As Punjab gears up to further strengthen its fight against the worsening Covid crisis, the state cabinet on Tuesday approved filling up of 428 regular vacancies of Medical Officers (Specialists) on urgent basis. It also gave ex-post facto approval to 107 posts already filled up for six specialities. Chief Minister Captain Amarinder Singh, while chairing the Cabinet meet, said the staff was needed to be on Board urgently to tackle the crisis, with the state projected to be headed for a peak in the pandemic. Captain Amarinder Singh, during his last review, had stressed on the need to identify vacant specialist posts and hire immediately.The recruitment, to be undertaken in the Health Department, would be done by a Special Selection Committee headed by Dr. K K Talwar through walk-in-interview, an official spokesperson said after the Cabinet meeting.The posts for which the post-facto approval has been okayed form part of ongoing recruitment process for 323 Medical Officers (Specialists). The Cabinet also decided to carry forward reserve categories posts/adjustment against Medical Officer (General) to meet the shortage of doctors. In view of the high number of suitable candidates in certain specialties, it was also decided to offer jobs to all such successful candidates in that particular specialty and to increase the number of posts in that slab accordingly. Of the 428 new posts, 136 have been sanctioned at District Hospital level, with maximum of 22 in Pediatrics and 20 each for Forensic Medicine and Gynae, followed by 18 in Microbiology. At Sub Divisional Hospitals (190), maximum 39 posts each are in Medicine and Gynae with Skin & VD (30), ENT (29) and Anesthesia (13). Total of 102 posts have been sanctioned in Anesthesia at Community Health Centres.The Health Department would be filling these posts as early as possible besides creating more posts if the need arises, said the spokesperson.It may be recalled that the Health department had taken approval to fill 3954 posts of Medical and Para-medical staff from Cabinet on 30.06.2020 and the recruitment process for that is already underway. Selection process for 323 posts of Medical Officers (Specialists) of 13 different specialists is also going on and issuance of appointment certificates to successful candidates is underway. Of these 323 posts, only 34 belong to General Category and rest are from various reserved categories.For the purpose of recruitment, the upper age limit has relaxed upto 45 years in case of persons already in government service.As of today, India has a total of around 31 Lakh Covid cases, of which 41,000 are in Punjab with 1036 deaths reported in the state.