Updated: September 12, 2021 11:50:40 am
The Punjab government employees who have not taken even the first dose of Covid vaccine for any reason other than medical will be compulsorily sent on leave after September 15, Chief Minister Amarinder Singh Friday said. He also ordering the extension of the existing Covid restrictions till September 30.
“Vaccine effectiveness is evident from the data being analysed. Special efforts were taken to reach out to government employees, and those who continue to avoid getting vaccinated will now be asked to go on leave till they get the first dose.” he said.
The strong measure is necessary to protect the people from the disease and to ensure that those who are vaccinated do not have to pay the price for continued vaccine hesitancy of those who are not, he said during a virtual Covid review meeting.
In view of the upcoming festival season, Amarinder ordered extension of the existing Covid restrictions till September 30, with a limit of 300 on all gatherings, including political, and strict enforcement of wearing of masks as well as social distancing. Earlier, the number of people allowed for indoor gatherings was 150 and outdoors was 300.
The CM also made it mandatory for organisers, including political parties, to ensure that participants, management and staff at food stalls, etc. in festival-related events are fully vaccinated or at least have had a single dose.
The chief minister called for continued vigil in the light of the festivals, and urged all political parties to lead by example, while directing the DGP to ensure compliance of restrictions by all.
Punjab goes to polls early next year.
Th state government, meanwhile, allowed teaching and non-teaching school staff who had taken at least one dose of vaccine more than four weeks ago to resume duties, subject to submission of weekly RT PCR negative test reports.
However, all those with co-morbidities shall only be allowed once they are fully vaccinated.
School Education Secretary Krishan Kumar earlier pointed out that currently, only fully vaccinated staff members are allowed to come to schools.
Health Minister Balbir Sidhu suggested a gap for the second dose to be reduced for the school staff to 28 days, but Chief Secretary Vini Mahajan said that the Centre had rejected the state’s request to allow them to be treated as essential services.
The CM, meanwhile, noted with satisfaction that with aggressive testing, the situation in schools had remained under control. Samples from 3,21,969 school students, along with 33,854 teaching and non-teaching staff, were taken in August across 5,799 schools and a total of 158 tested positive, which accounts for a positivity rate of only 0.05 per cent, he added.
Citing the latest sero-survey, he said that for children in the age group of 6-17 years, the positivity was at 60 per cent. It was spread equally across gender and place of residence, according to the survey, which has confirmed “that our children, even though affected by Covid, have remained largely safe from serious disease”, the CM said.
Sidhu urged the CM to ensure availability of sufficient vaccines to ensure vaccination of all eligible people before the festivals, to which Amarinder said he will pursue the matter with the Union health minister, who had earlier assured him of additional supplies.
He directed the Health Department to ensure that all staffers at sweet shops, kiosks, dhabas, etc. are vaccinated with at least one dose.
Noting that the state had already vaccinated more than 57 per cent of the eligible population, with the first dose administered to 1.18 crore and second to 37.81 lakh people, Amarinder ordered further intensification of the vaccination drive.
DGP Dinkar Gupta informed the meeting that with case load decreasing, people have started being lax on the mask front, which the health department should strictly enforce with the help of the police.
Dr K K Talwar, head of the state’s Covid expert committee, urged the CM to appeal to all religious organisations to make announcements for wearing of masks.
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