,867 fresh cases surfaced, pushing the state's infection number to 4,90,755, according to a medical bulletin. So far, the infection has killed 11,693 people in the state.

The Chief Minister today said the officials will continue to determine opening of shops in a staggered manner and enforce other restrictions to check spread of Covid, especially in rural areas. "They can also make suitable amendments based on local condition as long as these do not dilute the state's overall restrictions," he said.

The district authorities have also been asked to continue to ensure strict implementation of all the directives of the Ministry of Home Affairs and the state government on Covid-appropriate behaviour, including social-distancing norms, regulating the crowd in market places and in public transport, and imposition of penalties prescribed for violation of restrictions.

Reviewing the state's Covid situation at a high-level meeting, the Chief Minister said the restrictions so far have shown results, with some decline in daily positivity rate and Covid cases coming down from around 9,000 to 6,000 in this period. However, he said, there is a need to extend the restrictions due to a high positivity rate of 13.1 per cent recorded between May 9 and May 15 and the case fatality rate reaching 2.4 per cent.

Mr Singh also directed the district administrations to investigate complaints of fleecing of patients by some private hospitals, warning that these would be shut down if they continue to indulge in such practices. Such cases have to be strictly dealt with, he said, directing the police department to crack down on those found indulging in hoarding or black marketing of any Covid-related essentials or medicines.

The Chief Minister also expressed concern over the spread of the new fungal disorder associated with Covid. He stressed the need to increase surveillance for this disease as, if it is not treated early, it can cause severe complications. He also directed the health department to ensure that medicines to treat this disease are available with the state.

"These should be procured before there is panic for these medicines as well," he said, and asked the department to also re-examine the standard operating procedure to see if there is anything that can be done to prevent this disease.

On the availability of medical Oxygen, the Chief Minister said that while the state, through judicious measures, had been able to prevent any mishap, the situation should be closely monitoring by the health department. "The state government had successfully arranged for PSA plants and oxygen concentrators which will further help tackle oxygen shortages," he added.

The state is expecting over 2,500 oxygen concentrators on the ground within this month, he said.

Mr Singh directed the health and medical education departments to ensure that no problems related to hospital capacity, especially with regard to L-3 beds, arise in the state.

He asked officials to ensure that food kits are delivered to those in quarantine, saying that nobody should be allowed to go to sleep hungry. He also appreciated the director general of police on the successful launch of the "Bhojan Helpline" to address this issue.

"The situation continues to be grim, leaving no scope for laxity," the Chief Minister said, directing director general of police Dinkar Gupta to ensure strict compliance of the restrictions. He said the battle against Covid continues amid apprehensions of more possible waves ahead.