Chandigarh: With the state preparing for a projected spike in coronavirus cases, Punjab Chief Minister Amarinder Singh on Friday ordered strict enforcement of the compulsory wearing of masks in the public and asked the police to take stringent action, including imposition of fines, against the violators. Also Read - COVID-19: India Records Lowest Daily Spike in Cases in Three Months, Recovery Rate Goes Beyond 90% | 10 Points

Chairing a virtual review of the Covid-19 situation, he made it clear that no compromise would be allowed and every resident would have to mandatorily wear a mask when stepping out of home in order to contain the pandemic. Also Read - COVID-19: How Long Does The Novel Coronavirus Last on Different Surfaces?

He directed the police to impose fines on those found moving around without masks, home-made or otherwise, in the public places under the provisions of the Epidemic Act. Also Read - Maharashtra Deputy Chief Minister Ajit Pawar Tests Positive for COVID-19

The Chief Minister also issued strict directives for protection of all employees while on duty, including health, agriculture, police and revenue department staff, in the light of the death of a kanungo (revenue official) owing to coronavirus.

They should be provided personal protection equipment (PPE) kits and other necessary protective gear, he said, while ordering strict adherence to the guidelines issued by the state’s expert medical committee for the protection of workers.

Additional Chief Secretary Vini Mahajan, who heads the Procurement Committee for Covid-19 related purchases, said there was no shortage now of such equipment in the state, and all employees and staff working on the battle frontlines would be taken care of.

She said of the 4.5 lakh PPE kits ordered, 26,500 have been received with 30,000 more expected to come between now and next week.

In addition, there were sufficient stocks of masks, gloves etc, she said.

Amarinder Singh directed the Health Department to launch rapid testing in all the 24 containment zones of the state.

Four districts — Jalandhar, Pathankot, Nawanshahr and Mohali — have been declared hotspot districts as per the Union Health Ministry.

The state had so far been conducting these tests in Jalandhar and Mohali.

Health Secretary Anurag Aggarwal said as part of the combat strategy, the department was putting all 24 containment zones on the COVA app with no services to be allowed to operate in these areas.

The number of ventilators in government medical colleges is being ramped from 102 to 220, he said.

Mahajan said the state has received 10,000 of the 101,000 lakh rapid diagnostic kits (RDKs) ordered from the Indian Council of Medical Research.

She said the state is geared up for 30 days and preparing for a projected spike.

Local private manufacturers were supporting the government with Make in Punjab initiatives that had led to several companies getting approvals for PPE kits, masks etc, so that the state had no shortage of essential medical equipment, she added.

Expressing concern over incidents of family members not willing to cremate victims of the coronavirus, the Chief Minister directed the Health Secretary to ensure that all guidelines for the management of the bodies of the deceased, and for their cremation, are strictly complied with, in line with the protocols provided for safety.

The Health Secretary said if the family is not coming forward for the cremation, or there is no claimant after 48 hours of death, the local administration has been mandated to take care of it.

Health Minister Balbir Sidhu said normal OPDs have started functioning in most hospitals to take care of non-Covid patients.

On the high mortality rate in the state, K.K. Talwar, government’s advisor on health issues, said it was on account of the higher prevalence of comorbidities and high risk factors as well as the higher footfall of international tourist and NRIs.