Punjab sees another record daily spike in COVID-19 cases, demands more vaccines

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Chandigarh, Apr 21 (PTI) Punjab on Wednesday saw another record single-day spike of 4,970 cases, taking the count to 3,14,269.

The state's previous biggest jump in daily infections of 4,957 was reported on April 18.

Sixty-nine more fatalities pushed the toll to 8,114 in the state, according to a medical bulletin issued on Wednesday.The number of active cases jumped to 38,866 from 36,709 on Tuesday.

Ten people succumbed to COVID-19 in Amritsar, followed by seven each in Ferozepur and Ludhiana and six each in Patiala and Mohali, among covid-related fatalities.

Ludhiana witnessed 879 cases, the highest number of infections in the state, followed by 692 in Mohali and 462 in Patiala.

There are 42 critical patients who are on ventilator support while 495 are on oxygen support, the bulletin said.

Punjab Chief Secretary Vini Mahajan has ordered immediate ban on all elective surgeries in hospitals and also directed reserving 75 percent beds in private hospitals for Covid patients, amid the second wave of COVID-19. While quoting a communique from the Centre, she said a consignment of four lakh more doses of Covishield vaccine has been dispatched to Punjab and it will reach Thursday.

State health minister Balbir Singh Sidhu, however, urged the Centre to raise supplies of vaccine with at least 15 lakh doses a week.

Because of a deficiency of vaccine, the state government had to suspend the vaccination drive at more than 20 centres, officials said.

Punjab has also not been able to meet its daily target of vaccinating 2 lakh persons due to shortage of vaccine. At present, it is vaccinating around 90,000 people every day.

The minister said that the state had a capacity to vaccine three lakh people every day with around 3,000 health centres across the state.

Around 27 lakh people have been administered the anti-COVID vaccine in the state so far.

The Union territory of Chandigarh reported 622 cases, taking the infection tally to 35,770. the death of two more persons took the toll to 423 in the city, according to a medical bulletin.

The number of active cases was 4,125.

Amid rising COVID-19 cases, the Shiromani Gurdwara Parbandhak Committee (SGPC) has decided to limit the grand function planned to mark the 400th birth anniversary of Guru Tegh Bahadur.

Addressing a press conference, SGPC president Bibi Jagir Kaur said, “The 400th Prakash Gurpurab centenary celebrations were scheduled to be celebrated grandly at Bhai Gurdas Nagar, Amritsar. But due to surge in the Covid-19 cases, these ceremonies will now be held at the Diwan Hall of Gurdwara Sri Manji Sahib at Sri Darbar Sahib.” She said the decision has been taken after holding discussions with government officials.

Kaur said, “There was a lot of enthusiasm among the 'sangat' for the centenary celebrations but due to COVID-19 there would not be a large gathering.” Markets in Chandigarh and Mohali wore a deserted look as authorities enforced a lockdown in both cities on Wednesday.

Only essential shops and vendors dealing in food, groceries, vegetables, medicines etc were allowed for home delivery only. Non-essential movement was prohibited. There was no curb on inter-state movement of essential and non-essential goods. The Chandigarh and Mohali police put up barricades at the border roads for effective implementation of lockdown.

Over 180 owners of marriage palaces, hotels and restaurants were booked for flouting night curfew and gathering limits in the past three days in Punjab, police said.

The state government had on Monday imposed stricter curbs including extension of night curfew by an hour (8 pm till 5 am) and closure of bars, cinema halls, gyms, spas, coaching centres and sports complexes in the state till April 30. Restaurants and hotels were allowed to remain open only for takeaway and home delivery while gatherings of more than 20 people, including weddings and cremations, were also banned across the state.

DIrector General of Police (DGP) Punjab Dinkar Gupta said the teams of Punjab Police have booked around 189 owners of marriage palaces, malls, hotels, restaurants, etc for flouting the night curfew timings and gathering limits since April 18. A spokesperson of the police department said a club manager, caterer and hosts were booked for holding an engagement ceremony having more than 20 guests in Bathinda while in Tarn Taran, police booked owners of a hotel for COVID-19 norms violations. In Mohali, police arrested nine people, including a hotel owner at Dhakoli, for organising a rooftop party at a hotel.

Police action was also seen in Barnala, Fazilka and Abohar.

DGP Gupta said to check gatherings around marriage palaces, hotels, malls, the Punjab police have laid around 400 special 'nakas' across the state. Besides, police have registered at least 130 First Information Reports (FIRs) against the violators of COVID-19 norms across the state in the last 24 hours.

The Punjab Police persuaded over 20,241 face mask violators to undergo RT-PCR testing and fined as many as 2,199 people. The DGP also said open-air jails are being set up soon in all districts for violators. PTI CHS VSD JMS RT RT