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Punjab seeks fiscal package to combat coronavirus crisis

Press Trust of India  |  Chandigarh 

Punjab Chief Minister Amarinder Singh on Friday asked Prime Minister Narendra Modi for a fiscal package to combat the coronavirus crisis and permission to get tests done at private hospitals and labs in the state.

He expressed grave concern over the escalating COVID-19 crisis while taking part in the deliberations during a video conference convened by the prime minister with all the CMs to review the situation, a government release said.

Singh said there was an urgent need to scale up the testing for coronavirus and hence, the Centre should immediately allow reputed private medical colleges and super-specialty hospitals.

He also suggested that the Indian Council of Medical Research (ICMR) should be allowed to test close contacts of confirmed cases even without symptoms.

The chief minister also requested the PM to immediately extend the travel ban on international flights for two weeks instead of one to prevent continued entry of NRIs into Punjab, and to enable the government to track and test all those who had already come in.

He also urged the prime minister to allow payment of wages to MNREGA workers who could come to work as a preventive measure in view of COVID-19.

The Punjab chief minister further recommended that additional five kgs of wheat per person should be provided under the Food Security Mission to help out the people in this hour of crisis.

He also suggested that the Centre should soon come out with a comprehensive proposal to mitigate the adverse economic impact of COVID-19.

Meanwhile, Singh assured the prime minister that the state government was fully prepared to combat any exigency arising out of coronavirus.

He said the entire state machinery, especially the health department, was geared to provide the best possible treatment to the symptomatic patients, who are under treatment in various government hospitals.

Apprising the prime minister about the current status, Singh said that so far three positive cases have been detected and one person has died (patient confirmed positive post-death).

Of the total 140 test results, test reports in 18 cases were awaited.

As many as 96,273 travellers have been screened at Mohali and Amritsar airports , as well as the Amritsar Wagah/Attari border check post and Dera Baba Nanak check post in Gurdaspur.

A total of 1,454 travellers have been quarantined at home, and 18 are in isolation wards at hospitals.

Elaborating the measures taken so far to meet any contingency in view of this deadly virus, the chief minister said the Punjab Epidemic Diseases and COVID-19 Regulations, 2020 were notified under the Epidemic Diseases Act, 1897 on March 5.

On the isolation/quarantine measures, Singh briefed the PM that as many as 16,890 beds have been earmarked for quarantine, besides 2,800 hospital beds for isolation identified in government and private facilities, and 28 ventilators have been made available at district level (14 in district hospitals and 14 in GMCs).

(This story has not been edited by Business Standard staff and is auto-generated from a syndicated feed.)

First Published: Fri, March 20 2020. 20:50 IST