COVID-19 will peak in mid-September, could affect 80% of India: Amarinder

COVID-19 will peak in mid-September, could affect 80% of India: Amarinder

Weighing in on the need to extend the nationwide lockdown, Punjab Chief Minister Amarinder Singh on Friday painted a grim picture for India with regard to the spread of COVID-19, saying experts have projected that the disease would peak in India by mid-September and flatten out only by November.

“It is estimated that 80-85 per cent of India will be affected. These are horrendous figures. We have to go by what the scientists and the medical faculty are saying,” Amarinder said in a media briefing.

“Things are not good. It is our duty to ensure the infection is kept under check as much as possible,” he said, quoting studies done by the John Hopkins University and the University of Boston.

He also referred to a report prepared by PGI, Chandigarh, which said that the disease is expected to peak in mid-September, when around 58 per cent of the people in the country are likely to be infected. He said the state is gearing up for the different phases of the spread of the disease. In the first phase, it aims at having 2,000 beds and the necessary equipment, which would be scaled up to 10,000 beds, which will be increased to 30,000 beds and then to 1 lakh beds.

The Punjab chief minister said that the lockdown restrictions will be relaxed for the farming community to enable procurement of the Rabi crops that are ready for harvesting. “Harvesting of crops will begin from April 15. We are expecting a bumper harvest, and we have to be prepared for that. To prevent congestion, we have increased the number of mandis from 1,800 to 3,800,” he said. The harvesting exercise is expected to be completed by May 31.

Punjab has so far reported 132 confirmed cases of COVID-19 and 11 deaths. As many as 27 cases were reported on Thursday, which Amarinder described as “secondary transmission”.

He said the challenge before the Punjab government was the huge number of people who came back from abroad. Around 95,000 people returned to the state, and they were the primary source of infection in the state. He said that the people who participated at the event in Markaz Nizamuddin formed the next big group that could spread the disease. As many as 651 people who had attended the Tablighi Jamaat function came to Punjab, out of which 636 have been traced.

On the issue of testing, Amarinder said so far 2,877 people have been tested, which is inadequate considering the population of the state. Rapid mass testing is expected to begin from Monday, when the state gets its first lot of the new test kits, he said.

Amarinder stressed on the need for the states to get greater financial assistance from the Centre to fight COVID-19, saying the Rs 15,000 crore announced by the Union government was nothing going by the population of the country.

Amarinder informed that two agencies in Ludhiana have started manufacturing PPE kits, and it will start supplying around 5,000 kits every day from Monday onwards. He said the surplus kits will be offered to other states.

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