Chandigarh, Aug 14 (IANS) Punjab Chief Minister Amarinder Singh on Saturday ordered mandatory full Covid-19 vaccination or negative RT-PCR report for all those entering the state from Monday, with strict monitoring particularly of those coming from Himachal Pradesh and Jammu, which are showing increased positivity.Amid reports of Covid cases in schools, the Chief Minister has also directed that only fully vaccinated teaching and non-teaching staff, or those recently recovered from Covid, should physically teach in schools and colleges, with online learning option to remain available to all children.He further ordered prioritisation of teachers and non-teaching staff for vaccination, with special camps to be held to ensure that all are covered with the first dose within this month and those due for the second dose to be also prioritised.Health Minister Balbir Singh Sidhu suggested reducing the gap between the two doses to prioritise second dose for teachers and other school staff.The directives came at a Covid review meeting chaired by Amarinder Singh, who expressed concern about the positivity in Himachal Pradesh and other parts of the country, which has caused positivity in Punjab to also increase marginally to 0.2 per cent in the last week, with RO going up to 1.05 per cent.The Cambridge study has also predicted that cases are likely to double in the next 64 days, he warned, announcing new restrictions in addition to those already in force.The Chief Minister has ordered at least 10,000 test samples of students and staff from schools to be undertaken every day. Districts and cities where positivity is above 0.2 per cent have been asked to shut down physical education for class 4 and below until the situation improves.The rule on full vaccination or negative RTPCR report will apply to all those entering Punjab by road, rail or air, announced the Chief Minister, adding that if a person is found to not have either of these, RAT testing shall be mandatory, unless he/she has recently recovered from Covid.On schools, which have recently reopened for certain classes in the state, the Chief Minister said while there were some reports of high positivity in schools, the fact was that intensive testing had shown that the positivity amongst school students is 0.1 per cent against overall positivity of 0.2 per cent in the past one week.Since August 9, at least 41 students and one staff member in government schools have tested positive.Calling for strict vigil, he directed the departments concerned to ensure that only fully vaccinated teaching as well as non-teaching staff shall physically teach in schools and colleges.In case the whole teaching staff is not fully vaccinated, those who are fully vaccinated can attend to the students in the school and virtual classes can be taken by teachers who are not fully vaccinated.The number of students should be suitably curtailed if enough fully vaccinated teachers are not available, ordered the Chief Minister, directing schools to allow seating of only one child per bench.--IANSvg/in
Hyderabad, Aug 13 (IANS) At a time when India, like the rest of the world, is in the grip of the Covid-19 pandemic, bringing into focus the huge inadequacies in the already fragile healthcare system in the country, revival of the family doctor system is one idea which can go a long way in improving healthcare delivery, feels eminent physician P. Raghu Ram.The leading breast cancer surgeon is of the view that revival of family doctor/general practitioner (GP) system and making them the first point of contact for the patients for any sickness or for preventive visit will ensure that expensive hospital resources are used on those who need them the most. "The once upon a time ubiquitous family doctor/GP concept has almost become extinct in the country. Most 'worried well' who are asymptomatic, and equally, those with minor common ailments rush to the hospitals, which are already overwhelmed with sick patients," the Padma Shri awardee doctor told IANS. He cited the 2020 report of the Medical Council of India, which says that around 44,000 postgraduate seats are available for 55,000 doctors who graduate every year. "In other words, the vast majority will become specialists. It is indeed an irony that the new MBBS curriculum does not even include a mention about the family doctor/GP concept in its voluminous 890-page document. There are not many applicants for the 'Family Medicine' DNB postgraduate courses conducted by the National Board of Examinations because the number of centres accredited to train doctors wishing to pursue a career as a family physician are few and far between," said Raghu Ram, Director, KIMS-Ushalakshmi Centre for Breast Diseases, Hyderabad. The doctor, who recently received the Order of British Empire (OBE), pointed out that the concept of visiting the family doctor/GP before a patient sees a specialist is the standard practice in the UK's National Health Service (NHS). "The GP is the principal treating doctor who manages most minor issues sensibly based upon evidence and refers patients to specialist centres only when needed. An effective primary care sorts the serious from the non-serious by speedy and accurate diagnosis, directs hospital referrals to the most appropriate speciality and ensures that expensive hospital resources are expended on those who will benefit the most," he said. Stating that the ongoing Covid pandemic has brought to sharp focus the huge inadequacies in India's already fragile healthcare system, he said that India must invest in training GPs in addition to popularising and sensitising young impressionable students who have joined MBBS courses about the family medicine concept."Furthermore, primary healthcare infrastructure in rural India (where more than 70 per cent of our population resides) must be strengthened so that more patients are served locally by GPs, thus obviating the arduous and time consuming task of travelling long distances for assessment/treatment," he said. "GPs must be 'gatekeepers' of our healthcare system. They should be the first point of contact for patients for any sickness or preventive visit. The UK's NHS model of providing universal primary healthcare through public-private partnership (PPP) may be appropriate for adaptation in the Indian context. Most healthcare in India is provided by the private sector and there is a robust potential for private sector involvement in improving primary healthcare delivery in the country," he added. Raghu Ram wants to see the Government of India initiate concrete and implementable measures to ensure that the family doctor concept is revived. "It is time to make primary healthcare in the country more innovative, inclusive, collaborative and sustainable. An important component of the Hippocratic Oath is to 'keep the good of the patient as the highest priority' and this landmark step would pave the path in this direction by ensuring well controlled uniform effective healthcare to the citizenry," said Raghu Ram. Among the foremost surgeons in the Asia Pacific region, Raghu Ram established South Asia's first comprehensive Breast Health Centre and founded a charitable foundation to raise awareness about the importance of early detection of breast cancer nationwide. Immediate past president of the Association of Surgeons of India (ASI), he is a Fellow of the American College of Surgeons and all four surgical Royal Colleges in the British Isles - Edinburgh, England, Glasgow & Ireland.He was conferred the Honorary FRCS by the Royal College of Surgeons of Thailand (2019), Honorary Fellowship of the College of Surgeons of Sri Lanka (2020), and is the only surgeon of Indian origin in over 100 years to be conferred the Fellowship of the Association of Surgeons of Great Britain & Ireland (2021). --IANS ms/arm
Ottawa, Aug 13 (IANS) Canada is suffering a fourth wave of the Covid-19 pandemic as variants of the virus continue to spread in the country, said Canada's Chief Public Health Officer Theresa Tam on Thursday.Tam told a press conference that the country's national case count has taken a turn for the worse since late July, the Xinhua news agency reported.Canada on Thursday reported 2,138 new cases of Covid-19, bringing the cumulative total to 1,447,439 cases, including 26,692 deaths, according to CTV.Ontario, the most populous province of Canada, logged 513 new cases on Thursday, the first time over 500 cases since mid-June. The last time Ontario reported more than 500 cases of Covid-19 in a single day was on June 13, when 530 cases were identified.Meanwhile, Alberta province logged 550 new cases and British Columbia province confirmed 513 new infections."We have been closely monitoring increases in Covid-19 activity across the country. The latest national surveillance data indicate that a fourth wave is underway in Canada and that cases are plotting along a strong resurgence trajectory," she said.There are currently more than 13,000 active cases in Canada, more than double the number from late July. Tam said that 1,500 new cases are being reported daily and the majority are among those aged 20 to 39."Fortunately, the number of deaths remains low, with an average of seven deaths being reported daily," she said.To reduce the impact the fourth wave could have on the healthcare system or in jeopardizing back-to-school plans, she urged more Canadians to roll up their sleeve to get vaccinated. --IANSint/rs
Chandigarh, Aug 10 (IANS) With the re-opening of schools in Punjab, 20 students from two government schools in Ludhiana city on Tuesday tested positive for Covid-19.While 12 students are from Kailash Nagar, eight are from Basti Jodhewal.District Magistrate Varinder Kumar Sharma has ordered closure of both schools till August 24.Also, testing of all students and teachers in both the schools has been ordered.--IANSvg/skp/
New Delhi, Aug 9 (IANS) India is well on the path to have one doctor per thousand population by 2024, which is the World Health Organisation (WHO) recommended doctor to population ratio, Member, NITI Aayog Dr Vinod Paul highlighted at a discourse series.During the same time, there would be an increase in the number of beds from 11 lakh to 22 lakh, Paul said."In the last 75 years, India has made significant progress in the health sector. At the time of Independence, the average life expectancy was just 28 years, and it has now reached close to 70 years. However, we are still far away from meeting the aspirations of people in terms of access to health services, and this remains a challenge," Paul observed.India has taken a number of steps to address these problems in the last six-seven years, and the results are encouraging, Paul pointed out at the online Department of Science & Technology (DST) Azadi Ka Amrit Mahotsav Discourse Series New India @ 75.It was organised by the National Council for Science & Technology Communication and Vigyan Prasar, a release said."Ayushman Bharat Yojna and Jan Arogya Yojna are the programmes that focus on providing all kinds of health facilities to people and are steps towards universal health coverage, affordability and accessibility to health facilities. Under Jan Arogya Yojna, 50 crore people are eligible now for affordable health services. By the year 2022, 150,000 primary health care centres would be in place in rural as well as urban areas of the country, and these centres would be the hubs for primary health care. We have taken various steps to address the problem of availability of human resources in health. A very significant push has been given to bridge gaps by training doctors and doubling post-graduate seats," he added.Prof Ashutosh Sharma, Secretary, DST, highlighted the contribution of DST in the development and progress of the country in the last 50 years and its efforts to make India a science, technology and innovation power in the world."DST is a nursery to help, nurture and grow young talents for the progress and development of the country. DST has the capability to create future talents, and in the last five years, we have launched a whole lot of schemes and have taken various steps to identify loopholes and rectify them to ensure that science, technology and innovation play the key role in progress and development of the country," Sharma said.--IANSniv/bg
Chandigarh, Aug 4 (IANS) Even as the season for poll manifestos seem to have begun in Punjab with the Akali Dal-Bahujan Samaj Party releasing its initial 13-point election agenda, members of 'Clean Air Punjab', which is a network of citizens and civil society organisations, on Wednesday urged parties to feature time-bound plans to tackle air pollution and public health issues.In a bid to highlight the rising air pollution as well as the serious health hazards faced by the people, a group of organisations, think tanks and civil society groups have joined hands to form 'Clean Air Punjab'.The aim of this collective is to work alongside the state authorities to help achieve clean air by ensuring all non-attainment cities across the state implement the Clean Air Action Plan.The collective has also expressed its displeasure with the Akali Dal-BSP manifesto, which was released on Tuesday, as it failed to address the issue of deteriorating air quality in the state.Air quality data reported across six of the nine non-attainment cities in Punjab suggests that particulate matter (PM10) concentrations were beyond safe limits on more than 50 per cent of the days in the first half of 2021.Punjab also recorded 41,090 deaths due to air pollution in 2019, accounting for nearly 19 per cent of all deaths, said a Down to Earth and Centre for Science and Environment annual study titled 'State of India's Environment 2021'.Samita Kaur, citizen activist from Innovative Farmers group, said despite facing its worst health crisis due to air pollution, the authorities were still not ready to accept the problem."The air quality in Punjab has been worsening to an extent where air pollution has now become a major killer. Even during the second wave of Covid-19 lockdown when most industries were shut, Punjab's air quality was still a serious matter of concern," she said, adding the state's green regions such as Fazilka and Ropar had an air quality index (AQI) of 113 and 129 respectively, which are well beyond safe standards."We need to accept that our state is in a health emergency and there is an immediate need for an intervention and prompting action to reduce the prevalent severe air pollution. Hence, as members of 'Clean Air Punjab' we want to strongly urge all parties to make air pollution management a priority in their election manifestos and to specify time-bound measures to protect public health from the harmful impact of air pollution," she added.--IANSvg/khz
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