A slight surge in Covid cases and a spike in the positivity rate has spurred Punjab government administrative and health officials to initiate meetings with religious and industrial organisations, who have been asked not to observe even a slight laxity and adhere to Covid guidelines as Diwali approaches.
Between November 1 and 8, a total of 3,801 cases were reported along with 122 deaths, while in the previous week — from October 25 to 31 — a total of 3,018 cases had been reported with 96 deaths, and 3,486 cases and 107 deaths were reported from October 18 to 24.
“Though there is a slight increase, looking at the second wave in most European countries and a third wave in Delhi, we have to stay alert. Moreover, our sampling is more or less the same, which is between 18,000 to 20,000 samples per day, but positivity rate in a few districts is increasing and hence we cannot ignore these facts. Hence, we are advising people to stay alert and follow all precautions,” said Hussan Lal, secretary health, Government of Punjab, while talking to The Indian Express.
Meanwhile, from October 11 to 17, 3,850 cases had been reported with 201 deaths while from October 4 to 10, 3,798 cases and 237 deaths had been reported. However a total of 8,671 cases and 374 deaths had been reported from September 27 to October 3.
Hussan Lal said, “Per day positive cases had decreased to as low as 325 on November 1 but after that they have started increasing yet again. On November 6, 647 cases were reported along with 14 deaths. Moreover, districts like Ferozepur, Fatehgarh Sahib, Ropar, Mohali Fazilka etc. are showing high positivity rate, which is a matter of concern. In Khamano Mandi, out of 100 samples, 25 came positive. Hence, we cannot ignore these facts. We cannot say when a second wave could strike Punjab and in which form, but we need to.stay alert.”
On November 5, Ludhiana Deputy Commissioner Varinder Kumar Sharma, Police Commissioner Rakesh Aggarwal and Dr Bishav Mohan, convenor for the committee which formed Covid guidelines for the state, had invited industrial associations heads, people from various religious organisations and told them to advise workers/people visiting their premises to follow precautions.
Upkar Singh, president of the Chamber of Industrial and Commercial Organisation (CICU), said, “We had started taking things little lightly, but we were shown the trend of increase in cases in Punjab and around and even in other countries. Hence we have been told to continue use of masks, follow social distancing and educate workers on a regular basis as they stay in congested colonies.”
On November 1, 325 cases were reported followed by 402 cases on November 2, 541 on November 5 with 22 deaths, 647 cases on November 6 with 14 deaths and 494 on November 8 with 11 deaths. On Sunday, 20,708 samples were tested. Till now a total of 1,37,445 cases have tested positive with 4,910 active cases and 4,310 deaths reported so far.
Case Fatality Rate
Apart from positive cases from small samples, case fatality rate (CFR) of Punjab is a matter of concern as it is presently 3.1% against the national average of 1.5 per cent, while the world’s CFR is 2.5 per cent. Above all, out of 22 districts of Punjab, 11 have a CFR of more than 3 per cent, and out of these 11, another five districts have CFR more than 4 per cent. Ropar and Fategarh Sahib districts have the maximum CFR of 4.7 per cent while Tarn Taran’s CFR is 4.5 per cent followed by Sangrur and Kapurthala at 4.2 per cent and 4.1 per cent respectively.
Dr Rajesh Bhaskar, nodal officer for Covid cases in Punjab, said, “As second wave is expected, slight increase in number of cases is being observed. These numbers multiply fast, hence we need to follow Covid guidelines. Moreover, Diwali festival is coming and we can expect mass movement of people to celebrate Diwali, Vishvkarma Day and Bhai Dooj, so we are making people alert.”
Meanwhile, farmers in Punjab have organised dharnas at more than 100 locations and hundreds of them gather at each location. Social distancing is not being observed at these dharnas and many protesters don’t wear masks while sitting close to each other. However, so far the government has not approached any of the farmers’ organisations regarding Covid guidelines while they are doing random testing in procurement mandis. People have also started organising parties in most parts of the state.
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