Chandigarh: Punjab Chief Minister Amarinder Singh on Monday ordered extension of the state-wide curfew till April 14 and directed foolproof sealing of the state’s borders. Singh also promised special insurance for Punjab Police personnel and sanitation workers engaged in the anti-COVID battle, an official statement said here.

He asked Finance Minister Manpreet Badal to come out with a contingency financial plan, to overcome the COVID-19 crisis, and ensure an uninterrupted supply of medical items and essentials commodities in the current battle against coronavirus.

The chief minister also allowed the Local Bodies Department to extend, by three months, the services of 2000-odd sanitation workers, due to retire on March 31, in order to deal with the prevailing situation.

During a video conference to discuss and review the current situation in the light of the COVID-19 crisis and the curfew restrictions in the state, Singh also asked all concerned departments to intensify their efforts to check the spread of the disease, and ensure that all essential supplies and services are maintained.

He also ordered strict enforcement of the curfew, especially in rural areas, amid reports that gatherings continued to take place in villages.

All restrictions should be strictly enforced till April 14, after which the state will decide in line with the further decisions of the Government of India, said Amarinder, adding that the lockdown was the only way to prevent the spread of the disease.

Additional Chief Secretary ACS Vini Mahajan informed the meeting that mobile testing vans are being made operational to increase testing in Punjab.

Giving details of the state’s preparedness, she disclosed that 65 more ventilators, more than 1.5 lakh PPE kits and over 47,000 N-95 masks, as well as 13 lakh more triple layer masks have been ordered to augment the inventory of available equipment.

She said that manpower for 20,000 beds have been identified on the Health Department portal from among the public.

Earlier, the chief minister accepted DGP Dinkar Gupta ‘s proposal to seal the state’s borders to check the inflow of people, especially from Haryana.

Amarinder made it clear that while no general relaxation have been provided to industry and brick kilns to resume operations, they have been told they could utilise the services of the migrant labourers if they could provide food and shelter to them. VSD CHS HMB RAX RAX RAX

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