Updated: April 10, 2021 8:27:09 pm
In the midst of a second wave of infections, Punjab Saturday pressed the alarm bell with Chief Minister Amarinder Singh saying the Covid-19 vaccine stock will last another five days at the current rate of inoculation and only three days if health authorities were able to meet the target of administering two lakh shots a day.
Urging the Centre to share the schedule of supply of the vaccines, Amarinder said the state has been inoculating 85,000-90,000 beneficiaries a day, and at this rate, Punjab’s current stock of 5.7 lakh vaccine doses will run out in five days. Pinning hopes on fresh batches of vaccines from the Centre, he stressed that if Punjab was able to meet its target of administering two lakh shots a day, then its current supplies will last only three days.
Attending a virtual meeting convened by Congress president Sonia Gandhi to discuss the Covid-19 situation in the party-ruled states, Amarinder said he has already written to the prime minister and the Union health minister to give confirmed supply schedules for the next quarter.
The meeting was attended by chief ministers of Congress-ruled states, as well as senior party leaders, including Rahul Gandhi.
Despite being a slow-starter in vaccination, Punjab has inoculated more than 16 lakh people, Amarinder said, adding people were still not coming out in large numbers for vaccination due to the “massive anger” against the Government of India on the issue of farm laws.
Since Punjab has a majority population of the agriculture community, even the common man is affected by the farmers’ agitation, he said. “This anger is impacting the vaccination drive,” he added.
The CM said his government was undertaking an extensive media campaign to address misinformation around Covid-19 and vaccination hesitancy.
Ranked 18th in the country at present in terms of daily cases reported, Punjab is showing a positivity rate of around eight per cent, with an average of nearly 3,000 new cases per day for over two weeks now, he told Sonia Gandhi. The number of daily cases is slightly stable, he pointed out, adding, “This shows that the steps taken in the last three weeks are in the right direction.”
Even in the graphs put up by the Health Ministry in the prime minister’s review meeting, the “curve appears to have flattened over the past fortnight”, he added.
He said the state currently has around 27,200 active cases and a recovery rate of 87.1 per cent.
Thanking the Congress president for the opportunity “to discuss and learn from each other on Covid management”, Amarinder said the number of daily fatalities was a concern for Punjab as it was reporting around 50-60 deaths in a day, with a case fatality rate (CFR) just under two per cent in the second surge of the disease. Overall, the CFR is 2.77 per cent for all reported cases since March 2020, he added.
Pointing out that on April 9, a total of 3,459 people tested positive in Punjab and 56 deaths were reported, Amarinder said the high death rate is due to late reporting to hospitals and high comorbidity (non-communicable diseases).
Also, Punjab has reported all Covid-19 cases very faithfully, Singh added.
He noted that as per reports received from the National Centre for Disease Control (NCDC) and the Institute of Genomics and Integrative Biology (IGIB), high positivity is being seen in the younger population. More than 80 per cent samples have been found to be positive for the more contagious and virulent UK variant, the CM said as he spoke about measures taken by his government to combat the spread, including a ban on political gatherings “as opposition leaders like (Delhi chief minister) Arvind Kejriwal and (Shiromani Akali dal chief) Sukhbir Badal were holding rallies in the state in violation of Covid norms”.
“On contact tracing, we are slightly lower than desired number of 25-30 – currently we are at 13.4 contacts for every case, but we plan to increase it to 20 by within a fortnight,” he said. The CM said a total of 20.8 lakh who had been in contact with Covid patients had been identified, of whom 8.36 lakh had been tested, with 90,000 of them returning positive.
He apprised Sonia Gandhi of his communication with the central government to seek flexibility for states to devise their local vaccination strategies. He added that he had requested the Centre for inclusion of patients with liver & kidney disease below age of 45 and to focus on immunizing all adults in high-risk areas, covering all teachers & staff in all educational institutions, besides occupation-based immunization for judges & judicial officers, bus drivers & conductors, elected representatives at all levels.
Steps Taken To Combat Spread
A complete ban on political gatherings till April 30
Night curfew in all districts from 9 pm to 5 am
Restrictions on numbers in outdoor and indoor social gatherings and in cinema halls and malls
Closure of all educational institutions and anganwadi Centres, with school exams being postponed
Persons not wearing masks being compulsorily taken for RT-PCR testing
Covid monitors appointed in all hotels, restaurants & marriage palaces to ensure Covid-appropriate behaviour
Healthcare workers not yet vaccinated being tested weekly for general safety
More than 40,000 Covid tests being conducted per day of which more than 90% are RT-PCR; Average 1,350 per million tests (over last 7 days).
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