New Delhi | Jagran News Desk: The Punjab government's move to impose fresh curbs on indoor and outdoor gatherings in wake of the spike in COVID-19 cases has cast a shadow on the future course of farmers' protest in the state.

The government on Tuesday ordered restrictions on gathering of people from March 1, with 100 people allowed indoors and 200 people allowed to gather outdoors. Moreover, the Deputy Commissioners (DCs) have been authorised to impose night-curfew in COVID-19 hotspots in their districts, if needed.

Thousands of farmers, mostly from Punjab and Haryana, have been camping at Delhi borders for nearly three months now, protesting against the three controversial farm laws brought by the Centre. The farmers have been pressing for the repeal of the laws and a legal guarantee on the minimum support price (MSP). 

Last week, protesters sat on tracks at many places on the Delhi-Ludhiana-Amritsar railway route in Punjab as part of the 'rail roko' protest. Security was tightened in the state, with personnel of the government railway police and the state police forces being deployed.

Punjab is among the five states that have been asked by the Centre to refocus on strict surveillance, containment and RT-PCR testing to check the growing number of cases. The other four states are Maharashtra, Kerala, Chhattisgarh and Madhya Pradesh.

While issuing directions for increased testing, Amarinder Singh also ordered mandatory testing of 15 contacts per positive, with monitoring to be done by CPTOs (COVID Patient Tracking Officer) and review to be undertaken by the Health Department.

The chief minister also took stock of the vaccination status, underlining the need to carry out a campaign to promote 100 per cent coverage of healthcare and frontline workers.

These steps have come as a significant number of cases have been reported from the recently reopened schools, especially in Ludhiana, with a positivity rate of 3.1 per cent and Bathinda (2.9 per cent).

So far, no new mutated variant of coronavirus has been detected in Punjab but new samples have been sent for testing and the results are expected next week.

Posted By: Abhinav Gupta