March 19, 2021 9:24:04 am
FROM THE first Covid case recorded on March 9, 2020, in the state, Punjab saw a continuous increase in cases, deaths. The graph rose slowly between October 2020 and January 2021, but has again seen an upward trajectory from January-end onwards.
The cause for concern is the increasing number of cases in March — 23,242 cases were reported between March 1 and March 18 — with 372 deaths during the same period, while in all of February, 8,900 new cases had been reported alongwith 217 deaths. In January, 6,754 new cases had been added to the case tally, with 274 new deaths.
On March 18 itself, a total of 2,387 cases were reported with 32 deaths. This took the total state tally to 2,05,418 and overall toll to 6,204. The case fatality rate (CFR) of the state stands at 3.02 per cent, which is highest in the country.
A study of case counts every month-end shows that on March 31 last year, 41 cases were recorded, of which 4 patients died, and thus CFR was high at 9.75 per cent. The first Covid death was recorded in Punjab on March 19 last year, a Nawashahr-based senior citizen who had returned from Italy. The number of patients grew to 480 by April 30 in Punjab, with deaths increasing to 10. With this, the CFR reduced to 2.08 per cent. By May 31, this number grew to 2,263 with 45 deaths, though CFR had fallen to 1.98 per centby May 31 although number of deaths had grown by 350 per cent from April 30 to May 31.
With 1,783 new cases testing positive in a month, this percentage increase was 371.4 per cent. From April-end till the first week of May, Punjab residents stuck in Nanded and different parts of Rajasthan had come back. A number of them had tested positive. The number of patients by June 30 had increased to 5,568 and the number of deaths too increased to 144 with CFR again rising to 2.5 per cent while 3,305 new cases including 99 deaths had been reported from May 31 to June 30.
A surge in cases started from June-end onwards. Cases by July-end increased to 16,119, with 10,551 new cases and 242 new deaths being recorded between June 30 and July 31. The numbers rose further when the figures by August 31 were 53,992 patients and 1,453 deaths. The CFR was 2.69 per cent at the time. In this period (July 31 – August 31), 37,873 new cases including 1,067 Covid deaths had been reported.
By August end, level 3 beds in ICUs were full to capacity in Ludhiana while in many other districts, there were only a few beds left. A number of patients had to struggle hard to get beds in September first week when finally, more private hospitals were added to the list of providing critical care to sick patients. The gaps in medical facilities were highlighted when Punjab Health Minister Balbir Singh Sidhu himself had admitted that most civil hospitals did not have ICU facilities in Punjab and hence for critical care, they were largely dependent on private medical colleges and hospitals and three government colleges of Punjab.
By September 30, the cases had grown to 1,13,886 with total deaths at 3,406, CFR was 2.99 per cent at that time. The maximum cases were added between August 31 and September 30 time — 59,894 with 1,953 deaths.
The cases started decreasing after that. Only 19,772 new cases including 797 deaths were reported between September 30 and October 31. The percentage increase of cases, which was 110.9 per cent between August 31 and September 30, fell to only 17.3 per cent between September 30 and October 31. While percentage increase in deaths was 134.4 per cent between August 31 and September 30, it fell sharply to only 23.39 per cent from September 30 to October 31. However, high CFR was a problem which increased to 3.14 per cent by October 31, last year.
Furthermore, between October 31 and November 30, 18,433 new cases were added with 604 deaths. Between November 30 and December 31, 14,431 new cases were added with 534 deaths. Another 6,754 new cases were added between December 31 and January 31 with 274 deaths. The overall Covid count became 1,73,276 with deaths at 5,615 by January 31.
The second wave
However, in the next 28 days, a total of 8,900 new cases were reported with 217 deaths, thus taking the total number of cases and deaths to 1,82,176 and 5,832 respectively by February 28.
The situation became alarming in March, when in 18 days (till March 18), 23,260 new cases were reported with 372 deaths.
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