PUNJAB CM GIVES GO-AHEAD TO PILOT PROJECT FOR RAPID ANTIGEN TESTING FROM NEXT WEEK

RULES OUT ENDING 14-DAY MANDATORY QUARANTINE FOR DOMESTIC TRAVELLERS, THOSE COMING BY ROAD WILL HAVE TO E-REGISTER

Chandigarh, July 3:Punjab Chief Minister Captain Amarinder Singh on Friday gave the go-ahead for launching a pilot project for Covid-19 rapid antigen testing from the coming week, as well as e-registration for persons entering the state through the Shambhu border, to ensure strict monitoring of the thousands of people coming from the high-risk NCR region every day.

On successful completion of the pilot rapid antigen project, which will cover a minimum of 1000 tests, such testing would be done on the migrants coming back to the state in the wake of reopening of industries and for work in the paddy fields. The state government will procure rapid antigen testing kits to scale up its Covid testing capacity, which is even now higher than the Government of India mandate of 140 tests per million per day in regions with positivity factor of less than 10%. With positivity rate of just 2%, Punjab is already conducting 242 tests/million/day as part of its comprehensive strategy to check further spread of the pandemic.

Notwithstanding the Government of India’s revised guidelines replacing home quarantine for domestic travellers with self-monitoring, the Chief Minister ruled out any such move in Punjab in view of the large number of people coming to the state every day from Delhi/NCR, where cases were currently spiralling.

The Chief Minister also made it clear that no vehicle should be allowed to enter Punjab without a stringent monitoring mechanism in place. He was reviewing the Covid situation and preparedness in the state with senior government and health officials through a Video Conference meeting.

Chief Secretary Vini Mahajan assured the Chief Minister that strict monitoring would be ensured of all entrants, with private players being roped in to ensure implementation of home quarantine with phone-based monitoring and regular visits. Further, all entrants to the state would be required to mandatorily register themselves either on the COVA app or the government web portal, and the registration certificate, with bar code, should be carried on the vehicle windscreen. Those without the certificate print-out on their car screens would be stopped and made to register on the spot, at the border, before proceeding, she said, adding that with requirement of passes done away with in Unlock 2.0 by the Government of India, e-registration would help in monitoring and tracking of incoming domestic travellers.

The Chief Secretary further said that with the Government of India gradually withdrawing from supply of PPE kits and medicines etc to states, and Punjab receiving only Rs 72 crore so far this year, the Chief Minister may need to intervene in seeking additional funds and continuation of supplies from the Centre. Though the state administration had already taken up the matter with the central government, the Chief Minister might have to step in if no positive response is forthcoming in the next few days, she added.

Meanwhile, to prevent the outbreak of water-borne diseases, such as dengue and malaria, during the current monsoon season, the Chief Minister directed the Local Government and Rural development departments to undertake a 15-day intensive sanitation campaign, in addition to the ongoing disinfectant spraying being done in both urban and local areas.

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CAPT AMARINDER TAKES ON SUKHBIR, HARSIMRAT OVER THEIR BRAZEN LIES & DOUBLE STANDARDS

TRASHES SUKHBIR’S ALLEGATIONS OF FOODGRAIN EMBEZZLEMENT, SAYS CHECK YOUR FACTS FIRST

ASKS HARSIMRAT WHY SHE DOES’T QUIT UNION CABINET IF SHE’S SO CONCERNED ABOUT IMPACT OF FUEL PRICES ON COMMON MAN

Chandigarh, July 3: Punjab Chief Minister Captain Amarinder Singh on Friday lashed out at SAD’s Sukhbir Badal and Union Minister Harsimrat Badal for misleading the people of the state to promote their petty political agenda in the midst of the Covid crisis.

In a hard-hitting attack on the Badal couple, the Chief Minister said the concerted manner in which they were running a campaign of deceit and lies had exposed their shameless double standards. The people of Punjab would not be taken in by the political antics and crocodile tears of the Akali leaders, who had looted Punjab shamelessly for a decade without sparing any thought for the problems of the masses, he said.

Flaying Sukhbir Badal over his allegations of ration embezzlement by Congressmen in Punjab, the Chief Minister asserted that the MLAs were supporting his government’s efforts to ensure that nobody goes hungry. The MLAs are close to the people and well placed to help out those in immediate or urgent need, which is what they have been doing, said Captain Amarinder.

Pointing out that every Congressman in every part of the country was currently out helping people, as part of the party’s concerted efforts to reach out to the needy in this hour of crisis, the Chief Minister said the Akalis could not relate to this as they had never seen beyond their personal interests.

Captain Amarinder ridiculed Sukhbir’s allegations that the foodgrains received by the state government had not been distributed among the people, pointing out that even the figures cited by the Shiromani Akali Dal (SAD) president were totally incorrect, showing how pathetically removed he was from reality.

The fact was that the quantity of food grains received by the state government till June was more than the figures given by Sukhbir, with over 90% of it distributed. Under the PMGKAY, the wheat allocated to the state was 212164 MT, of which 199091 MT had been distributed, while of the 10800 MT Dal allocated, 10305 MT had been distributed. In addition, under the ATMANIRBHAR scheme of GoI, wheat(per person) and dal (per family) was provided for 14.14 lac persons, and the state, after grounding the wheat to flour, added dal to make it 1 kg per person and put in 1 kg sugar on its own. In fact, the state government had distributed 17 lakh packets to migrant labourers at the cost of Rs 69 crores from its own funds, with 10 kg atta, 2 kg dal and 2 kg sugar.

This data was sufficient to show that Sukhbir’s claims and allegations on foodgrain distribution were totally unsubstantiated and baseless, and as usual, the SAD chief was talking nonsense and indulging in double standards, said the Chief Minister, pointing to the recent backtracking of the Akalis on the issue of three farm sector Ordinances and their earlier contradictory stands on the CAA.

Taking on Harsimrat Badal on the issue of fuel VAT, the Chief Minister said if she was so concerned about the impact of the escalating fuel prices on the common man, why did she not pressurise the Union Government, in which she is a cabinet minister, to put a stop on the uncontrolled hike in prices of diesel and petrol for 22 straight day. He dismissed her purported concerns about the common man, saying it was ridiculous that she should react to the state government’s increase in petroleum tax after consistently ignoring the shocking daily increase in fuel prices by the central government.

Harsimrat seemed to have had no problem with the central government earning more than Rs 2 lakh core from the fuel price hike but when it came to her own state, which was reeling under an unprecedented fiscal crisis and was struggling to cope with the Covid pandemic, she found it anti-people, remarked the Chief Minister, taking a dig at the Union Minister’s comments on the issue.

“If the Badals are sincere in opposing the fuel price hike by the Centre, as they claim to be, why don’t they quit the NDA coalition at the Centre? Why is Harsimrat still in the Union Cabinet?” asked Captain Amarinder. The Akalis were only interested in retaining power at all costs, and in filling their pockets even if that meant the devastation of Punjab, he added.

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Punjab ramps up its sample collection & lab capabilities significantly: Balbir Singh Sidhu

•Four new labs being established at GADVASU Ludhiana, RDDL Jalandhar , Forensic Science lab in Mohali & Punjab Biotech Incubator in Mohali

•As on 2nd July 2020, 42 Micro-Containment Zones identified in State

•Number of Flu Corners increased where sample collection being done

•37,89,542 persons have been surveyed under screening campaign so far

Chandigarh, July 3:-Punjab has ramped up its sample collection and lab capabilities significantly which has contributed towards containing the spread of infection. It was disclosed by Health Minister Mr. Balbir Singh Sidhu in press release.

Mr. Sidhu said that Punjab has crossed the testing of 3,24,000 samples for COVID-19. Since its first confirmed COVID-19 positive case on 5th March, 2020, the state has increased its testing capacity per million figures to 9,949 per day as on 30th June, 2020. This is better than the national average of 6653 tests per million per day. After completing the testing of 1 Lakh samples on 4th June 2020, the state has reached the milestone of testing 3 Lakh samples within a month. This shows the strides the state has been making in ramping up its testing capacity. Starting with an initial testing capacity of only 40 (as on 9th March, 2020), Punjab has enhanced its capacity to 9000 tests per day as on date with concerted efforts.

To further increase the testing in the state, besides three labs in government medical colleges- Amritsar, Patiala & Faridkot, four new labs are being established at GADVASU Ludhiana, RDDL Jalandhar , Forensic Science lab in Mohali, and Punjab Biotech Incubator in Mohali adding that he said currently, 15 TruNaat Testing machines have been installed in the district hospitals of the state. As early detection is the key to bring down mortality, therefore to reduce the turnaround time, additional TruNaat machines are being procured by the state which gives test report in 1-1.5 hours.

The Minister divulged that with the aim of containing the disease within a defined geographical area by early detection and prevent its spread to new areas, the state has decided to setup Micro-Containment Zones. Any specific area within a village/ ward having more than 5 and up to 15 COVID positive cases and with a population of not more than 500 shall be designated as Micro Containment Zone. As on 2nd July 2020, 42 Micro-Containment Zones have been identified in the state. The strategy would include geographical quarantine, social distancing measures, enhanced active surveillance, testing all suspected cases, isolation of cases/ home quarantine social mobilization to follow preventive public health measures.

In order to upscale the capacity of sample collection, the Department of Health has been increasing the number of Flu Corners where sample collection is being done. Mobile teams have been formed in Containment and Micro-Containment Zones. For the purpose of surveillance, around 995 Rapid Response Teams have been formed in the State to conduct active surveillance and identification of people with Influenza-like Illness or Severe Acute Respiratory Illness by the house to house visits.

In order to increase surveillance, the Department had conducted an extensive House to House Surveillance in the entire state manually. However, in order to digitize and improve the quality of this activity, an in-house Mobile Application has been made by the Department for House to House Community Surveillance for identifying people with co-morbidities and identifying their medical symptoms/contact history/travel history for COVID-19 related surveillance. The survey covers all people above the age of 30 years and people with co-morbidities or is symptomatic even below 30 years of age. 37,89,542 persons have been surveyed till 2nd July 2020 on the mobile application.

Additionally, a pilot project in collaboration with Centre for Policy Research has been started in Kharar sub-division of SAS Nagar district for the testing of population in specific categories and occupations, people from urban wards. The survey is spatially structured, with sampling being done polling booth wise. Also, the state is planning to initiate Rapid Antigen Testing for high risk contacts, SARI cases and in containment zones as probability of positivity is high among these groups in future.

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PUNJAB GOVERNMENT COMMITTED TO ENSURE SAFE & HEALTHY FOOD: BALBIR SINGH SIDHU

Health Minister gives appointment letters to 18 Food Safety Officers

Chandigarh, July 3:Under Mission Tandrust Punjab, Government of Punjab is committed to ensure safe and healthy food to the people, said Mr. Balbir Singh Sidhu while giving appointment letters to 18 newly recruited food safety officers.

Commissionerate of Food and Drug Administration has been tasked to sensitize Food Business Operators (FBOs) about the distribution of safe food to public and also to take action under the law against those FBOs which indulge in unsafe and substandard Food items. The Food Safety wing of health department has been conducting raids and inspection on daily basis under which last year about 9 thousand inspections have been conducted and cases launched against defaulters in Court of Chief Judicial Magistrate and the Court of Additional Deputy Commissioners.

Thirteen persons have been convicted by the Court in last one year with imprisonments up to 6 months and a fine of Rs. 3.30 cr. imposed against 2162 Food Business Operators who were found indulging in irregularities adding that Mr. Sidhu divulged the department was working with only 29 Food Safety officers and need was left to increase the number of officers for better supervision of food suppliers. Therefore the department has recruited 24 more Food Safety Officers.

“To overcome the shortage of staff, today appointment letters have been given to 18 selected candidates and they have also been instructed to work with dedication and transparency to ensure that the people of Punjab are provided with healthy and safe food” Minister added.

Mr. K.S. Pannu, Commissioner Food and Drugs Administration stated that with enhanced strength of Food Safety Officers, in Punjab, the Commissionerate shall be increasing its capacity to take action against those indulging in wrong practices in the Food Business.

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Date sheet for conducting bi-monthly assessment of government school students changed

Chandigarh, July 3-The date sheet for conducting bi-monthly assessment of students studying in government schools has been changed due to the activities regarding the 400 Parkesh Purb of Sri Guru Teg Bahadur ji.

Disclosing this here today a spokesperson of the Punjab school education department said that in view of the current situation of covid-19, the subjective test of the students of 6th to 12th classes would be taken online through the Teacher-Student Whats App group. Now this tests will be conducted from 13th July 2020 to 18th July 2020 instead of 6th July. Question papers in this regard would be prepared by the head office and will be sent online. Assessment test will be of 20 marks and there will be objective and subject questions. According to the spokesperson, the date sheets for the 6th to 10th classes has been released while the date sheets for 11th and 12th classes will be prepared by the school principals at their own.

According to the spokesperson, all the subject teachers will be given one week time to check these tests of the students. Subject teachers will prepare a record of students' marks in collaboration with the class in-charge. It is to be noted that the two-month (April to May) syllabus for classes 6th to 12th had already been provided through TV channels / Zoom Classes / PDF Assignments.

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Mission Fateh:-Water Resources Department creates record with 104 promotions on various posts during lockdown: Sarkaria

Cabinet Minister pats officials and employees for their dedication towards work during restrictions

45 percent work of Shahpurkandi Main Dam completed; expected to produce power within 3 years, discloses Water Resources Minister

Chandigarh, July 3:-On the initiative of Water Resources Minister Sukhbinder Singh Sarkaria, 104 officials in various cadres of the department have been promoted during curfew/lockdown.

Disclosing this here today Mr. Sarkaria said that the Water Resources Department have a vital role for farmers of Punjab and under the direction of Chief Minister Captain Amarinder Singh, the department has done exemplary work during this time. He said that even during the lockdown, the officers/employees of the department were engaged in the task of cleaning the distributaries/ minors. Apart from this the officers/staff of the Water Resources Department have provided Rs. 1.60 crore as assistance to the Chief Minister's Relief Fund to fight against Corona Virus.

Divulging details of works being done by the department, the Cabinet Minister said that 45 per cent work on the main dam of Shahpurkandi Dam project has been completed despite the restrictions imposed to contain the spread of COVID-19. He said that the Department had resumed the construction work of Shahpurkandi Dam on April 29, 2020, ensuring all the safety measures mentioned under 'Mission Fateh' to prevent any eventuality. He said that power generation in this project is expected to start by August 2023. This will further strengthen the irrigation facility and produce non eminent electricity which will become sustainable source of energy in the state.

Informing about the promotions carried out in the department, a spokesperson of Water Resources Department said that 5 Superintending Engineers have been promoted as Chief Engineers while 25 Executive Engineers have been promoted as Superintending Engineers. Similarly 43 JEs/Assistant Engineers have been promoted as Sub Divisional Officers (SDOs) and 31 Revenue Clerks/Chief Revenue Clerks have been promoted as Ziledar (District Collector).