Punjab Covid surge: CM sets 2 lakh vaccination target a day

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Chandigarh, Apr 7 (PTI) With coronavirus positivity rate rising to 7.7 percent and the case fatality rate to 2 percent last week in Punjab, Chief Minister Amarinder Singh on Wednesday set a vaccination target of two lakh shots per day.

While directing the Health Department to further increase the vaccination drive, Singh also asked officials to increase the sampling to 50,000 per day and vigorously pursue contact tracing to 30 people per positive patient.

Expressing concern at the high Case Fatality Rate (CFR), the chief minister said these deaths, many of which are avoidable with timely treatment, pain him.

He directed Chief Secretary Vini Mahajan to undertake a massive public awareness campaign to motivate people to approach hospitals at early stages, an official statement said.

The chief minister also said that he would intervene in the alleged refusal by the PGI-Chandigarh to admit Covid patients from Punjab and take up the matter with Prime Minister Narendra Modi.

'The chief minister was also informed by the Health Department that the PGI was allegedly refusing to admit patients from Punjab, despite being referred through proper channels,” the statement said.

At this, the chief minister said he would take up the matter with the prime minister at Thursday's video conference meeting and would request him to direct the hospital to reserve at least 50 ICU beds for patients referred to it by the state government, it added.

PGIMIER, Chandigarh, however, later said that patients arriving at any of the emergencies of the institute are attended to and provided medical care irrespective of their state of domicile. Presently 50 percent of the total 166 patients admitted at PGIMER, which constitute 83 patients, belong to the state of Punjab, PGIMER said in a statement, issued on Wednesday evening.

All the ICU beds in the Covid Block are full and 50 percent of these are occupied by patients from Punjab, the PGIMER added.

Chief Minister Amarinder Singh, meanwhile, said the death audit should be done by all districts and private facilities.

He said the quality of health care in hospitals also needs to be improved and the list of approved hospitals with required facilities should be put out in the public domain.

Punjab had on Tuesday reported 62 more fatalities due to Covid-19, pushing the toll to 7,216 while the state had witnessed 2,924 more coronavirus cases, taking the infection tally to 2,57,057.

The chief minister, in his weekly review of the Covid-19 situation, expressed concern over the high positivity and mortality rates in the state.

Chief Minister Singh said under the current vaccination drive about 90,000 people were being inoculated per day and it needed to be raised to two lakh people a day.

“Vaccination is the only way to prevent the spread,” he said, directing the Health Department to take immediate steps to speed up the drive.

He also asked the chief secretary to address the issue of vaccination hesitancy by undertaking well-designed media campaigns.

He said he would again urge the Union government for relaxation in the age criteria for vaccinating people under the age of 45 years in areas showing a weekly doubling of the positivity rate.

He reiterated his demand that the Union government should allow vaccinations to all potential “super-spreaders” - students above 18 years, teachers, councillors and sarpanches among others.

On the issue of vaccine supply, Chief Secretary Vini Mahajan informed the chief minister that the Union government has assured that the state would not face any shortage.

The chief minister was assured by the Health Department that daily sampling would be increased to 50,000 – 35,000 RTPCR and 15,000 Rapid Antigen Tests.

He was, however, informed that the central government's institutions -- IISER, IMTECH, AIIMS, PGIMER -- were sampling only 100 samples a day, which is low, and the matter was being taken up with the Centre.

Director General of Police Dinkar Gupta informed the chief minister that all districts were taking penal action for the violation of anti-Covid protocol and so far, 2.03 lakh people have been taken for RTPCR tests after they were found not wearing masks in public.

The chief minister had last month directed police and health authorities to take people, spotted in public places without face masks, to the nearest RT-PCR testing facility to ensure that they were not asymptomatic coronavirus cases.

Gupta also said 43,000 challans had been issued and a fine of Rs 3.60 crore collected, besides 206 FIRs having been registered and 246 people arrested.

On the vaccination front, Gupta said 77 percent of the police personnel have been vaccinated with the first dose and of these 26 percent have also taken the second shot. PTI SUN VSD RAX RAX RAX