Punjab has announced a night curfew – from 6 pm to 5 am during week days – and a weekend lockdown – from 6 pm on Friday to 5 am on Monday – to combat the rapidly increasing number of coronavirus cases in the state.
Chief Minister Amarinder Singh tweeted Monday night to ask for the people’s co-operation and urge everyone to “stay at home and step out only if absolutely necessary”.
Like several others the state has reported a frightening surge in new Covid cases over the past few weeks; daily new cases have shot up from fewer than 600 in late-February to nearly 7,000.
This morning Punjab reported 6,980 new cases. The state also reported 76 Covid-linked deaths.
The active caseload is now nearly 50,000 – more than double the previous high of around 22,000.
Overall Punjab has logged more than 3.39 lakh Covid cases in the past two years.
Due to continuous & rapid rise of #Covid19 cases in Punjab, Cabinet today has decided to impose daily lockdown from 6 PM to 5 AM and weekend lockdown from Friday 6 PM to Monday 5 AM. Urge you all to stay at home & step out only if absolutely necessary. Seek your full cooperation. pic.twitter.com/gS4TFlw5lZ
— Capt.Amarinder Singh (@capt_amarinder) April 26, 2021
Earlier today a worried Amarinder Singh said he expected the situation to get worse, especially in south Punjab, where Ludhiana district alone reported over 1,300 cases on Sunday.
The Chief Minister was quoted by news agency PTI as saying that stringent measures were required to tackle the increase in cases. However, he also said he was reluctant to order a complete lockdown because of the accompanying economic problems and impact on migrant workers.
The increase in cases has also left hospitals struggling to find beds, medicines and oxygen for critically ill patients, whether they are Covid positive or suffering from some other illness.
The oxygen crisis, in particular, has made the headlines. In Delhi multiple hospitals have approached the High Court for help. In Punjab, six people died at a Amritsar hospital on Saturday.
Mr Singh has said his government is working to secure medical oxygen. The state requires 205 metric tonnes per day and this is expected to increase to 300 MT on account of the rising number of cases.
On Sunday Punjab shut down its iron and steel industries in order to divert oxygen for medical use.
The Chief Minister has also approached Prime Minister Narendra Modi and the centre for help.
Apart from Punjab, earlier today Karnataka also announced a lockdown – for two weeks starting 9 pm Tuesday. And on Sunday Delhi extended its ongoing lockdown by a week.
On Monday morning the centre put out an amended list of guidelines for states and union territories imposing lockdowns or delisting containment zones.
Crucially, the new rules call for restrictions when the positivity rate is over 10 per cent for a week and when more than 60 per cent of available hospital beds are occupied.
India is battling a devastating second Covid wave, with over three lakh new cases reported in each of the past three days and the active caseload skyrocketing to more than 28 lakh.
The country will begin a new vaccination phase from May 1, when everyone over the age of 18 will be eligible to get the shot. Until now only those over 45 were eligible.
With input from PTI