Chandigarh, March 16 (IANS) The Amarinder Singh-led Punjab government on Monday issued a strong appeal to the people not to panic in view of the coronavirus scare but to take all the necessary precautions, while avoiding crowded places and mass gatherings.

The Council of Ministers, led by the Chief Minister, took stock of the situation and the state’s preparedness to deal with the COVID-19 outbreak, and also reviewed the reports of the seven-member Group of Ministers (GoM) constituted earlier by Amarinder Singh under the chairmanship of Local Bodies Minister Bram Mohinder to oversee the preventive measures undertaken to combat the threat.

The GoM comprises Om Prakash Soni, Tript Rajinder Singh Bajwa, Razia Sultana, Balbir Singh Sidhu, Vijay Inder Singla and Bharat Bhushan Ashu.

In a resolution passed at the meeting, the Cabinet gave ex-post facto approval to the Chief Minister’s decision on extending the services of the doctors and paramedical staff working with the Government of Punjab in Health and Family Welfare Department till September 30.

Though Punjab has so far reportedly only one confirmed case, no effort is being spared by the state government to ensure stringent measures against the spread of the disease, which has been declared a global pandemic by the World Health Organisation (WHO).

While appreciating the efforts of all departments of the government of Punjab, the Cabinet appealed to the people to be fully prepared and take all precautions as advised by the Health and Family Welfare Department from time to time.

The Cabinet, in its resolution, further appealed to the people to avoid going to crowded places and mass gatherings, to maintain hand and respiratory hygiene, and to ensure cleanliness of their surroundings.

People are also advised to wash their hands frequently with soap and water or hand-sanitizer and they should avoid touching their face, said an official spokesperson after the cabinet meeting.

Further, the people have been advised to avoid non-essential travel, said the resolution.

Following discussions at the meeting, the Cabinet also appealed to people to either defer wedding functions or ensure that not more than 50 persons are present.

It also appealed to religious and dera heads to limit the gatherings and educate their followers about the Coronavirus dangers.

During the Cabinet meeting, the Chief Minister asked all the ministers to closely monitor the situation and ensure the implementation of the curbs in their respective districts, in close coordination with the administrative and civic officials.

He urged them to hold regular meetings with the local administration to maintain visibility in their districts and boost the confidence of the people.

It may be noted that all the government and private schools have already been closed till March 31 in the state.

However, medical colleges (senior year students) have been kept open as a support system.

The Cabinet decided that MBBS students who were not employed should be contacted and asked by the department to stand by on voluntary basis.

Detailed instructions have also been issued for closure of all cinema halls, gyms and swimming pools in the state from the midnight of March 14 till further orders.

All large public gatherings including sports, conferences, cultural events, fairs and exhibitions, wedding functions, are also prohibited till further orders.

The Cabinet has, however, left the decision on closure of malls and marriage palaces to the GoM, said the spokesperson.

As many as 91,689 passengers have been screened at the international airports at Amritsar and Mohali, as well as the international check posts at Wagah border and Kartarpur corridor till date.

Out of eight symptomatic passengers found during screening at these sites, one was positive and all others were tested negative in Amritsar.

The cabinet was further informed that 100 samples had been sent for testing till date, of which only one was positive and 95 negative for COVID-19, while the results of four samples were still awaited.




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