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Thursday, June 17, 2021

Chatbot on Punjab’s COVA app to help with self-care during isolation

The chatbot will be functional on Punjab’s COVA app. Patients in home isolation will be required to put their vitals into the app, and these will be monitored by experts who will advise them on the course of treatment. The app is multilingual and will be available in English, Punjabi and Hindi.

By: Express News Service | Chandigarh |
May 20, 2021 9:30:48 pm
At a Covid hospital in Punjab. (Express photo: Kamleshwar Singh)

As part of Mission Fateh, Punjab Chief Minister Captain Amarinder Singh on Thursday launched a Punjab Covid Care WhatsApp chatbot for self-care during home isolation, and for providing information on bed availability and vaccine centres.

The chatbot will be functional on Punjab’s COVA app. Patients in home isolation will be required to put their vitals into the app, and these will be monitored by experts who will advise them on the course of treatment. The app is multilingual and will be available in English, Punjabi and Hindi.

The Covid Care chatbot will also provide information regarding district control room numbers, with a possibility that in the future Covid test reports are also supplied through the chatbot.


Punjab government on Thursday decided to provide Rs 1500 per month as social security pension, along with free education up to graduation, for all those children orphaned in the Covid pandemic, as well as families that have lost their breadwinning members.

The pension will be given from July 1 onwards. Terming it as the state’s duty to become the foster parents of children who have lost both their parents in the unprecedented pandemic, the Chief Minister said his government will ensure free education in government institutions for such children as well as children belonging to families that have lost their breadwinners to Covid.

Besides this, all affected people will also be eligible for a grant of Rs 51000 under the Ashirwaad Scheme from July 1, and will be entitled to free ration under the State Smart Ration Card Scheme and coverage under the Sarbat Sehat Bima Yojana. The government will also assist the affected family members to find a suitable job under Ghar Ghar Rozgaar te Karobaar Mission, said the Chief Minister, after chairing a high-level Covid review meeting.

The relief measures will be provided to orphans until they attain the age of 21 years. Families whose breadwinner has died will be provided relief for an initial period of three years, after which their situation will be re-assessed.

The Chief Minister also announced the constitution of a monitoring committee, headed by the Minister for Social Security & Women and Child Development, to review the progress and relief measures for every single beneficiary. The committee shall meet at least once a month, he said.

The department of Social Security & Women and Child Development would be the nodal department for implementation of the relief measures, with the committee being also told to maintain a record of all such affected persons and apprise them about the welfare measures being offered to them.


The CM also reviewed the progress of the recently launched Bhojan Helpline, under which more than 3000 food packets — 2721 cooked and 280 uncooked — were delivered by Punjab Police to the doorstep of Covid affected families in just a week.

Lauding the Punjab Police for its role in the initiative, the Chief Minister reiterated his commitment to ensuring that nobody in the state went to sleep hungry in these testing times, and urged all affected citizens to dial 112 or 181 for free meals.

DGP Dinkar Gupta said Covid canteens were established by the police department in less than 24 hours, with more than 120 cooked/uncooked food packets delivered on the very first day of the launch of the scheme. From May 14 to May 20, a total of 385 calls were received on Bhojan Helpline numbers with requests for food, he added.


Amid projections and concerns of a possible third wave of Covid and its impact on children, Amarinder ordered the health department to go into mission mode and start specialised training of all doctors in the health department by the end of June, while directing house-to-house surveillance to control the current spread of the disease in the rural areas.

Patiala: Beneficiaries wait in long queues to take Covid-19 vaccine dose, at a vaccination centre in Patiala, Wednesday, May 19, 2021. (PTI)

Reviewing the Covid situation in the state during a virtual meeting, the Chief Minister directed the state expert group head Dr KK Talwar to look into all aspects of medical education and to get training modules prepared for the health department.

Expressing concern over the spread of Covid in rural areas, the Chief Minister directed teams to immediately start house-to-house surveillance in every village. The teams should be equipped to give basic medicines without delay, and Rapid Antigen Tests of symptomatic persons must be got done at the earliest, he said. He also directed that some CHCs in each district be prepared as L2 facilities, with oxygen concentrators and doctors.


The Chief Minister directed concerned officials to take strict action against private hospitals overcharging Covid patients and said they should also be made to refund the extra payments received. He asked DCs to coordinate with the health department to track all such complaints of overcharging. The private hospitals should be asked to display the official rate prominently, and the same should be widely publicised, he stressed.

Amarinder expressed satisfaction at the measures taken by the Control Room for Oxygen to monitor and prevent any mishap due to oxygen shortage. He lauded the officers stationed at Bokaro, Hazira in ensuring that the state received enough oxygen, while directing the health department to continuously pursue with the Centre the issue of Oxygen shortfall.

Taking note of the fact that some hospitalised patients need oxygen support for a few days after discharge, the Chief Minister asked the Health Department to allow 5 litre per minute concentrators to be used for this purpose on a temporary loan basis. He also asked the department to set up banks of Oxygen concentrators, besides establishing Post Covid Care wards in civil hospitals.


While the cases and positivity in the state had shown a decline over the past one week, there was no scope for laxity, the Chief Minister stressed, directing the police to strictly enforce all restrictions, in coordination with urban and local body leaders also in this effort.

DGP Dinkar Gupta said the enforcement drive was being strictly carried out, which had made people more cautious now. Since March 19, a total of 25 lakh violations had been registered, with 1.31 lakhs challans issued and Rs 12 crore collected in fine. At least 2600 violators have been taken to open jails for detention, he said. Theekri pheras were being held in 60% of the villages to control the entry and exit of people, he said, assuring the meeting of improved coverage in the new few days.

Medical education Secretary DK Tiwari that the positivity rate during May 2 and May 8 stood at 18.5 per cent, but had since declined. The bed situation was currently comfortable, and oxygen supplies in Amritsar had been increased from 6 KL to 11 KL. On testing, he said that in the last one week, 2.13 lakh RT-PCR tests had been conducted. Health Secretary Hussan Lal said the cumulative positivity on May 19 stood at 6.2 per cent, with Mohali and Malwa regions continuing to show high numbers.

Dr KK Talwar, who heads the state’s Covid Expert Group, said to ensure that the cases continue to decline, the current restrictions should be followed for the next 2-3 weeks. He disclosed that while the genome sequencing of the March samples had shown 96% UK variant, only one double mutant case was found in the April samples. Chief Secretary Vini Mahajan said results of the samples sent for genome sampling in April and May were still pending.


A day after Punjab government notified Mucor Mycosis (Black Fungus) as a disease under the Epidemic Diseases Act, Amarinder directed officials to ensure that necessary medicines for treating the same are made available to all the government hospitals, including in the rural areas.

He also asked officials to depute doctors at the Primary Health Centres (PHCs) in the villages to ensure early detection and treatment of the Black Fungus, which has been reported from many states, in the rural areas.

Stressing that early detection of the disease could prevent it from being fatal, the Chief Minister asked the Covid Expert team to ensure that doctors in the L3 facilities of all government hospitals are directed on proper treatment of Covid patients to check irrational use of steroids, which had been identified as the main cause of this disease, especially among diabetic patients.

The Chief Minister also asked Dr Talwar and his team to analyse why patients were returning to hospitals even after recovering from Covid.

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