Coronavirus | Amid surge in cases, Punjab CM orders stricter curbs from today

Night curfew timings extended; closure of all bars, cinema halls, gyms, spas, coaching centres ordered

Amid surge in COVID-19 cases, Punjab Chief Minister Amarinder Singh on Monday ordered stricter restrictions beginning April 20, including extension of night curfew timings (8 p.m. to 5 a.m.) and closure of all bars, cinema halls, gyms, spas, coaching centres and sports complexes. Restaurants and hotels will be open only for takeaway and home delivery from Monday to Saturday.

Gatherings of more than 20 persons, including for weddings and cremations, have also been banned across the State and prior approval of the district administration is needed for all gatherings of more than 10 persons, except for cremation.

The new restrictions, which also include closure of all malls, shops and markets on Sunday, coupled with the ones imposed earlier, will remain in effect till April 30, the Chief Minister announced. He directed the police department to strictly enforce the restrictions, taking the support of civil society organisations wherever needed. All weekly markets have been ordered to close.

Chairing a high-level virtual meeting to review the COVID-19 situation, Capt. Singh said all people flying into Punjab should have a negative RT-PCR result not more than 72 hours old or they would have to undergo RAT testing at the airport. He ordered that people who have attended large gatherings anywhere (religious, political, social) must be mandatorily home quarantined for 5 days and tested as per protocol.

The Chief Minister directed the transport department that number of people in buses, taxis and autos be restricted to 50% of the capacity.

In a bid to check inbound travellers, the Chief Minister directed that Rapid Antigen Testing (RAT) booths be set up at bus stands and railway stations and all passengers must be checked. All eligible persons should be vaccinated.

While reviewing the situation in private and government hospitals, Capt. Singh directed 75% reservation of L-3 facilities for COVID-19 in all private hospitals providing critical care. He said no elective surgeries should be conducted in any government or private hospitals till May 15 and all OPD patients must be tested and encouraged to be vaccinated.

Jump in positivity rate

Health Secretary Hussan Lal, in a presentation, said the State’s positivity rate that was static at 7.8% had shown a quantum jump, going up to 12.6% as of April 15, with Mohali being the worst hit at 36.53%. The spike, he said, could be attributed to the new variant and people coming back from large gatherings outside Punjab.

The figure was expected to go up further with more testing, he said, adding that by May 5, the State was projected to report 6,000 cases a day if urgent measures were not implemented in districts of Ludhiana, SAS Nagar (Mohali), Jalandhar, Amritsar and Patiala, which would be the drivers of the spike.

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