COVID-19: Night curfew extended by 2 hrs in Punjab's nine districts, CM warns of strict measures

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Chandigarh, Mar 18 (PTI) Amid rising cases of COVID-19 in Punjab, Chief Minister Amarinder Singh on Thursday announced a two-hour extension in the night curfew in the state's nine worst-affected districts.

Singh said the coronavirus situation in the state is critical and warned people of stringent measures if they don't follow COVID appropriate behaviour.

'I won't be easy on the people. People may not like it, but it's my duty,' the chief minister said.

He expressed hope that all Punjabis will cooperate and adhere to the restrictions.

'For God's sake, save the lives of Punjabis,' he urged the residents of the state.

The night curfew will now be in place from 9 pm to 5 am, instead of 11 pm to 5 am, in Ludhiana, Jalandhar, Patiala, Mohali, Amritsar, Gurdaspur, Hoshiarpur, Kapurthala and Rupnagar.

All these districts have been reporting more than 100 cases daily.

The announcement came after 2,039 new cases and 35 more fatalities were reported in the state on Wednesday.

Ludhiana had reported 233 cases, Jalandhar 277, Patiala 203, Mohali 222, Amritsar 178, Gurdaspur 112, Hoshiarpur 191, Kapurthala 157 and Rupnagar 113.

Several stringent measures, including restrictions on gatherings, will be announced after discussions with the state government's expert COVID team over the next couple of days, the chief minister said while addressing a press conference to mark the completion of four years of his government.

'Whether these will include restrictions on political gatherings is also something that will be decided as per the medical expert team's advice,' he added.

With 283 coronavirus patients in high-dependency units (on Oxygen) and another 27 on ventilators, the situation in the state is critical, Singh said.

He urged people to go to the doctor and get themselves tested even if they feel slightly unwell.

The chief minister said the problem was people were going to hospitals too late.

He appealed to all residents to wear masks and maintain social distancing, warning that penalties may also be enhanced if required.

Singh hoped the Centre would accept his suggestion on opening up the vaccination to younger people in the worst-hit areas and also to all those in public dealing.

To a question on the Himachal Pradesh chief minister's statement seeking curbs on people coming in from Punjab for pilgrimage and religious purposes, Singh said he was not in favour of restricting religious movement.

'But the COVID problem needs to be controlled and an appropriate decision will be taken when he gets a formal letter from the chief minister of the neighbouring state on this issue,” he added.

Meanwhile, Singh disclosed that he had called up Shiromani Akali Dal president Sukhbir Singh Badal, who has tested positive for coronavirus, to offer any help in his treatment.

The Punjab chief minister wished Badal and several of his own cabinet colleagues, party MLAs and officials a speedy recovery. PTI CHS VSD SNE