THOSE FYLING in from abroad can opt for home quarantine in Punjab if they have a Covid-negative certificate up to 96 hours old, Chief Minister Capt Amarinder Singh said Wednesday.
International travelers who get themselves tested on arrival at the airport, as part of the Centre’s new directives, can also go home for quarantine if found negative, he said, adding that Punjab was currently at the 17th position in the country in terms of Covid cases.
After plummeting for a few days amid rumours of organ harvesting, testing in the state has crossed 28,000 per day. Amarinder, who was holding a virtual meeting of a third group of party MLAs, said police had cracked down heavily on miscreants spreading misinformation in the state and 28,688 tests were conducted on Tuesday and the figures would be raised to 30,000 soon. The focus of the state government is on saving lives, for which early testing is essential, he added.
“We have to effectively counter such campaigns,” he said as he asked the ministers and MLAs to visit their districts and constituencies to take stock of the ground situation over the next three days. With the peak expected in the state in the next two weeks, it was important for the elected representatives and officials to work together to tackle the crisis, he said.
Slamming the Aam Aadmi Party (AAP) for its “concerted campaign to spread misinformation” in Punjab on Covid, the chief minister said despite its lower population, Delhi, which is ruled by AAP, has reported worse data on the pandemic. They (AAP) have made it a subject of competition, he said. Nowhere has such a thing happened, and in fact the Congress has been supporting state governments across the country in their fight against Covid, in sharp contrast to AAP and the Akalis who are trying to derail the Punjab government’s efforts, he added.
Amarinder asked the MLAs to work with Panchayats to identify the rumour mongers and to activate party workers to check the spread of negative propaganda on Covid.
MLAs DEMAND ACTION ON SOCIAL MEDIA CAMPAIGNS AGAINST GOVT
The MLAs demanded strict police action against vicious social media campaigns that were “clearly aimed at discrediting the state government”. All MLAs wanted the chief minister to order a strict crackdown on fake IDs on social media defaming Punjab and indulging in character assassination of MLAs and the state government. Amarinder told the members he had already directed the DGP to ensure strict action against web channels spreading misinformation and would speak to the central government as well as the US ambassador over foreign web channels reportedly engaged in such negative propaganda.
The MLAs came out with various suggestions to counter the false propaganda against the state government and to better manage the crisis. These included involvement of panchayats for management of Covid patients in villages and setting up of district level anti-rumour squads of police and civic officials to check the spread of rumours.
‘PEOPLE NOT WEARING MASKS’
The chief minister expressed concern over the fact that people continued to violate guidelines by not wearing masks and not maintaining social distance even in the seventh month of the pandemic. They are risking not just their own lives but those of their families too, he said, adding that it was the duty of all, not just as politicians but as citizens, to spread the message among the people.
Free distribution of food packets for poor patients in isolation had started in Patiala, with other districts to follow, said Amarinder. He further said that the process of distribution of free Covid kits to 50,000 Covid patients at homes and in hospitals will begin in a couple of days.
MLAs WANT CCTVs IN ISOLATION WARDS
Members also suggested stringent measures to check violation of restrictions on number of people allowed to attend Bhogs especially in villages. A suggestion was made to involve religious organisations to check the spread of the pandemic. Some MLAs asked for CCTVs to be installed in isolation wards to allow the patients to communicate with their families and friends and permission to relatives of Covid patients to visit isolation wards in PPE kits purchased at own cost, etc.
OVERCHARGING BY PRIVATE HOSPITALS
Overcharging by private hospitals was another concern raised by MLAs, some of whom said many of these hospitals were also refusing to attend to Covid patients and needed to be controlled. They also sought increase in Level 3 beds amid the spike in cases, as well as strict implementation of mandatory masks and other Covid protocols.
Health Secretary Hussan Lal apprised the meeting of the latest data on Covid in Punjab, pointing out that 90 per cent of the deaths had been reported among Level 3 patients, 7.6 per cent among Level 2 and the remaining of patients in home isolation.
DENGUE ON THE RISE
The issue of cases of dengue being reported from some areas was also raised and the chief minister directed the health department to deploy special teams to launch precautionary measures across the state to prevent the spread of dengue.
MLAs who joined the meeting were Barindermeet Singh Pahra (Gurdaspur), Balwinder Singh Laddi (Sri Hargobindpur), Dharamvir Agnihotri (Tarn Taran), Sukhpal Singh Bhullar (Khem Karan), Harminder Singh Gill (Patti), Ramanjit Singh Sikki (Khadoor Sahib), Santok Singh Bhalaipur (Baba Bakala), Navtej Singh Cheema (Sultanpur Lodhi), Balwinder Singh Dhaliwal (Phagwara), Indu Bala (Mukerian), Arun Dogra (Dasuya), Sangat Singh Gilzian (Urmur), Pawan Adia (Sham Churasi), Raj Kumar Chabbewal (Chabbewal) and Darshan Lal Mangepur (Balachaur).
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