Measuring Punjab’s preparation for second wave of Covid Pandemic

Punjab has been in news for farmers protest since last six months. The second wave of corona virus pandemic has hit India again with thousands dying due to lack of oxygen in major metropolitan cities of India. It becomes very important to measure Punjab’s preparation to handle Covid 19 Pandemic.

Punjab government has banned all gatherings with immediate effect & has imposed restrictions in the cities of Amritsar, Ludhiana, Jalandhar, and Patiala. Captain Amrinder Singh has expressed his stance very clearly that he is against lockdown in the state and that essential industry will continue to work as usual. This however has not stopped the outflow of labour from Punjab. Trains leaving from all major railway stations are full of migrant labourers who fear another lockdown. With centre leaving it to states, Captain has once again reiterated that he aims to contain the pandemic using ‘rigorous testing and vaccination’ and by forming small containment zones.

How does Punjab stand in its preparation?

Punjab has expressed its concern over the supply of vaccines and has expressed its inability to roll out the expanded Covid vaccine drive from May 1 saying all stocks have been pre-booked with none available until May 15. This matter needs to be taken up with centre to avoid the vaccine crunch.

After recent deaths of six patients in Amritsar due to lack of oxygen the panic button has been pressed for state. Punjab’s demand for oxygen currently stands at 250 metric tonnes a day and is further expected to go up to 300 MT in the coming days on account of spiralling COVID cases as well as influx of patients into state. Captain Amrinder Singh had told Prime Minister Narendra Modi in a meeting to keep the supply of oxygen uninterrupted for Punjab.

According to a report in Newsclick in, Punjab is not receiving a regular supply of allocated liquid oxygen of 104 MT from Centre as promised. On April 23, Punjab received 103 MT liquid oxygen while on April 22, it received small amount of 68 MT. The supply needs to be continuous to ensure smooth functioning of Punjab’s hospitals.

Punjab has relatively better health infrastructure due to which patients from neighbouring states are flowing into Punjab. Many patients from Delhi have been admitted to hospitals in Patiala, Jalandhar and other places, they said, adding that those from Haryana and Himachal Pradesh too are to turning to the state.

Presently, there are 13-14 patients from Delhi who are admitted to Rajindra Hospital in Patiala. There are around 10 patients in Ludhiana and few in Jalandhar as well. Most of the patients are coming into Punjab from Delhi due to non availability of beds in the NCR. The hospitals in Punjab maintain that they are not close to their threshold as of now but will soon touch the mark.

Awareness campaigns about vaccination are carried out by Punjab government. Farmers are made aware about the vaccination at the Mandi centres as well through the nodal officers. The response this time is positive as per nodal officer in Patiala. He said that people were not confident about measures and data collection last time but they are very cooperative this time.

The Gurdwaras are stepping up the challenge as well. Apart from free food delivery and oxygen cylinders to the patients in tri city region, the Gurdwaras are also making sure that wood is available for cremation at no costs. Some organisations have also taken up the responsibility of cremating the dead. As per Jaspal Singh Sandhu of Jalandhar, the number of dead bodies that are abandoned by families is high and cremation of around 10-12 bodies is done by volunteers.

It becomes important to maintain that Punjab government needs to step up its measures to curb the mass gatherings like weddings, parties or religious gatherings. A gathering in Captain Amrinder Singh’s own city today flouted the Covid restrictions. Farmers have taken off their dharnas in Punjab and are not organising any rally in Punjab. The opposition SAD has also not been allowed to carry out its rallies as a measure to curb the rising cases.

Captain Amrinder singh has directed all the supply of oxygen from steel and iron industries to be put into medical use. Captain has maintained that Punjab seeks Centre’s help in curbing the pandemic and has urged centre to maintain uninterrupted flow of both oxygen as well to ensure supply of vaccines for the drive.

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