Open House: Is the state well-prepared this time to ward off the Covid threat?


Health Dept needs to pull up its socks

China seems to have messed up its Covid handling strategy with its zero-Covid policy. The increase in the number of Covid cases in China has triggered a flurry in the Union Health Ministry. All states have been alerted and public health advisories issued. Surveillance has been increased with the mandatory testing of travellers arriving from certain countries. However, all this will be ineffective unless citizens behave in a responsible manner. For the next few weeks, let us be a little more cautious than we have been in the past few months and adhere to Covid-appropriate behaviour. For India there is no room for complacency as Covid is not over yet. The outbreak in China and Japan might have prompted the Health Ministry to issue guidelines to states, but we can’t afford to lower our guard. Even though the number of cases in India is less than the earlier waves because of our vaccination programme, the moot point is that we have not done well in the booster dose programme. Many countries, including the US, have updated their vaccination programme in view of emerging new variants. India may need to consider another vaccine dose for those who are more at risk. With the economy showing signs of improvement, the country can’t afford another lockdown. Perhaps, it is the right time for the Centre to place bulk orders for booster doses. The Health Department of the state must pull its socks up to avoid any unfortunate situation.

LJ Singh

State must take every possible step

After seeing an increase in the number of cases of the new Covid variant — BF.7 — in China, India put restrictions on travellers coming from six countries, including China. The Union Government is alert. The Government of India has asked the states to be ready to protect the people from the looming threat of Covid. Almost all the states in India have been alerted to protect their people. Punjab is also fully aware of the looming threat of the new variant of Covid. The Health Minister of the state gave orders to take 10,000 samples per day. The Punjab Health Department has asked its officials to step up the number of daily tests to 10,000 in the state. Instructions have also been issued to all civil surgeons in the state to ensure that the samples of all positive cases should be sent for genome sequencing. All the Deputy Commissioners have been told to take stock of the situation in their districts.

Sucha Sagar

Need to ensure preparedness

The level of preparedness of the state can be ascertained by inspecting the availability of adequate medical facilities at public health institutions. The government and health professionals must show the willingness to act in a dutiful manner, and ensure no discrepancies in pharmaceutical records, Covid-related data. People must adhere to Covid guidelines, norms and be prepared to extend a helping hand to others if the need arises.

Anshika Kohli

People should follow Covid guidelines

As the Covid situation was improving, various countries lifted most Covid-related restrictions. In India too, life had returned to normal after a long time. But the emergence of another variant in China has made the world wary again. Recently around 1% of the RT-PCR tested overseas arrivals to our country have been reported to be positive, putting the administration on its toes once again. Certain guidelines have been put in place for travellers from countries with high rates of infection, such as China. Random testing is also being done. The Central Government has issued an advisory to the states to be prepared to face any eventuality. Maybe the chance of a serious threat low, yet we cannot be complacent as the disease has caused several casualties in the past. To be on the safe side, the masses should practise Covid-appropriate behaviour.

Nirmaljit Singh Chatrath

Ensure availability of medicines

We all remember how Covid had devastated our economy in the past. Naturally, the news of a new Covid variant has caused panic. But people do not seem to take any precautionary step anymore. We see people gather at social events in large numbers. They often don’t even wash their hands. Posts of doctor and nurse have been lying vacant, and the state government has not been able to fill those vacancies. While it is true that India has played a key role in the world as far as the availability of medicines is concerned, however, the distribution of medicines remains a matter of concern in rural India. Let us hope that this time the departments concerned act in time to check the spread of the disease.

Harvinder Singh Chugh

Covid threat being politicised

It is interesting how the Modi government is sounding the Covid alarm again amid Rahul Gandhi’s padyatra from Kanyakumari to Kashmir. No doubt Covid has been resurging again in some parts of the world, but as far as India is concerned, no such threat is prevalent. There is no Covid threat from China. Around 90 per cent of the Indian population already has hybrid immunity. Notably, during the West Bengal elections last year, Modi and Amit Shah used to address huge crowds at rallies. As a result, Covid-19 spread far and wide in India. So, why are BJP leaders now expressing their displeasure over Rahul Gandhi’s yatra.

Dr JS Wadhwa

Make people aware of precautionary steps

The state seems to be well prepared this time to ward off the Covid threat as many preparation and initiatives have been taken to tackle the situation. The Punjab Government has stated that it would set up a state-level control room to deal with any exigency arising out of the current situation. The government also claims that the state has evolved an effective mechanism to cope with new wave of Covid if it arises. Moreover, the state’s medical and para-medical staff are better equipped this time to face a rise in the number of cases. Other than this, the most important initiative is to make each and every citizen aware of the precautionary measures such as wearing masks, washing hands, maintaining social distances, taking care of elderly and maintaining hygiene.

Jasleen Kaur

Immunisation is the only way out

Almost all developed countries are experiencing an increase in number of Covid cases. The number of fatalities is almost zero. China also has realised its flawed zero-Covid policy. We have to live with the virus, therefore, there will not be a virus-free world. Therefore, the only way to protect ourselves is to get immunised. Fortunately, most of us have acquired herd immunity because of exposure to the virus. Besides, more than 70 per cent of the Indian population has now received the recommended dose of the vaccination. As such there is little likelihood of a fourth wave in India. National and state-level meetings and mock drills inadvertently fuelled rumours about the imposition of Covid-19 restrictions. As things stand today, people need not worry at all. The responsibility lies on the shoulders of the Union Government and the state government. All government hospitals have now adequate number of beds and ventilators. Doctors and nurses are also well protected. Amritsar district had no fresh case as on January 4. However, the policy to vaccinate, test, trace and treat should continue throughout the country. Our reaction to what happens in other countries should be evidence-based.

Prof Mohan Singh

Recruit new staff to tackle virus

It seems that the state is not well-prepared this time to ward off the Covid threat. This is due to the fact that in hospitals, staff employed for taking care of Covid patients has been laid off and new staff has not been recruited. Moreover, this time people are taking the virus lightly. They are not wearing masks and paying heed to social distancing guidelines. In such a scenario there is a risk that the Covid might spiral out of control.

Sanjay Chawla

Need to take preventive measures

In 2020, the Covid-19 brought the world to a standstill with the cancellation of international and domestic flights. A nationwide lockdown was imposed in India. Life slowly returned to normal later. But a new Covid-19 variant in China has really put the world in a dilemma again. Will countries reimpose restrictions? It is now the real test of the vaccines used in India. With more than 130 crore people living in India, what measures will be adopted to check the spread of the new Covid variant. What impact will the new variant have on the patients who have been taken all doses of the Covid vaccine. The consumption of healthy food items is the reason why Indians have a strong immune system. It is important for the government to stay alert. Taking preventive steps can help check the spread of the new Covid variant.

Rajat Kumar Mohindru

Ensure effective surveillance

Subsequent to the Centre’s detailed guidelines to states in response to the threats of new Covid variants, follow-up steps taken by the Punjab Government appear to be satisfactory. However, the state needs to remain ever prepared to deal with any eventuality by keeping the health infrastructure fully operational. Constant and effective surveillance needs to be maintained at all international passengers entering the state. The vaccination drive needs to be rejuvenated in the light of the latest developments. The administration should ensure that people are aware of Covid-appropriate behaviour.

Jagdish Chander


With temperature falling down and intense weather conditions gripping the city, what steps do you think the administration should take to protect the homeless from the biting cold?

Suggestions in not more than 200 words can be sent to by Thursday (January 12)