The Union Health Ministry has red flagged the high rate of deaths due to Covid-19 in Punjab and has asked the state to have a close look at the reasons behind these deaths by constituting death review committees.
Union Health Minister Dr Harsh Vardhan held the meeting with health ministers and principal secretaries of nine states, including Punjab, which are reporting high Covid numbers in the country.
It is learnt that during the meeting the high death rate of Covid patients — case fatality rate (CFR) — in Punjab was raised by Union Health Ministry officials. The Punjab government was asked to investigate the causes behind the high death rate in government as well as private hospitals.
Punjab has been continuously having a high CFR in the country which at 3.15 is more than double that of the national average of 1.49.
Certain districts of the state have even higher death rate and these include Ropar (4.8), Fatehgarh Sahib (4.7), Tarn Taran (4.5), Kapurthala (4.1) and Ludhiana (4.01).
The deliberations are learnt to have focussed on testing average of the state which has gone down.
The other states which were reviewed were Andhra Pradesh, Assam, West Bengal, Rajasthan, Himachal Pradesh, Telangana, Haryana and Kerala.
Punjab has been witnessing a spike in the number of Covid cases with the state registering an increase of 15 per cent in the number of cases over the last one week.
There are fears that with Diwali and several other festivals approaching, the state could see a sharp spike in the numbers.
Speaking to The Indian Express, state Health Secretary Hussan Lal said that the death review committee was an important component in the fight against Covid and that Punjab had already constituted such a committee.
“The committee was constituted around four weeks back and it is an independent entity. It includes representatives from AIIMS, hospitals and medical colleges. There are further sub-committees which collate data and share with the apex committee which then analyses the cause of deaths,” Lal said.
Commenting on the high death rate of certain districts of Punjab, the health secretary said that a variety of factors have to be examined as to why this was happening before reaching any definite conclusion. “We have to check if there are L3 medical facilities available in these districts or not, whether there has been a delay in the patient moving from L2 to L3, whether there were delays in transportation etc. The hospitals, government as well as private, have been busy managing the outbreak and now they are providing all the data for analysis,” he said.
On the aspect of average of testing in the state, Lal said that it had been ranging from 18,000 to 22,000 and that the situation was quite satisfactory at the present.
In Monday’s meeting, Union Health Secretary Rajesh Bhushan asked all states to focus on key areas to contain Covid which included increased testing, targeted testing at market places, religious places, compulsory testing of symptomatic RAT negatives, increasing the share of RT-PCR in testing and tracing of average of 10-15 contacts per new case detected.
562 new cases, 21 deaths reported
Punjab reported 562 new Covid cases and 21 deaths due to the disease Monday. A maximum of 96 cases were reported from Ludhiana, followed by 89 from Mohali and 77 from Jalandhar.
Three deaths were reported from Hoshiarpur, and two each from Amritsar, Bathinda, Jalandhar, Kapurthala, Ludhiana, Mohali, Patiala and Tarn Taran districts. Muktsar and Sangrur reported one death each.
As per the Punjab government medical bulletin, there are 4,934 active Covid cases in Punjab while the total number of deaths stands at 4,338 as of Monday. As many as 9,701 samples were taken on Monday while 127 patients are on oxygen support in the state and 14 who are on ventilator at present. A total of 510 patients were discharged on Monday.
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