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Punjab CM warns of stricter curbs if COVID situation does not improve by next week

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A day after announcing curbs to tackle coronavirus, Punjab Chief Minister Amarinder Singh on Wednesday said a decision on stricter restrictions will be taken after a review of the situation in the state on April 8. The chief minister’s warning to impose harsher restrictions if the situation does not improve by next week comes amid a surge in COVID-19 cases and fatalities in the state.

On Tuesday, the Punjab government issued orders to ramp up COVID-19 testing and vaccination and also directed closure of schools and colleges in the state for 10 days.

Addressing a virtual meeting with top health, administrative and police officials on Wednesday, the chief minister said a decision on further curbs will be taken after a review of the situation on April 8, as per an official statement.

“I will watch things for a week, and then if there is no improvement, we may have to go for stricter curbs,” Singh said.

Punjab is witnessing a surge in the infections with more than 2,000 new cases being reported daily. There is also a rise in the number of fatalities due to the disease. On Tuesday, 65 COVID-19 deaths were reported in the state.

At the meeting, Singh underlined the need for aggressive vaccination against the virus, particularly in areas with high cases and cities with more than 300 infections.

He directed the officials to reach out to eligible people at the mohalla level in the worst-affected districts for vaccination.

Singh also directed stricter enforcement of COVID-19 restrictions and protocols in Ludhiana, Jalandhar, Mohali and Amritsar, the worst-affected cities.

K K Talwar, head of the state’s expert committee on COVID-19, said enforcement of restrictions was needed in the urban areas of Punjab as these were reporting more cases.

Director General of Police Dinkar Gupta said since March 19, 1.30 lakh people have been taken for RT-PCR testing on being found moving around without masks.

Of these, 391 were found positive, he said.

The districts of SAS Nagar, Kapurthala, Patiala, SBS Nagar, Jalandhar, Amritsar, Hoshiarpur and Ludhiana are reporting high positivity rates, while the overall positivity in the state stood at 7.6 per cent on March 24.

Taking note of the inconvenience caused to commuters, the chief minister did away with the one-hour silence on Saturdays to commemorate COVID warriors.

He expressed concerns over the high death rate due to the disease in the state. Talwar said this was due to patients not going to hospitals in time and high rate of comorbidities.

Talwar informed the meeting that 80-85 per cent of patients dying have chronic diseases.

The chief minister directed the administration to develop a robust mechanism to get people with comorbidities to hospitals at the earliest, besides stricter monitoring of people in home-isolation.

He also once again appealed to religious and political leaders to promote COVID-19-appropriate behaviour in the interest of the people of the state.

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