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Tuesday, July 07, 2020

Congested colonies, interstate movement: Tracking rapid spread of Covid in Punjab’s Malerkotla

Malerkotla has a population of 1.50 lakh. Most colonies are in narrow lanes and the size of families is large.

Written by Raakhi Jagga | Ludhiana | Published: June 27, 2020 8:48:12 am
Residents being examined at a containment zone in Malerkotla on Friday. (Express Photo)

ON JUNE 10, a 70-year-old Malerkotla resident became the first victim of Covid-19 in Sangrur district of Punjab. By June 23, the district’s death toll had gone up to 9, of which 8 were reported only from Malerkotla sub-division.

The district had recorded 130 cases and 1 death till June 10. But in a fortnight, this number increased to 349 patients (till June 25). Thickly populated Malerkotla sub-division reported 174 of the 349, or 49.7 per cent of the total cases. This in turn has translated to the sub-division hospital being full up — of 30 beds, 29 are occupied, and 26 of these patients are on oxygen. As a result, patients had to be sent to other district hospitals of Sangrur.

Congestion, daily out of state movement

Sangrur Deputy Commissioner (DC) Ramvir told The Indian Express, “Though nearly half of the cases have been reported from Malerkotla alone, their contacts are being reported in other parts of the district. Hence, Malerkotla is contributing 80 per cent of the total Covid load of the district as of now. We have laid extra focus on this sub-division so as to contain the infection.”

He however added, “All nine deaths were due to co-morbidities along with Covid. We have found out many reasons for a spurt in the number of cases. The movement of people towards Uttar Pradesh and Delhi, thickly populated colonies of Malerkotla are the main reasons. In addition to this, Malerkotla’s sabzi mandi is the largest in Punjab and not less than 500 trucks come to this mandi from Delhi, Jammu, Haryana etc.”


Of nine deaths that have taken place in Sangrur, six are males and three are females. The oldest Covid victim here was aged 70, the youngest was a 52-year-old woman. While the first death was reported on June 10, one death each was reported on June 12 and 13 as well, taking the toll to 3. On June 16 and 18, a patient aged 60 (male) and another aged 57 (female) died. On June 19, two more Covid patients of Malerkotla died, while on June 23, two more deaths were reported in Sangrur, of which one was of Dhuri and another of Malerkotla sub-division.

Why the spurt?

The Sangrur DC said, “There were three containment zones in Malerkotla initially, but since yesterday, we have increased them to seven, covering 4,584 persons living in 880 houses. We have also created buffer zones with a population of 6,791; there are 12 clusters and one micro containment area in Malerkotla sub-division. As we are doing door-to-door checking and testing all suspected patients, a spurt is being seen. However, this can contain the infection as earlier, people were moving in other villages as well. Hence their contacts were traced from other parts of Sangrur as well, due to which we increased containment zones. Sabzi mandi has also been segregated to two places for social distancing.”

Why home isolation isn’t working

He further said, “A total of 1,673 people have been home-quarantined, but now all are being shifted to institutional quarantine as many were violating home quarantine. A number of them were even resisting giving samples. In institutional quarantine, many want to be sent back to home isolation, but we can’t take risks now. Most suspected patients or contacts of patients live in small houses and the purpose of home isolation gets defeated.”

Malerkotla has a population of 1.50 lakh. Most colonies are in narrow lanes and the size of families is large. Sangrur had no case till the first week of April. Later, 2-3 cases were reported in Malerkotla where people had attended markaz in Nizamuddin. Nanded returnee cases were reported by April-end. By mid-May, Sangrur once again became a zero case district. On June 1, of 96 cases, only 5 were active in the district. However, till June 25, 349 cases had been reported, of which 170 are active. In Malerkotla, of 174 cases, 105 are still active. Chaudhiran Mohalla, Ucchi Masjid, Bhumsi Mohalla, Defence colony etc. are the main areas of concern in this sub-division.



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