Punjab babudom in a tizzy as 14 PCS officers turn positive
COVID-19: All attended their association meeting in a Chandigarh hotel on July 3 to protest the arrest of their colleagues in a graft case; more than 300 of their direct contacts home quarantinedUpdated: Jul 09, 2020 23:52 IST
A sense of nervousness was palpable in Punjab’s bureaucratic circles after 14 Punjab Civil Service (PCS) officers were confirmed positive for the coronavirus over the last couple of days.
All of them attended a meeting of their association in a Chandigarh hotel on July 3 to protest against the arrest of a fellow official, Tarsem Singh, posted as regional transport authority (RTA) in Faridkot, by the state vigilance bureau on corruption charges. Nearly 40 PCS officers were part of the meeting.
The state health department has asked at least 300 of their direct contacts, including family members and government employees, to put themselves in home quarantine.
The reports of five PCS officers are still awaited, said a senior health department official.
All the 40 officials kept performing their duties till Tuesday when Ludhiana additional deputy commissioner (ADC development) Amarjit Bains, who was found infected with the virus.
After the July 3 meeting, the officials also met chief secretary Vini Mahajan in the civil secretariat. A PCS officer posted as a deputy secretary in the chief minister’s office (CMO) also met them.
Besides, they are learnt to have met their acquaintances in the state secretariat thereafter.
By Wednesday, 11 officials were confirmed positive.
PANIC AMONG PAYAL FUNCTION ATTENDEES
The news of Payal sub-divisional magistrate (SDM) Mankamal Singh Chahal getting infected on Thursday sent shockwaves among some senior politicians as he was the main organiser of a state-level function July 5 in which health and family welfare minister Balbir Singh Sidhu was the chief guest.
Among those present in the function were Payal MLA Lakhvir Singh Lakha, Fatehgarh Sahib MP Dr Amar Singh, Samrala MLA Amrik Singh Dhillon, Khanna MLA Gurkirat Singh Kotli, Bassi Pathana MLA Gurpreet Singh GP, former minister Malkit Singh Dakha and Khanna senior superintendent of police (SSP) Harpreet Singh.
Most of these individuals have been meeting the public since, it is learmt.
“I haven’t got any information from the administration yet but I will definitely take precautions as per the protocol,” Khanna MLA Gurkirat Kotli said. Another MLA said he has decided not to meet the public and will get his Covid-19 test done.
Health minister Balbir Singh Sidhu said all social-distancing norms were followed during the July 5 function. “I haven’t received any official communication so far but I am ready to get tested for the coronavirus, if needed,” he said.
“Soon after the chief secretary got information, she quarantined herself and got tested for the virus but was found negative on Wednesday evening. She is back at work,” a government official said.
FAMILY MEMBERS, STAFF TO UNDERGO TESTS
A senior health department official said all family members and employees posted in the offices of the PCS officers will be tested for the coronavirus.
“We are even tracing members of the general public who met these officials for their routine work,” he added.
Also, working in the offices of the officials found positive has been suspended till further orders.