Amid rise in cases, Punjab extends curbs till April 10

Amid rise in cases, Punjab extends curbs till April 10

New Delhi/Chandigarh: The Punjab government on Tuesday extended curbs to tackle coronavirus for another 10 days as the Union Health Ministry flagged concerns, saying the state was neither conducting enough tests nor promptly isolating positive cases.

According to a statement, Punjab Chief Minister Amarinder Singh ordered to keep schools and colleges shut by another 10 days till April 10 after officials informed him at a meeting that a fall in daily cases is expected only by mid-May with the infection numbers likely to peak around April 6.

Meanwhile, Union Health Secretary Rajesh Bhushan told reporters in New Delhi that in Punjab, the average daily infection numbers have shot up to 2,742 from just 332 cases in the second week of February.

Giving an overview of the COVID-19 situation in states and Union Territories, Bhushan said the average daily deaths in Punjab have also risen to 52 from eight in February.

"This signifies that neither are you (Punjab) doing adequate number of tests nor are you able to promptly isolate positive people," he said at a press conference.

According to the Union Health Ministry, Punjab has been recording high positivity rate of 8.82 per cent.

Earlier in the day, the Punjab government extended restrictions to tackle coronavirus with schools and colleges to remain shut for another 10 days. CM Amarinder Singh also ordered to ramp up testing and coronavirus vaccination drive. He directed officials to identify places to set up mobile vaccination centres.

The chief minister ordered that all restrictions that are in place till March 31, will now remain in force till April 10, according to a statement.

On March 19, the state government had ordered the closure of educational institutes besides imposing gathering restrictions at cinema halls, malls and social events till the month-end. The state government had ordered that not more than 100 people should be allowed at malls at any time while the cinema halls were told to keep the numbers at 50 per cent of their total capacity.

In the 11 worst-hit districts, a complete ban was ordered on all social gatherings, except for funerals and weddings, in which only 20 people were allowed. The CM on Tuesday directed the Health Department to increase the number of vaccination sites to target the priority categories. Amarinder Singh also ordered the launch of a vaccination drive in state prisons as 40 women in Patiala's Nabha open jail tested positive for coronavirus.

Expressing concern over the situation, Amarinder Singh asked Chief Secretary Vini Mahajan to issue the necessary directions for carrying out testing and vaccination in busy market areas and

crowded places.

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