Amid projections of a second Covid wave hitting Punjab, Chief Minister Captain Amarinder Singh on Tuesday directed the Health and Medical Education departments to maintain the levels of testing at 30,000 a day and also ordered amendment in rules to enable direct recruitment of super specialist doctors to meet shortfall of medical staff.
Chairing a high-level virtual meeting to review the pandemic situation in the state, the Chief Minister asked Chief Secretary Vini Mahajan to work on amending the rules for ensuring direct recruitment in super speciality departments to prevent any weakening of the Covid battle.
The Chief Minister directed the concerned departments to ensure that at least 25000 RT-PCR and 5000 Rapid Antigen Tests (RAT) are conducted every day without any laxity in this regard. The current decline in cases notwithstanding, the situation remains grim with a second wave expected to hit the state, he said, stressing the need to strictly follow all Covid safety and behavioural protocols. He directed DGP Dinkar Gupta to crack down heavily on those not wearing masks or not adhering to social distancing and other norms.
Captain Amarinder underlined the need to focus specially on potential super spreaders. Government employees must be tested routinely, and with schools and colleges opening up, it was important to make proper schedules and enhance the number of mobile teams for testing, he said.
Expressing concern over the high mortality rate in the state, the Chief Minister asked the medical experts team headed by Dr KK Talwar to evolve effective strategies to tackle the problem, caused mainly by late admissions/treatment, co-morbid complications, lack of adherence to guidelines with regard to use of drugs in some hospitals, lack of expertise and monitoring modalities, among others.
Dr Talwar apprised the Chief Minister of the steps taken to strengthen Covid management facilities in the state, including evaluation of L-3 facilities currently in progress by an expert team from PGI.
Health Secretary Hussan Lal informed the meeting that data received from certain hospitals and analysed by experts from PGI and AIIMS showed higher mortality among patients having significant co-morbidities and old age but the data was inconclusive for establishing other factors.
While overall number of cases had declined in the state, 11 districts had shown increase in positivity rate in the past four weeks, he said, identifying them as Rupnagar, Bathinda, SAS Nagar, Faridkot, Ludhiana, Jalandhar, Mansa, Amritsar, Moga, Shaheed Bhagat Singh Nagar and Sangrur. He further disclosed that currently 1600 patients were in home isolation in the state.
The department, said Hussan Lal, had enhanced IEC activities during the festival season regarding Covid appropriate behaviour to create awareness about early testing/management, wearing of mask, hand hygiene and social distancing.
DK Tiwari, Secretary Medical Education & Research, said positivity rate in Punjab had remained below 2% since October 11. In terms of deaths, those over 60 years of age constituted about 35% while those with co-morbid conditions were 82.4% of the total Covid deaths reported from November 1 to 7.