At least 13 persons have been found with symptoms of COVID-19 in Punjab, Health and Family Welfare Minister Balbir Singh Sidhu informed Chief Minister Amarinder Singh on Thursday. He added that there were total 5,795 persons in Punjab with travel history to affected countries. So far, no confirmed case of coronavirus has been reported in the state.
The CM has decided to personally monitor the situation in the state. Holding a review meeting on Thursday, Amarinder directed the Health Department to keep close tabs on the situation. He appealed to the people to keep away from congested and crowded places, as a preventive measure, a government statement said.
Amarinder has ordered the Health Department to gear up, in mission mode, to deal with the virus. A state Rapid Response Team has been constituted, with four senior doctors, for the purpose. Further, a control room has been established in each district, with District Rapid Response teams to maintain a strict 24X7 vigil. These are in addition to the state-level control room (phone numbers 88720-90029/0171-2920074) to response to any complaint/crisis.
Presiding over a high-level meeting to review the arrangements to combat any exigency arising out of the spread of coronavirus, the Chief Minister asked the Principal Secretary Health to immediately issue an advisory to educate people about the symptoms and precautions to be taken in view of the virus threat.
Amarinder also asked the Chief Secretary to direct the Deputy Commissioners to instruct the field staff in their respective districts to assist the Health Department in its mass awareness campaign. The DCs should take active steps to avert a panic situation and to build confidence among the people, the CM added.
Urging people not to panic, Sidhu said that the situation was under control, and the department was fully geared to tackle any exigency. Briefing the Chief Minister about the preparedness, Principal Secretary Health Anurag Aggarwal said that the department had already designated State Nodal Officer as the Surveillance Officer, with district nodal officers also in place to manage the situation. He further disclosed that 22 district hospitals and three Government Medical Colleges have been identified to deal with any emergency.
Isolation wards with a bed strength of 649 have also been set up in these hospitals, and as many as 24 ventilators have been made available, of which 14 were in district hospitals and 10 in Government Medical Colleges.
According to the government, the Amritsar and Mohali international airports are on alert with advisories prominently displayed for information of passengers. Information, Education and Communication (IEC) material is also on display at these airports, where Thermal Scanners have been installed and screening of the passengers continues. Medical teams along with paramedics from Health Department have also been deputed.
Announcements are also being made for the information of self-declaration of passengers. Similarly, screening of passengers has also been started at Wagah/Attari Border check-post in Amritsar and Dera Baba Nanak check post at Gurdaspur. Non-contact thermometers have been made available for screening of passengers at these check posts, besides displaying advisories and IEC material.
As per the information available, 70,106 passengers have so far been screened at the airports/border check posts.
These include 47,671 at Amritsar Airport, 4,943 at international airport in Mohali, 5,401 at the Amritsar Wagah/Attari border checkpost and 12,091 at Dera Baba Nanak checkpost. Daily reporting is being done from State Headquarters to the central surveillance unit, IDSP Delhi.
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