As active Covid-19 cases in Punjab surged to 12,616 and the positivity rate climbed to over 5 per cent, Chief Minister Captain Amarinder Singh on Wednesday urged the Centre to review its immunisation strategy to vaccinate all age groups in selected areas, while announcing a stricter policy to deal with the Covid problem.
CM Capt Amarinder also called for occupation-based immunisation for school and college students and teachers, judges, bus drivers and conductors, local body and village council members, legislators and others to pave the way for normalisation of crucial activities and check “super-spreaders”.
He advocated early opening of the courts to end the wait for justice for citizens, and also of schools and colleges to bridge the gap between poor and affluent families in terms of education.
Capt Amarinder blamed the fresh surge in coronavirus cases on fatigue and laxity in following Covid appropriate behaviours, large social and religious gatherings, and efforts at normalisation such as opening of schools and colleges. Large positivity was seen in the state’s young population, he said.
The Punjab CM said the trend was “worrying” as the state had reported a total of 1475 cases and 38 deaths on Monday, preceded by 1843 cases and 43 deaths the day before. He pointed out that state finance minister Manpreet Badal and SAD president Sukhbir Badal had also tested positive for coronavirus. “We are making a policy, we will get stricter from tomorrow,” he said.
During Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s virtual Covid review meeting with CMs of all states today, Captain Amarinder also suggested that any area where weekly testing shows a doubling of positivity rates should immediately be considered for vaccination of all age groups.
This, he said, would lead to better outcomes than the periodic cycles of vaccination targeting a small section of the population at each cycle. The daily positivity rate has climbed to more than five per cent in March from a low of less than one per cent in January. So far, a total of 1.99 lakh positive cases had been reported from 54 lakh tests and 6099 people have died of the infection in the state, the CM pointed out.
With the role of mutated strains of coronavirus in the fresh surge of Covid being still unclear, the CM underlined the need to strengthen virus’ genome sequencing, especially in Punjab, as “over 50 per cent positive cases now are below 40 years of age, and we need to urgently assess whether this is due to any variant”.