Punjab Chief Minister Captain Amarinder Singh on Saturday made both doses of COVID-19 vaccination or negative RTPCR report mandatory for all those entering the state from August 16.
Strict monitoring will be done particularly of those coming from Himachal Pradesh and Jammu, which are showing increased positivity.
Amid reports of COVID-19 cases in schools, the Chief Minister has also directed that only fully vaccinated teaching and non-teaching staff, or those recently recovered from COVID, should physically teach in schools and colleges, with an online learning option to remain available to all children.
He further ordered prioritisation of teachers and non-teaching staff for vaccination, with special camps to be held to ensure that all are covered with the first dose within this month and those due for the 2nd dose to be also prioritised. Health Minister Balbir Singh Sidhu suggested reducing the gap between the two doses to prioritise the second dose for teachers and other school staff.
The directives came at a Covid review meeting chaired by Captain Amarinder Singh, who expressed concern about the positivity in Himachal Pradesh and other parts of the country, which has caused positivity in Punjab to also increase marginally to 0.2 per cent in the last week, with RO going up to 1.05 per cent. The Cambridge study has also predicted that cases are likely to double in the next 64 days, he warned, announcing new restrictions in addition to those already in force.
The Chief Minister has ordered at least 10,000 test samples of students and staff from schools to be undertaken every day. Districts, where positivity is above 0.2 per cent, have been asked to shut down physical education for Classes 4 and below until the situation improves.
The rule on full vaccination or negative RTPCR report will apply to all those entering Punjab by road, rail or air, announced the Chief Minister, adding that if a person is found to not have
either of these, Rapid Antigen Test shall be mandatory unless he or she has recently recovered from Covid.
On schools, which have recently reopened for certain classes in the state, the Chief Minister said while there were some reports of high positivity in schools, the fact was that intensive testing had shown that the positivity amongst school students is 0.1 per cent against the overall positivity of 0.2 per cent in the past one week.
Since 9th August, 41 students and one staff member in government schools were tested positive.
Calling for the strict vigil, he directed the concerned departments to ensure that only fully vaccinated teaching as well as non-teaching staff shall physically teach in schools and colleges. In case the whole teaching staff is not fully vaccinated, those who are fully vaccinated can attend to the students in the school and virtual classes can be taken by teachers who are not fully vaccinated.
The number of students should be suitably curtailed if enough fully vaccinated teachers are not available, ordered the Chief Minister, directing schools to allow seating of only one child per bench.
Captain Amarinder Singh said parents of school-going children should also be encouraged to immediately get vaccinated in order to enable physical learning in schools without any interruptions.
The Chief Minister further noted that post-Covid care was now available at all GMCHs and District Hospitals.