The Punjab government on Thursday announced a night curfew between 7 pm and 5 am, and weekend lockdowns across the state in an attempt to contain a sharp increase in coronavirus cases. The government also imposed a ban on all public gatherings, except weddings and funerals.
The new restrictions will be in force till the end of August. Government and private offices in the state were directed to operate at 50% of their capacity. In Amritsar, Ludhiana, Jalandhar, Patiala and Sahibzada Ajit Singh Nagar – Punjab’s five worst-affected districts – public transport vehicles will run at 50% of their capacity. Only half the shops selling non essential items will be allowed to operate in these districts on a daily basis.
Punjab Chief Minister Captain Amarinder Singh said that the state needed “war-like” arrangements to deal with the spurt in coronavirus cases. “We need to be tough without affecting the state’s economic activity,” Singh said at a virtual press briefing. “Enough is enough.” The chief minister added that each patient’s death pained him, and warned the officials that the projections for Punjab were grim.
Singh also directed the state’s health officials to ramp up testing capacity and conduct up to 30,000 tests per day.
Earlier on Thursday, the Punjab government also released the results of a sero-survey conducted in the five worst-hit districts of the state from August 1 to 17. The survey showed that 27.7% of the people in the containment zones of the five districts had developed antibodies against the coronavirus. The prevalence of coronavirus antibodies was 40% in Amritsar, 35.6% in Ludhiana, 33.2% in Sahibzada Ajit Singh Nagar, 19.2% in Patiala and 10.8% in Jalandhar.
According to the US’ Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, serology tests are “those that look for antibodies in blood”. “If antibodies are found, that means there has been a previous infection,” it says. “However, there is a chance a positive result means that you have antibodies from an infection with a virus from the same family of viruses (called coronaviruses), such as the one that causes the common cold.”
Serological surveys reveal how many people may have been infected with the novel coronavirus in an area but they do not show how many people are immune to the virus. It still isn’t clear how long antibodies last in infected persons and how many antibodies are needed to protect a person from reinfection.
Punjab has reported 36,084 overall coronavirus cases and 920 deaths so far, according to the Union health ministry. This includes 12,460 active cases and 22,703 recoveries.