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Chandigarh: With the coronavirus pandemic spreading rapidly in rural areas, Punjab Chief Minister Amarinder Singh on Friday urged villagers to only allow COVID-negative people to enter their villages. During a Facebook Live telecast, Singh called for the implementation of strict measures to check the spread of the viral disease in the rural areas over the next two months, which, he said, would be “extremely crucial”.

“Now the rural areas are seeing a surge in (COVID-19) cases, so we need to be very careful,” the chief minister said. “Don’t allow (unwell) people to enter (villages). Ask them to bring a (COVID-negative) certificate from the doctor,” he said.

Singh asked villagers to conduct ‘thikri pehra’, wherein a few villagers, especially youths, form teams to guard village boundaries to prevent the entry of all outsiders except those providing essential services or government officials. Exhorting people to “save your neighbourhoods and villages to save yourself, your families and Punjab,” he stressed that one should visit a doctor as soon as they notice the first symptoms of COVID-19.

“We have teams of doctors everywhere, approach them if you feel unwell,” Singh said. Noting that there are three stages of the disease, he said the first can be managed at home.

“Let the doctor decide the course of treatment, don’t get into diagnosis and self-medication,” he added. Singh said, “I fail to understand why we are harming the interests of the state and your families in this manner. We do not want Punjab to go the way of Delhi and Maharashtra, which have experienced unprecedented problems amid the second COVID wave.” Urging people to help his government protect Punjab against COVID-19, he said the disease is wreaking havoc all over the world and even the most advanced countries are not immune to it.

As of Thursday, Punjab had recorded 4,75,949 COVID-19 cases and 11,297 deaths, according to a medical bulletin. The chief minister expressed happiness over the seamless completion of wheat procurement despite the challenges posed by the pandemic and lauded the state’s farmers for this achievement.

As against 129 lakh metric tonnes (MT) of wheat procured last year, 132 lakh MT has been procured this year. This has resulted in earnings to the tune of Rs 26,000 crore for the farmers as against Rs 24,600 crore last year, Singh said.

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