The government of the Punjab today ordered restrictions on indoor and outdoor gatherings from March 1 and allowed Deputy Commissioners (CD) to impose a nighttime curfew at COVID-19 hot spots in their districts, if necessary.
The move comes amid growing concern over an increase in the number of coronavirus cases in the state.
Presiding over a virtual meeting to review the coronavirus situation, Punjab Chief Minister Amarinder Singh has ordered restrictions on the gathering of people from March 1, with 100 people allowed inside and 200 people allowed to assemble outside, according to a government statement.
He also ordered the wearing of face masks and social distancing standards to be strictly enforced, with tests to be increased to 30,000 per day, he said.
Health officials have said that currently 200 people are allowed to congregate indoors and 500 people outdoors, while 20,000 to 22,000 tests are performed every day.
Chief Secretary Vinni Mahajan again ruled out closing public schools and said the department was taking all necessary measures to ensure the safety of students.
Amarinder Singh has authorized deputy commissioners to impose a nighttime curfew on hot spots in their districts, if necessary, with a micro-containment strategy to adopt.
He also ordered the police force to ensure the strict enforcement of the wearing of masks.
There will be monitoring of compliance with COVID-19 standards in all restaurants and wedding palaces and the Department of Excise and Taxation will be the nodal agency for this.
The chief minister said a decision on reducing the occupancy rate of cinemas will be taken after March 1.
Private offices and restaurants will be encouraged to display the latest tests carried out for all employees, he added.
Punjab is one of five states that the Center has asked to refocus on strict surveillance, containment and RT-PCR testing to verify the growing number of cases. The other four states are Maharashtra, Kerala, Chhattisgarh and Madhya Pradesh.
While issuing instructions to increase testing, Amarinder Singh also ordered the mandatory testing of 15 contacts per positive, with follow-up to be done by OTPC (COVID Patient Tracking Officer) and review to be undertaken by the Department of health.
The Chief Minister also provided an update on the state of immunization, stressing the need to conduct a campaign to promote 100% coverage of health care and frontline workers.
He instructed the Department of Health to plan the vaccine deployment strategy for the elderly population and people with co-morbidities.
Expressing concern at the case fatality rate of 3.23%, Amarinder Singh noted the results of the mortality audit that many deaths occur within 2 to 14 days of hospitalization.
He stressed the need for continuous monitoring of management protocols for patients with co-morbidities, in particular in private establishments.
Citing cases of some home deaths, he further requested the Department of Health to ensure adequate follow-up of home isolation cases, especially those with comorbidities.
Kits including self-monitoring instructions should positively reach all people isolated at home on the same day they test positive, he said.
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 in recent days, sparking concerns about a possible new wave. in the state.
Regarding vaccination, he said that to date, 61 cases of minor side effects have been reported after vaccination, while six severe cases and 14 severe cases have been reported. All have since recovered, he added.
KK Talwar, who heads the state government expert group on COVID, said detailed analysis was underway on the recent spike in the positivity rate which suggested an increase in cases among young people.
At the current rate, the positivity rate could go up to 4% in two weeks, or 800 cases per day, he said, stressing the need for urgent preventive measures.
Education Secretary Krishan Kumar said teachers have been appointed as nodal leaders in schools to educate students on the proper use of masks etc. and ensuring compliance with appropriate COVID behavior.
These measures came as a significant number of cases were reported in recently reopened schools, particularly in Ludhiana, with a positivity rate of 3.1% and Bathinda (2.9%).
So far, no new mutated variant of the coronavirus has been detected in Punjab, but new samples have been sent for testing and the results are expected next week, Mr Talwar said.
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