Chandigarh, Sep 5 (PTI) Punjab Chief Minister Amarinder Singh on Saturday asked his ministers and several MLAs to liaise with villages to combat the negative campaign against testing for coronavirus infection.
The move came after several rumour, including those of alleged organ harvesting of COVID-19 patients, have posed a new challenge to the Punjab Health department as people in some villages are preventing medical teams from collecting samples.
The CM accused the Aam Aadmi Party of spreading the “senseless fear” among villagers, making them wary of getting themselves tested for coronavirus and endangering their lives.
An AAP activist was arrested for allegedly circulating an outrageous post of a dead body to “mislead” people into believing that organs of dead corona-positive patients were being removed by the Punjab Health Department, officials had said on Thursday.
The CM said his government would seek advice from the government of India about the web channels that had mushroomed recently and were actively involved in spreading misinformation about the pandemic.
The CM was presiding over a virtual meeting attended by several Cabinet ministers and MLAs representing some of the constituencies where village panchayats had purportedly passed resolutions against the state government's Covid management programme.
Singh alleged that the AAP had been promoting “no testing” and an activist of their party had also been arrested for spreading false information on Covid testing.
Lok Insaaf Party leader Simrajit Singh Bains had also joined in “creating an atmosphere of fear” among the people by himself refusing to be tested and calling for no testing and no masks, he said.
Terming AAP's announcement of distributing oximeters a “political stunt”, Singh said oximeters had no connection with testing, and delay in the latter was the main reason for the state's growing fatality rate.
Delhi Chief Minister Arvind Kejriwal on September 2 had said that AAP workers would check the oxygen level of people with oximeters in Punjab's villages.
Stressing that the oximeters were no substitute for testing, the CM said blood Oxygen levels can fall very fast, so the only key to saving lives is early testing and diagnosis.
He pointed out that 85 per cent of all the infected patients recover, as long as they get themselves tested in time.
Of the remaining 15 per cent who have complications, only five per cent need ICU or oxygen support, he said, adding that the oximeters were being unnecessarily and wrongly hyped by AAP, in a bid to “mislead” people.
The CM urged the elected representatives to mobilise and liaison with panchayats to counter the “false and mischievous propaganda”.
Sarpanches, panches and local opinion makers should be asked to take the lead in getting themselves tested, he said.
Minister Tript Singh Bajwa told the meeting that there were, in fact, no formal resolutions passed by panchayats and there was nothing on record.
Some miscreants had gathered and issued statements on behalf of the panchayats in 42 villages, of which 22 were later withdrawn.
Health minister Balbir Singh Sidhu said the miscreants got signatures from unsuspecting villagers and termed the statements as resolutions as part of a concerted campaign by some vested interests to spread misinformation.
Sidhu said CCTV cameras were being put at various places, including outside toilets and in hospitals, to check for cleanliness as well as attendance of doctors and nurses in charge of patient care. PTI CHS VSD RAX RAX