The Punjab government has ordered a daily night curfew – from 7 PM to 5 AM, starting Friday – and a weekend lockdown in all 167 cities and towns in the state, as part of a strict response to the worrying surge in coronavirus cases.
The emergency measures, which will be in place till August 31, include restrictions on public and private transport and a ban on public gatherings (except weddings and funerals), and closing of 50 per cent of shops selling non-essential goods in the five worst-affected districts.
Chief Minister Amarinder Singh, making the announcement on Thursday, called for “war-like preparedness” to deal with the spike in coronavirus cases.
“Enough is enough. We need to be tough without affecting the state’s economy,” the Chief Minister said today, adding that each of the 920 Covid-linked deaths in the state “pains me”.
“The projections for the coming weeks are grim,” he said, asserting the state was in an “emergency health situation that necessitated harsh measures”.
The Chief Minister also directed the police to ensure the ban on political protests and gathering is followed, and asked his own party – the Congress – to self-enforce the ban strictly.
As part of the measures announced this evening, government and private offices will function at 50 per cent strength; government offices have also been encouraged to reduce the number of visitors.
Buses and public transport will run at 50 per cent capacity and private cars must have no more than three passengers per vehicle.
Punjab has over 36,000 confirmed Covid cases so far, of which more than 900 are deaths linked to the virus and over 12,000 are active cases. On Wednesday the state reported 24 deaths and 1,693 new cases.
The announcement of measures to try and stop any further spread of the Covid virus in Punjab came on the heels of a serological survey of five districts – Amritsar, Ludhiana, SAS Nagar, Patiala and Jalandhar.
Conducted between August 1 and 17, the survey revealed that 27.7 per cent of people in containment zones in these districts have been exposed to the virus.
Amritsar was the district with highest prevalence of COVID-19 antibodies, with 40 per cent of population in containment zones testing positive. Ludhiana had 35.6 per cent and SAS Nagar 33.2 per cent, while Patiala and Jalandhar had 19.2 per cent and 10.8 per cent, respectively.