Chief Secretary Punjab, Ms. Vini Mahajan here today held a meeting with Deputy Commissioners, Police Chiefs, Municipal Commissioners, Civil Surgeons and other officers to review the emergency measures tackle the current peak in COVID-19 cases in Punjab, while asking them. While expressing concern over the 3rd peak, wherein 1,515 CoViD-19 positive cases emerged on 13th March, she exhorted the officers to spruce up all the necessary arrangements and remain in top gear to effectively tackle the recent up-swing in the cases, while asking all the districts to step up the testing of the contacts to break the chain of transmission.
She also held detailed discussions with the medical experts and sought their opinion regarding measures required to contain the spread during the meeting. She stated that the State witnessed first peak in September last year as it touched 2,896 cases per day followed by a second peak in November with 843 cases per day. She gave directions to the Department of Health to carry out Covid 19 vaccination at all designated hospitals on all seven days of the week and incorporate more public and private healthcare facilities, including all Government PHCs as vaccination centers.
Ms. Mahajan asked the Deputy Commissioners and the Civil Surgeons to advise the private hospitals falling under their jurisdiction to increase their Covid bed capacity and the Private Hospitals, which have not been yet verified for L-3 Covid Care need to be verified quickly by the districts to add them to the -L3 care facility to ensure more L-3 beds are available. The identified private hospitals having adequate infrastructure and manpower to handle L-3 Covid patients may be asked to ramp up their bed capacity to the level of first peak immediately. She said that the Labs must maintain the testing of around 28,000 to 30,000 Covid samples per day.
She directed that 3 Government Medical Colleges must ensure availability of sufficient L-2 and L-3 beds to match the level as during the first peak. She directed the Department of Health to ensure adequate number of Medical Specialists in all the districts for Covid management and immediately hire the additional requisite manpower like Ward Attendants, Class-IV staff and Drivers for Ambulances etc and ensure full activation of all the L-2 facilities in all districts. She further said that as suggested by medical experts, the districts have been told to ask the private hospitals treating the level 2 and level 3 patients, to postpone routine elective surgeries for at least 2 weeks, to make way for additional requirements of Covid beds there. She told that night curfews have already been imposed in 8 districts and other districts were also advised to review the situation and take appropriate decisions accordingly.
Chief Secretary appealed the people of the state to shun complacency and adopt Covid Appropriate Behavior and help the Government in tackling the pandemic. She asked the Information and Public Relations department to step-up IEC activities on vaccine hesitancy and engage the social and other media for public interaction. She told that the state has already closed all the Schools and the Anganwadi Centres, imposed restrictions on indoor and outdoor social gatherings to 100 and 200 respectively.
Dr K.K. Talwar, Adviser Health & Medical Education clarified that might be a possibility that the beneficiaries may test Covid positive even after inoculation of second dose, because the Covid vaccine creates the desired level of protection only after two weeks of the second dose. He said that even if any beneficiary gets positive after more than two weeks of the second dose, the severity of the infection will be milder and the beneficiary may not need hospitalization. He informed that the Expert Group lead by him has approved the new protocols for Covid management, which shall soon be notified by Government.
While apprising the Chief Secretary regarding the status of Covid 19 vaccination, Principal Secretary Health Sh. Hussan Lal said that nearly 50% Healthcare and Frontline workers have been inoculated with first dose, while second dose is also being given to these beneficiaries upon the completion of the stipulated period, respectively. He revealed that the state has received 19.15 lakh doses of Covishield and 1.37 lakh doses of Covaxin, so far with different expiry dates and the field officers have been asked to follow the principle of ‘Early Expiry First Out’ (EEFO) to ensure that vaccines are used within the shelf-life.
He stated that the field officials have been maintaining the contacts tracing to around 20 persons per positive case and the CoViD testing of all the contacts need to be ensured. CoViD sampling has also been increased to more than 30,000 per day and the use of RAT has also been at a very low level. He further stated that the Case Fatality Rate has remained high to 3.2% for which efforts are being made to bring down the CFR while mentioning that CFR for the period of last one month has been 2.4
Director General of Police, Sh Dinkar Gupta intimated that the Police force is working very hard to ensure compliance of Covid protocols. He apprised that the Police has stepped up the challans of persons violating Covid protocols and suggested that Hotels, Restaurants, Marriage Palaces staff may regularly be tested for Covid to prevent spread of infection. He assured to support the districts in implementation of Covid protocols.
Sh D.K. Tiwari, Principal Secretary, Medical Education and Research, Sh. Kumar Rahul, Mission Director, National Health Mission, Prof. Raj Bahadur, Vice Chancellor, BFUHS, Dr. G.B. Singh, Director Health Services, Dr. Rajesh Kumar, ED, SHSRC, In-charge’s of all Level-III Facilities were present during the virtual meeting.