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Tuesday, July 07, 2020

Cases cross 4,000, Gurgaon to step up testing, surveillance, manpower

A total of 1,133 cases emerged last week alone, between June 15 and June 21 — indicating a compounded daily growth rate of 4.31% — with 33 deaths also being recorded in a single week.

Written by Sakshi Dayal | Gurgaon | Published: June 24, 2020 1:35:21 pm
Cases cross 4,000, Gurgaon to step up testing, surveillance, manpower Gurgaon is likely to see “changes on the ground” in the coming week in terms of how authorities are tackling the pandemic. (Express file photo)

With the number of Covid cases steadily increasing and deaths doubling in the last week, Gurgaon is likely to see “changes on the ground” in the coming week in terms of how authorities are tackling the pandemic.

As per bulletins released by the Gurgaon health department, the district recorded more than 100 cases each day last week, crossing 200 on one occasion. Until Sunday evening, Gurgaon had recorded 4,427 cases, with 64 people succumbing to the infection, including 36 where the death was attributed to co-morbidities. On Tuesday, 133 cases and three deaths were reported.

A total of 1,133 cases emerged last week alone, between June 15 and June 21 — indicating a compounded daily growth rate of 4.31% — with 33 deaths also being recorded in a single week.

Officials from the health department blamed this on two factors: Increased movement of people following the un-lockdown, and increased sampling. While 1,372 samples were collected for testing between June 8-June 15, this figure was 4,442 between June 15-June 21.

“Once movement is allowed, infection will spread, it has happened all over the country. It is the responsibility of the public to understand that if they do not take care, things will be very difficult. We are doing our bit, we are penalising people, sampling has increased, and cases have increased because of this as well,” said Dr Virender Yadav, Chief Medical Officer (CMO) of Gurgaon, adding that the increase in number of deaths was also natural: “If cases increase, fatalities will also increase.”

Deputy Commissioner Amit Khatri offered reassurance that measures are being taken to reduce deaths: “We are assessing each of the fatalities so as to minimise any casualties.”

The facilities

In terms of facilities, officials maintain the district is well prepared to deal with the outbreak with 4,314 beds for coronavirus patients, 625 ICU beds, and 329 ventilators. The fact that, as of Tuesday, around 68% of active coronavirus patients in the district were in home isolation — 1,255 of 1,833 — also means that at the moment, hospital facilities are sufficient, officials said.

Efforts, however, are being made to expand facilities. Director of Haryana Health Services Dr Veena Singh said manpower in the district is being strengthened — 35 new medical officers have been appointed, along with 10 lab technicians and 12 emergency medical technicians for ambulances.

CMO Dr Yadav reiterated this: “In one-two days, you will see some changes on the ground. We are stepping up active surveillance and will change the plan in urban areas as well, that is why we have asked for an additional workforce of MBBS students and nursing staff. We are going to start antigen testing and surveillance.”

Until Tuesday, Gurgaon had received 8,000 rapid antigen testing kits, which will process results within minutes.
“Pathologists, microbiologists and lab technicians have been trained for this and testing will start soon. An outline has been prepared for identification of corona positive persons in Gurgaon,” said the CMO.

Testing, however, may prove problematic for Gurgaon, with the district having an “in built” testing capacity of only 100 samples, but collecting more than 500 on a daily basis — last week, the number of samples collected crossed 600 on four days, going as high as 932 on Saturday.

According to officials, the current overall testing capacity of Gurgaon is only “500-600” samples daily — an in-built capacity of 100, with around 200 samples being tested at other government facilities, and the remaining 200-300 at private facilities.

CMO Dr Yadav, however, said efforts are being made to bring testing capacity “up to 1,000”.

On the extent of testing, he said: “It is difficult to say how many will be enough in any population. To take samples, there is manpower involved, it takes time in packing, it is not easy. Now ICMR guidelines are also very clear; symptomatic and high-risk contacts have to be the focus. We will never discourage sampling from our end, but what we have to encourage more is quarantine and isolation.”

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