With both cases and fatalities due to Covid-19 going up, Punjab Chief Minister Amarinder Singh on Monday announced a three-month extension for all retiring doctors and specialists under 60 years and also asked the state Chief Secretary Vini Mahajan to expedite the process of recruitment of technicians and lab assistants for coping with the exponential demand.
As per a Cabinet decision, these doctors were earlier granted an extension till September 30 which has now been extended till December 31, said the Chief Minister.
During a virtual review of the Covid situation with top officials and medical and health experts, Singh pointed out that the health department was already supporting the government medical colleges with specialist manpower, pending recruitment by the Medical Education department.
Special relaxation has been given by the Finance department to enable the colleges to hire other manpower, he said.
The Chief Minister also directed the formation of committees under the Deputy Commissioners, for distribution of food packets to poor families under home isolation and quarantine, in order to encourage testing as such families generally refrained from getting themselves tested for Covid for fear of losing their meagre earnings.
A series of measures have been further announced by Amarinder Singh to ease the stress of Covid patients in hospitals and at home.
It has been decided that government hospitals will now permit serious Covid patients with special dietary requirements to be provided home food if they wish.
To alleviate the psychological stress of serious patients in isolation in the hospitals and of their family members, the government will provide some equipment in these wards to enable video calls between patients and their attendants.
Singh has directed all government labs to start providing the cycle threshhold (CT) value of an RT-PCR test as it can give useful information to the doctors treating a Covid patient.
To ensure regular monitoring of the Covid patients in home isolation, especially above 40 years, Amarinder Singh asked the Health department to put in place a system of ensuring their clinical progress to check sudden deterioration.
The Covid patient tracking officers have been appointed in each district to ensure such patients receive due care, he said.
Expressing concern over the delayed testing that was leading to an increase in fatalities, the Chief Minister urged the departments to aggressively reach out to people to go for testing at the first sign of symptoms and not indulge in false bravado.
The directions came as active cases in the state stood at 16,156 as on September 6, with a cumulative fatality rate of 2.9 per cent and deaths per million at 62.
The average positivity for the week from August 26 to September 3 was 9.42 per cent, Health Secretary Hussan Lal informed in the meeting.
Tracing of contacts per infected person had been increased to 4.4 during August 27 to September 3, he said.
Chief Secretary Vini Mahajan said both cases and fatalities had witnessed a steady increase in the past few days with 89 per cent deaths reported from Level-III cases.
The situation was being monitored on a day-to-day basis, she said, adding that an experts’ group headed by K. K. Talwar was meeting everyday.