Amid a decline in Covid-19 cases in the state, the Punjab government on Thursday allowed resumption of normal OPD service and elective surgeries, with extensive precautions in place, at hospitals but warned against any complacency given the projections of a possible second wave of infections.
Chairing a Covid review meeting, Chief Minister Capt Amarinder Singh also allowed opening of government schools from October 19, after due sanitation and disinfection procedures, and with clear SOPs mandating parents’ consent, as well as ceiling on number of students and hours of operation. Some private schools started functioning Thursday.
‘POSSIBILITY OF A SECOND WAVE’
Even as he termed the decline in positivity rate to 2.60 as a good sign, Dr KK Talwar, head of the expert advisory committee on health, who attended the virtual meeting, warned of a second wave hitting Punjab during the festival season. With just about 500+ cases a day at present, the projections for the next few days were positive, he said, but added that with the spate of upcoming festivals and the fatigue in the health system, the state could see the next wave hitting soon.
Citing the incidence of the second wave in various countries, and even in Delhi, Talwar said Punjab should learn lessons from their experience and prepare accordingly. Dr Rajesh Kumar, a member of the Health Department’s Covid Expert group, said that even if the situation remained under control through November, the onset of the winter season could trigger a spurt in cases.
Expressing concern over the warnings, Amarinder directed the concerned departments to take all preventive measures. He asked the health and medical education departments to work with the market committees to ensure widespread distribution of masks and to encourage people to wear them, and also follow social distancing norms.
He also asked the departments to ensure that the medical staff is kept motivated and all vacancies of technicians are filled up immediately so that normal OPD services and elective surgeries can be carried out seamlessly. Secretaries of the health and medical research departments briefed the CM on the steps being taken to ensure full precautions in OPDs, wards and operation theatres as per SoPs and guidelines for Infection Prevention and Control.
POLICE GEARING UP TO MANAGE FESTIVAL SEASON
DGP Dinkar Gupta informed the meeting that security would be beefed up during festive season and all efforts made to ensure strict adherence to Covid norms at marketplaces, Ramlilas. The DGP said the state police force was also focused on handling the increasing number of farmer protests, as well as picketing by the BJP and RSS leaders.
According to the DGP, the force lost 22 personnel to Covid in September, taking the toll to 39. As of date, 434 personnel are infected, with an average of 72 cases being reported from the force every day during September. However, the figure was now down to about 10.
PULSE OXYMETERS TO ASHA WORKERS
Earlier, Talwar suggested giving Pulse Oxymeters to ASHA workers. He also disclosed that teams of experts were being formed to conduct a mortality audit of every hospital to identify gaps, since the fatality rate in the state continued to be high (at 3.1 per cent). This is despite the fact that the recovery rate has gone up from 82 per cent on October 1 to 90.3 per cent as of October 13, when the total number of confirmed cases in the state stood at 12,3211.
Health Secretary Hussan Lal pointed out that Case Fatality Rate (CFR) was still high at 131 against the national average of 81. To ensure adequate availability of oxygen supply in the coming weeks, tendering for first phase for augmenting the supply was in process, he said, adding that the Government of India had fixed the rates of medical oxygen, including that of transportation of cylinders, though liquid oxygen transportation rates were yet to be fixed.
In the first phase, oxygen generation plants will be set up at district hospitals in Jalandhar and Ludhiana and at Medical Colleges in Patiala, Amritsar, and Faridkot, to be followed by district hospitals at Mansa, Sangrur, and Bathinda and MKH Patiala in the second phase, and Dhat district hospitals in Ropar, Ferozepur, Gurdaspur, and Amritsar in third Phase.
He said 10,000 post-Covid care kits had been sent to various districts for distribution to patients discharged from government hospitals.
CM EXHORTS SARPANCHES TO COUNTER PROPAGANDA
The CM, meanwhile, urged all village sarpanches to counter the false propaganda being spread about Covid by certain malicious people. He asked them to work among the people to ensure that they are not misled by the misinformation and blatant lies, and to strengthen the government’s hands in fighting the pandemic, especially in the upcoming festival season. He said state could not afford to be complacent. “We cannot afford to let our guard down, especially considering the fact that the paddy harvesting is on, as also the government procurement,” he said.
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