In response to Punjab Chief Minister Captain Amarinder Singh's plea for help in a war-like Covid situation, the Army’s Western Command on Monday extended its help, including provision of medical staff and trained combatants, to the state to combat the exigent shortage of oxygen at hospitals. It also extended its support in reviving old oxygen plants across the state that were presently lying defunct.
During a virtual meeting of the chief minister and senior Army officials, General Officer Commanding (GOC) in-charge of the Western Command, Gen RP Singh offered to provide staff to run the 100-bed Covid-19 facility that has been proposed to set up in the building loaned to the state government by the Council of Scientific and Industrial Research (CSIR).
Technical and specialist cover will be provided by the Command Centre, Lt Gen Singh told the chief minister, adding that 15 trained nurses had already been sent to Patiala to support the civic staff. Further, experts will be sent to visit the defunct oxygen plants at existing industrial units to assess their status and extend support needed for their restoration.
Though the Army’s resources were also stressed on account of requirements from other states including Delhi, Haryana and Jammu and Kashmir, the officials said they would extend all possible help to Punjab to tackle the situation, which the chief minister said was critical.
The Punjab government had also approached the Union Home Ministry for providing manpower and ICU beds through the Border Security Force (BSF), the chief minister later said at another review meeting with top officials of the state government and medical experts.
As the country is grappled with a shortage in oxygen supply, Punjab was currently only receiving 105 tonnes of O2 everyday from the Centre as against its demand of 300 tonnes daily. Of the 105 tonnes, the state was actually getting only 85 tonnes and the rest was being diverted to PGI Chandigarh.
Punjab reported another record single-day spike of 7,014 cases on Sunday, taking its infection tally to 3,39,090, and 76 more people had died from the virus, taking the death toll to 8,432.