Chandigarh: The Punjab government on Monday urged the Centre to send immediate supplies of coronavirus vaccines and give approval to two new oxygen plants in the state amid concerns over depleting stocks of both.
On the availability of vaccines, Chief Secretary Vini Mahajan told CM Amarinder Singh at a review meeting that the situation is critical, with only three days of stocks left, according to a statement.
Medical Education Minister O P Soni cited a shortage of medical oxygen at an Amritsar hospital, on which Mahajan said though Indian Oil Limited is providing the state with supplies, the situation is a matter of concern.
Health Secretary Hussan Lal said three oxygen plants had been operational since the last surge and two plants at medical colleges in Amritsar and Patiala are awaiting the Centre’s approval. The spike, he said, could be attributed to a new variant of the virus, along with people coming back from large gatherings outside Punjab.
Taking the situation into account, the chief minister requested the Union government to immediately supply anti-coronavirus vaccines and give approval to the two oxygen plants in the state, according to the statement. The CM urged all religious, social and political leaders to desist from organising large gatherings, encourage vaccination and motivate people to follow COVID-appropriate behaviour, especially wearing masks and avoiding gatherings.
He further said military hospitals in cantonments had assured the state government of all possible help to tackle the virus surge while private ones had already been directed to reserve 75 per cent of their beds for coronavirus patients. Dr KK Talwar, head of the task force on coronavirus, said more restrictions are needed to check further surge as the situation is worrying, given the way things had happened in Delhi and the virus clearly mutating.
The strain seems to be more aggressive, though it is still not known whether it is a double mutant or something else, he added.
Health Secretary Hussan Lal said the coronavirus figures are expected to go up further with more testing and by May 5, the state is projected to report 6,000 cases a day if urgent measures are not taken in districts of Ludhiana, SAS Nagar (Mohali), Jalandhar, Amritsar and Patiala, which will be drivers of the spike.
Chief Secretary Mahajan said in the statement that a committee has been formed by the state government under the Principal Secretary (Industries) to monitor the situation and coordinate with the centre in this regard.
The containment strategy has been left to the deputy commissioners. Mahajan said police personnel are being placed at the disposal of the Health Department, along with the Education Department staff, including teachers, for more aggressive tracing of contacts of coronavirus patients.
Director General of Police Dinkar Gupta said the entire force is being mobilised to enforce stricter measures. Police check posts are being set up around malls and marriage palaces to prevent the violation of the COVID guidelines, he said.
Sixty-eight people had died from coronavirus in Punjab on Sunday as the health authorities reported another record daily spike of 4,957 cases, pushing the state’s infection tally to 3,00,038.