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Amarinder Singh rules out complete lockdown, defers vaccination drive for 18+

“Lockdown is not a solution, as it will lead to exodus of the labourers and force them to go to states with even lesser medical facilities,” said Amarinder Singh.

By: Express News Service | Chandigarh |
May 1, 2021 7:26:34 am
A huge crowd at a Covid-19 vaccination center Ludhiana’s Jawaddi Kalan. (Express Photo: Gurmeet Singh)

Even as Punjab battles a high case fatality rate (CFR) of 2.43 per cent in its struggle to contain the second Covid wave, Chief Minister Amarinder Singh said that complete lockdown is not a solution in the battle against the rampaging virus. Punjab, meanwhile, also announced that it will defer vaccination drive for the 18-plus age group for now due to shortage of vaccines.

Ruling out a complete lockdown, the CM Friday directed the DCs of the six worst-affected districts — Ludhiana, SAS Nagar (Mohali), Jalandhar, Bathinda, Patiala and Amritsar — to further tighten the micro-containment strategy and ensure 100 per cent testing.

“Lockdown is not a solution, as it will lead to exodus of the labourers and force them to go to states with even lesser medical facilities,” said Amarinder.

During a Covid review meeting focused on the 6 worst affected districts, the CM also made is clear that due to non-availability of vaccine, Phase III of vaccination of 18-45 age group cannot be started on May 1 as scheduled.

He added that the balance of unutilised vaccines had to be returned to the Government of India by all private health facilities by Friday evening, these facilities would have no vaccines to administer from Saturday for 45+ population, while they could not vaccinate 18-45 age group as they had no supplies for the same, said the Chief Minister.

However, Haryana’s Home and Health Minister Anil Vij told PTI that the vaccination for the 18-45 years category in the state will be started from Saturday.

Meanwhile, Union Territory Chandigarh’s Home-cum-Health Secretary Arun Gupta when asked about the vaccination for 18-45 category rolling out in Chandigarh from May 1, said, “We have not received the vaccines, so without the vaccines we cannot start it”.

Amarinder said his government was pursuing the matter of vaccine shortage with the Centre as the situation was critical.

The state had received 2 lakh doses, but that was not sufficient even to meet the two days requirement of the 45+ age group, said Amarinder, while reviewing the Covid vaccine situation at a virtual meeting.

The state government was trying to secure supply for 45+ population from the Centre on priority, and was also trying to strategise Phase III vaccination on the basis of Dr Gagandeep Kang’s expert group’s interim report, said the CM.

The meeting was informed that an order for procurement of 30 lakh doses of Covishield for the age group of 18-45 years was placed with Serum Institute of India on April 26, but the response received was that availability of vaccine will be known only in 4 weeks’ time. Further, SII had asked the state government to indicate demand for the next 3-4 months, with advance payments to be made.

They had informed the government that supplies would be delivered in a phased manner, every month.

As per the Health Department data, of the six worst hit districts, while Mohali, Jalandhar and Ludhiana were doing well in terms of vaccination, Amritsar, Bathinda, Patiala were running short of targets. The Chief Minister directed these three districts to step up efforts.

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