With both cases and fatalities due to Covid going up, Punjab Chief Minister Captain Amarinder Singh on Monday announced three-month extension for all retiring doctors and specialists under 60, and also asked the Chief Secretary to expedite the process of recruitment of technicians and lab assistants for coping with the exponential demand in view of the increasing number of Covid cases.
As per a Cabinet decision, these doctors were earlier given extension till September 30, which has now been extended till December 31, 2020, said the Chief Minister.
During a virtual review of the Covid situation with top officials and medical/health experts, the Chief Minister pointed out that the Health Department is already supporting the GMCs with specialist manpower pending recruitment by the Medical Education Department. Special relaxation has been given by the Finance Department to enable Colleges to hire other manpower, he said.
The Chief Minister also directed formation of committees, under the respective DCs, for distribution of food packets to poor families under home isolation/quarantine, in order to encourage testing, as such families generally refrained from getting themselves tested for Covid for fear of losing their meager earnings.
A series of measures have been further announced by Captain Amarinder to ease the stress of Covid patients in hospitals and at homes. It has been decided that government hospitals will now permit serious Covid patients with special dietary requirements to be provided home food if they wish. To alleviate the psychological stress of serious patients in isolation in hospoitals, and of their family members, the government will provide some equipment in these wards to enable video calls between patients and their attendants.
Further, the Chief Minister has directed all government labs to start providing the Cycle Threshhold (CT) value of an RT-PCR test as it can give useful information to the doctors treating a Covid patient.
To ensure regular monitoring the Covid patients in home isolation, especially above 40 years of age, Captain Amarinder asked the Health Department to put in place a system of ensuring their clinical progress to check sudden deterioration. Covid Patient Tracking Officers have been appointed in each district to ensure such patients receive due care, he said.
Expressing concern over the delayed testing, that was leading to increase in fatalities, the Chief Minister urged the departments to aggressively reach out to people to go for testing at the first sign of symptoms and not indulge in false bravado.
The directions came as active cases in the state stood at 16,156 as on September 6, with a cumulative fatality rate of 2.9% and deaths per million at 62. The average positivity for the week from August 26 to September 3 was 9.42%, Health Secretary Hussan Lal informed the meeting. Tracing of contacts per infected person had been increased to 4.4 per case during the August 27 – September 3 period, he disclosed.
Chief Secretary Vini Mahajan said both cases and fatalities had witnessed a steady increase in the past few days, with 89% deaths reported from Level 3 cases. The situation was being monitored on a day to day basis, she said, adding that the Expert Group headed by Dr KK Talwar was meeting every.
Medical Education Secretary DK Tiwari apprised the Virtual meeting of the tertiary care status at various government medical colleges, and also gave an update on the Plasma Banks and the testing carried out at the VRDL labs under Mission Fateh of the state government.