As Covid cases and deaths continue to escalate in Punjab, with the UK strain emerging the most prevalent in the state, Chief Minister Captain Amarinder Singh on Tuesday ordered extension of curbs till 10 April. Reviewing the Covid situation with the chief secretary and other top officials, the CM said all restrictions that were in place till 31 March will now remain in force till April 10, after which they would be again reviewed.
Following the fresh Covid surge, Capt Amarinder had on 19 March ordered state-wide restrictions, with closure of educational institutions till 31 March and restrictions on cinema as well as shopping mall capacities. The CM also ordered the launch of a vaccination drive in the prisons, in the wake of 40 women in Patiala’s Nabha Open Jail testing positive for Coronavirus.
Expressing grave concern over the situation, the CM asked chief secretary Vini Mahajan to issue the necessary directions for carrying out testing and vaccination in busy market areas along with other crowded places.
The latest data shows the UK strain of the virus to be the most prevalent in the state. While 326 of the 401 Covid positive samples sent initially to National Centre for Disease Control (NCDC) for genome sequencing were found positive for the UK variant, subsequently of the 95 samples sent to Institute of Genomics and Integrative Biology, Delhi for genome sequencing, 85 samples were found to be positive for the same
The meeting was informed that the positive cases and deaths were rising rapidly in some of the districts, with projections presented by CMC Ludhiana showing a steep rise in the number of cases and peak around 6 April.
The number would be decreasing by mid or late May, 2021, as per the estimates, which suggest that Jalandhar, Ludhiana, Patiala, Sahibzada Ajit Singh Nagar, Hoshiarpur and Kapurthala are expected to contribute more cases and that positivity is likely to be high in the younger population of 40 years of age or less.
All districts have also been asked to strengthen their teams so that the data entry of Covid sampling and transportation of samples to the designated lab takes minimum time, and the result is made available within 24 hours.
Dr KK Talwar, adviser health and medical education to the government of Punjab, has suggested that routine non- Covid treatment in some of the selected private hospitals may be deferred by two to four weeks, and more ambulances be made available to the district hospitals where there are no medical colleges.