With Covid cases showing a marked decline in Punjab, Chief Minister Captain Amarinder Singh on Thursday ordered resumption of normal OPD services and elective surgeries in hospitals in the state.

The CM also allowed reopening of government schools in the state from 19 October after due sanitisation and disinfection procedures and with clear standard operating procedures (SOPs) mandating parents’ consent while ensuring a ceiling on the number of students and hours of a school’s operation. Some of the private schools in the state have opened today.

Thirty-one more people died from coronavirus infection in Punjab on Wednesday as 549 fresh cases surfaced, taking the caseload to 1,25,760, according to a state medical bulletin.

Expressing concern over the warnings by health and medical experts of the grave possibility of the second Covid wave hitting the state amid the upcoming festival season or during the approaching winter months, Capt Amarinder directed the departments concerned to take all steps to ensure that things remain under control in the coming period.

He asked the health and medical education departments to work with the market committees to ensure widespread distribution of masks and to encourage people to wear them besides following the social distancing norms.

CM Capt Amarinder, who was chairing a virtual review meeting of the Covid situation in the state, also asked the departments to ensure that the medical staff is kept motivated and all vacancies of technicians etc are filled up immediately so that normal OPD services and elective surgeries could be carried out seamlessly in state hospitals amid the pandemic crisis.

Punjab Director General of Police Dinkar Gupta said that the Punjab Police was gearing up to manage the festival season during which security would be beefed up and all efforts would be made to ensure strict adherence to Covid norms at marketplaces and Ramlilas etc.

The DGP said the police was also currently focused on handling the increasing number of farmers’ protests as well as picketing by the BJP and the RSS members.

According to the DGP, the force had lost 22 personnel to Covid in September, which took its coronavirus toll to 39. As of date, 434 cops were positive, with an average of 72 cases being reported among the Punjab Police personnel every day during September. However, the figure was now down to about 10.

Meanwhile, the CM has written to all village sarpanches in the state, urging them to aggressively counter the false propaganda being spread about Covid by certain malicious people.

Though the various measures taken by the Punjab government had led to improvement in the Covid situation, the state could not afford to be complacent, Capt Amarinder said.

“We cannot afford to let our guard down, especially considering the fact that the paddy harvesting is on, as also the government procurement,” the CM further stated in his communication to the village council heads.