Expressing serious concerns about the spread of Covid in the state from those coming from outside, Punjab Chief Minister Captain Amarinder Singh on Saturday called for strict checking of entrants from other states, particularly Delhi, where cases were spiralling out of control.He, however, made it clear that Punjabis were welcome to come to Delhi for Covid treatment in Punjab after getting their hospital beds reserved here on the recommendation of a Delhi hospital. The Chief Minister was responding to a question from a Punjab resident working in Delhi during his Facebook Live #AskCaptain session.On the issue of sealing Punjab’s borders with other states, Captain Amarinder said while Rajasthan and Himachal Pradesh had sealed their borders with Punjab, people were coming from Haryana and Delhi every day in large numbers. On Friday alone, 6500 vehicles entered Punjab from Delhi and Haryana, which translated into about 20000 new people coming from these states on a single day.His government was mulling ways to make entry norms more stringent, given the increasing number of positive cases in the state, said the Chief Minister, adding that of the total of 2986 cases in Punjab, 1471 could be traced to outsiders and their contacts.Though the state was still performing relatively better than many others in the country, cases in Punjab were also continuing to spiral, necessitating tough measures, the Chief Minister said. While nobody likes restrictions, he had been forced to imposed weekend and holiday curbs to protect lives, he said, adding that restrictions on inter-state movement on these days were also intended to check unnecessary socialising.Pointing to the spike of 117 cases in a single day in the state, the Chief Minister attributed the sharp rise to the influx of people into the state, which has witnessed the entry of as many as 43000 people in just one month. In addition to people landing in Amritsar from Dubai and other places, trains culminating in the historic city were also adding to the deluge of people, he said, adding that the three cities of Amritsar, Jallandhar and Ludhiana have seen the maximum cases.
Restrictions were important to check the spread further to other districts such as Pathankot, Patiala and Gurdaspur, he added.Another reason for more cases being recorded was the increased testing in the state, which had gone up from the initial 700 to 11000, said the Chief Minister, adding that the State Government was in the process of procuring the latest machines to increase the number of tests further to 20000 a day. So far, a total of 165000 tests had been conducted, he said, quoting experts as saying that testing was the only vaccine at present against Covid. Of the 2986 positive cases reported, 2282 had fully recovered, with 532 in isolation facilities and only 9 in high dependency units, with 2 patients on ventilators, he revealed.The Chief Minister said testing facilities would soon be established in Pathankot and Gurdaspur, so that people from these cities need not go to Amritsar for getting their tests done. Also, to further scale up the fight against the disease, the Health Department is also in the process of completing training of more medical staff, he added.In reply to a question, the Chief Minister hoped that the situation would not arise wherein the state’s health infrastructure would get overwhelmed. Already, the state government was allowing asymptomatic patients or those will mild symptoms to remain in home isolation, to ensure that there is not major burden on the health system, he pointed out.Answering a question, Captain Amarinder said all Deputy Commissioners were being directed to check meat shops to see if any meat was being sold without protocols, to avert any virus spread from this source.Home delivery is allowed for senior citizens during the weekend/gazetted holiday lockdown, and DCs were being given instructions on this count, he clarified to a questioner. There was also no bar on industrial operations, while marriages and funerals/Bhog ceremonies could also be held with the restricted numbers as allowed by the central government guidelines.The Chief Minister further made it clear that shooting of movies was permitted in the state and instructions to this effect had been issued to the DCs.Responding to a query about scarcity of medicines at OOAT centres, the Chief Minister said the government had already ordered immediate shifting of surplus medicines lying at any centre to other centres in need.After reading a request for help to an old woman who lives on rent with her 11-year-old grandson after death of her son, the Chief Minister directed the DC Ludhiana to immediately ensure full cost of her TB treatment and to pay for her rent for this and next year.On traffic violation during lockdown, the Chief Minister pointed out that 41,000 out of 81,000 strong Punjab Police force was engaged in Covid related duty and nobody would be allowed to violate any rules on the road. Violators will be fined and would have to face penal action under the law, he warned.