Strictly adhere to safety protocols: Punjab CM
Chandigarh: While asserting his government’s total preparedness to handle the COVID crisis, Punjab Chief Minister Amarinder Singh on Sunday made an impassioned appeal to the people to strictly adhere to the safety protocols and restrictions to save themselves, their families and the state.
Though the state had adequate essential equipment to manage any further spread of the pandemic, which it had been largely able to control so far, the Chief Minister said he did not wish the stocks to be pulled out of storage for use as his entire focus was on saving lives.
Responding to questions during the Facebook live edition of #AskCaptain, the Chief Minister said the COVID situation in Punjab had so far been manageable due to the strict lockdown imposed in the state and the cooperation of the people.
However, it had become essential now to ease some of the restrictions, but that did not mean that people could be allowed to violate the safety protocols, he said, terming as unfortunate the large number of violations being reported, forcing the police to take strict action.
Citing figures, Amarinder Singh said on Friday alone, 4,600 challans had been imposed for failure to wear mask in public, 160 for spitting, and around two dozen for not adhering to social distancing norms.
Such irresponsible behaviour could not be permitted as it could push Punjab on the same path as many other states in India, he warned, pointing out that with 2.5 per cent of the country’s population, the state was currently contributing a mere 0.5 per cent of the COVID cases.
Terming the anti-COVID ‘Mission Fateh’ as the battle of the people of Punjab, the Chief Minister exhorted them to strictly follow medical advice to check the spread of the virus and to consult their doctors immediately in case of any symptoms of cough, body ache, fever, etc., to rule out the pandemic infection.
Amarinder Singh thanked the various noted personalities who had lent their support to ‘Mission Fateh’, saying the state would always remember their contribution to its fight against COVID.
Among the notable personalities are Amitabh Bachchan, Kareena Kapoor, Sonu Sood, Milkha Singh, Kapil Dev, Yuvraj Singh, besides others.
Elaborating on the state’s roadmap to handle the pandemic, the Chief Minister said with 2,461 total positive cases, of which 2,070 had recovered, Punjab’s situation had been under control so far.
As of June 5, he said, 48 people had died of the infection.
A total of 113,000 samples had been tested, and only 438 persons had to be put in isolation, with just three persons having to be placed on oxygen and another three on ventilator since the outbreak of the pandemic in the state.
Despite this, however, the state was not taking any chances, said Amarinder Singh.
In the first stage, 4,248 beds in government hospitals had been set aside, with another 2,014 now being added, while the private hospitals had allocated 950 beds for COVID patients, he said.
The total number of isolation centres identified to accommodate a large number of cases if the crisis aggravates stands at 52 government and 195 private, he added.
Responding to a complaint of private hospitals charging exorbitantly for admitting COVID patients, the Chief Minister said he will ask the Medical Department to check, but urged people to go to government hospitals which were equipped with the best-in-class facilities and staff.
Referring to the Central Government’s so-called agriculture reforms, the Chief Minister made it clear that his government will take tough measures to counter the move to obstruct the smooth agricultural marketing processes that had worked successfully for 60 years.
He said he will write to the Prime Minister, who he said should understand the farmers’ problems, having himself been the Chief Minister of the agricultural state of Gujarat.
Expressing concern over the Centre’s clear intent to do away with the MSP regime, Amarinder Singh said the Punjab government will fight any such move tooth and nail, and will not allow the interests of its farmers, who had given the nation its food security, to be compromised in any manner.
To a question regarding problems being faced in paddy sowing due to the shortage of migrant labour, the Chief Minister pointed out that less than five lakh of the total 13 lakh migrant labourers in Punjab had left the state.
With over eight lakh migrant workers still here, along with the state’s own local labour, there were no problems in the field or in the industrial units, he said.
In any case, farmers, with the support of the Punjab Agricultural University in Ludhiana city and the Agriculture Department, were going for direct sowing in large numbers, he said.
Further, the Chief Minister said a large number of the migrants who had gone to their native places were now wanting to return to Punjab and many of the industrial units and farmers were, in fact, making their own arrangements to bring them back.