Further tightening the Unlock norms, the Punjab government Monday put a bar on all public gatherings, restricted social gatherings to a maximum of five attendees and marriages and other functions to 30 instead of the current 50. The revised guidelines comes days after 16 PCS officers tested positive for Covid-19 after 40 of them attended a luncheon meeting. At least two IAS officers also got infected after coming in contact with the PCS officers.
The government has now asked police to register FIRs against those violating the curbs on public gatherings.
A detailed notification issued by the government said joint teams of police and civil administration should strictly enforce the restrictions on social gatherings (restricted to five under Section 144 imposed in all districts) as well as weddings and social functions. The management of marriage halls, hotels and commercial spaces will be held responsible in case the guidelines are violated and they could face suspension of their licences. They will have to certify that adequate arrangements for ventilation of indoor spaces have been made.
Even as Punjab has been witnessing a spike in cases, with most of these being local infections, a number of political leaders had started organising political functions and gatherings. The leaders were seen surrounded by many people, most of them without masks. These gatherings were being frowned upon by the experts. The matter was raised by Punjab’s Adviser (Health, Medical Education and Research), Dr KK Talwar during Covid review meeting with CM last week.
The state government, meanwhile, has also partnered with IIT Madras experts to intensify surveillance, using technology in order to identify super-spreader gatherings in the past that have resulted in spread, to guide future action.
The government has also made wearing of masks compulsory at work places, offices and closed places.
As per the new guidelines, the offices and places of gatherings have been asked to ensure enforcement of the Health Department advisory on air conditioning and ventilation. Public dealing in offices may be curtailed to cater to need based and urgent issues, according to the guidelines, which provide that the online public grievance redressal system recently approved by the Cabinet should be extensively popularized and used.
There shall be no physical presentation of demand charters by associations and outfits while serving of tea has to be avoided at the workplace, as per the revised management and containment strategy for Covid.
To ensure optimum utilisation of health infrastructure, asymptomatic and mildly symptomatic persons with no comorbidities or vulnerabilities will have to be in COVID care centres/home isolation where applicable. Beds in Level 2 and 3 facilities will not be used to cater to such patients. A person in a Level 2 or 3 facility who no longer needs this facility must be referred by way of reverse referral to a lower level treatment facility, the guidelines said.
The state government has also clarified that the MoU with private healthcare facilities does not mean blocking of beds for patients referred by the government at a later stage, it only provides the charges payable by Govt to its referred patients.
Deputy commissioners, commissioners of police and SSPs have been asked to ensure that all hospitals give information on their beds availability and are not denying treatment to Covid-19 patients.
The government has also decided on a sanitation drive which will be undertaken by both urban local bodies and Panchayati Raj institutions on campaign basis for the prevention of dengue and other vector-borne diseases.
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