Chandigarh:  Punjab will, this month, initiate the third sentinel sero-surveillance survey, especially focused on children in the age group of 6-17 years, ahead of the imminent third wave, for which Chief Minister Amarinder Singh on Tuesday announced Rs 331 crore in addition to the money already allotted for the Emergency Covid Response.

With this, Punjab will become the only state in the country to get a children-dominated sero survey conducted to assess the prevalence of the infection among under-18.

The Chief Minister also ordered establishment of a paediatric unit in each district and one centre of excellence in paediatrics for the state.

The government will also establish LMO storage tanks in every district to ensure 24X7 availability of medical grade oxygen, he said.

Medical gas pipeline systems will also be set up at each district, sub-division and community health centre, he said, also announcing the establishment of 17 additional RT-PCR labs.

The ICU beds in government hospitals will also be increased to 142, and a hub and scope model for telemedicine and teleconsultation will also be established, said Amarinder Singh.

The Chief Minister said the outcomes of the third sentinel sero-surveillance survey will be utilised to determine further localised restrictions as the state prepares for the third wave. GIS-based surveillance and prevention tools will be used with an auto trigger mechanism for localised restrictions, he disclosed.

Health Adviser, Dr K.K. Talwar disclosed, in response to a query from the Chief Minister, that in the first and second wave, 10 per cent of those infected were under 18, and while there was no concrete data to support such a projection, the state was preparing to handle more cases of children in the third wave.

Health Secretary Hussan Lal apprised the Chief Minister that the process of modifications in COVA had started for capturing of required parameters, linked to sample collection and reporting system outside ICMR system. The same was likely to be functional in a week.

The Chief Minister asked the Health Department to expedite recruitments for all posts for which Cabinet approval has already been taken. He noted that advertisement for 481 Specialists had already been issued by the Health Department for walk-in interviews on July 31.

The Medical Education and Research Department has also begun the process of filling its vacancies in the coming month, he added.

Amarinder Singh expressed satisfaction over the strategy for preparation of the third wave, pointing out that testing has been maintained at around 40, 000- 45, 000 a day, with special focus on high density areas and vulnerable population. Contact tracing has also been maintained at 18 per positive patient.

He said he was happy to note that data cells have been activated in each district. The newly-recruited Community Medicine Specialists posted in each district must be immediately given charge of these data cells, he ordered.

The Chief Minister directed that the Whole Genome Sequencing Lab at Government Medical College in Patiala should become functional this month.

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