Chandigarh, April 7: As Covid cases continue to remain high in the state, Punjab Chief Minister, Captain Amarinder Singh, on Wednesday ordered a total ban on political gatherings till April 30 and said that violators, including political leaders, will be booked under the DMA and Epidemics Act. The chief minister also announced extension of night curfew from 9 PM to 5 AM, which hitherto was imposed in 12 districts, to the entire state and reduced the number of attendees at funeral/cremations/weddings to 50 people indoors and 100 for outdoors. Wearing of masks has been made mandatory for all government employees while in office.

These restrictions, coupled with the ones imposed earlier, which include closure of schools and educational institutions, shall remain effective till April 30. However, there was some respite for shop owners in Malls, as the Chief Minister allowed entry of 10 people per shop at any given time, as against the earlier order of not allowing more than 100 people in a mall at one time. This would imply that 200 people will be allowed in a Mall with 20 shops at any given time.

Captain Amarinder, in his weekly review of the Covid situation, expressed concern at the high positivity and mortality rates in the state. He said it was matter of concern that over 85% of cases in Punjab are of the UK strain, which is more contagious and virulent.

He said he had no option but to go in for stricter measures to further control the ongoing surge, even though the number of positive cases had somewhat stabilized in the last few days due to curbs imposed earlier. He said he had been forced to order a ban on political gatherings, as his pleas to all political parties to refrain from organising such events had been ignored, despite the fact that the Congress party had unilaterally announced its decision of not holding any rallies or public meetings last month.

Expressing surprise at the behaviour of certain political leaders, including Delhi Chief Minister, Arvind Kejriwal, and SAD’s Sukhbir Badal, who had been attending political rallies without following safety protocols, the chief minister said such irresponsible conduct doesn’t behove them. “How do you expect people to be serious about the spread of the disease if senior political leaders behave like this”, he said adding that his government would need to be tough to tackle such violations and political leaders would also need to be booked.

He ordered the police and the districts administrations to register cases against the political leaders, organizers and participants of political gatherings under DMA and Epidemics Act, besides booking the owners of the tent houses, who provide the infrastructure for such gatherings. He said even the venue owners, who would provide space for such events, will not be spared and they too would be booked and their venues sealed for three months.

He further said that no social, cultural or sports gatherings and related functions will be allowed till April 30. In-person public dealing shall be restricted in all Government offices and online and virtual modes for grievance redressal shall be encouraged, he said while adding that all government employees will need to compulsorily wear a mask while attending office.

Captain Amarinder said citizens should to be encouraged to visit public offices only for essential services and the concerned departments should issue instructions for limiting daily appointments for works like registries etc. He said restrictions of running cinema houses at 50% of their capacity and closure of schools and educational institutions, except medical and nursing colleges, shall continue till April 30.

The Chief Minister also directed Punjab DGP, Dinkar Gupta, to ensure strict implementation of the night curfew.





Chandigarh, April 7: With Covid positivity and Case Fatality Rate (CFR) rates in Punjab hitting 7.7% and 2% respectively in the last week, Punjab Chief Minister, Captain Amarinder Singh, on Wednesday directed the health department to further increase the vaccination drive and target vaccinating 2 lakh patients per day. He also directed the officials to increase the sampling to 50,000 per day, besides vigorously pursuing contact tracing to 30 people per positive patient.

Expressing concern at the high CFR rate, the Chief Minister said these deaths, many of which are avoidable with timely treatment, pain him. He directed Chief Secretary, Vini Mahajan, to undertake a massive public awareness campaign to motivate people to approach hospitals at early stages. He said the quality of health care in hospitals also needs to be improved and the list of approved hospitals with required facilities should be put out in the public domain. He said death audit should be done by all districts and private facilities which are not participating in the expert group discussions should be encouraged to do so.

The Chief Minister, who was informed by the health department that PGI was refusing to admit patients from Punjab, despite being referred through proper channels, said that he would take up the matter with the Prime Minister at tomorrow’s video conferencing meeting and would request him to direct the hospital to reserve at least 50 ICU beds for patients referred by the state government.

Chairing the weekly Covid review meeting with officials of Health Department and medical experts, the Chief Minister said though under the current vaccination drive about 90,000 people were being vaccinated per day, this needed to be raised to 2 lakh people per day. “Vaccination is the only way to prevent the spread”, he said directing the health department to take immediate steps to speed up the drive.

He also asked the Chief Secretary to address the issue of vaccination hesitancy by undertaking well designed media campaigns. He said he would again urge the union government for relaxation in the age criteria for vaccinating people under the age of 45 years in areas showing weekly doubling of positivity rate. He reiterated his demand that the union government should allow vaccinations to all potential super-spreaders - students above 18 years, teachers, councillors, sarpanches etc.

On the issue of vaccination supply, Vini Mahajan informed the chief minister that the union government had assured that the state would not face any shortage.

The chief minister was assured by the health department that daily sampling would be increased to 50,000 – 35,000 RTPCR and 15,000 Rapid Antigen Tests. He was however, informed that government of India’s institutions - IISER, IMTech, AIIMS, PGIMER – were sampling only 100 samples/day, which is low, and the matter was being taken up with the centre.

DGP Dinkar Gupta informed the chief minister that all districts were taking penal action for violation of Covid protocols and so far, 2.03 lakhs people had been taken for RTPCR tests after they were found not wearing masks in public. He also said that 43,000 challans had been issued and a fine of Rs 3.60 crores collected, besides registration of 206 FIRs and arrest of 246 people.

On the vaccination front, Gupta said 77% of the police personnel had been vaccinated with the first dose and of these 26% had taken the second shot too.

The meeting was also attended by Cabinet Ministers, OP Soni (Medical Education) and Balbir Sidhu (Health), medical experts, Dr K K Talwar and Dr Raj Bahadur and Principal Health Secretary, Hussan Lal.


World Health Day Observed in all Govt. Hospitals to promote COVID-19 Vaccination

Chandigarh, April 7:In a bid to promote the COVID-19 Vaccination drive among the high-risk populations, the Health & Family Welfare Department, Punjab today observed the 'World Health Day' in all Government Hospitals.

Giving further details in press statement, Health Minister Punjab Mr. Balbir Singh Sidhu said that with the aim of vaccinating maximum number of people as per set target of districts, World Health Day has been celebrated at government hospitals on the theme of "Building a fairer, healthier world". He said that this day is marked on 7th April every year to encourage the people to take special steps for their health and welfare and to keep them physically and mentally well, and to create awareness about various diseases.

Mr. Sidhu said that at the district level, the public is being sensitized about COVID-19 vaccination and COVID-19 appropriate behaviour at the village level in all the districts. He also urged the heads of religious organizations, NGOs and Welfare Clubs to encourage the public who are eligible for vaccination to reach the nearest immunization center for inoculation to keep them safe during the pandemic.

The Minister said that the COVID-19 jab is being provided free of cost to every individual above the age of 45 years in all government hospitals. The shot is being given without any discrimination and it is safe, and he has appealed to the public to come forward freely to take part in vaccination drive and make sure the safety of themselves and their family members.


Punjab Government committed for welfare of Nomads and Bazigar community: Chairman Jagga Ram

Chandigarh, April 7:''Punjab Government is committed to the welfare of Nomads (Taprivas) and Bazigar community and the Bazigar & Taprivas Welfare Board will adopt a time bound strategy to address the issues related to them.'' It was disclosed by Board Chairman Jagga Ram after a meeting with board members.

Mr. Jagga Ram said that the problems faced by the Punjab Bazigar and Tapriwas community would be resolved in a timely manner. He said that our main objective was to implement the schemes of various departments of the Punjab government at the grass root level.

The Chairman also extended gratitude towards Chief Minister Captain Amarinder Singh and Social Justice Minister Sadhu Singh Dharamsot for setting up the Bazigar and Taprivas Welfare Board for the motive of betterment of Taprivas and Bazigar community.

Mr. Jagga Ram appealed to the people of Taprivas and Bazigar community of the state to submit a written application to the Board in case of any difficulty and the Board would make every effort to get such matters resolved timely and amicably.

Senior Vice Chairman Ram Pal, Vice Chairman Joginder Singh, Ram Chand, Sukhdev Singh, Jita Ram and Balwinder Singh were also present as special guests in the meeting.


Singla's efforts thrived –Rs 735 crore road projects work will commence this month

Chandigarh, April 7:As a result of the tireless efforts of Punjab PWD Minister Mr. Vijay Inder Singla, work on road projects worth Rs. 735 crore is starting this month. This will further improve the quality of roads in rural areas.

Disclosing this here today an official spokesperson said that under the Pardhan Mantri Gram Sarak Yojana (PMGSY) –III batch (1 project), 1045 km of roads in the state will be upgraded. The project has already been approved by the Government of India and all the formalities have been completed along with the tendering process for the project.

According to the spokesperson, under this project 98 roads will be upgraded in 12 districts including Bathinda, Barnala, Faridkot, Fatehgarh Sahib, Fazilka, Hoshiarpur, Jalandhar, Ludhiana, Moga, Mohali, Patiala and Sangrur. The project will cover 75 community blocks. This project is being implemented with the 60:40 fund sharing basis i.e. 60% share from Govt. of India and 40% share from State Government. Arrangements have also been made for routine management and maintenance of these roads for 5 years. Funds of Rs. 100 crore will be provided by the state government for this purpose.