Improving Covid-19 situation in Delhi notwithstanding, the corona virus’ spread continues to be unabated in its neighbouring states of Punjab and Haryana compelling them to re-impose week-end lockdown, besides taking other stricter steps.
The Punjab chief minister Captain Amarinder Singh even ordered extension in the timing of the night curfew from 7 pm-to-5 am, besides imposition of Section 144 CrPC prohibiting all gatherings of four or more people, except in wedding and religious ceremonies, shutdown of 50 per cent non-essential shops in five worst-hit cities, only 50 per cent workforce in all offices and capping occupants in private cars to three.
Till the last week of August, the night curfew in Punjab was from 9 pm to 5 am in all cities and towns in Punjab and the weekend lockdown was in force only in Punjab’s three cities — Jalandhar, Ludhiana, and Patiala. In view of increasing corona virus cases, the Punjab government imposed a weekend lockdown in all 167 cities and towns in the state. Also, the night curfew period was increased by two hours in the state.
Besides, the Punjab chief minister also imposed restrictions on vehicular capacity in five districts, namely Ludhiana, Jalandhar, Amritsar, Patiala and Mohali where only three passengers were to be allowed in a private four-wheeler. These five districts had 80 per cent of the total active cases in Punjab. These restriction were to continue till August 31, according to government instructions.
These step came subsequent to Punjab’s fears that the Covid-19 graph could cross 1 lakh mark by mid-September and there could be over 1,500 fatalities. Till the last week of August, the total number of corona virus cases in Punjab had crossed 40,000 with about 1,000 deaths. Besides Punjab assembly deputy speaker Ajaib Singh Bhatti and minister Gurpreet Singh Kangar, four MLAs had also been found to be Covid-19 positive.
Haryana follows suit
In Haryana, where the situation remained grim with the virus spreading in all the 22 districts, the state government also decided to order closure of all the offices and shops in the state on Saturdays and Sundays. However, the offices and shops providing essential services were allowed to function on those two days.
Health minister Anil Vij said in a tweet: “All offices and shops except essential will remain closed in Haryana on every Saturday and Sunday due to COVID-19’’.
Elaborating on the increasing number of positive cases of infection, the state health department officials said that about 52,000 cases and 600 deaths had already been reported towards the last week of August.
At CM’s door step
Haryana Chief Minister Manohar Lal Khattar and Vidhan Sabha Speaker Gian Chand Gupta tested Corona positive two days ahead of the Monsoon Session of the Assembly. There are several other Haryana MLAs who had tested positive for the virus. BJP MLA, Aseem Goel, who represents Ambala (City) constituency has tested positive and is also under home isolation. Besides Goel, BJP MLA Ram Kumar Kashyap, who represents assembly constituency, has also tested positive. Kashyap is also a former Member of Parliament, Rajya Sabha.
Meanwhile, the virus had also reached the door-steps of two of top ministers of chief minister Manohar Lal Khattar. While one of the personal secretaries of the state deputy chief minister Dushyant Chautala was found to be infected by the virus, a niece and two other relatives of home minister Anil Vij, who also holds health portfolio were also found to be covid-19 positive recently. Vij, who has not married, lives with his brother in their ancestral home in Ambala cantonment. The two ministers were tested negative.
Minister’s son, MLA infected
However, while at least one of BJP MLAs, namely, Mahipal Dhanda (Panipat rural) has recently been found to be positive with the virus, son of state’s education minister Kanwar Pal, too was found to be corona positive and both of them were recuperating from the Covid-19.
Meanwhile, the spread of Covid-19 continued in five districts — Gurugram, Faridabad, Jhajjar, Sonepat and Rewari — which border covid-19 hotbed Delhi — the disturbing fact was that the virus had since recently begun to spread its tentacles in all the remaining 17 districts. Several districts including Nuh, Ambala, Palwal, Panipat, Panchkula, Jind, Karnal, Yamunanagar, Fatehabad, Bhiwani, Rohtak, Charkhi Dadri and Kaithal which had nil or a few cases in June beginning, but had a large number of infected patients with the passing days.
Besides other steps, Haryana government has also launched a out a Sero-survey with an aim to identify the penetration of Covid-19 and to monitor its transmission trends. Health minister Anil Vij says that the findings of the study would be useful in designing and implementing appropriate containment measures in Haryana.
A Sero-survey is testing of a group of individuals to monitor trends in prevalence of Covid-19 as it helps in understanding the number of people affected by the disease. The study would help us to determine the burden of Covid-19 at the community level in the state and monitor the trends of transmission of SARS-CoV-2 (severe acute respiratory syndrome Coronavirus) infection, Vij said.
The sample size has been estimated at district-level as per which 850 participants would be covered to undertake stratified multistage random sampling.
Vij said that the survey had started in Panchkula and Ambala in association with department of community medicine and school of public health, post graduate institute of medical education and research (PGIMER) Chandigarh and the Health department aims to complete it by the end of August.
A nodal officer has been designated in every district to monitor and supervise the Sero-survey activity. The health department would be able to gauge the number of people affected by COVID-19 through this survey,” he added.
Liquor vends open
Ironically enough, like in the earlier lockdown, the liquor vends were seen to be open on week-end (Saturday and Sunday) despite the order pertaining to closure of shops selling un-essential goods this time again.
The violations were to such an extent that the president of Opposition party Congress Kumari Selja expressed her astonishment on the liquor vends doing brisk business on these two days. She released a statement in media in this context. However, the officials held that due action would be taken after a clarification on the issue.
Meanwhile, in Chandigarh too, the UT Administrator VP Singh Badnore also ordered closure of all shops and establishments (except essential shops and services) on Saturdays and Sundays in the city until further orders. Food outlets and restaurants, religious places and clubs, however, remained open. However, the night curfew in Chandigarh would continue from 10 pm to 5 pm, the order added.