Punjab Chief Minister Amarinder Singh on Monday announced a three-month extension of services for all retiring doctors and specialists amid the spike in coronavirus cases and deaths in the state.
According to an earlier cabinet decision, these doctors were given extension till September 30. It has now been extended till December 31, the chief minister said in a statement here.
He also asked the chief secretary to expedite the process of recruitment of technicians and laboratory assistants to cope with the exponential demand of medical services amid the pandemic.
During a virtual meeting to review the coronavirus situation with officials and medical, health experts, Singh said the health department is already supporting government medical colleges with specialist manpower pending recruitment by the medical education department.
The chief minister also directed officials to set up committees under deputy commissioners for distribution of food packets to the poor who are in home-isolation or are quarantined, to encourage testing as such families generally refrain from getting themselves tested for coronavirus out of fear of losing their livelihood.
It has also been decided that government hospitals will now permit serious coronavirus patients with special dietary requirement to be provided homemade food if they want, the chief minister said.
To alleviate psychological stress, the government will enable video calls between hospitalised COVID-19 patients in serious condition and their family members, Singh said.
The chief minister has directed all government labs to start providing the Cycle Threshold (CT) value of an RT-PCR test as it can give useful information to doctors treating a coronavirus patient.
To ensure regular monitoring of patients in home isolation, especially those above 40 years, Singh asked the health department to put in place a system of ensuring their clinical progress to check any sudden deterioration of their condition.
COVID patient tracking officers have been appointed in each district to ensure that those afflicted by the viral disease receive due care, he said.
Expressing concern over the delayed testing, the chief minister urged the departments concerned to aggressively reach out to people to go for testing at the first sign of coronavirus symptoms.
The directions came as active cases in the state stood at 16,156 as on September 6, with a cumulative fatality rate of 2.9 per cent and deaths per million at 62.
The average COVID-19 positivity for the week from August 26 to September 3 was 9.42 per cent, health secretary Hussan Lal informed the meeting, adding that tracing of contacts per infected person has increased to 4.4 per case during the August 27 September 3 period.
Chief Secretary Vini Mahajan said COVID-19 cases and fatalities witnessed a steady increase in the past few days. The situation was being monitored on a day-to-day basis, she said.