CHANDIGARH: The entire rural population of Punjab will undergo Rapid Antigen Test (RAT) as COVID-19 positivity rate in the state's villages is rising at an alarming rate, Health Minister Balbir Singh Sidhu said on Wednesday.
The drive will be conducted under 'Mission Fateh 2' as part of efforts to break the chain of transmission of the coronavirus, according to an official statement.
Under 'Mission Fateh 2', additional deputy commissioners have been nominated as nodal officers of their respective districts to conduct RAT on the rural population, it said.
'Mission Fateh' symbolises the resolve of the people of Punjab to halt the spread of the coronavirus.
Its first leg was launched by the state government in June last year, the statement added.
Sidhu said community health officers (CHOs) have been directed to ensure monitoring of all patients in home-isolation.
'Corona Fateh Kits', containing medicines and other supplements to deal with COVID-19, will be provided to every patient for speedy recovery by the health department, he said.
An active surveillance survey will be done in every village to detect influenza-like illnesses or severe respiratory infections by accredited social health activists (ASHA), the minister said.
Data of symptomatic patients will be shared with CHOs and senior medical officers, he added.
Sidhu further said deputy commissioners would constitute three-member committees at block levels which would depute teams for sampling at the village level.
The minister said ASHA workers will go door to door in every village to check for symptoms of COVID-19 such as fever, cough and shortness of breath.
The total number of villages in Punjab is 12,729.
The state on Wednesday registered 208 more fatalities due to COVID-19, pushing the death toll in the state to 12,525, according to a medical bulletin.
The infection count climbed to 5,17,954 with 6,407 new cases.
The number of daily cases was lower than the 7,143 fresh cases that were registered on Tuesday.
The state's single-day recoveries, which were registered at 7,872, again surpassed the single-day infections of 6,407.
The number of active cases dropped from 72,277 on Tuesday to 70,499, according to the bulletin.
Twenty-seven deaths were reported from Ludhiana, 23 from Bathinda, 18 from Sangrur, 16 from Patiala and 15 each from Mohali and Muktsar, among fatalities witnessed in the past 24 hours.
Ludhiana reported the maximum of 731 cases, followed by 661 in Jalandhar, 658 in Bathinda, 603 in Mohali and 530 in Fazilka, among other fresh cases.
The state's positivity rate stood at 8.71 per cent, the bulletin stated.
With 7,872 recoveries, the number of cured persons reached 4,34,930, as per the bulletin.
There are 405 critical patients who are on ventilator support, 1,130 other critical patients and 7,939 are on oxygen support, the bulletin said.
A total of 84,10,481 samples have been collected for testing so far in the state, it said.
Meanwhile, Chandigarh registered 414 cases, taking the tally in the Union Territory to 56,927, according to a medical bulletin.
The number of fresh infections was lower than 526 cases reported on Tuesday.
Nine more people died of COVID-19, taking the toll to 656.
The number of active cases dropped from 7,035 on Tuesday to 6,570, the bulletin said.
With 870 patients being discharged after recovering from the infection, the number of cured persons reached 49,701, as per the bulletin.
A total of 4,70,962 samples have been taken for testing so far and of them, 4,12,862 tested negative while reports of 104 samples were awaited, the bulletin said.
Meanwhile, the state has also allowed any individual or a group to open a makeshift COVID hospital in the state with a view to ramp up the bed capacity, a senior official said here on Wednesday.
'Invest Punjab' will grant permission, subject to clearance from the health department, to interested parties in opening up temporary COVID hospital within 24 hours.
"The person or group, who intends to open a temporary hospital, can apply to 'Invest Punjab' by filling an application form and submitting self-declarations," Rajat Agarwal, CEO, Invest Punjab, said in a statement here.
Established in 2013, the Punjab Bureau of Investment Promotion also known as 'Invest Punjab' is a single point of contact for facilitation of investors looking to set up a business in the state.
It has been made the nodal office to facilitate issuance of all requisite NOC or in-principle approvals from all concerned departments for setting up of temporary COVID hospitals.
The first such in-principle approval to immediately start construction was granted to M/s Mohali Medical Group Private Limited for setting up an 80-bedded temporary hospital in Mohali, said Agarwal.
'Invest Punjab' facilitated approval of the project by coordinating with all concerned departments and the required NOCs were made available to the Department of Health for granting approval within 24 hours, he added.