September 10, 2021 6:02:44 pm
In view of the upcoming festival season, Punjab Chief Minister Captain Amarinder Singh on Friday ordered extension of the existing Covid-19 restrictions in the state till September 30, with a limit of 300 on all gatherings, including political. Wearing of masks and social distancing will also be strictly enforced.
The chief minister has made it mandatory for organisers of festival-related events, including political parties, to ensure that participants, management and staff at food stalls and other spots have at least taken one dose of the Covid vaccine.
Chairing a virtual high-level Covid review meeting, the chief minister also directed the Department of Social Security to prepare to open Anganwadi Centres within this month, which would make Punjab the first state to do so. The opening of these centres will be subject to vaccination of staff and other guidelines to be worked out jointly with the Health Department.
Pointing out that the dip in case load has made people careless when it comes to wearing masks, DGP Dinkar Gupta said the Health Department should enforce the guideline strictly with the help of the police. Captain Amarinder also directed Chief Secretary Vini Mahajan to set up joint flying squads of the administration and the police in each district to ensure compliance at restaurants, marriage venues and other public places.
The chief minister has also ordered to increase testing from the current figure of 45,000 per day to at least 50,000 as part of preparations for a possible third wave. Pointing out that the GIS-based surveillance and prevention tool with an auto-trigger mechanism for localised restrictions is now live in all districts, Captain Amarinder directed the Health Department to use it to initiate micro-containment measures in localities where there are more than five cases.
Head of the state’s Covid expert committee Dr KK Talwar said that while the situation was under control, it was necessary to prepare for the third wave as well as for the upcoming festival season.
Noting that cases of mucormycosis had come down substantially with only one case reported in the last week, the chief minister expressed satisfaction that Punjab was doing much better than several other states, including Haryana, in terms of the number of persons cured. Overall positivity in the state has also remained low at 0.1% from September 1 to 9, Health Secretary Alok Shekhar informed the meeting.
In terms of variants of concern, the month-wise whole genome sequencing sent to the National Centre for Disease Control (NCDC) showed that the Delta variant remains predominant, the chief minister said, adding that the Whole Genome Sequencing Lab at GMCH Patiala has started operations in association with PATH. As many as 67 samples tested already have not shown the presence of any new variant.
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