Even as the state government prepared to launch its pilot Rapid Antigen Testing project in five of the worst affected districts from Friday, Punjab Chief Minister Captain Amarinder Singh today gave the go-ahead for establishment of a Plasma Bank to facilitate Covid plasma therapy treatment, which is already being carried out as an ICMR trial project in the state’s government hospitals.Chairing a Video Conference review meeting of the Covid situation in the state, the Chief Minister approved the establishment of the Plasma Bank under the supervision and guidance of Dr Neelam Marwaha, former Head of Blood Bank and Transfusion Medicine, who is already involved in, and guiding, the Plasma Therapy Trials.The Plasma Bank would serve as a ready inventory source for seriously ill patients or those at risk of severe disease, and thus will enable a wider range of adults to be treated with convalescent plasma.In total 15 patients have been recruited for the trial, of whom 8 were given plasma and rest 7 had been placed in control arm as per randomisation by ICMR. Five patients have recovered completely and shall be discharged soon. A total of 11 donors have donated plasma so far of the 300 recovered patients, the meeting was informed.Expressing concern over the increasing violations of safety norms in the state, many of them by political parties, the Chief Minister said he will write to the presidents of all the registered political parties to seek their cooperation in checking large gatherings. He said he will also appeal to them to avoid any actions that have the potential to spread Covid. Meanwhile, DGP Dinkar Gupta said the police had registered cases against some of the political parties for violation of Covid safety norms and his department was also planning to write to all the parties not to indulge in such acts.
Pointing out that 258 cases had been reported on Wednesday, with 11 PCS and other senior officers, including CMO Sangrur, judges etc, infected so far, the Chief Minister stressed the need to raise the guard even further. Office staff, in particular, needs to be very careful, he stressed. He asked Chief Secretary Vini Mahajan to issue SOPs for Government Officers’ meetings, visit to other offices etc, making it clear that spread of infection among critical manpower due to casual attitude was not acceptable.Underlining the need for stricter enforcement of the safety rules, the Chief Minister directed the DGP not go soft on challans against violators. The meeting was informed that as many as 4882 challans were issued on Wednesday alone, mostly for not wearing masks. The Chief Minister shared that his government had decided, under Mission Fateh, to distribute 15 lakh masks among the poor, of which 1 lakh were currently being given out while orders had been placed for the remaining. Dinkar also disclosed that in view of the increase in number of cases, directions for sample testing in prisons had been issued.Dinkar further revealed that the e-registration process that started from midnight on Monday for inbound travellers had already seen 31959 registrations, of which 4277 were from the hotspots (mainly Delhi).
Home Secretary Satish Chandra apprised the Chief Minister that the process of cancellation of FIRs registered against migrant workers for lockdown violation, as ruled by the Supreme Court, had begun in the state. The DCs and SSPs had been directed accordingly, he said.Earlier, sharing details of the Rapid Antigen Testing set to start in the State for early detection and management of COVID-19 infections, Advisor (Health, Medical Education & Research) Dr KK Talwar said Amritsar, Jalandhar, Ludhiana, Mohali, & Patiala districts had been identified for the pilot. The test has a quick turnaround time of 30 minutes for results. On finalisation of rates for private hospitals, he said two rounds of meetings had already been held with the hospitals and another was scheduled for Monday, after which the rates can be fixed.He further noted that even though the numbers and mortality figures for the state were lower than the national average and for many of the other states, the spread was worrying, with community resistance also being noted in certain areas of containment/micro-containment. Pointing to the increased testing in the state, Dr. Talwar said 15 Truenat Machines are operational at District Hospitals (Barnala, Bathinda, Fazilka, Gurdaspur, Hoshiarpur, Pathankot, Jalandhar, Kapurthala, Mansa, Moga, Sangrur, Muktsar, SBS Nagar, Ludhiana and Rupnagar). Order has been placed for another 15 such machines, which have a testing time of only 60 minutes.Principal Secretary DK Tiwari, in his presentation, said the state’s mortality rate was currently 2.6% as against India’s 2.8%. He further disclosed that 70.8% of the Covid patients were Asymptomatic, 14.7 % Mild, 8.8 % Moderate and 5.6 % Severe.