Until the end of May, Babu Dham Colony in Sector 26 was a hotspot with the most Covid-19 cases in Chandigarh, but now 86 sectors and villages have reported positive cases. The spread of the disease has been constant, with it spreading to 15 new localities in June, July adding 14 more new sectors of Chandigarh. By the end of August and in September the disease spread indiscriminately across the city, with cases being reported from not only congested working class neighbourhoods, but also spacious sectors with large houses like Sectors 3, 4, 5,7,8,9, 10, 11…with Mani Majra emerging as an area with one of the highest number of positive cases, with 616 positive cases till last week and 254 active cases.
In a report, compiled by the Health Department of Chandigarh, giving the area wise details of COVID-19 cases in the city till last week in the month of September, Sector 22 had 190 cases, with 93 active, while Sector 15 reported 182 positive cases, with 68 active cases. More than 100 cases have been reported from Sectors 20, 21, 23, 24, 27, 29, with the active ratio of cases between 68 and 38. The disease has seen an upward swing in Sectors 31 to 39, with as many as 161 positive cases and 61 active cases in Sector 32, followed closely by Sector 38, with 156 positive cases and 51 active cases. In Sector 41, as many as 226 people were tested positive for the disease, with 79 active cases, followed by Sector 45, which had 202 positive cases and 66 active cases, with Sectors 40, 44, 46, 47 all with over 100 positive cases.
Mani Majra has now emerged as a hotspot, with 616 cases, followed by Bapu Dham with 310 cases, Dhanas with 187, Hallomajra with 140, and Burail with 105 cases.
At 15.4, Test Positivity Ratio in Chandigarh high, testing limited
The WHO released an advisory in May saying that a positivity rate below 5 per cent for a period of 14 days is an indicator that the epidemic is under control, and that social restrictions can be gradually relaxed. But the test positivity ratio in Chandigarh is 15.4 per cent, indicating that testing is not sufficient, for an increasing positivity rate indicates a shrinking testing rate, implying that tests are being conducting within a narrow category of people and not indiscriminately across the city and of course, a lack of a sound surveillance system of testing.
The high positivity rate suggests that the number of infected people in the community is high and an early diagnosis is possible only when the number of daily tests go up, else the infected people will transmit the virus to others, resulting in a higher transmission of infection and spread in the community. “The city is thus missing out on many cases, for when you test less, you find less and so you are not identifying many cases. If you test more, you isolate more and contain the spread of infection. If the test positivity ratio is high, any decline of numbers is just artificial,” explained Dr Rijo M John, a health economist.
As compared to Chandigarh, the test positivity ratio of Puducherry is 14.1, Goa is 13.1, Andaman and Nicobar is 6.5, Daman and Diu and Dadra Nagar Haveli is 4.7, Delhi is 9.1, Jammu and Kashmir is 4.6 and Ladakh is 7.9.
Dr Amit Kumar Mandal, Director, Pulmonology, Sleep and Critical Care, Fortis Hospital Mohali, said that we first need to understand that per cent positive means a percentage of all coronavirus tests performed that are actually positive. The doctor added that per cent positive is a critical measure because it gives them an indication of how widespread infection is in the area where the testing is occurring and whether levels of testing are keeping up with levels of disease transmission.
“Per cent positive, also called the ‘per cent positive rate’ or ‘positivity rate’ helps public health officials answer questions such as current level of coronavirus transmission in the community, and if we are performing adequate testing for the amount of people who are getting infected. Per cent positive would be high if the number of positive tests is too high, or if the number of total tests is too low. Higher per cent positive suggests higher transmission, there are more people with coronavirus in the community who haven’t been tested,” said the doctor.
High per cent positive, added Dr Mandal, means that more testing should be done and this is not a good time to relax restrictions, as checks would help reduce coronavirus transmission and slow the spread of disease.
As for what it means for an individual living in an area with high levels of coronavirus transmission, the doctor says it is paramount to wear masks, wash hands, maintain physical distance, and avoid situations that may put them at risk of getting infected or infecting others.
Talking about the importance of wearing mask, Dr Vikas Bhutani, Director Internal Medicine, Fortis Hospital, Mohali, said wearing a face mask not only helps one person but the people surrounding them also. When someone coughs, talks, sneezes they could release germs into the air that may infect others nearby. Masks will help avert the spread of infection and prevent the individual from contracting any airborne infectious germs. Masks are also part of an infection control strategy to eliminate cross-contamination.
The Centre for Disease Control, Atlanta recommends that people should wear masks in public settings especially, around people who don’t don’t share the same house or in surroundings where social distancing is not possible.
“My advice is to wear a mask that covers your nose and mouth and secure it under your chin and a mask which fits snugly against the sides of your face,” said Dr Vikas.
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