Punjab to extend curfew in state till May 1


Tribune News Service
Chandigarh, April 10

Punjab Cabinet has decided to extend curfew in the state by 21 days to May 1, officials said on Friday.

The decision came after Chief Minister Amarinder Singh held a cabinet meeting through video conference.  

The cabinet also decided to promote Class 5 and 8 students to the next class.

The development comes as the central government also considers extending its 21-day nationwide lockdown that ends on April 14.  

The Punjab Government was the first to impose a statewide lockdown on March 23, even a day before Prime Minister announced the 21-day national lockdown.

Earlier in the day, Capt Amarinder Singh said the coronavirus epidemic has entered community transmission stage in Punjab with at least 27 confirmed cases reporting no travel history or contact with recent travellers.

Singh also cited a significant study by PGI Chandigarh that has projected the COVID-19 pandemic to peak in India by mid-September at a point where 58 per cent of the population of the country can be infected.

“The same study estimates that COVID-19 is likely to infect 87 per cent of Punjab population and other populations,” the CM said.

He said Punjab will ramp up testing from Monday when it receives 25,000 antibody test kits for blood sample testing in hotspots.

The CM said low testing was a major challenge and out of 2.8 crore people in Punjab, only 2877 had been tested so far.

“We have 132 confirmed cases and 11 deaths and cases are rising,” he said adding that Punjab is geared for the disease management and will stagger its preparation in four stages starting with phase one where 2,000 beds and equipment will be readied; phase 2 with 10,000 beds, phase 3 with 30,000 beds and phase 4 with one lakh beds.

The CM said Punjab has 651 cases related to Delhi’s Nizamuddin cluster of which 636 have been traced and 15 are still missing.

“Of these people from Nizamuddin, 481 samples have been taken and 27 are positive,” he said.

The CM said Punjab will base its future preparation on the PGI Chandigarh disease projections and noted that he had formed a high powered panel to recommend Punjab’s staggered extrication from lockdown state which could not go on till September.

On testing, the CM said apart from PGI Chandigarh, medical colleges in Amritsar, Patiala, Faridkot and two private colleges in Ludhiana including CMC had been roped in.

The CM also said the central emergency funding scheme of Rs 15,000 crore was woefully inadequate and he would demand more money from the Centre in the meeting with the PM tomorrow.

“People are fed up of the lockdown but we have no option. Every life is precious and we have to save lives,” CM said.

He also said Punjab had 434 operational ventilators as of today and of these 358 are in the private sector.

“We have ordered 93 more and will soon have 500 ventilators,” he said.

Currently, only one person is on a ventilator in Punjab.

The state has 62,000 N95 masks and orders for 2.70 lakh have been given.

“We have 32 lakh triple layer masks and two Punjab firms have been approved to make personal protective gear. We have ordered 14000,” he said.

On harvest, the CM said he had ordered 38,000 mandis to ease pressure and harvest will begin on April 15.

“We are expecting the fourth bumper crop, with 185 lakh tonnes of wheat,” he said adding that things are not looking good on COVID front but Punjab is geared for management.

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