Keep religious gatherings below 50: Punjab CM

Chandigarh, March 18 (IANS) Even as the state geared up to launch a door-to-door awareness campaign from Thursday, Punjab Chief Minister Amarinder Singh on Wednesday appealed to religious organisations and ‘dera' heads to keep gatherings under 50 to check the spread of coronavirus.

An official statement quoting the Chief Minister said while Punjab with one confirmed case so far is safe, it could not afford to be complacent in the face of the globally spreading coronavirus pandemic.

The state was also mulling giving bail to those convicted for minor offences and parole to those who had spent considerable time in jail, said Amarinder Singh, pointing out that the Supreme Court had talked about decongesting the prisons.

The final decision would, however, depend on the courts and Advocate General Atul Nanda was taking up the matter with the Chief Justice of the Punjab and Haryana High Court, he added.

COVID-2019 had spread as an epidemic in many countries and the threat of a similar crisis looms large over India, said Amarinder Singh, adding his government was taking all possible measures to stop the disease from spreading further.

Strict monitoring is being conducted of all those arriving from high-risk countries and so far and 116 suspected cases have been tested, he said.

The Chief Minister said his government was also ready to look into providing mid-day meals to students at homes or, alternatively, putting money into their accounts, though no such request had been received so far.

Even as he reiterated his appeal to people to avoid large gatherings and comply strictly with the state government's directives to limit gatherings to 50 people, the Chief Minister also appealed to religious organisations to keep gatherings at 50 or even less to avert any exigency.

Noting that mortality rate was higher among senior citizens and those with compromised immunity, he urged such people to take extra precautions, with their families also taking special care against the outbreak.

Appreciating the hard work of the doctors and other medical staff engaged in fighting the problem, Amarinder Singh said the state had adequate life-support system and medicines.

A total of 1,700 isolation beds were available, with the entire hostel of Gyan Sagar Medical College in Rajpura town dedicated for the purpose.



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