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In Punjab, focus back on Rapid Antigen Test to save crucial 24-48 hrs, ensure earlier isolation of suspected patients

State records highest number of Covid deaths in a day this year. Punjab recorded 84 Covid deaths and added 4,653 fresh cases in the past 24 hours, as per the state bulletin, Monday. 

Written by Kamaldeep Singh Brar | Amritsar |
April 20, 2021 10:53:16 am
Punjab: 3,915 new cases, 7-fold rise in micro-containment zones in less than 50 daysCOVID test for residents at a road side camp near Rose Garden in Ludhiana on Thursady. (Express Photo by Gurmeet Singh)

At a time when people are still running away on spotting health department teams, Punjab government has shifted its focus back on the Rapid Antigen Test in hope to control the Covid-19 curve in the state.

The state has enhanced its capacity to 70,000 Covid-19 tests daily amid health officials contracting the virus.

According to the State Nodal Officer Rajesh Bhaskar, the overall positivity rate is 4.5 per cent since Covid-19 outbreak, however, positivity rate on Monday was above 10 per cent. Average Positivity rate in Indian has already touched 18%.

Rakesh said that Punjab is conducting around 40,000 tests daily and reinfection rate is also very low — less than 0.1 per cent.

Chairman Punjab Health Systems Corporation, Punjab, Amardeep Singh Cheema, said “We have decided to increase the rapid tests across the state. More rapid tests can help us save 24 to 48 hours in stopping areas of the Covid-19 tests. Now we have capacity to conduct around 35,000 tests with each method — RT-PCR and rapid antigen — in Punjab.”

Asked why the focus is back on rapid antigen test, he said, “If someone tests positive then he/she will also undergo RT-PCR, but meanwhile the suspected person will be isolated and provided a kit to start treatment at home if symptoms are not serious. More and more Covid cases being detected with rapid tests will be helpful in stopping the spread. Target for overall daily tests in Amritsar and Jalandhar is 6,000 whereas it is 8,200 for Ludhiana.”

Left with 3 days stock of vaccine

Punjab is left with three days stock of vaccine and is hoping to get the next supply on time. Around 25.50 lakh doses of vaccine doses have been utilised till April 15, 2021.

“Focusing on vaccination, we are also looking for age relaxation so that more and more people are covered. So far we are left with three days stock of vaccination and hope to get next supply on time. Currently about 90,000 doses of vaccine are being used every day. Government of India has been requested to make more vaccine doses available to the State to ensure vaccination of eligible beneficiaries,” said Cheema.

Health officials testing positive and stigma

The biggest obstacle in achieving these targets is the Covid-19 stigma and health officials falling sick.

Cheema said, “Punjab chief minister has given directions to reduce the time in declaring report of RT-PCR test from 48 to 24 hours. But at the same time we are facing other kinds of difficulties. Our staff is already under stress and working round the clock. At the same time more and more health officials are testing positive.”

“When a doctor is tested positive then it hurts the campaign at many levels. Five doctors out of twenty in Batala tested positive. First impact is that now we have less manpower to fight Covid-19. It is also affecting sample collection. All planning for next week goes haywire if one key health official tests positive. At the same time, a new person deployed in the place of an experienced hand for a specific locality will obviously take time in synchronising,” said Cheema.

He added, “We are still facing situations where people run away or hide when our teams go to collect samples or isolate a patient. It is surprising that people have less fear of Covid-19 than last year and they are not responding as they should.”

More data on positivity rate and other factors

Muktsar registered the highest positivity rate on Monday.

The overall positivity rate is 4.5 per cent since Covid-19 outbreak, however, positivity rate on Monday was above 10 per cent.

Muktsar district had highest positivity of 27.10 per cent with 174 new cases. SAS Nagar comes second with 21.10 per cet followed by Moga and Mansa with 20 per cent and 17 per cent. Jalandhar with 6.1 per cent registered lowest positivity rate with 380 new cases. Ludhiana reported highest cases 758 with 11.97 per cent positivity rate.

Bhaskar said that the positivity rate is fluctuating around 10 per cent for last one week.

Punjab had five patients on ventilators and 11 in ICU with 35311 active cases in state and 7985 deaths. Total 463 patients are on oxygen support.

There are total 13 containment zones across state in which 25322 people are contained where as 33003 persons are contained in 100 micro containment zones.

Highest single-day toll this year: 84 deaths, 4,653 more cases

In the highest single-day toll this year, Punjab recorded 84 Covid deaths and added 4,653 fresh cases in the past 24 hours, as per the state bulletin, Monday.

Earlier a fortnight ago, 72 deaths were recorded on April 5.

The highest single-day Covid toll in Punjab, since the pandemic began, was recorded on September 2 last year when 106 persons died in 24 hours.

With 84 fresh deaths Monday, the toll in Punjab due to Covid, reached 7,985.

Twelve died in Amritsar, ten in Ludhiana, eight in Sangrur, seven each in Bathinda and Patiala, six in Jalandhar and Tarn Taran, five each in Ropar and Gurdaspur, three in Kapurthala, two each in Faridkot, Hoshiarpur and Mansa and one each in Fazilka and Ferozepur.

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