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Punjab opens up as night, weekend curfew lifted

Colleges, cinema halls, malls open to those who got at least one vaccine dose; schools to remain closed

By: Express News Service | Chandigarh |
Updated: July 9, 2021 9:14:41 pm
Punjab covid newsThe step by the government comes after the state’s Covid positivity rate slid to 0.4 per cent. 

Doing away with most of the restrictions after Punjab’s Covid positivity rate slid to 0.4 per cent, the state government Friday ordered lifting of the weekend and night curfew and allowed gatherings of 100 persons indoors and 200 outdoors starting July 12.

Chief Minister Capt Amarinder Singh also directed the sate police chief, Dinkar Gupta, to challan all political leaders violating the Covid rules while holding rallies and protest meetings.

He also ordered opening of bars, cinema halls, restaurants, spas, swimming pools, gyms, malls, sports complexes, museums, zoos to those who have received at least one dose of Covid-19 vaccine.

Schools, however, will continue to remain closed.

Colleges, coaching centres and all institutes of higher learning shall be allowed to open by deputy commissioners subject to submission of a certificate that the teaching, non-teaching staff members and students have got at least one dose of vaccine at least two weeks ago.

Announcing the easing of restrictions during a review meeting, the CM said use of masks must be ensured at all times.

State Health Secretary Hussan Lal said four districts had shown positivity of one per cent or less but the districts that still need vigilance are Ludhiana, Amritsar, Gurdaspur, Hoshiarpur, Ferozpur and Ropar.

Referring to the black fungus, of which 623 cases have been reported as of July 8, the CM asked the health department to work out a proposal for supporting and helping in the treatment of such patients. Of the 623 black fungus cases, 67 were from outside the state, 337 were under treatment and 154 have been discharged while 51 patients have died, the health secretary said. The maximum cases reported in day was 34 on May 27, while the average of daily cases in the first week of July stood at five.

The CM noted that due to the standard operating procedure in place for Covid and post-Covid care, Punjab has had much fewer cases of black fungus and deaths than most other states, including Haryana, and Delhi. Both Haryana and Delhi have seen over 1,600 black fungus cases each, and 193 and 236 deaths, respectively.

Step up whole genome sequencing

The CM asked the concerned departments to step up Whole Genome Sequencing (WGS) to expeditiously identify cases of new Covid variant and to fast track the project for execution of the MoU with ICMR for Regional Institute of Virology at Mohali.

Though no fresh cases of Delta Plus variant had been identified in the state, the CM directed that the WGS Lab at GMCH Patiala , coming up with the support of PATH, must become functional this month. PATH has informed that the machine is likely to be installed by July 25, as per a government statement.

The CM noted that the state was also starting dry swab testing, with a pilot at GMC Patiala next week. Sensitivity of the dry swab variant method is 79% and specificity is 99% when compared with standard RTPCR test as the gold standard. Considering its lesser cost and quick turn-around, the dry swab variant method can be used as a screening tool only in settings where automated RNA extraction is not available.

As per GoI guidelines, Punjab has identified 10 sentinel sites and sending at least 15 samples per site every 15 days for whole genome sequencing. Positive samples of post vaccination, re-infection cases, death cases, severe cases, clustering etc. are being sent for WGS, the meeting was informed.

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