Appealing to political parties to “act sensibly” and “not organise large gatherings” amid the Covid-19 pandemic, Punjab Chief Minister Capt Amarinder Singh on Sunday announced that the government is all set to impose some more stringent curbs in the state, including further restrictions on social, public and family gatherings, as well as mandatory wearing of masks even while working.
Announcing this during his #AskCaptain Facebook live session, Amarinder said strictness was necessary to check the spread of the coronavirus as he did not want Punjab to go the way of Mumbai, Delhi or Tamil Nadu.
Punjab has been witnessing political activity with leaders organising gatherings, dharnas attended by many. Some are seen without masks and social distancing norms are thrown to the winds. State government’s advisor on health Dr K K Talwar had also raised the issue with the CM during the Covid review meeting two days ago. He had said that while cases are spiraling, people were behaving as if they are no longer under the threat of infection.
Asked why the state government was not going for weekend lockdowns to contain the spread, the CM said, “Sunday lockdowns were already in place and the government is keeping a close watch on the situation and will do whatever necessary.”
Underlining the need for everyone to behave responsibly, Amarinder asked people to adhere to all curbs, and appealed to all political parties to avoid any kind of gathering to save the lives of Punjabis. “It is our joint responsibility to save Punjab. Politics can wait,” he stressed, calling for a collective fight by one and all against “the biggest danger facing humanity.”
Expressing concern over several frontline workers and even government officials testing positive, the chief minister said that with a vaccine still not in sight, it was left to the people to fight the coronavirus. Pointing out that 5,100 people were fined on Saturday for not wearing masks, with some cases of spitting in public also reported, he said these actions could not be allowed. He further said his government would be distributing more reusable and washable masks to the poor. Amarinder said all Covid deaths in the state were being audited to enable doctors and experts to strategise in a more focused manner.
SIT on Covid testing scam
Amarinder announced a three-member Special Investigation Team (SIT) to probe the allegations of a Covid testing scam against Tulli lab, while warning that his government would not allow private hospitals or laboratories to profiteer from this unprecedented crisis.
He said he had received a complaint against Tulli lab and had asked the Vigilance Bureau to look into the matter but when initial investigation showed that there was no involvement of any government department or officer, the case was transferred to the Punjab Police.
Amarinder said he has tasked the education department with working out ways to ensure seamless delivery of education to students with no or inadequate online access.
In response to a question on whether the recently established Shiromani Akali Dal (SAD) of Sukhdev Singh Dhindsa was a Congress gameplan, the chief minister said what happens in the Akali party “is not our job”.
No job quota
The CM ruled out quota for the state’s youth in jobs, along the lines of Haryana, and said he did not think the neighbouring state’s recent decision in this regard would stand judicial scrutiny.
Quarantine for NRIs
The chief minister told a UK-based Punjabi wanting to come to Punjab to see his mother that the rule on seven-day institutional quarantine, followed by 7 days of home quarantine, was mandatory and could not be relaxed in the interest of his safety and that of others. To a question on slow pace of mutations, he said he had directed the Chief Secretary to conduct a special drive to accelerate the process and clear pending mutations at the earliest.
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