Panchkula district crossed the 500-mark as 37 more people tested positive for Covid-19 on Thursday. As many as 532 Covid-19 cases have been reported from the district as yet. With an added 115 ‘outsiders’ also testing positive in the district, the tally of positive cases in Panchkula has now reached 647.
The new patients include 12 from CRPF as well. The CRPF base at Pinjore has been consistently reporting positive cases since the past few weeks. The others who tested positive hailed from Railly village, Ramgarh area, Pinjore, Dhobi Mohalla, Kalka and sectors 15, 7, 5, 14, 9 and 26.
The three patients from outside are a 63-year-old man from Peer Muchalla, a 28-year-old man from Dhakoli and a 4-year-old boy from Ambala.
The district has seen its highest and quickest surge in cases in the past three weeks, after unlock phase 2 was initiated. More than 425 people tested positive in July alone.
While only 17 people had tested positive in Panchkula in the months of March and April, the total cases had reached 26 by June 1. On July 1, after the unlock phase 1, as many as 112 cases had tested positive.
The unlock phase 2, however, caused a sharp rise of cases in the city, with the number of patients increasing four times within a month.
While Panchkula has fared better than its counterpart UT, which has touched 1,000 cases as yet, it also seems to have outperformed itself when it comes to initiatives taken towards increasing sampling and checking for community spread in areas where cluster cases have been reported.
Panchkula, as per analysis by the district’s Health department, has recorded a doubling rate of 9.9 per cent along with a recovery rate of 44.9 per cent. At least two covid deaths have also been recorded in the district.
July reports more than 425 positive cases
Even though the district has fared better than neighbouring UT, the rise in numbers July has been extremely significant. In the past 18 weeks (counted from April 1), the last three weeks have been the most crucial. The second week of July alone brought to fore as many as 195 cases in the district.
The rise in numbers has been attributed to cluster formations in various areas, including ITBP Bhanu and CRPF Pinjore base. Almost 100 people have tested positive from the two paramilitary bases till now.
In response to the rising numbers, the district has ramped up sampling as well. The testing numbers remain higher than that of neighbouring Chandigarh.
Panchkula, which had begun testing 74 samples a week in April, conducted almost 2,800 tests in the third week of July (week 17 of Covid cases). An approximate 19,000 tests have been conducted in Panchkula till now.
Even though Panchkula remains a challenging district with a high influx of people entering Panchkula from neighboring towns, the district has focused on increasing tests to deal with the rising cases.
Adopting an aggressive sampling strategy, Panchkula sampled all domestic passengers travelling by air, train or road, who entered the city. As many as 3,185 people were sampled in this phase, out of which 87 tested positive.
Further, government employees of Panchkula were tested using igG ELISA tests to ascertain the spread and curb the disease from spreading further.
Panchkula also sampled high risk groups of people, including pregnant women, diabetics and people with co-morbidities in rural areas and slums.
Extensive sampling of all contacts of positive persons was also undertaken. As many as 1,500 were sampled under this strategy, of which 113 tested positive.
Panchkula’s positivity rate has increased slowly from one per cent, which came down to 0.29 per cent in May, seeing a jump to 2.08 per cent in June and now to 2.82 per cent. The rate of positivity in testing is the number of persons testing positive divided by the total tests conducted.
Meanwhile, in an effort to strengthen sampling, the district has increased sampling centres with specified Medical Mobile Units (MMUs) which go to high risk areas or containment zones to collect samples. As many as seven other medical facilities collect samples as well.
These include city’s three private hospitals along with sampling under government facilities at Civil hospital, government dispensary at Sector 7, at Civil Hospital Kalka and Community Health Centre in Raipurrani.
In an antibodies test conducted by Haryana, Panchkula had found a positivity rate of 4.6 per cent. As many as 711 samples had been collected from various slums of the city, of which 33 had tested positive.
Challenges of the district
Panchkula district, being geographically surrounded by Himachal Pradesh, Punjab and Chandigarh at one end and acting as the last station to Haryana, located close to the international airport at Mohali has to record a high influx and movement of people.
ITBP Bhanu, CRPF Pinjore and Western Command Chandimandir have added to the challenge due to the constantly moving troop activity of their units. Covid Care Centres had to be created at both ITBP and CRPF base where several tested positive in July.
The presence of several state headquarters in Panchkula has acted as another challenge as their employees frequently travel from the district to their hometowns and vice-versa and remain susceptible to contracting the virus.
A 56-year-old woman resident of Samalkha village succumbed to Covid-19 in Ambala on Thursday, taking the death toll up to 15 in the district. The deceased was also suffering from sugar and hypertension. Officials said that her source of infection was an ex-serviceman, who also died earlier.
A total of 48 Covid-19 cases were reported in the district on Thursday. The new patients include seven persons from the Health department who have been working with Covid teams. At least four people from Timber Market Ambala Cantt also tested positive.
Meanwhile, 33 people were discharged. The district has 284 active cases, while the tally has increased to 1,151. As many as 19,000 people were screened by the Health department teams and samples of 39 persons were collected.
Of the 48 new patients, 18 were from Ambala City, 6 from Ambala Cantt, 10 from Chaur Mastpur, 9 from Naraingarh, 3 from Shehzadpur and one each from Barara and Mullana.
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