CHANDIGARH: With Covid-19 positivity and case fatality rate in Punjab hitting 7.7 per cent and two per cent, respectively, in the last week, Chief Minister Amarinder Singh on Wednesday directed the Health Department to further increase the vaccination drive and target vaccinating 2 lakh patients per day.
He also directed the officials to increase the sampling to 50,000 per day, besides vigorously pursuing contact tracing to 30 people per positive patient.
Expressing concern at the high fatality rate, the Chief Minister said these deaths, many of which are avoidable with timely treatment, pain him. He directed Chief Secretary Vini Mahajan to undertake a massive public awareness campaign to motivate people to approach hospitals at early stages.
He said the quality of healthcare in hospitals also needs to be improved and the list of approved hospitals with required facilities should be put out in the public domain.
Amarinder Singh also said the death audit should be done by all districts and private facilities.
The Chief Minister, who was informed that the PGI in Chandigarh was refusing to admit patients from Punjab, despite being referred through proper channels, said he would take up the matter with the Prime Minister at Thursday’s video conferencing meeting and would request him to direct the hospital to reserve at least 50 ICU beds for patients referred by the state government.
Chairing the weekly Covid review meeting with officials of Health Department and medical experts, he said though under the current vaccination drive about 90,000 people were being vaccinated per day, this needed to be raised to 2 lakh people per day.
“Vaccination is the only way to prevent the spread,” he said, directing authorities to take immediate steps to speed up the drive.
He also asked the Chief Secretary to address the issue of vaccination hesitancy by undertaking well-designed media campaigns. He said he would again urge the Union government for relaxation in the age criteria for vaccinating people under the age of 45 years in areas showing weekly doubling of positivity rate.
Amarinder Singh reiterated his demand that the Central government should allow vaccinations to all potential super-spreaders — students above 18 years, teachers, councillors, sarpanches, etc.
On the issue of vaccination supply, Mahajan informed the Chief Minister that the Union government had assured that the state would not face any shortage.
The Chief Minister was also assured by the Health Department that daily sampling would be increased to 50,000 — 35,000 RT-PCR and 15,000 rapid antigen tests. He was, however, informed that Central institutions were sampling only 100 samples per day, which is low, and the matter was being taken up with the Centre.