Chief Secretary issues detailed directions for containment of COVID-19

  • State COVID control room further strengthened by deputing senior IAS officers
  • DCs along with other district officers to take stock of situation every day at 10 am besides holding daily briefing between 4-5 pm
  • All shops/commercial establishments selling non-essential goods to remain closed from Monday onwards
  • Orders closure of establishments in Nawan Shahr and Hoshiarpur,
  • Partial closure of establishments in Jalandhar from Sunday till Wednesday midnight and in Kapurthala from Monday
  • Emphasises the need to strictly ensure home quarantine of those recently travelled abroad
  • Government issues list of essential commodities and services in the wake of COVID-19

Chandigarh, 22 March 2020 (Nirmal Singh Mansahia)-To further strengthen the State COVID Control Room, the Punjab Government on Saturday deployed senior IAS officers for better inter departmental coordination in a holistic manner.

While reviewing the preparedness plan with all Deputy Commissioners through video conferencing for the containment of Corona Virus, the Chief Secretary Karan Avtar Singh emphasised to further fortify the district control rooms and issue directives to make these functional from 6 am to 10 pm in two 8-hourly shifts. He also suggested that police control rooms could also be utilised for this purpose, if found suitable. The Chief Secretary also asked the Officers from all critical line departments including DC Office, Health, Police, Municipality, Water Supply and Sanitation, PSPCL, Animal Husbandry, Food and Civil Supplies, Public Relations and District Mandi Officers besides Guardians of Governance District head be also co-opted to assist in the management of District Control Rooms. Likewise, 3-4 dedicated Telephone lines to be kept operational and 181 Police Helpline to also be co-opted into this and all these telephone numbers must be widely publicised.

The Chief Secretary also asked the DCs, SSPs and Chief Medical Officers to take stock of the situation on day to day basis eat 10 am. Daily Briefing by one designated Doctor and PRO on current status must be held around 4-5 pm. Similarly, briefing by DC, SSP and CMO in case of an important event would also be held.

All data, compendium of instructions properly and in electronic format must be maintained besides Nationwide Lockdown on Sunday would be implemented without coercion but with persuasion and no criminal action on any defiance should be initiated. The Chief Secretary pointed out that this could be a good precursor to similar restrictions that may be imposed later in coming days. Karan Avtar Singh also directed DCs to ensure strict implementation of ban on the gathering having more than 20 person. Direction of 2 week off (by roster) to Government Group B,C,D staff to work on alternate fortnights must be meticulously followed. He,however, clarified that these directions would not apply to the critical departments. He also mentioned that casual employees including contractual or outsourcing to be compensated even in the forced off period while DCs may draft services of any employee, if necessary, for assistance. He further stated that from Monday onwards shops/ commercial establishments selling non-essential goods to be closed and asked the District Administration for advance liaison with association, etc whereas the Supply lines of all essential items to be ensured including milk, food, vegetables and fruits, medicines, etc, which would be regularly reviewed.

Similarly, establishments in districts of Doaba Nawanshahr and Hoshiarpur have been closed while the partial lockdown has been ordered in Jalandhar with effect from 7 am on March 22 (Sunday) up to midnight of Wednesday i.e. March 25 by the District Magistrate. Likewise, it has also been advised to close down establishments in district Kapurthala from Monday as a precautionary measures. Factories engaged in production of essential items including flour mills, cattle feed, food processing, medical pharma, etc not to be closed by enforcing staggering of workers and other preventive safeguards. Other DCs should interact with industry associations to work out modalities for proactive closure and they should also appeal to them compensate labour and not to deduct wages, even of casual employees.

Showing deep concern over all the Positive cases in Punjab are linked with foreign travel or infected by those who have recently travelled abroad, the Chief Secretary emphasised on the need of Home Quarantine to be strictly enforced, which is the key to containment of COVID-19 as the GoI has mandated quarantine for all foreign travellers w.e.f. 16 March. Likewise, lists of all foreign travellers to be re-verified for home quarantine. He also Asked the District Administration to check hotels, lodges, etc proactively and enforce quarantine wherever necessary. For those who came before mandatory quarantine, health teams must daily check on their health status and enforce quarantine/ isolation if required. All cases, including missing cases, to be re-checked on war footing. Sticker outside the homes of those quarantined should be pasted tonight positively for the information to the neighbours. Intimation by Sarpanch/ Nambardar/ Ward Councillor/ Chowkidar etc to proactively inform nearest Police Station/Chowki about such travellers and to ensure strict home quarantine – not furnishing information may be punishable.

The Chief Secretary also underlined the need to designate specific officers at the district level for specific responsibilities. Public transport has already been closed w.e.f. Saturday morning, which would be continued next week also till further orders while there were no restrictions on goods carriers, in fact, supply lines must be proactively kept operational as well as all essential healthcare services in public and private healthcare institutions would continue as usual. The 108 ambulance service to be fully operational with its staff wearing protective masks. Health workers have been asked to ensure proper safeguards since they are at high risk. Safai karamcharis to be provided masks, etc – either triple layer or cloth masks through self-help groups and cleanliness of villages and towns should not be impacted adversely. Strong Mass Media activities through auto-rickshaws or vehicles should be put in place.

The Chief Secretary also mentioned that the Door-to-Door awareness campaign stopped herewith. The Chief Secretary also underscored the need to observe proper isolation at home from family members too especially the elderly and people with co-morbidity in particular. The DCs to appoint a Sector Officer (as in elections) over a group of 8-10 villages to oversee home quarantine and send daily report to Control Room.

Briefing about the Standard Operating Procedure (SoP) of containment areas, the Chief Secretary instructed that Sector Officer would be in-charge of any area designated for containment under his charge. He also suggested to work out a strategy to complement the efforts of police, home guards, etc for effective enforcement probably under the charge of NGO of police in the presence of local revenue/ panchayat officials. Able-bodied youngsters should be roped in for thikri pehra to assist the Police.

Meanwhile,the Punjab Government has issued a list of the essential commodities as per the provisions in the Essential Commodities Act 1955 as applicable in the state of Punjab include five items groups food grains, edible oils, vegetables and other items. Further added essential commodities are masks and hand sanitiser. Apart from these, in view of COVID-19 pandemic these services have been declared as essential services including supply of groceries, beverages, fresh fruits and vegetables, drinking water, fodder, all food processing units supplying processed food items, dispensing of petrol, diesel, CNG at designated petrol/diesel/CNG pumps/dispensing units, Rice shellers milling the paddy, Milk plants, dairy units, fodder making units and cattle fields, supply of LPG (domestic & commercial), medicines and other pharmaceuticals from medical stores, Health services, manufacturing of medical and health equipments, telecom operators and the agencies appointed by them to ensure communication services, insurance companies, Banks and ATMs, Post Offices, loading and unloading of wheat and rice for receipt in godowns and/ or dispatch against Central pool/DCP/OMSS, Transportation of essential commodities/essential service and stock articles required for procurement and storage of food grains, movement of harvesting combines, harvesting operations, agriculture implements making units and any other item as deemed essential and so declared by the District Magistrate/District Commissioner.

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