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Punjab extends corona curbs till July 10, gives more relaxations

Punjab Chief Minister Amarinder Singh Photo: @capt_amarinder/Twitter

Chandigarh, June 29 (MNN) With Delta Plus variant of coronavirus posing a new challenge to healthcare authorities, Punjab Chief Minister Amarinder Singh on Tuesday ordered the extension of corona restrictions till July 10 in the northern state, with more relaxations like opening of bars, pubs and ‘ahatas’ at 50 per cent capacity from July 1.

Skill development centres and universities have also been allowed to reopen subject to staff and students getting at least one dose of vaccine. IELTS coaching institutes have already been allowed to reopen, subject to students and staff getting at least one dose of vaccine.

Announcing the relaxations at a review meeting here, the Chief Minister made it clear that bars, pubs and drinking places attached to liquor vends would strictly maintain social distancing protocols. Waiters or servers and other employees should also take at least one dose of vaccine.

He made it clear that it would be the responsibility of the owners to ensure that the conditions are met.

Expressing satisfaction over the decline in positivity rate in Punjab to less than 1, with overall fall in active cases, the Chief Minister noted that the positivity rate in some districts still remained over one.

Further, the finding of Delta plus variant was a matter of concern, making it essential to continue with the curbs, he stressed.

The month-wise whole genome sequencing has shown that more than 90 per cent belongs to variant of concern, with the original virus practically replaced by its variants, Amarinder Singh said.

Two cases (Ludhiana and Patiala) of Delta plus variant have come up, while in May and June, the Delta variant was most prevalent, he pointed out.

Of the 198 contacts of a Ludhiana patient traced and tested, one was found positive and the sample was sent for genome sequencing, while in the Patiala case, for which the genome sequencing report was received on June 26, the process of tracing/testing is going on.

Chief Secretary Vini Mahajan said that genome sampling of as many as 489 samples (including 276 sent in April, 100 in May and 113 in June) were still pending with a central lab. She also clarified that the Delta Plus variant was found in samples sent by the state in May, whose results were given by Indain government labs recently.

Amarinder Singh directed fast-tracking of establishment of a whole genome sequencing lab at GMCH Patiala, in association with the international non-profit organisation PATH, to make it operational by July.

He also ordered intensification of genome sequences of cases reported from clusters in limited geographical, institutional or superspreader event area to prevent potential third wave of coronavirus.

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