CHANDIGARH: As the state government intensified its preparedness to handle any escalation in the COVID-19 crisis in the coming days, Punjab Chief Minister Capt Amarinder Singh on Wednesday directed the Health Department to make mobile testing vans operational in all districts having pandemic hotspots to conduct community testing for SARI (Severe Acute Respiratory Illness).
He has also ordered the officers to increase the isolation beds to 5,000 in the next few days to meet any eventuality. Though there are no confirmed estimates available, the state government is preparing for the worst case scenario, said Punjab Chief Secretary Karan Avtar Singh.
Manpower recruitment and training has also started on war footing to ensure that the state is fully prepared in the coming weeks, said Singh, adding that 2500 beds in 20 facilities in the state were ready for utilization, and the number would be continuously increased along with support facilities. Reviewing the availability of essential medical equipment to handle COVID-19 cases in the state, Amarinder has asked the Health Department to order the necessary protective gear, ventilators, masks etc on priority.
Additional Chief Secretary Vini Mahajan said that continuous testing of samples prepared indigenously by Punjab companies was being ensured and orders for approved equipment had already been placed. The CM has also asked the Deputy Commissioners to personally oversee the arrangements for food and other essentials as part of the relief operations launched across the state amid curfew/lockdown restrictions.
Given the inability of beneficiaries to reach Banks and ATMs, the Chief Minister on Wednesday directed the DCs to ensure disbursement of social security pensions, old age pensions and benefits to the various categories of beneficiaries through Business Correspondents instead of direct bank transfers.
Acting on the Chief Minister’s directives, Additional Chief Secretary (Home) Satish Chandra has issued detailed guidelines to all the Administrative Secretaries, DGP, Divisional Commissioner, Deputy Commissioners, Zonal IGPs, Commissioners of Police, DIGs and SSPs. The banks have been asked to augment the numbers of BCs if required, and also to approach the district authorities for bulk passes for the business correspondents.
Though banks have been allowed to operate through the week in Punjab, they have been directed to ensure that all social distancing and other protocols are maintained to check the spread of corona virus. The banks have been advised to remain open for public between 10.00 am to 2.00 pm.