Updated: December 30, 2021 6:44:24 am
Punjab on Wednesday reported 100 Covid cases for the first time in ten weeks even as the state health authorities urgently called for an increase in the number of samples being tested daily, which has been abysmally low despite repeated missives from the government to increase the same. On Tuesday night, Punjab also officially recorded its first Omicron case in Nawahshar district.
The state, which had reported 51 Covid cases Tuesday, as per health authorities, also saw its positivity rate jumping to 0.3% on Wednesday, as compared to 0.2% last week. Officials added that as per the district-wise positivity rate break up, five districts had positivity rates of more than 1%. Giving further details, they said that SBS Nagar’s positivity has reached 5.83%, while the positivity rate at Pathankot was 3.6%, at Patiala it was 1.67%, and at Bathinda and Jalandhar it was recorded at 1.57% and 1.06%, respectively.
Even though the number of cases has started to slowly surge again in the state, testing and vaccinations in Punjab has lagged behind, despite several notices from authorities asking field workers to test at least 40,000 people a day.
On November 30, a meeting of the health department was held, post which the daily testing saw an increase for a few days. However, the numbers soon started dipping again, with just 7,267 tests being conducted on December 27, of which 46 tested positive. The same day, the state also witnessed a Covid-related death. The next day, December 28, the number of tests increased to 11,126, out of which 51 returned positive, even as the state reported another Covid-related death. Authorities said that the number of tests conducted on Tuesday was far lesser than what the administration expected.
On Wednesday too, a total of 16,174 tests were conducted, in which 100 returned positive, and one person succumbed.
The vaccination drive in the state, too, has slowed down with only 64,23,231 people in the 45 years and above age group having received one dose of the vaccine shot so far. Compared to this, only 37,61,585 people in the same age group had received both doses so far. The numbers in the 18-44 age group said, 91,13,767 beneficiaries had received one dose and 48,34,061 being jabbed with both the doses.
As per data, 11,54,960 frontline workers had received the first dose of the vaccine till December 28, and 3,44,296 had received both doses.
Dr Rajesh Bhaskar, nodal officer for Covid- 19 cases in Punjab said, “We have passed fresh instructions to all health institutions again in light of the yellow alert in Delhi. There has been one Omicron case in Punjab so far. We aim to conduct 40,000 tests per day from here on.”
As per the health bulletin of the Punjab government, on December 5, a total of 30,207 tests were done, out of which 38 tested positive. In the next week, on December 12, testing dropped to 27,784 and 42 samples returned positive. On December 19, testing further dropped to 22,756 out of which 47 tested positive, and one person succumbed to the virus. On December 26, again, the number of tests went down to 13,023, with fifty samples returning positive results and one succumbing to the virus.
The Union government, in view of the rising number of Omicron cases, has already directed states to ramp up its testing, irrespective of positivity. Punjab, ironically, has seen a dip in its number of tests ever since the Central government’s diktat. The state has planned to start vaccinating people in the age group of 15-18 years from January 3 onwards.
Punjab records first Omicron case
Punjab on Tuesday night had reported its first case of Omicron in Nawanshahr district.
As per reports, a 36-year-old man, who had come to Punjab from Spain, had tested positive for the new variant. The man had landed in Punjab on December 4 and remained in home quarantine for a week. On December 12, his sample was collected and it tested positive for Covid, and their samples were sent for genome sequencing. The man was then admitted to a hospital, along with two of his family members. All three have since been cured and discharged from the hospital on December 24.
The result of the man’s genome sequencing came on December 28 in which it was found that he was infected with the Omicron variant of the virus.
Health department officials said that the 36-year-old belongs to village Chak Ramu in Mukandpur block of the district and his contact tracing was done.
District epidemiologist, Dr Jagdeep, said that they had sent the samples for genome sequencing to Delhi around two weeks ago and the result came on December 28.
“We have completed the contact tracing of the 36-year-old man and two of his family members tested positive. All three have been admitted to the isolation ward of the civil hospital and were discharged after they recovered from the infection,” he added.
Deputy CM calls for increasing testing
Punjab Deputy Chief Minister OP Soni on Wednesday directed the ramping up of testing and vaccination in the state considering the possibility of a third wave of Covid-19.
Presiding over a meeting of the Health Department at Chandigarh on Wednesday, the Deputy Chief Minister took stock of the prevailing situation in the state.
Punjab Principal Secretary, Raj Kamal Chaudhary, said that the state has approached 12,05,069 households under the Ghar Ghar Dastak campaign keeping in view the possible third wave.
So far, as many as 84 per cent of the target population had been administered the first dose, while the percentage of those having got the second dose stands at 44 per cent.
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