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Only fully vaccinated staff to attend schools in-person, orders Punjab Chief Secretary Vini Mahajan

Punjab's move to curtail in-person attendance in schools comes a day after at least 20 students from two government schools of Ludhiana tested positive for Covid on Tuesday.

By: Express News Service | Ludhiana |
August 11, 2021 10:29:24 pm
Punjab opened schools for Classes 10 to 12 from July 26, and then for all classes from August 2 onwards. (Express photo by Gurmeet Singh)

Punjab chief Secretary, Vini Mahajan, on Wednesday ordered that only fully vaccinated teaching and non-teaching staff would be allowed to attend schools in-person, while adding that at least 10,000 samples for RT-PCR testing would be collected from schools daily for testing.

Punjab’s move to curtail in-person attendance in schools comes a day after at least 20 students from two government schools of Ludhiana tested positive for Covid on Tuesday.

Mahajan, while asking all Deputy Commissioners to ensure that the new guidelines are strictly adhered to, has also directed that the overall target of 40,000 samples being collected for testing per day must be achieved and testing shall be further increased if the number of Covid cases surges.

Taking a cue, Ludhiana Deputy Commissioner, Varinder Kumar Sharma, directed health authorities to further intensify the testing drive among school students and ensure at least 1500 samples are collected from schools in Ludhiana district to be tested daily. Earlier, the education department had set a target of testing 1,000 samples a day from schools in Ludhiana district. Further, Sharma ordered the district education officers (DEOs) to ensure that only fully vaccinated teachers attend schools in-person.

Punjab opened schools for Classes 10 to 12 from July 26, and then for all classes from August 2 onwards.

Chairing a meeting to review the Covid situation in the state with senior officials in Chandigarh, chief secretary Majahan expressed concern over the movement of people to Punjab from neighbouring states, where the virus cases were once again on the rise. She asked the officials concerned to keep a close watch on the positivity rate ahead of the festival season when extra vigil was required to prevent a surge of the virus.

Quoting a forecast from the University of Cambridge, Mahajan said that new cases can be expected to double in about 64 days (under the assumption that the growth rate remains constant).
She said that 2,45,823 samples have been taken in the past week (from August 3 to 9), and only 352 had tested positive, which accounted for a positivity rate of 0.1 per cent.
She said that each district should aim to augment their bed capacity by 25 per cent from the second wave’s peak demand.

Mahajan was also apprised that at present, 4,307 Level-2 beds were available in the government hospitals, which would be increased to 5,387 after adding 25 per cent capacity, while 6,565 Level-2 beds were present in private facilities, where 1,644 more beds would be added to increase the capacity by 25 per cent.

Asking the officials to focus on further increasing medical oxygen availability in government and private hospitals, the Chief Secretary ordered to make operational all PSA plants within this month, besides further augmenting oxygen concentrator capacity to meet the demand of the life-saving gas in the future.

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