Amid apprehensions of a second wave of Covid-19 infections and a surge in cases in neighbouring states and in Delhi-NCR, the Punjab government Wednesday announced reimposing the night curfew form December 1, besides doubling the fine for not wearing masks and flouting social distancing norms.
Announcing the fresh restrictions, Chief Minister Capt Amarinder Singh said the night curfew will remain in force from 10 pm to 5 am while fine for not wearing masks and ignoring social distancing norms too shall be hiked from the present Rs 500 to Rs 1,000.
A government statement said that the curbs, which will be reviewed on December 15, also curtail the operation timings of hotels, restaurants and marriage places, which will have to be closed by 9.30 pm.
The decisions were taken during a Covid-19 review meeting.
Given the in-flow of patients from Delhi for treatment in Punjab, it has also been decided to review and optimise the beds availability in the state’s private hospitals. The CM asked Chief Secretary Vini Mahajan to work with the concerned departments to encourage more private hospitals to come on board and earmark beds for Covid care.
To further strengthen the availability of oxygen and ICU beds, Amarinder ordered strengthening of the level-2 and level-3 hospitals, with constant monitoring of districts that are not equipped with level-3 facilities. The management practices in government medical colleges and hospitals and civil hospitals should also be examined in light of the recommendations of the report received from the expert group, he said
The CM also directed the health and medical education departments to make emergency appointments of specialists, super-specialists, nurses and paramedics, to further augment the manpower. Recently, 249 specialist doctors and 407 medical officers were recruited. The departments have also been asked to consider preparing fourth and fifth-year MBBS students as reserved back-ups, in case of need in the future.
On the testing front, Amarinder stressed the need to fully utilise the 25,500 daily RT-PCR testing capacity, and directed targeted and regular testing of potential super spreaders, including government officials. The district hospitals must have round-the-clock testing available, and the same must also be made available at other convenient locations where people can easily access them, he said.
While the increase in contract-tracing was a positive sign, steps must be taken to ensure that all these contacts are also tested, said the CM.
To ensure that no deaths take place in home isolation, Amarinder Singh said the agency hired to look into these cases should keep close tabs on such patients. While mortality audit was ongoing, it was a matter of satisfaction that the department was now collecting reasons for placing patients on ventilator by private hospitals, and there was a referral group available to monitor these patients, he added.
Referring to the reports of early vaccine coming in, the Chief Minister said while he was happy to note that the data base for healthcare workers was ready, the departments should also look at the other categories of frontline workers who could be prioritised for the vaccine. Punjab has so far witnessed 1,47,665 cases of infection with 4,653 deaths.
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