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Chandigarh, April 10, 2020
After Odisha, the Punjab Cabinet led by Amarinder Singh on Friday decided to extend the curfew in the state till May 1 as part of the measures to contain the spread of the coronavirus (COVID-19).
Amid apprehensions of community spread of Covid-19, the government decided to extend the curfew, an official statement said.
The decision was taken at a meeting of the Council of Ministers to check community spread of the pandemic and to prevent overcrowding at the "mandis" in the light of the ensuing wheat harvesting and procurement season.
Amarinder Singh will convey the decision to Prime Minister Narendra Modi at Saturday's conference with the chief ministers, an official spokesperson said.
Citing the grim projections about the spread of the pandemic in the coming weeks, the Chief Minister said the curfew restrictions were essential so that the medical infrastructure is not burdened beyond its capabilities.
There was general consensus in the medical community that the lockdown curbs would only delay the spread of the disease, he said, hoping that some medication and cure would be found soon.
On a proposal by the Chief Minister, the Council of Ministers also decided to set up a multi-disciplinary task force to formulate an exit strategy for gradual relaxation of curfew or lockdown.
The task force will submit its report within 10 days. The task force comprises about 15 members representing trade, business, industry, agriculture, civil society and healthcare professionals.
The Chief Minister has been authorised to decide on the composition of the task force.
The Cabinet also approved establishment of a high-powered committee to suggest a roadmap for state's economic revival in the post-COVID period once the crisis softens and normal working is restored.
Amarinder Singh said he would request former Planning Commission Deputy Chairman Montek Ahluwalia to head the committee.
The Council Ministers also resolved to urge upon the government of India to establish an advance centre of virology in Punjab with an anticipated investment of Rs 500 crore, with the state government to offer land free of cost for the project.
For the quick upgradation of the state's health infrastructure to combat the current crisis, the Cabinet set up a task force under the Principal Secretary (Public Works Department) to look into it.