CHANDIGARH: Amid apprehensions of community spread of COVID-19, the Punjab Government on Friday extended the lockdown in the state till May 1 as the state is moving towards "community transmission". It also issued an ordinance bringing the state’s private hospitals under the umbrella of the pandemic battle.
The decision was taken at a cabinet meeting. Amarinder said he would convey the decision to Prime Minister Narendra Modi at Saturday’s conference with the chief ministers.
Citing the grim projections about the spread of the pandemic in the coming weeks, Amarinder said the curfew restrictions are essential so that the medical infrastructure is not burdened beyond its capabilities. There was general consensus among the medical community that the lockdown curbs would only delay the spread of the disease, he said, hoping that some medication or cure would be found soon.
Also Punjab Clinical Establishment (Registration and Regulation) Ordinance 2020 was approved by the cabinet to bring the state’s private hospitals under the umbrella of the COVID-19 battle. It was necessary for the private hospitals to join the battle against the deadly disease, said Amarinder.
Amarinder said it was important to activate all the resources in the larger interest of the state in the light of the current battle against coronavirus, which could be a long-drawn one.
The ordinance will provide for registration and regulation of clinical establishments in a professional manner to ensure compliance of clinical standards and protocols and transparency in the functioning of these establishments for fair and proper delivery of health services to the common man.
On a proposal by the Chief Minister, the cabinet also decided to set up a 15-member multi-disciplinary task force to formulate an exit strategy for gradual relaxation of curfew. The task force, with representatives from trade, business, industry, agriculture, civil society and health care professionals, will submit its report within 10 days. The Chief Minister has been authorized to decide on the composition of the task force.
The cabinet also approved establishment of a high-powered committee to suggest a road map for state's economic revival in post-COVID era once the crisis softens and normal work is restored. Amarinder said he will request former Planning Commission deputy chairman Montek Singh Ahluwalia to head the committee. The cabinet also resolved to urge the Centre to establish an advanced center of virology in Punjab with an anticipated investment of Rs 500 crore, with the state government to offer land for free for the project.
For the quick upgradation of the state’s health infrastructure to fight COVID-19, the cabinet set up a task force under the Principal Secretary, PWD. Principal, Secretary, TCA and MD, Punjab Health Systems Corporation will be other members of the task force which will carry out the task of quick upgradation of health infrastructure in a time bound manner. Amarinder asked the health Department to submit a detailed proposal for this.
The cabinet also authorized the Deputy Commissioners to declare new Mandis in their respective districts, as needed, to meet the demands of social distancing while ensuring smooth procurement of grain. These would be in addition to the 3,800 Mandis already notified this year for procurement operations.
Punjab COVID-19 cases
As of April 10, the number of people who have tested positive for novel coronavirus in Punjab has touched 151.
With a total of 48 cases, Mohali district has the maximum number of positive coronavirus reports. Out of these, 32 were from Jawaharpur village with 552 families in Dera Bassi subdivision of the district making it the new hotspot of Punjab. The district has now been sealed.