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Wednesday, September 29, 2021

‘For third Covid wave, Punjab set to scale up testing to 60,000 per day’ | Chandigarh News


CHANDIGARH: With projections of new cases set to double in about 64 days at the present rate of growth, Punjab has decided to increase Covid-19 testing in the state to at least 60,000 tests per day.
Punjab chief minister Amarinder Singh on Saturday ordered the state health department to ensure high testing rate, while virtually inaugurating a children’s Covid ward as well as PSA oxygen plants in Ludhiana and Faridkot on Saturday.
Reviewing the state’s preparation for an imminent third wave, Capt Amarinder directed the health department to undertake priority sentinel testing for OPD/IPD patients at government and private hospitals, travellers at entry points, government offices, industries and labour colonies, staff at marriage palaces, restaurants, pubs, bars and gyms. Based on this, districts should formulate strategies for micro-containment zones, he said, noting that GIS-based surveillance and prevention tool, with an auto trigger mechanism for localised restrictions, is now live in all districts.
The Covid paediatric ward at Ludhiana civil hospital now has five paediatric intensive care units (PICUs) and eight multisystem inflammatory syndrome in children (MISC) beds. The advanced ultra-modern PICUs were comparable with the best in the country, said the chief minister. With installation of PSA plants, the state’s dependency on oxygen supply from outside Punjab will substantially reduce, he said, adding that preparations were on to augment the oxygen capacity to 560MT, including 235 MT of LMO and around 328 MT from PSA plants, ASUs and oxygen concentrators. At the peak of second wave, Punjab was utilising about 308 MT oxygen. He ordered prioritisation of teachers and non-teaching staff for vaccination, with special camps to be held to ensure that all are covered with the first dose within this month and those due for the second dose to be also prioritised. Health minister Balbir Singh Sidhu suggested reducing the gap between the two doses to prioritise second dose for teachers and other school staff.
On schools, which have recently reopened for certain classes in the state, the chief minister said while there were some reports of high positivity in schools, the fact was that intensive testing had shown that the positivity amongst school students is 0.1 % against overall positivity of 0.2 % in the past one week. Since 9th August, 41 students and 1 staff member in government schools have tested positive.
Calling for strict vigil, he directed the departments concerned to ensure that only fully vaccinated teaching as well as non-teaching staff will physically teach in schools and colleges. The number of students should be suitably curtailed if enough fully vaccinated teachers are not available, ordered the CM.
Amarinder said parents of school-going children should also be encouraged to immediately get vaccinated in order to enable the physical learning in schools without any interruptions.
Even as he expressed satisfaction over commencement of operations at the whole genome sequencing lab at GMCH Patiala in association with Path, with none of the eight samples tested there so far showing only delta variant. Beginning Saturday, 92 samples will be sent every three weeks for genome sequencing.
Noting that more than half of the eligible population of the state had already received one dose of vaccine, with the available stock being used without any wastage, the chief minister said he had, during his meeting with the Union health minister earlier this week, sought immediate supply of 55 lakh doses to inoculate Punjab’s eligible population. He had been assured of increased supplies, said Captain Amarinder.
Incidentally, the first dose of Covid vaccine has been administered to around 82 lakh people (40%of state’s eligible population) and second dose to nearly 24 lakh people (11% ofeligible beneficiaries), which, said the chief minister, has the capacity to vaccinate eight lakh people per day.





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