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COVID: Amarinder against lockdown, says situation expected to get worse in Punjab

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Punjab Chief Minister Amarinder Singh here on Monday said he is against the imposition of a coronavirus lockdown even as he predicted that the pandemic situation is expected to get worse in the state.

The CM made the comment at a meeting, a day after the daily infection count in the state crossed the 7,000-mark, the highest single-day rise since the outbreak of the pandemic last year.

The CM said the situation is expected to worsen, especially in south Punjab. He said Ludhiana district alone reported 1,300-plus cases on Sunday.

According to a statement, the CM said while stringent measures are being taken to tackle the surge in cases, he is not “proposing” a lockdown in the state as it leads to economic woes and the exodus of migrant workers.

The chief minister said at another meeting that the state government is making all efforts to secure medical oxygen to supplement its depleting stocks.

Of the 105 tonnes of medical oxygen quota, the state is getting only 85 tonnes as the rest is being diverted to the PGIMER, Chandigarh, he said.

The CM also directed the Health Department to follow up with the Centre for vaccine supplies as the state presently has only 1.76 lakh Covishield and 22,000 Covaxin doses left.

Reacting to reports of threats of a strike by health workers, the CM said such actions will be met with dismissal “as we cannot tolerate this kind of nonsense in a war-like situation”.

Meanwhile, the Army Western Command assure to revive the state’s defunct oxygen plants.

Lt Gen RP Singh, General Officer Commanding-in-Chief of the Western Command, at a virtual meeting with the CM offered to provide staff to run a 100-bed COVID facility proposed to be set up at the building loaned to the state government by the Council of Scientific and Industrial Research for the purpose.

Fifteen trained nurses have already been sent to Patiala to support the civic staff, he said.

Army officials said though their resources were stressed on account of requirements from other states, they will extend all possible help to Punjab to tackle the situation.

The CM later said the government will also approach the Union Home Ministry to provide manpower and ICU beds through the Border Security Force (BSF).

Health Secretary Hussan Lal told the CM at a meeting that 2,000 beds will be added at government and private hospitals.

While 900 beds will be added at government medical colleges in Patiala, Amritsar and Faridkot, 542 will be added at private colleges, he said.

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