Punjab Chief Minister Amarinder Singh on Monday warned people against laxity in adherence to the curbs imposed in the State, and said if the situation did not improve, he would be forced to consider a total lockdown.
The Chief Minister said he had so far refrained from ordering a sweeping lockdown in the State because it will hurt the poor the most and would lead to exodus of migrant labourers, plunging industries into chaos again. However, if the people do not stringently comply with the restrictions in place, harsher steps might have to be taken, he added.
Captain Amarinder also appealed to the Centre for more oxygen tankers to be made available to the State, which did not have enough tankers to transport the critical commodity for saving lives of seriously ill COVID-19 patients.
At a COVID-19 review meeting, he said the State urgently needs more tankers, as it currently has only 15 at its disposal, with two more likely to join the fleet by Tuesday. These, he said, were not enough to handle the requirement for transporting oxygen coming in from other States.
Punjab has 195 metric tonnes (MT) allocation from various plants in other States, but the actual supply received over the past 7 days has been around 110-120 MT daily, which has also been erratic, the Chief Minister noted. In this period, the number of patients on oxygen support has gone up from 4,000 to around 9,000, and though the State government’s steps to monitor and streamline supplies through its controls rooms has helped in keeping things stable, the situation remains fluid and a matter of concern, he added.
Increase in demand
The current consumption of oxygen in the State is more than 225 MT daily, while the average increase in demand every day is around 15-20%.
Chief Secretary Vini Mahajan told the meeting that in addition to the shortage of tankers available with transporters in the State, the fact that a tanker takes around 4-5 days to bring the 90 MT allocated quota from Bokaro plant has made things worse.