CHANDIGARH: The 104 helpline of the State Government shall provide 24×7 real time information with respect to availability of beds in the hospitals.

This was decided at a high-level meeting to review the current Covid situation in the State chaired by Punjab Chief Minister, Captain Amarinder Singh.

Expressing concern at the reports about shortage of beds for Covid patients in various parts of the country, the Chief Minister said the current situation was comparatively comfortable in Punjab with respect to availability of beds in the hospitals, both government and private sector.

He asked the Health Department to ensure that 75 per cent beds were reserved in L2 and L3 facilities for Covid care besides imposing a complete ban on elective surgeries so that the hospitals should focus on the treatment of Covid patients.

He further appreciated the Western Command for making efforts to dedicate more beds and manpower for Covid care in the Military hospitals in the State.

The Chief Minister said the fresh restrictions have led to stabilisation of the overall situation. He said the CFR has already declined from 1.75 per cent to 1.4 per cent in the State. “Our R naught value of 1.09 is minimal in the region and much lower than the national average, but our positivity rate remains high at 10.3 per cent,” shared Captain Amarinder Singh. However, there could be no room for complacency and the State must remain ready to face any contingency, he added.

The Chief Minister asked the Police department to ensure strict enforcement of the restrictions put in place so as to prevent further spread of the virus in the state.

The Director General of Police (DGP), Mr Dinkar Gupta, updated the Chief Minister that 220 contact tracing teams were working day and night to ensure limited gatherings as per the government norms. He said 156 FIRs have been lodged against the erring owners of marriage palaces, restaurants, and hotels across the state.

The CM expressed satisfaction over the increase in testing and sampling which has now crossed the 50,000-mark daily. He was apprised that the RT-PCR testing capacity in the State has reached 43,000, which can further ramp up the sampling and testing to 60,000-mark per day. The Chief Minister asked the districts to ensure adequate sampling and increase RAT testing, especially in cases of contact tracing.

Referring to the availability of oxygen in the state, the Chief Minister said he had already written to the Union Health Minister, Dr Harsh Vardhan, to seek his personal intervention for uninterrupted supply of oxygen to the state. He mentioned that 136 MT, including 32 MT production within the State, has been allocated to enable the state to overcome the crisis. He also directed the Industries department to ensure the availability of the oxygen supply and Health department should also ensure equitable and timely availability of the same to the needy hospitals, both government and private.

He underscored the need to ensure proper use of oxygen and to prevent any hoarding. He lauded the efforts of the Health Department in making available 234 oxygen concentrators to the government Covid isolation facilities in the State. This would enable the State to optimally utilise oxygen and ensure adequate oxygenation for the patients requiring the same at L2 facilities.

Earlier, the Chief Secretary, Ms Vini Mahajan, apprised the Chief Minister that the Industries department has already constituted special teams to monitor 24×7 supply and demand at the ASU refilling units to ensure that no oxygen was diverted to the non-Covid care facilities in the state. Specific teams would also coordinate the supply of liquid oxygen to Punjab from designated suppliers in Haryana, Himachal Pradesh and Uttarakhand.

Ordering a crackdown on oxygen hoarding in the State, the Chief Minister categorically stated that no trader or manufacturer would be allowed to indulge in illegal hoarding of liquid medical oxygen and anybody found wanting would be dealt with sternly. The Chief Secretary informed that detailed guidelines have already been issued to the Industries, Health and Police departments to ensure strict compliance of the directions in this regard.

Prominent among others who attended the meeting included Health Minister Balbir Singh Sidhu, Medical Education and Research Minister OP Soni, Chief Principal Secretary to CM Suresh Kumar, Principal Secretary to CM Tejveer Singh, Principal Secretary Industries and Commerce Alok Shekhar Principal Secretary Health Hussan Lal and Principal Secretary Medical Education and Research DK Tiwari besides other senior officers of the concerned departments.

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