With projections of new cases set to double in about 64 days at the present rate of growth, Punjab Chief Minister Captain Amarinder Singh on Saturday ordered Covid testing in the state to be increased to at least 60, 000 tests per day, while virtually inaugurating a Children’s Covid Ward as well as PSA Oxygen plants in Ludhiana and Faridkot.

Reviewing the state’s preparation an imminent third wave, Captain Amarinder directed the Health Department to undertake priority sentinel testing for OPD/IPD patients at Government and private hospitals, travellers at entry points, Government offices, industries and labour colonies, staff at marriage palaces, restaurants, pubs, bars, gyms etc. Based on this, Districts should formulate strategies for micro-containment zones, he said, noting with satisfaction that GIS based surveillance and prevention tool, with an auto trigger mechanism for localised restrictions, is now live in all Districts and will help guide local restrictions, if needed.

The Covid Paediatric Ward at Civil Hospital, Ludhiana, has 5 Paediatric Intensive Care Units (PICUs) & 08 Multisystem Inflammatory Syndrome in Children (MISC) beds. The advanced ultra-modern PICUs are comparable with the best in the country, said the Chief Minister, thanking Vijay Munjal of Hero Ecotech Ltd, Ludhiana, and Dr. Bishav Mohan from DMC&H, for donating equipment worth Rs. 20 lacs. The doctors and nurses have been trained with the help of Dr. Bishav Mohan.

The ward has ECHO & Cardiology backup from DMC&H. Dr. Rupesh Aggarwal (Singapore) for Project O2 with Zeiss, India, donated 5 PICU beds. Other infrastructure facilities were provided by the Punjab Government. The Chief Minister announced that the government would be augmenting the PICU and level 2 paediatric beds capacity in all 23 Districts and 4 GMCHs to 1, 104 paediatric beds.

The PSA Oxygen plants in Ludhiana inaugurated by the Chief Minister include 1000 LPM each at ESI Hospital and Civil Hospital, and 500 LPM at Urban Health Centre, Vardhman. He also inaugurated a 2000 litre PSA plant, sponsored by SPS Oberoi, at Baba Farid MCH Faridkot

Captain Amarinder said a total of 76 PSA Plants (41 GoI supported and 35 donor supported) are being installed in the State, with 48832 LPM oxygen generation capacity. With installation of these plants, the State’s dependency on oxygen supply from outside Punjab will substantially reduce, he said, adding that preparations were on to augment the oxygen capacity to 560 MT, including 235 MT of LMO and around 328 MT from PSA plants, ASUs and Oxygen Concentrators. This includes 50 MT oxygen for non COVID emergency situations, in order to ensure that non Covid patients do not suffer, he added. At the peak of second wave, Punjab was utilising about 308 MT Oxygen.

The Chief Minister also asked the Health and Medical Education departments to speed up augmentation of the health infrastructure and medical supplies to deal with the the third wave of COVID-19. The State Government would be spending more than Rs.1000 Crore in the current year for this purpose, under the Emergency COVID response package-II (ECRP), Fifteenth Finance Commission Grant, Disaster Management Fund.

Under the Emergency ECRP, Rs. 331.48 Cr, in the ratio of 60% Center Share and 40% State Share, is being spent in Punjab to establish Pediatric Care Units in all District Hospitals and Medical Colleges. The meeting was informed that 20 bedded units would be set up at 41 SDH & 89 CHC and 6 bedded units at 153 PHC in the State. A Pediatric Centre of Excellence is also being set up in the Medical College Amrtisar. The Government has also decided to set-up RT-PCR testing labs in all districts of Punjab. The meeting was further informed that these labs are already operational in Medical Colleges of Amritsar, Patiala and Faridkot.

The 15th Finance Commission has recommended Rs 2130.71 crore for the state of Punjab as Health grants with Rural and Urban components. Rs. 401 Crore has been sanctioned for the State in the current year. The grant shall be utilized for strengthening of urban and rural health infrastructure, including provision of 63 Diagnostic tests at PHC level and 14 at Sub centres level.

Dr KK Talwar informed the meeting that the state was fully geared to tackle the third wave, and the situation was currently stable.

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