May 3, 2021 3:05:08 am
In the last one week, 5,503 new Covid-19 postive cases have been added to Chandigarh’s tally, with the active cases goping up from 5575 on April 26 to 7222 on May 1. The active ratio now stands at 16.6 with the positivity rate rising from 8 per cent in March to 10.6 in April.
According to a New York Times analysis of data on States and Union Territories that have reported the maximum cases per 100,000 residents in the last seven days, Chandigah is on the seventh spot, after Goa, Delhi, Kerala, Puducherry, Dadra and Nagar Haveli and Daman and Diu, with 4,041 cases per 100,000, a daily average of more than 774 cases.
One area of concern in the city is the increasing positivity rate. Dr. Amandeep Kang, Director Health Services, in a recent war room meeting, stated that based on the 4000-plus samples they test every day, the positivity rate stands at 19.9 per cent. It is noteworthy that the DHS increased the number of tests by 1000 a day in April, and 80 per cent of these are done using RT-PCR tests. These tests are besides those conducted at PGIMER, GMCH-32, and private labs. According to Dr. Kang, they have operationalised 14 mobile testing teams, which test at the Sector 17 Bus Stand, PEC, Mani Majra containment area, east containment area, Railway Station, GMHS 43, Burial Jail, and SDM Central containment area.
While testing has improved, there is very little being done by way of tracing to bring down the positivity rate to below 5 per cent. A senior doctor says short of manpower, the authorities are not even tracing 10 people per patient, which makes it difficult to check the rate of transmission. With more than 70 vaccination centres in the city, and not even 100 vaccinations done per centre, experts feel the staff and resources of these centres can be used for more testing to lower the positivity rate.
Hospitals are also reporting a shortage of Level 2 and 3 beds with oxygen and ventilators . Prof. G.D. Puri, Dean and Head, Department of Anaesthesia and Intensive Care, who heads the Covid-19 initiative in PGIMER, says there are inadequate beds for the aggressive second wave. This is evident from a stray look at the occupancy of dedicated Covid beds at PGIMER. Out of the 72 ICU beds, including ventilator beds, 69 are occupied. ”At the PGI, we will continue serving, adding beds, working harder, making sure we have oxygen, machines. But my disappointment is that we refused to see and analyse scientific data and facts, saying we as Indians have great immunity, our case fatality is low, our numbers are low. We should have known that this would happen to us, as warned by the medical fraternity and prepared for it,’’ laments Prof Puri.
His advise to people: ‘‘Consider everybody a carrier of infection and take precautions. Masks must become a way of life and each one of us must take the responsibility of breaking the chain by getting tested and treated. ”
Professor Rakesh Kochhar, Department of Gastroenterology, PGI, who has been following various aspects of the pandemic closely, rues that despite having a high literacy rate, Chandigarh hasn’t adopted Covid-appropriate behaviour. ‘‘Markets remained crowded, there was no enforcement of masking and social distancing, which even home guards could do. Wayside mandis have been open and in offices too, it is the same story with no restrictions, no attempt was made to send a message to common man on the street to wear mask or to get vaccinated” .
Experts say Chandigarh should have a dashboard stating real time bed position, availability of drugs etc. in all government and private hospitals. A central facility could also share the data of all patients who test positive, track him\her and guide her to an appropriate facility. “Government hospitals with 500 beds can be the first stop where triaging is done and patients guided or sent to 48, 32 or PGI. It can be a model including Mohali and Panchkula, and outside patients can come with prior referral and teleconsultation to PGI or GMCH . In many states, government medical colleges have been converted 50/100 per cent into COVID hospitals as they have the infrastructure like Lucknow, Trivandrum, Coimbatore,’’ says an expert.
Experts warn that with more and more hospital care workers turning positive, the city may be staring at a shortage of manpower.
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