Punjab Chief Minister Captain Amarinder Singh on Saturday ordered mandatory full Covid vaccination or negative RTPCR report for all those entering the state from Monday, with strict monitoring particularly of those coming from Himachal Pradesh and Jammu, which are showing increased positivity.

Amid reports of Covid cases in schools, the Chief Minister has also directed that only fully vaccinated teaching and non-teaching staff, or those recently recovered from Covid, should physically teach in schools and colleges, with online learning option to remain available to all children.

He further ordered prioritisation of teachers and non-teaching staff for vaccination, with special camps to be held to ensure that all are covered with the first dose within this month and those due for the 2nd dose to be also prioritised. Health Minister Balbir Singh Sidhu suggested reducing the gap between the two doses to prioritise second dose for teachers and other school staff.

The directives came at a Covid review meeting chaired by Captain Amarinder Singh, who expressed concern about the positivity in Himachal Pradesh and other parts of the country, which has caused positivity in Punjab to also increase marginally to 0.2% in the last week, with RO going up to 1.05%. The Cambridge study has also predicted that cases are likely to double in the next 64 days, he warned, announcing new restrictions in addition to those already in force.

The Chief Minister has ordered at least 10000 test samples of students and staff from schools to be undertaken every day. Districts/cities where positivity is above 0.2 % have been asked to shut down physical education for Classes 4 and below until the situation improves.

The rule on full vaccination or negative RTPCR report will apply to all those entering Punjab by road, rail or air, announced the Chief Minister, adding that if a person is found to not have
either of these, RAT testing shall be mandatory, unless he/she has recently recovered from Covid.

On schools, which have recently reopened for certain classes in the state, the Chief Minister said while there were some reports of high positivity in schools, the fact was that intensive testing had shown that the positivity amongst school students is 0.1 % against overall positivity of 0.2 % in the past one week. Since 9th August, 41 students and 1 staff member in government schools have tested positive.

Calling for strict vigil, he directed the concerned departments to ensure that only fully vaccinated teaching as well as non-teaching staff shall physically teach in schools and colleges. In case the whole teaching staff is not fully vaccinated, those who are fully vaccinated can attend to the students in the school and virtual classes can be taken by teachers who are not fully vaccinated. The number of students should be suitably curtailed if enough fully vaccinated teachers are not available, ordered the Chief Minister, directing schools to allow seating of only one child per bench.

Captain Amarinder said parents of school going children should also be encouraged to immediately get vaccinated in order to enable the physical learning in schools without any interruptions.

Even as he expressed satisfaction over commencement of operations at the Whole Genome Sequencing Lab at GMCH Patiala in association with PATH, with none of the 8 samples tested there so far showing only delta variant, the Chief Minister noted that the month wise whole genome sequencing sent to NCDC has shown that the Delta variant remains predominant. Beginning today, 92 samples will be every three weeks for genome sequencing. The process for inclusion of VRDL Patiala in INSACOG (Indian SARS-CoV-2 Consortium on Genomics) was on, the meeting was informed.

The Chief Minister further noted that post Covid care was now available at all GMCHs and District Hospitals. The meeting was informed that Mucormycosis cases have come down substantially and only 1 case was reported last week as opposed to 6 in the previous week. Due disability benefits as per the eligibility are being provided to patients.

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