Amid apprehensions of community spread of COVID, Punjab Chief Minister Amarinder Singh on Thursday ordered stricter lockdown on the weekends and public holidays with movement to be restricted to e-passes holders.
All citizens, except medical staff and essential service providers, would be required to download e-passes from the COVA app, the Chief Minister directed at a virtual meeting to review the pandemic situation and the state’s preparedness to handle further spread.
Industry, however, will be allowed to function normally on all days, said the Chief Minister, while asking Director General of Police (DGP) Dinkar Gupta to ensure strict implementation of these directives to prevent the gathering of large crowds.
The Chief Minister said such tough measures were necessitated on account of the spiralling COVID cases across the world.
Stringent curbs could help delay the peak for as long as possible, he added, pointing out that with no early vaccine or treatment in sight, strict protocols was the only way to fight the pandemic.
Even as he warned of the pandemic worsening in the coming days and weeks, the Chief Minister also asked medical and health experts to consider the imposition of strict conditions, including mandatory testing certification, for entrants from Delhi, where the situation had assumed alarming proportions.
On average, 500-800 vehicles are coming to Punjab from the national capital every day, the DGP informed in the meeting.
A decision on stricter curbs on those coming from Delhi will be taken after a review by the experts, an official spokesperson said after the meeting.
Pointing out that many of those who had come from outside had behaved irresponsibly and had not reported to the health authorities, the Chief Minister said tough measures would have to be taken where ever needed, as the spike was still continuing and was expected to escalate in the days ahead.
The Chief Minister suggested that since it normally takes three-four days for the virus to show up, those coming from outside should be tested after a week and in the meantime, they should be strictly asked to home quarantine themselves.
He also directed the DGP to ensure strict implementation of the home quarantine.
The DGP said 550 flying squads of the police were enforcing the quarantine.
The Chief Minister’s directions came even as the doubling rate in the state worsened from 22 days on May 31 to 15 days on June 10, showing a progressive decline day by day.
Though significantly longer than the national average, the doubling period decline was a matter of anxiety, said the Chief Minister.
Expressing concern, the Chief Minister said there was no scope for complacency in the state’s battle against COVID.
The state government’s efforts would need to be scaled up further, particularly in view of the Health Department’s projections suggesting the peak of the pandemic had yet to hit Punjab, and it could happen towards the end of August if the doubling period continues to come down as per the current trend.