In the wake of COVID-19 pandemic ensuing unprecedented crisis nationwide on April 26, Army Western Command offered to help Punjab to revive defunct Oxygen plants. The Indian Army announced their support to Punjab CM Captain Amarinder Singh, after the CM sought help in tackling 'war-like' COVID-19 crisis in the State. Army Western Command has also extended its support to source medical and technical staff for Punjab bound 100 COVID-19 beds owing to Council for Scientific & Industrial Research (CSIR) COVID-19 facility.
In view of the State's liberalised vaccine policy with effect from May 1, Punjab CM directed the health department to pursue the Centre for vaccine supplies in the State. In addition, Captain Singh has ordered for installation of 2000 more COVID-19 beds in both private and government hospitals. The State presently has only 1.76 lakh COVISHIELD and 22000 COVAXIN doses in stock.
In response to CM Singh’s plea for help in the war-like COVID-19 situation, the Western Command of the Indian Army extended aid to Punjab to meet the exigent shortage in hospital, along with support in reviving the state’s old Oxygen plants that are currently lying defunct.
Lt. Gen. RP Singh, AVSM, VSM, GOC-in-C, Western Command, at a virtual meeting of the CM with other senior Command officials, announced to provide staff to run the 100-bed COVID-19 facility proposed to be set up in the building loaned to the State by CSIR for this purpose, the CM later said at another review meeting with top officials of the State government and medical experts would be organised.
Further, he added that the government was also approaching the Union Home Ministry to provide manpower and ICU beds through the Border Security Force (BSF). Technical and specialist cover would be provided by the Command Centre, Lt Gen Singh told the Chief Minister during their VC, adding that 15 trained nurses had already been sent to Patiala to support civic staff.
Further experts would be sent to visit the defunct Oxygen plants at existing industrial units to assess their status and extend whatever support needed for their restoration. Though their resources were stressed on account of requirements also from other states, including Delhi, Haryana and Jammu & Kashmir, the army officials said they will extend all possible help to Punjab to tackle the situation, which the CM highlighted was critical.
With Ludhiana alone reporting 1300+ cases today and Oxygen allocation from the centre currently at only 105 MTs as against the demand of 300 MTs daily. Moreover, of the 105 MTs, the State was in receipt of 85 MTs as the rest was being diverted to PGI Chandigarh.
The CM later affirmed that the State government was taking utmost effort to secure medical oxygen to compensate the depleting stocks. While he was not proposing a lockdown, which leads to exodus and economic woes, the CM made it clear that the other stringent steps were being taken to manage the ascending crisis. He pointed out,
"On April 25, Punjab had reported over 7000 COVID-19 cases, the situation was expected to worsen, especially in South Punjab amid the rising number of cases in the neighbouring states."
Responding to reports of threats of a strike by certain organisations of health/medical workers, the CM made it clear that threats will be met with dismissal. He said,
“As we cannot tolerate this kind of nonsense in a war-like situation.”
Health Secretary Hussan Lal disclosed that in response to directives from the Chief Minister, 2000 beds would be added to strengthen bed capacity in hospitals. While 900 beds would be added to govt. medical colleges at Patiala, Amritsar and Faridkot (Jalalabad), 542 would be added to Private Medical Colleges;- PIMS, Gian Sagar, Adesh, DMC, CMC. The District Hospitals will get another 300 L2 beds, while 250 beds would be placed at a temporary hospital near the Bathinda Refinery.
Earlier today, CM Singh took to Twitter to ascertain the same,
Met with GOC-in-C Western Command & @ADGPI Officials to seek their assistance in our fight against #Covid19. Thank them for their positive response to work closely with the State Government for both treatment of patients & management of logistics of Oxygen supply. 🇮🇳 pic.twitter.com/ZLgsajeRzU— Capt.Amarinder Singh (@capt_amarinder) April 26, 2021
On Sunday, Punjab recorded the highest ever single-day spike with 7,014 fresh COVID cases and 76 deaths. As per the State health ministry, since the outbreak of COVID-19, the daily case count had not crossed 7,000-mark. Meanwhile, with 352,991 fresh COVID-19 cases, India’s total caseload crosses 17 million, while deaths rise by a record 2,812 to reach a total of 1,95,123.