Punjab Chief Minister Amarinder Singh on Sunday said though the coronavirus situation was under control in the state, people can't be allowed to violate safety protocols.
Responding to questions during the latest Facebook live edition of Ask Captain, he made an impassioned appeal to people to strictly adhere to the safety measures to save themselves, their families and the state.
The CM said the COVID situation in Punjab had so far been manageable due to a strict lockdown imposed in the state, according to a government release.
However, he said it had become essential now to ease some of the restrictions, but that did not mean that people could be allowed to violate the safety protocols.
He termed as unfortunate the large number of violations being reported, forcing police to take strict action.
Singh said on Friday alone, 4,600 challans were issued for the failure to wear masks in public. He said 160 challans were issued for spitting and around two dozen for not adhering to social distancing norms.
Such irresponsible behaviour could not be permitted as it could push Punjab on the same path as many other states in India, he warned, pointing out that with 2.5 per cent of the country's population, the state was currently contributing a mere 0.5 per cent of the coronavirus cases.
On the state's roadmap to handle the pandemic, the CM said Punjab's situation has been under control so far but the state government was not taking any chances.
In the first stage, 4,248 beds in government hospitals were set aside, he said, adding that another 2,014 now being available while private hospitals have allocated 950 beds for virus patients.
Of the 554 ventilators available, only one was in use till Saturday, said the CM, adding that in addition to the equipment already handed over to hospitals and other frontline workers, the Health Department has a stock of 4,88,000 N95 masks, 64 lakh triple-layer masks, 2,28,000 PPE kits and 2,223 oxygen cylinders.
Responding to a complaint that private hospitals were charging exorbitantly for admitting COVID patients, the CM said he will ask the medical department to check it. He, however, urged people to go to government hospitals equipped with the best-in-class facilities and staff.
To a question regarding problems faced by farmers in the sowing of paddy due to a shortage of workers, the CM said less than five lakh of the total 13 lakh migrant labourers have left the state.
With over eight lakh migrant workers still here, along with the state's own local labour, there is no problem in the fields or in the industrial units, he said.
Singh also assured that sugarcane arrears of cooperative sugar mills were being expeditiously cleared by the state government.
Singh assured that his government will try to provide more relief to power consumers next year as the current situation had constrained the power utility, which despite the cash crunch had announced domestic power tariff cuts for the poor and small consumers.