Capt says he might be forced to impose a harsh, sweeping lockdown in Punjab if people do not strictly comply with current restrictions put in place to curb the surging Covid wave.

Punjab Chief Minister Captain Amarinder Singh on Monday said he was not in favour of a complete and harsh lockdown, but if the Covid-19 situation did not improve in the state he would be forced to consider a total lockdown.

The CM said he had so far refrained from ordering a sweeping lockdown in the state because it will hurt the poor the most and would lead to exodus of migrant labourers, plunging industries into chaos again.

However, if the people do not strictly comply with the restrictions in place to curb the Covid surge, harsher steps might have to be taken, he added.

The state is currently in a soft lockdown situation, with strong curbs in place, with additional restrictions imposed by the government on Sunday.

Chairing a high-level virtual meeting to review the Covid situation, Capt Amarinder Monday also ordered a stop on all take-away deliveries from restaurants, which was being used by youngsters as a pretext to move out of their homes. Asserting he will not allow Punjab to go the way of some other states, where patients could be seen lying out on the roads, CM said industry should be encouraged to use their CSR (corporate social responsibility) funds for vaccination and treatment of their labour suffering from mild or moderate illness, so that they can stay at home, thus reducing pressure on hospitals.

Underlining the need to step up preparedness amid projections of a peak in the coming days, the CM ordered a 20 per cent increase in bed capacity in the next 10 days. He directed the health and medical education departments to get stadiums, gymnasiums and other such places ready to house patients.

Tented camps should be set up, gyms and halls should be converted into health facilities, he said, adding that “we have to be prepared for the worst”.

The directives came as health minister Balbir Sidhu said the situation was grim with only 300 beds now available at L3 level in the state. Hospitals were getting overwhelmed, he added. Health secretary Hussan Lal said the state’s positivity rate had on Sunday stood at 12 per cent, with the Malwa region showing an increase in cases in the last seven to ten days.

With L3 occupancy 90 per cent and in some cases 100 per cent, the situation was grim, he said, adding the case fatality rate (CFR), a ratio of deaths to the total number of cases recorded, was close to two per cent and higher (at 2.7 per cent) in rural areas. Home deaths currently were also at two per cent.

The worrying factor was 17 per cent of the all deaths had no co-morbid conditions, he said.