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Capt orders curbs in Punjab amid fresh Covid spike

CM puts cap on indoor, outdoor gatherings from 1 March; asks administration, police to get pro-active

Statesman News Service | Chnadigarh |

Amid growing concern over the rising Covid trend in Punjab, Chief Minister Captain Amarinder Singh on Tuesday ordered restrictions afresh, putting a cap on indoor gathering up to 100 and on outdoor gathering up to 200 persons from 1 March.

Chairing a high-level virtual meeting to review the situation, the CM also authorised the deputy commissioners (DCs) to impose night curfew in hot spots in their districts if needed, with micro containment strategy to be adopted.

Capt Amarinder directed the police force to ensure strict enforcement of wearing of masks, along with notification of Covid monitors by all restaurants, marriage palaces, with the department of excise and taxation to be the nodal agency for it.

The CM said a decision on reducing occupancy in cinema halls will be taken after 1 March. Private offices and restaurants would be encouraged to display last tests done for all employees, he said.

While directing increased testing, Capt Amarinder ordered mandatory testing of 15 contacts per positive. He took note of the mortality audit findings that many of the deaths were happening within two to 14 days of hospitalisation. Citing cases of some deaths at home, he directed the health department to ensure proper monitoring of home isolation cases, especially those patients with comorbidities.

Earlier, in a brief presentation, health secretary Hussan Lal informed the meeting that the districts of Amritsar, Hoshiarpur, Jalandhar, Ludhiana, Patiala, SAS Nagar and SBS Nagar had shown a spike in positivity rate in recent days, triggering concerns over a possible fresh coronavirus wave in the state.

On the vaccination front, he disclosed that there had so far been 61 cases of minor adverse events following immunisation, while 6 severe and 14 serious cases had been reported. All had since recovered, he added.

Dr KK Talwar, who is heading the Punjab government’s expert group on Covid, said a detailed analysis was being done on the recent spike in positivity rate, which suggested an increase in cases among young people.

At the current rate, the positivity could go up to four per cent in two weeks, translating into 800 cases per day, he said, stressing the need for urgent preventive steps.

Chief secretary Vinni Mahajan ruled out re-closure of government schools and said the department concerned was taking all steps to ensure the safety of students. Education secretary Krishan Kumar said teachers have been designated nodal officers in schools to instruct students on the proper use of masks etc and ensure adherence to Covidappropriate behaviour.

These steps have come as a significant number of cases had been reported from the recently reopened schools, especially in Ludhiana with a positivity rate of 3.1 per cent and in Bathinda with a positivity rate of 2.9 per cent.