Ruling out a complete lockdown in the state for now, Punjab Chief Minister Amarinder Singh on Friday directed the Deputy Commissioners of the six worst-affected districts to further tighten the micro-containment strategy and ensure 100 per cent testing.
Lockdown is not a solution, as it will lead to exodus of labourers and force them to go to states with even lesser medical facilities, said Amarinder Singh, as he directed the district administrations to enforce all restrictions strictly and to stop dine-in facility in all high positivity areas, with Covid testing of staff in restaurants by the health department.
Urging the industry to set up its own Covid treatment centres and makeshift hospitals, he stressed on teamwork to fight the battle. He also directed the Chief Secretary to look into encouraging retired doctors and nurses, along with final year MBBS students, to rejoin for handling facilities and suggested setting up of temporary healthcare facilities in halls and gymnasiums, etc.
The Chief Minister was chairing a virtual emergency meeting to review the Covid situation in the six worst hit districts of Ludhiana, SAS Nagar (Mohali), Jalandhar, Bathinda, Patiala and Amritsar.
Expressing concern over the fewer number of containment zones in Mohali and two other districts that were among the most badly hit six districts, the Chief Minister ordered steps to strengthen the containment and testing mechanism.
Micro-containment strategy must be strictly implemented and encouraged, he said, directing all district officers to give this their highest priority to control the spread.
Even as he appreciated the good work being done by the officers despite these challenging times, the Chief Minister expressed concern over the fact that 14 districts in the state currently had over 10 per cent positivity rate, while five had more than 60 per cent bed occupancy.
A prefabricated 100-bed hospital will come up at Mohali and a 250 bedded temporary hospital is being set up near the Bathinda refinery, with oxygen supply from the refinery, he said, urging all departments to be prepared for the peak and identify areas in the various districts for establishment of temporary hospitals.
Taking note of the shortage of Fateh Kits, mainly on account of lack of oxymeters, he acceded to the Chief Secretary’s suggestion to request recovered patients to return their oxymeters for use in kits after proper sanitisation.
K.K. Talwar, who heads the Covid expert group advising the state, said all hospitals had been provided detailed guidelines to check oxygen wastage.
Chief Secretary Vini Mahajan said the Panjab University in Chandigarh has been advised not to hold senate elections at present in view of the grave situation.
Earlier, Health Secretary Hussan Lal, in a brief presentation, pointed to the rising positivity and case fatality ratio, and said Punjab’s positivity rate currently stood at 12 per cent, with Mohali district reporting the highest rate at 22.9 per cent.
Mohali district has been showing 90 per cent bed occupancy, the meeting was informed, with Deputy Commissioner Girish Dayalan disclosing that a large number of patients had come from Delhi-NCR.
With other regions in the tri-city not agreeing to a weekend lockdown, the situation was grim, he added.