Curbing virus spread spurt post-lockdown ‘real test’, stay alert: Punjab CM to cops, admin

Chandigarh, May 18 (PTI) Punjab Chief Minister Amarinder Singh on Monday asked the civil and police administrations to maintain high alert, cautioning that containing the danger of spurt in coronavirus infection amid the relaxed lockdown would be a “real test”.

Singh also directed the Transport Department to draft a standard operating procedure (SOP) for resumption of local bus service in all but containment zones, while ruling out the inter-state service till May 31.

Terming the 'danger of spread as a result of mixing of people with the start of relaxations as the real test', he directed all departments to ensure close monitoring coordination and strict adherence to all anti-COVID advisories.

He asked the Police Department to be tough in ensuring social distancing and other necessary COVID prevention protocols and to fine those stepping out without masks.

The chief minister issued the instruction during a video conference held to review the COVID situation in the state and the ensuing lockdown.

He asked the Transport Department to put in place a stringent protocol for handling daily passengers travelling on point-to-point, inter-state buses which will start moving after May 31.

While making it clear that inter-state movement will be allowed only on special and Shramik trains at least till May 31, the chief minister said buses will be allowed to ply within the state in a phased manner.

A list of SOPs, including daily disinfection of buses, will be issued before the resumption of the service in non-containment zones, he was quoted as saying in an official release here.

Additional Chief Secretary (Home) Satish Chandra added that in line with the Centre acceding to the state's request to do away with the colour coding, the state will now have only containment zones and non-containment ones.

As per the Health Department guidelines, an area around the epicenter of 15 or more cases in a village or ward or a small group of adjacent villages or wards will be treated as a containment zone, with physical parameters to clearly define the same, in terms of the access and size.

Concentric areas around a containment zone with radius up to one km will be treated as buffer zone, the new guidelines said.

In all these zones, the department will carry out intensive and continuous house-to-house surveillance and contact-tracing, with special focus on vulnerable and high risk populations.

The containment period would be minimum of 14 days, to be extended by one week at a time if more than one new case comes up in this period.

Referring to the continued entry of migrants, NRIs and others via special trains and flights, the chief minister reiterated his earlier directions for strict adherence to their quarantine rules.

So far, 60,000 Punjabis have registered for return to the state, he said, adding that 20,000 NRIs were also expected to return.

The chief minister said while Punjab is willingly sending back people, including migrants, from other states, spending Rs 7.5 lakh per train, other states are not responding similarly and are asking his government to arrange for ferrying Punjabis back from there.

As of date, more than 2 lakh of the 11 lakh migrants, who had registered on the state’s special portal have left Punjab, the chief minister said.

As many as 20 trains are leaving Punjab every day, he added.

Amarinder Singh said while more trains were needed for Bihar, the state was not willing to take in people at this stage as their quarantine facilities were full.

On being asked about Punjab receiving requests from migrant workers from other states like Bihar and UP to return back to work for paddy plantation, the chief minister said the chief secretary has been asked to work out the modalities for the same in consultation with the Centre.

All such workers shall have to be quarantined in the villages they would be working in, he said. PTI VSD CHS RAX RAX