Punjab Chief Minister Captain Amarinder Singh on Thursday rolled out a new initiative, involving youth, to take forward the state’s Mission Fateh 2.0 as part of the ‘Corona Mukt Punjab Abhiyan’ (Covid-free Punjab Campaign), with directions to form groups of seven Rural Corona Volunteers (RCVs) per village or municipal ward as a cadre to fight the pandemic.
With the villages more badly affected in the second wave of Covid, it was important to drive a strong campaign for “Corona Mukt Pind”, he said, directing the Department of Sports & Youth Affairs and DCs to immediately form such RCVs to be the torchbearers in the war against the contagion. Existing clubs can also become RCVs, he said, adding that these could work as a powerful support system for the Panchayats and Municipalities in the war against COVID.
Interacting with youth from rural and urban areas through video conferencing, the Chief Minister said as a result of the support of the people, the number of cases in the state had come down from around 9000 to 4000+ in a matter of about three weeks. But given the impact on rural areas this time, the situation continues to be grave, he said.
The Chief Minister tasked the RCVs with carrying forward the 3Ts drive (Test, Trace and Treat), taking care of poor and elderly and connecting them to the Covid Control Rooms and helplines, conducting Theekri Pehras in all villages, promoting Covid appropriate behaviour, assisting villagers in accessing adequate healthcare, discouraging Quacks, encouraging download of COVA App, besides preparing and displaying banners and pamphlets.
The youth could also play a big role also in countering rumours and false propaganda on social media, he said, adding that the state government will extend full support to them to fight the pandemic “and save Punjab together.” He also urged the RCVs to spread awareness among the people in rural areas on the proper protocols to be followed for Covid treatment, given the spread of black/white fungus due to high usage of steroids.
The Chief Minister announced that beginning today, the Department of Youth Affairs has started distributing 1 Lakh Badges and 4 Lakh Car Stickers carrying the message “I AM VACCINATED”, and urged the RCVs to encourage people to flaunt their Vaccination Status. It will display the spread of our vaccination coverage and motivate others too, he added.
As a reward for their participation in the war against Corona, every RCV will be given a Sports Kit, to be distributed on August 12 (International Youth Day), said the Chief Minister, directing the Department of Sports & Youth Affairs to immediately commence the procurement of 15,000 kits.
While expressing the hope that Mission 2.0 would be the last battle in the war against Covid, the Chief Minister, however, underlined the need to be prepared for a third wave. Drawing an analogy with the Army, he said “the enemy should never be considered weak, and we should be prepared to fight.”
Expressing concern over vaccine shortage, the Chief Minister said the state government was trying to procure vaccines from all possible sources to meet the sudden demand as more and more people were realizing that this was the only protection against the pandemic, especially in view of the fast-spreading strain that originated in UK.
The event was simultaneously telecast in all districts, sub-divisional headquarters, as well as 500 rural and urban locations, presided over by Speaker, Deputy Speaker, Ministers, MPs, MLAs, DCs, SDMs, Mayors, Presidents of MCs, Chairmen and Members of Zila Parishads, and Panchayat Samitis/Sarpanches.
On the occasion, Youth icon and Brand Ambassador of State’s Covid Vaccine Campaign, Sonu Sood underscored the need to create awareness amongst people especially in rural areas about the importance of vaccination. He said he will personally try to ensure maximum vaccine supply from Bharat Biotech for the state. He also evinced interest in setting up a medical oxygen plant in Government Hospital, Moga.
Health Minister Balbir Sidhu expressed concern over the spread of black fungus, for which the state had received only 1000 doses as against the required 15000 (15 doses need to be injected into one patient). A total of around 1.4 Crore individuals (37 lakh households) had already been screened in the villages as part of the drive to fight Covid in the rural areas, he disclosed, adding that 4000 of these individuals had been found positive and had been assisted as per protocols, while 462 moderately serious ones had been referred to L2 facilities. He also pointed to the death of several patients after recovery, underlining the need for ramping up testing and sampling to ensure early identification and treatment. It was also a matter of concern that 191 pregnant women had been found infected among those screened so far. Further, said the health minister, action had been taken against several hospitals for overcharging and money had been refunded by them.
Youth & Sports Service Minister Rana Gurmit Singh Sodhi said all the 13,857 registered youth clubs in the state would be engaged in creating awareness amongst the people for maximum vaccination and timely treatment of infected persons. He lauded the role of youth in sensitising the masses about the harmful effects of corona and need for proper adherence to health protocols last year through door to door campaign.
Indian Youth Congress Punjab president Barinder Singh Dhillon said the state’s youth were ready to take on the responsibility as part of the party’s ‘Farz Manukhta Lai’ (Duty for Humanity), but suggested some form of recognition by the government for their efforts.
Chief Secretary Vini Mahajan said the energy of youth could be significantly channelised to combat the corona crisis, with their active participation to motivate the people residing in villages to go for vaccination and for proper healthcare.
Health Advisor to Punjab Government Dr. KK Talwar said youth could play a meaningful role in the villages to effectively combat the Covid-19 by creating awareness about seeking proper treatment/testing from government community and primary health centres. Besides, youth could also impress upon the people, especially in rural areas, not to get themselves treated from quacks.
Participating in the programme, five youth volunteers (Charanjit Singh Gill from village Sardullapur in Kapurthala district, Senior Vice Chairman Punjab Youth Development Board Prince Khullar, Ruchi Sharma President Mata Khivi Club, Aklian village in Mansa district, Gurlal Singh of Nehru Yuva Kendra, Chak Saido Ke village in Fazilka district and NCC volunteer Nirbhai Jot Kaur from Government College, Mohali) assured the Chief Minister of their full support and cooperation in the battle against Coronavirus at the grass roots level.