CHANDIGARH: Punjab Chief Minister Capt Amarinder Singh on Friday said that as per a study coronavirus would touch its peak by mid-September and around 58 per cent of Indian's population and 87 per cent of Punjab's would get infected.
The CM was quoting the study by Chandigarh-based Post-Gaduate Institute of Medical Education and Research.
Given the projections, this is just the start of the war and the situation threatens to get worse over the next few months for India, Amarinder said, adding that lifting the lockdown would not be easy for any state in the present situation.
"Projections are frightening. For Punjab, the report has projected that 87 per cent of state's population may be affected. In these circumstances, no government could afford to ease the restrictions", he said. “We have to check the spread of the infections. The state’s preparations would be aligned to these projections."
Amarinder said that his government was seriously thinking of extending the lockdown as the time did not appear to be right for lifting the curbs.
However, he made it clear that since the lockdown could not be indefinite, the government in near future will look for the ways to ease the restrictions and enable it to function with the coronavirus around. A high-powered committee with several doctors, medical and other experts, was examining the situation and will soon submit its report on the lockdown exit strategy, Amarinder.
Pointing out that most of the 27 positive cases reported on Thursday (the maximum daily increase for the state) were cases of secondary transmission, the Chief Minister said it is an indication of the state moving into the stage of community transmission. The situation could seriously worsen in the coming
weeks, he added.
However, the coronavirus cases are low in Punjab compared to other states. "The state got less number of people tested as the centre did not allow some of the medical institutes to test samples. Initially, only the Medical Colleges in Amritsar and Patiala had the nod for testing and now the PGI in Chandigarh got permission. We have now taken on board Faridkot Medical college and still awaiting permission for two other medical institutes in Ludhiana (CMC and DMC)."
In response to a question, Amarinder said his government was gearing up for every eventuality. "We are making arrangements for patients in four phases – for 2,000 patients, 10,000 patients, 30,000 patients and 1 lakh patients - needing isolation and treatment. We have sufficient number of ventilators and medical gears required for the situation at present. We will start receiving more equipments and necessary medical items in the next few days."
On PPE kits, he said with two Ludhiana manufacturers getting approval for making such kits, the state would start getting 5,000 of them a day from Monday and could provide the excess to other states, with directly or through the Government of India. As for medical staff, he said retired doctors had volunteered in large numbers and were on standby to help out.
The CM admitted that only 2,877 people have so far been tested in Punjab which is simply not enough given the state’s population of 2.8 crore. With 25,000 Rapid Testing Kits now set to arrive, mass testing in hotpots will begin from Monday. In the next few days, the health department would get more aggressive with testing. There will also be random testing in the areas of concentration, said Amarinder.
On Tablighi Jamaat attendees, the CM said his government had received a list of 651 such people who had entered the state. Of these, 636 have so far been traced and 27 found positive (including 10 contacts of the attendees).
Out of the nearly 1.5 lakh NRIs and foreign returnees, the state had traced and quarantined the majority, said Amarinder, adding that the quarantine period is over for 33,166 peoeple.
Replying to questions on the harvesting of wheat, scheduled to begin on April 15, he said the state was gearing up to handle another bumper harvest and will go for district-wise and village-wise procurement. The number of mandis has been increased from 1800 to 3800 this year in view of the COVID-19 pandemic, Amarinder said. He added that apart from police and district officials, NCC volunteers also likely to pitch in to man the Mandis.