Punjab Chief Minister Amarinder Singh on Friday claimed community transmission had begun in the state, a claim that was denied by the Union Ministry of Health and Family Welfare, NDTV reported. “In Punjab, 27 cases are there with no travel history,” he said in a video conference with the media. “Yes, it can be said that most of them are cases of community transmission.”
The Centre has repeatedly said India is not yet in the community transmission stage of the virus, and reiterated this at Friday’s media briefing too when asked about Singh’s claim.
Singh said Punjab has reported 132 cases of Covid-19 and 11 deaths. He backed extending the countrywide lockdown to contain the novel coronavirus outbreak, citing the “horrendous and frightening” predictions made by health officials about the pandemic.
He claimed that experts have projected that the pandemic will peak in India by mid-September, when 58% of the population will be infected, citing a report by the Post Graduate Institute of Medical Education and Research, Chandigarh. However, the institute later said it was not aware that any of its faculty members had carried out such a study, ANI reported.
“We have to seriously consider extending the lockdown and curfew in view of the increased number of positive cases,” the chief minister said. He, however, added that the cabinet would make the final decision on the lockdown. Later in the day, Punjab decided to extend the restrictions till May 1.
“Predictions made by experts about spread of the coronavirus are horrendous and frightening,” he said, citing studies done by the John Hopkins University and the University of Boston.
He said the state is gearing up for the different phases of the spread of the disease. In the first phase, it aims at having 2,000 beds and the necessary equipment, which would be scaled up to 10,000 beds, which will be increased to 30,000 beds and then to 1 lakh beds.
Punjab will allow district-wise relief from the lockdown to farmers for harvesting Rabi crops, Singh added. He said the state was expecting a bumper crop of 185 lakh tonnes of wheat and is making arrangements to ensure a smooth harvest amid the pandemic. “To prevent congestion, we have increased the number of mandis from 1,800 to 3,800,” he said. The harvesting exercise is expected to be completed by May 31,” he added.
The chief minister announced that the state has got on board manufacturers to provide personal protective equipment. “They have been tested and approved in a government lab in Bangalore,” he said. Out of 14,000 kits, 2,000 have arrived. We will also give the remaining states according to our needs,” he added.
The Union health ministry on Friday morning said the total confirmed cases in India are 6,412. Out of the total cases in the country, 199 patients have died, and 5,709 are being treated.