Punjab Chief Minister Captain Amarinder Singh (File photo)
The Punjab government on May 16 unveiled a unique "Covid Fateh programme", as part of the "Corona Mukt Pind Abhiyaan" to tackle the spread of COVID-19 infections in rural areas amid the ongoing second pandemic wave.
Punjab Chief Minister Captain Amarinder Singh, while announcing the scheme, stressed that there is a need to "avoid the kind of situation that was prevailing in the villages of Uttar Pradesh", an official press release said.
Terming it a "war" that needed the involvement of all sections of the community, the chief minister directed the Health and Rural Development Departments to spearhead the campaign with large-scale mobilisation of the community in the villages.
Also Read | PM Narendra Modi warns virus spreading to rural areas
The entire staff should be utilised to spread awareness among the villagers on the dangers of COVID-19, he said, adding that the "health and wellness clinics should become the fulcrum", and community health offficers, panchayats, school teachers, anganwadi and ASHA workers, village police officers, youth volunteers etc. must be mobilised on a large scale to steer the programme.
"The guardians of governance and the police force should work closely to make this programme a success, he said, adding that the idea is to not just spread awareness and dispel any myths but also ensure that there is adequate sampling, vaccination, etc. carried out in the rural areas," the press release added.
According to the Punjab CM, the casual attitude of the people towards symptoms like cold and cough, which they do not report timely, is "the biggest issue" which prevents early identification of the infected persons.
Symptomatic persons should be given basic medicines like paracetamol and cough syrup, and Vitamin C, at their doorsteps, he directed, and said they should be encouraged to get tested and supported in home isolation if they test positive.
Also Read | Union Health Ministry issues guidelines on COVID-19 management in peri-urban, rural and tribal areas
Singh directed the health department to provide additional rapid antigen test (RAT) kits exclusively for the purpose of testing in rural areas. The department should also consider opening Covid Care Centers where ever required, with the support of NGOs, he said.
Punjab is one of the state hit severely by second COVID-19 wave in India. At a positivity rate of 9.4 percent, the state reported 6,867 new cases on May 15. The corresponding period of 24 hours also witnessed 217 deaths due to the contagious disease.
The state's cumulative count of coronavirus infections has surged to 4,90,755, and the death toll has climbed to 11,693. In view of the prevailing coronavirus situation, the state government has extended the stringent COVID-19 curbs till May 31.