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As Covid-19 cases cross 200 mark in Panchkula, administration ramps up testing

In response to the surge, the district administration has ramped up testing, with up to 1000 tests being conducted per four days.

Written by Pallavi Singhal | Panchkula | Updated: July 18, 2020 1:19:33 pm
As Covid-19 cases cross 200 mark in Panchkula, administration ramps up testing Panchkula has done far better than Chandigarh, which has reported more than 650 cases as yet and Mohali, which is touching 500 cases. (Express file photo)

PANCHKULA DISTRICT, on Friday crossed the 200 mark with as many as 224 Covid-19 cases reported from the district. With 71 ‘outsiders’ also testing positive in the district, the total tally has now reached 295.

In response to the surge, the district administration has ramped up testing, with up to 1000 tests being conducted per four days.

Panchkula has done far better than its counterpart UT, which has reported more than 650 cases as yet and Mohali, which is touching 500 cases. Panchkula has also been outperforming itself when it comes to initiatives taken towards increasing sampling and checking for community spread.

Analysis of numbers

The district always reported lower numbers than UT and Mohali, despite higher testing. Only two cases had been reported in the district my April 1, both of whom were primary and secondary contacts of the first case reported from Chandigarh.

The district then saw a spurt in cases, when seven people who had attended the Tablighi Jamaat congregation in various states tested positive. Another spurt was reported when a family of nine tested positive.

Cases remained low in Panchkula throughout May (26 cases as on June 1) till the first phase of unlock was initiated. A 400 per cent rise in numbers was then reported and by July 1, as many as 112 cases had been reported with an additional 55 in the ‘outsiders’ category. A further 100 per cent increase has been reported since July 1 to July 17, where the numbers doubled from 112 to 224.

While during the first phase of unlock, most positive cases used to have recent travel histories or were persons travelling to the district due to work et al, the second phase of unlock brought to fore cases that were mostly contacts of positive cases.

The second phase of unlock has shown that people with travel histories picked up the virus and spread it further to their several contacts at workplace or personal gatherings due to severe mingling that has been noticed ever since the unlock began.

Even though the cases were first reported selectively from rural areas and slums of the city, the positive tests from a family of Sector 15 had been only the initial mark of the infection reaching the sectors as well. Currently, almost all sectors of the city, several high-level offices such as Haryana police headquarters and even army bases have seen several positive cases.

Prediction of 1,000 cases proven wrong

The Panchkula health department also heaved a sigh of relief as its earlier assessments of the rise in cases had predicted more than 1000 cases in the district by now, was proven wrong.

The trend noticed by the third week of June had further left behind the departmental assessments showing a steep rise in the graph of positive cases where twice as many numbers had been reported. But a swift pause in number of cases for almost a week with almost negligible numbers led to a break in this rise. In the past three days, the district has reported 73 cases.

Aggressive sampling

The sampling, which began at the onset of the pandemic in mid-March, has slowly and steadily been ramped up as per need. The number of samples conducted throughout also remained higher than neighbouring Chandigarh and Mohali till May. While Chandigarh still lags far behind, Mohali, owning to initiatives by the Punjab Government, has moved ahead.

Panchkula which had already conducted almost 1000 tests by mid-April had become the first to touch the 1000 test mark across the Tricity. It ramped up testing as the cases in and around the city grew as well. Testing also rose after the inception of the district’s own lab in the beginning of May.

By the start of May, the district had collected 1500 samples. Since then, as many as 14,000 have been conducted in the district.

In the second week of May, the admin also took 1000 samples at random of which, two from slum areas of the city had tested positive. This random sampling, helped in breaking the chain and stopping a community spread. Random samples are now collected from vulnerable populations of the district each day.

By May end, Panchkula was conducting 1000 tests per ten days, which further came down to 1000 tests per seven in the second week of June and by mid-June, to 1000 tests per five days.

With the testing lab now equipped to run round-the-clock, it can now conduct upto 400 tests in a day. The district is now taking an average of 300 samples a day.

It is pertinent to mention the Panchkula lab also receives samples from other districts of Haryana.

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