Punjab Chief Minister Amarinder Singh on Thursday ordered strict enforcement of Covid safety protocols to prevent any super-spread events, along with an increase in daily vaccination doses to two lakh.
He also directed to set up a special control room for effective in-person monitoring of home isolation cases.
Citing figures on mortality and positivity, the Chief Minister said that the restrictions currently in place are showing results, and they needed to be implemented strictly, particularly in Mohali and other big cities which are showing high rates of transmission and positivity.
Singh pointed out that the state’s positivity rate stands at 8.1 per cent, even though positivity in the age group of less than 40 years had come down from 54 per cent (September 2020) to 50 per cent (March 2021).
The curbs, coupled with strong efforts by all concerned, had helped reduce the percentage of mortality in the age group below 60 years from 50 per cent (September 2020) to 40 per cent (in March 2021), and should be strictly followed, he added.
However, the CM reiterated his demand that the Centre should allow vaccination for under 45 in areas with more cases, since the UK variant was infecting younger people more.
He directed Chief Secretary Vini Mahajan to pursue the matter with the central government, while medical expert K.K. Talwar stressed that patients of kidney and liver disease who are under 45 years should at least be allowed to be vaccinated.
The Chief Minister was chairing a virtual meeting with several ministers, including Health Minister Balbir Sidhu, Education Minister Vijay Inder Singla and Medical Education Minister O.P. Soni, along with senior administrative and police officials.
Making it clear that there was no scope for complacency, Singh said that the special control room with a dedicated team could utilise ANMs, ASHA workers, interns from medical colleges, to move beyond just telephonic to more in-person monitoring.
On the vaccination front, the Chief Minister directed the Health Department to further scale up vaccination efforts to vaccinate the entire eligible population within this month, along with auditing of any deaths taking place after vaccination.
“While vaccination has increased to 90,000 per day, we need to further take it up to 200,000 per day,” he said, adding that Punjab currently has 300,090 Covishield and 100,000 Covaxin vaccines in stock.
Sufficiency of doses must be ensured at all times and it must be ensured that the COWIN portal is updated so that the actual position is reflected, the Chief Minister said, adding that districts must not spread themselves too thin and execute vaccination strategies that ensure no wastage and adequate availability.
Singh also ordered immediate overtime allowance and weekly offs for all vaccinators, to reduce the burden on them.
Pointing to a Punjab Police case study, shared by DGP Dinkar Gupta, he pointed out that percentage increase in vaccination among police personnel had led to a clear downward trend and decline in active positive cases among the force.
The empirical data clearly shows a positive effect of vaccination amongst the policemen, and not only the number of active positive cases has come down, but the number of policemen requiring critical medical care has also become negligible, the DGP informed the Chief Minister, citing the study findings.
He said as against a peak of 1,700 daily cases last year, this surge had seen only 400 policemen getting infected on any given day at its peak. He also informed the meeting that after taking the second dose, there had been no death in the department due to Covid.
Noting that even though there had been a decline in CFR, almost 30 per cent deaths are taking place within two days of hospitalisation. Singh said around 84 per cent patients presented themselves at the hospital for the first time with severe symptoms, indicating delayed reporting.
Ninety per cent of the total deaths have been of persons with comorbid conditions, he observed, directing the department to ensure that those with Covid symptoms should immediately report to the nearest health facility to save precious lives.
Health Secretary Hussan Lal informed the Chief Minister that there was currently no shortage of oxygen in the state, with three oxygen plants already operational and two more in the process.
He said the department was grateful to the Rajasthan Chief Minister for providing it with 20,000 doses of Remdisivir, which have been given to both government (12,500) and well-functioning private hospitals (7,500 doses).
Punjab still has about 7,000 doses in stock, after giving around 300 to the PGI, he added.
Earlier in a presentation, the Health Secretary apprised the meeting that as against the 8.1 per cent overall positivity in Punjab, the district of Mohali was reporting 18 per cent.